Thwy can eat in the whimsical Alpine-themed restaurant, or go downstairs to the Black Forest Cuckoo Clock Shop (complete with robotic milkmaids, an automated band on view for 25 cents, and more than 300 clocks for sale). Well, that’s what we had been told about the place anyway.
When we visited this odd Swiss-themed attraction we found it to be somewhat, er…different. Here's a brief history of the place that we were able to find out. When it opened, it was known as the Alpine-Alpa Cheese House and was part of this weird concept of "the Swiss Alps over here", meaning here in the U.S. The whole building was done up to look like a Swiss chalet on the outside and they even had actors in costumes walking around.
The building itself consists of two floors, with the cuckoo clock and some bizarre thing known as the Gnome Grotto being the only things on the second floor (which is really like a patio). Walking in the front door, the clock shops were on either side of the main entrance. Continuing towards the rear of the building, the cheese shop was on the left and a small sitting area was on the right, where the 4-piece automated band was. Continuing all the way to the back, the entrance to the Alpine-themed restaurant was on the left and at the back door was the entrance (stairs) to the patio area for the clock-viewing. In the past, there were turnstiles here and people had to pay an admission to view the clock (we've heard upwards of $1.00, but the old postcard we have has a sign hanging over the door reading "25 cents").
Apparently, if you ate in the restaurant, admission to see the clock was free. On the second floor, there are a few benches in front of the clock and you can look through some windows down into the restaurant area.
The "robotic milkmaids" was actually just ONE robotic milkmaid. She was named Trudy, and she would pop out of a window above the main entrance and welcome guests to Alpine-Alpa. She's gone now, and the window she popped out of has been boarded over with a "Grandma's Alpine Homestead" sign.
The cheese shop is closed. There is a sign up claming "something new is coming soon", but you can't buy cheese anywhere in the building. We snuck around into the back area and there are bunches of cheese stickers, etc. lying around. So maybe they are going to re-open things again. But for now, no cheese for you!
As for the clock itself, it has seen better days. The good news is that it still works and you don't have to pay to see it. But the bad news is that it's just sitting out there on the roof, exposed to the elements. And there's NO advertising for it, even how to get to it once you're inside the building. You basically have to ask where it is and be pointed up some back stairs with nary a sign anywhere.
The band that was along the base of the clock is now gone. The two cloggers are still there, but one of them is missing a hand and part of their arm. The Gnome Grotto is all but gone. It's basically just a fenced-off area with a small (empty) fishpond in the middle of it. The automated band you can watch for a quarter is still there...right next to the bathrooms.
There are no longer actors walking around in costume. In fact, the place seems to be moving towards being more of an Amish attraction than anything else. As a result, there were a lot of Amish people working at the restaurant and a bunch of Amish crafts, etc. for sale in the gift shop.
The place probably sounds the weirdest if we try to describe it to you in one sentence: It's a Swiss-themed restaurant that serves Amish homestyle cooking and has live bluegrass music on the weekend. Oh yeah, and it's got the world's largest cuckoo clock rotting away on its roof.