Attractions of the Future
by Mad Dog
Whats wrong with seeing 54 stuffed gophers playing hockey,
getting their hair done, fishing, and robbing a bank?
|| They just
dont make roadside attractions like they used to. I know people say that about
everything from cars to movies to humor columnsokay, maybe not humor
columnsbut this one is definitely true. After all, when was the last time someone
looked up from the morning newspaper and said, "Honey, I think we should blast a home
out of the side of a huge rock so we can live in it."?
Actually, it was in 1945, and Albert Christensen of Moab, Utah
did just that. Well, sort of. The original idea was to carve out a pre-Flintstonian diner,
which is what he and his wife did. Then, after it had been open a few years, they
discovered just how much they enjoyed spending their life inside a rock and, noticing that
they had lots of room to expand, blasted more of it out and ended up with a 5,000 square
foot two-bedroom rancher.
Now the Hole N" The Rock is open for
tourists, which is a good thing since it breaks up the boredom of seeing one magnificent
National Park after the other as you travel through southern Utah. Face it, all that
natural beauty can be a bit wearing after a while.
But would anyone think of starting
something like that today? Doubtful. Nowadays when people consider opening a tourist
attraction they think more along the lines of, say, spending a few billion dollars to
build another theme park. And who can blame them? Even Disneyland Paris, which was as well
received as Napoleon at Waterloo, now outdraws Notre Dame, the Louvre, and the Eiffel
Tower. Is it any wonder the French are thinking of changing the capitals name from
Paris to Frogland?
There are still plenty of small roadside
attractions, though most places like the Mystery Spot, The Thing, and the Funny Farm have
been around for ages. Since were in the Meddlesome 90s, when someone does try
to give us something new and interesting to see on our travels all they get for their
vision and foresight is a hassle. A couple of years ago the Gopher Museum in Torrington,
Alberta, Canada, managed to open despite a year-long campaign by animal rights activists
to stop it. Sure there are 54 stuffed gophers mounted in 31 scenes depicting a day in the
life of Torrington, but whats wrong with seeing dead gophers playing hockey, getting
their hair done, fishing, and robbing a bank?
Las Vegas, which already has the World of Coca-Cola, may soon be home to Wrestlingland
USAs No-Holds-Barred Hotel, Casino and Neck Injury Museum.
|| Factory tours are
another roadside adventure thats vanishing. You can still watch them making cheese
in Tillamook, Oregon, and Jelly Bellies in California, but you cant see them make
chocolate in Hershey or cereal in Battle Creek anymore. Thats like going to
Washington, DC and not being able to see the Hot Air FactoryI mean, Congressin
Kelloggs, for one, used
to let people tour the factory and watch them sweep the cereal off the floor and into the
boxes. Just kidding. Actually, they did that after the tourists left. But one day their
lawyers decided that they shouldnt do it anymore since there were just too many
potential liability problems, what with Tony the Tiger having mauled his fifteenth visitor
in two years. Just kidding again. The truth is they really ate too many Frosted Flakes and
went into sugar shock, but you know how P.R. people like to put a spin on things.
So what Kelloggs did was follow the
new trend, which is to start a museum. Thats right, Kelloggs Cereal City USA
was born. While you cant see them making cereal or get free ice cream with cereal
topping at the end like you used to, they will let you pay $6.50 to see exhibits about the
history of cereal, a display of Kelloggs advertising, have your picture put on a box
of corn flakes (for an extra 10 bucks), and stand in awe before a simulated cereal
production line. Its like a virtual factory tour without the bothersome computer
This is only the beginning. Las Vegas,
which already has the World of Coca-Colawhose sole tie to the city is that some
people there actually mix the stuff with rum, may soon be home to Wrestlingland USAs
No-Holds-Barred Hotel, Casino and Neck Injury Museum.
London could rename the Piccadilly line the Darwin line. Passengers could be issued
mosquito netting and flyswatters at the ticketing office. And they could change the name
from the boring old underground to The Wonderful World of Bloodsuckers.
|| Thats right, a
few months ago the World Wrestling Federation bought the Debbie Reynolds Hotel and Casino
from its namesake and, even though they havent announced definite plans, its a
safe bet it will be exactly what you expect it to be. Just think about it: One day soon
you may be able to have tag team room service, line up three Hulk Hogans on a slot machine
to win, and play blackjack at a table where the game is preplotted so you know who will
draw what cards in advance. Jesse Ventura must be steaming that it wont be in
Meanwhile, in New York
City, Harlem churches like the Memorial Baptist Church have turned into roadside
attractions, playing host to Japanese tourists who have a strong death wish. Just kidding.
Actually theyre visiting the churches to take $30 crash courses in singing gospel
music, something they reportedly have become interested in after seeing (True Fact alert!)
the movie "Sister Act." Considering few of these Japanese tourists speak
English, this is pretty much a form of religious karoake.
And finally, it turns out that the English
have a chance to start a tourist attraction that could rival all of thesethe
underground, or subway as we Americans like to call it. It seems that when the subway
tunnels were built 100 years ago, some mosquitoes moved in. Over the years they evolved
from feeding on bird blood to that of humans. Experts say that mosquitoes on different
subway lines actually have different characteristics!
What a bonanza! They could rename the
Piccadilly line the Darwin line. Passengers could be issued mosquito netting and
flyswatters at the ticketing office. And they could change the name from the boring old
underground to The Wonderful World of Bloodsuckers. But theyd better check before
they do it, someone may already be using that name for tours of Wall Street.
©1998 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read
them while waiting to find The Trees of Mystery.