Brand New Roadside
by Mad Dog
Theres nothing like driving down
the road and suddenly spotting a 50-foot Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox leering down at
you from the side of the road to remind you that you havent seen everything yet.
Sure youve witnessed the six-legged cow at Prairie Dog Town in Oakley, KS, the
Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, and the worlds largest ball of twine in Darwin, MN
("Natural selection at its best."), but when it comes to tourist meccas you can
rest easy knowing there will always be a new one around the bend.
Thats why its
particularly heartening to hear that the Princess Diana Museum, Outdoor Shrine, and
Spanish Delicatessen will be opening this summer in Althorp Park, England, about two hours
north of London. Well, sort of. Actually the Spanish deli wont be ready until Phase
Before you go booking your transatlantic
flight, be warned that this wont rank up there with Graceland, the Liberace Museum,
and the cinnamon bun in Nashville that looks like Mother Theresa. Not yet, anyway. For
starters, Dianaland will only be open from July 1st, Dianas birthday, through August
30th, the day before her death.
Theyre doing this not because they
want to make sure you have a chance of being there during good weather, but because they
want to "retain its dignity and tranquillity." This is the same reason
theyre limiting the number of daily visitors to 2,500. Right. Like having 2,500
people a day tromping around the grounds will maintain a lot of tranquillity.
Because theyre limiting the crowds,
theyre selling advance tickets. For about $15.75 apiece. While this is the same
thing it costs to buy a small buttered popcorn and a medium Coke in most movie theaters in
the United States, its still more expensive than a tour of Buckingham Palace, where
you can see the closest thing to live royalty Britain has to offer, or even the Tower of
London, which is where much of their ancestors died.
In the first eight hours they sold more
than 152,000 tickets. Thats a lot of people with unfulfilled Diana cravings. But
Dianaland should cure that. The tour of her summer home will include a museum filled with
her clothes, childhood objects, diaries, letters, and books. There are the stables where
she had riding lessons of, uh, several kinds. And there will be the viewing of
Dianas grave from across a lake, since shes buried on an island in the middle
Theres been no mention of a gift
shop, but Im sure before you leave youll be escorted through one (its a
legal requirement in most countries) so you can get your fill of Diana toothbrushes, shot
glasses, Christmas ornaments, and music boxes that play Candles in the Wind. All
tastefully done, of course.
What there wont be is rides, roller
coasters, or cotton candy. Thats why Terrapin Station is destined to be a lot more
fun for the family vacation. Providing, of course, the whole family wears tie dye.
Terrapin Station is a proposed $60 million ode to the Grateful Dead which developers hope
to build in San Francisco. Phil Lesh, bass player for the band, says it should be open by
New Years Eve 1999, in time for a reunion of the Dead. Dont worry, even Lesh
doesnt expect Jerry Garcia to make it. I hope.
The planned Terrapin Station will have a
museum, a concert hall, an amusement park, a research center, a hotel, and a very big
first aid station specializing in drug overdoses. They expect to have 1.2 million people
dropping a year. I mean, dropping by a year. At 3,287 a day, this is more people
than would visit Dianaland but not as many as are expected to show up at Opry Mills, the
soon-to-be retailized version of Opryland, which for those of you into genealogy is the
theme-parked version of the venerable Grand Ole Opry.
Thats right, after 26 years of shows,
rides, corn dogs, and country music, the owners of Opryland decided to turn it into a
mall. And why not? As the old saying goes, you can never be too rich or spend too much of
your life in too many malls.
The owners say they plan on keeping the
Grand Ole Opry, the Opryland Hotel, and a few of the 22 rides intact. In place of the
other musical shows and rides will be 15 to 20 anchor stores, more than 200 retail shops,
and of course the ubiquitous theme restaurants. Ah, that will certainly be a refreshing
What all this means is youd better
call Dianaland now, before it goes the way of the Grand Ole Opry and Terrapin Station.
After all, its just a matter of time before the Spencers realize that if they expect
to compete with such British tourist attractions as Haggisworld, the tiny Hall of Good
Teeth, and Six Flags Which Used to be Over The Empire, theyre going to have to make
some changes. Like, say, adding a DisemBodied Shop, a Princess Cruise Lines office, and a
Charles Chips outlet. Now that would make it worth the trip.
©1998 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country.
If they don't appear in yours, call and ask them why.