Top Secret - Upside-Down White House
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
The world can go topsy-turvy at times. Retirement savings suddenly vanish, cherished beliefs are upended, things are not as they appear. Even the occasional upside-down attraction prompts more questions than answers.
That's why it's such a relief to discover Top Secret Inc. This immense White House, resting on its roof in the Wisconsin Dells, suggests by its name that within it lies the answer to why our world currently stands on its head. It's a secret, of course -- but it's also a very confusing secret, so we don't feel too bad about revealing what we saw when we were there....
(There are other upside-down White Houses -- in Orlando, Florida and Sevierville, Tennessee -- but they're half the size of Top Secret Inc. and their insides are just expensive arcades that are right side up.)
You're not allowed into Top Secret Inc. without a guide, just like at the real White House. Ours was named Matthew, and he did his best to answer our usual nosy questions. The upside-down universe we could accept, we told him, but why were the floors (ceilings) made of dirt? "We're part of an archaeological dig team sponsored by the government," Matthew explained. "We just happened to run across an upside down White House in Wisconsin Dells. We have no idea why." This was not the tidy explanation that we'd hoped for, but since Matthew seemed as baffled as us, we were willing to tag along. He frequently stressed that guides at Top Secret Inc. are encouraged to improvise, so the spiel that you receive on your visit may be very different from ours.
Once you get past the Poseidon Adventure novelty of walking on the ceiling, the tour unfolds fairly straightforwardly. Matthew took us through the Oval Office and the press room, where an upside-down animatronic President repeatedly chattered about "rule by robots." The next room had the dome of the U.S. Capitol sticking out of the dirt, and odd-looking skulls resting in a trough of sand. "Just one of the many mysteries we found," Matthew said.
Then we abruptly found ourselves in a section of the White House that was right-side-up again. First was a storage room whose shelves were packed to the ceiling with the Watergate tapes and the lost Ark, among other secret treasures. Matthew ushered us through a rotating fun house "decontamination" tunnel -- "It just sucks all the contaminants right off of you!" he said -- and into a hidden laboratory. "When we discovered this room we were in shock," he said, and then he told us that every President since JFK has been a robot, "built right here in this room by aliens"! As proof of his claim, a new President-robot lay half-assembled on a table, and two aliens in silver suits scowled from niches in the wall.
The increasing complexity of the secret being revealed to us in Top Secret Inc. was a reminder that the truth is rarely simple (And also remarkably similar to what would happen if an attraction assembled itself from cast-offs of other Wisconsin Dells attractions). We threaded our way through jagged holes in brick walls, and a nuclear missile access tunnel, and a labyrinth of doors (avoiding a popular Wisconsin Dells spraying toilet gag). It was one of the more involved tours that we've taken, and its multitude of rooms gives its guides plenty of opportunities to spin the story however they see fit.
Matthew led us into a chamber with "the two most interesting things we've found to date." These were a large, thrashing monster named Rocky, "made of moon rocks," and a bellowing T-rex temporarily penned behind a high voltage fence a la Jurassic Park. The screaming of the monsters made it impossible to hear most of Matthew's explanation, but he concluded by saying, "we're still digging to find more rooms."
The last stop on the tour was the White House state dining room. Golden "National Treasures" were piled high in a far corner. Matthew offered us a choice of two push buttons: one would allow us to take as much loot as we could carry, the other would set off explosives that would destroy the building.
We chose -- incorrectly. As lights flashed and sirens wailed, Matthew cried for us to flee out a side door to safety.
We did, and ended up blinking our eyes in the sunny parking lot.