I’ve seen cool places from the Pearl of the Orient to the armpit of the US and one thing I’ve found all over is greedy locals ruining the experience for the uninformed passers-through.
Let’s take something from a recent article, the bit about Hobbiton USA in the Redwood forest. They wanted thirteen bucks for two kids and two adults. We sprung the press pass and got them down to $8 but they weren’t impressed. Schucks, they don’t even have email. I figured they just wanted the money from us and once I got inside their little attraction I knew it all the more.
I applaud them for making an unauthorized Lord of the Rings-ish theme park 25 years in advance of the blockbuster film series but this place was disappointing at it’s very best. The story told by each thunderous squawking box was miserable compared to the movie, the ill-carved caricatures failed to impress even me and there’s some dude’s house in the middle of it all. Seriously, like a rental house or something.
The grown-ups among us were only impressed by the trees and foliage (which can be seen anywhere for a good hundred miles in any direction) and us kids were more interested in rocks, flowers and wandering off the trail (which is forbidden I might add.) Lackluster would be complimentary for this show, it was abysmal.
Many of the sanctioned Redwood forest attractions feature a guest book where people can leave their names and comments like “wow”, “simply amazing” and “as I envision the gateway to heaven.” There’s no guest book for this little cash siphon and I figure it’s because “terrible”, “huge waste of money” and “why did I pay for this?” all look bad on a resumé.
Sadly, I have no parting advice except that you plan on being taken for the sucker you are and pilfered by the purse strings whenever and wherever you travel. Most attractions are worth every penny and the rest are unavoidable in the mix, casualties of tourism. Whenever you get a chance make sure the owners and other suckers know that you feel like you’ve been had. Some of them may have a conscience and it may even lead to increased honesty or decreased ease of them sleeping at night.