Tourist Traps

Who learned from who when designing tourist traps? You know, the gift shop at the end of the ride or the tour through the haunted mansion, or even the “not haunted” castle…consider, too the overpriced snacks you MUST have – even at 3x normal price? Who thought of that?? (Brilliant I say…) just wondering who can lay claim to this idea?

My son went to Great Adventure last week and easily spent $55 in just a few short hours. He had a ticket…. It was all the other stuff. Expensive food. Games of chance to win tokens or tickets and the ability, at the end of spending $20 to play, to earn a small whistle. At least the food was filling. (As only fries and chicken tenders can be…all three orders.) At the end of the day the group of four had less than $4 between them. One of the boys did not order too much food, saying that he thought it was way overpriced and NOT very good anyway…what a smart boy! (Must have heard his mom or dad say that and he easily believed it enough to quote them.)

Disney always has the gift shop at the end of the ride, complete with themed merchandise from that ride’s character(s). How many of those shirts, stuffed, smiling faced characters do we find in the bottom of the closet, pick up and move, countless times, as parents? Those must have, I want it, souvenirs nearly forgotten upon arrival home. (Not always forgotten, but often. Never touched again..)

Who started all of that? Was it Walt? Was it Lucas (all that Star Wars stuff he licensed…millions/billions in the sale to aha Disney) or maybe, just maybe, the European tourist traps started it all and the Americans just learned from their lead. I have to hope that we didn’t force them – the seasoned, mature, sophisticated managers of hundred and thousands of year old places – like the Pyramids, events like the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, ancient homes like Blarney Castle, or gifts to the people of the city such as…La Tour Eiffel etcetera. Easy to adopt because money can be made, on top of the admission price, money that may very well pay for these historic places’ upkeep. (“Ok, yes, you can get the silver spoon with the Shamrock on it.” She’ll probably – actually – use it, so that’s okay by me…I guess I’m a sucker for the branded souvenir, too.)

~ Dawn aka Hat Girl

PS wait…what’s the etymology of souvenir? Ahaha, must have been the French who thought all of this was a great idea. (I will have to research this later.)

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