“Funland” is a short horror story by Daron Silvers, and one that I really liked when first hearing it. The main character describing his love of arcades and animatronics as a kid reminds me of my own early years, so I can relate to his nostalgia when going to them after so many years. The writer also creates a very vivid picture of the abandoned park they’re visiting by describing the scene in both its heyday and forgotten state. This really gives it a feeling of innocence corrupted since it’s a place the character remembers so fondly from his childhood, but has been reduced to faded ruins that shouldn’t be reentered. I especially like how much detail is used for the character’s favorite animatronic, a humanoid dog part of a mini golf course that would come out of an outhouse and shout at players after getting a hole-in-one. It’s never described as creepy in the main character’s memory and sounds like something you would actually see in a children’s park. It also makes it a much bigger contrast when the character gets another hole-in-one at the abandoned attraction and the animatronic comes out of the outhouse after him.
Though, one thing I noticed when going back to it was it’s similarity to another good story called “Abandoned by Disney”. Both involve the main character exploring an abandoned children’s park where they’re scared away by what should be an inanimate character. Then again, this story is about a character revisiting a distantly past part of his life and realizing he isn’t meant to be there anymore, and the other is about uncovering a horrible secret in what is supposed to be one of the happiest places on Earth. I really do like this story, but the biggest thing bugging me about it is the sequel, “Return to Funland”. Even though that one focuses on the original main character’s brother and he’s going to Funland because he knows something wrong is going on ahead of time, it’s basically a rehash where he goes in, gets chased out by the same animatronic and decides to leave the place alone. The reason it really bugs me is because it’s by the same author, so it is canon and kind of detracts from the first story because of it. It just felt forced, like the writer wanted to continue the story but didn’t put a lot of thought effort into giving it something new.