Crikey - get a look at that!
G'day and welcome to blog #55. Yesterday we went to Australia Zoo with 9 year old nephew, Thomas, who's really into the natural world and animals in particular, and reptiles in particular-particular. Want to know about the different types of feet that various types of geckos have? Just ask Tommy (bonus info: some geckos have suckers and others don't). Want to know about the habitat of cane toads? Just ask Tommy. He is a miniature David Attenborough, minus the Oxbridge accent.
The day before, we went to Underwater World with him. I've never discussed stingrays for so long in my life, and possibly never will again. (more bonus tips: depending on the type of ray, their barb appears at different intervals down their tail. Unless they are a shovel-nose ray, in which case, there is no barb. they are barb-less. but hey! they get a shovel for a nose, so it's not all bad!!). ANYWAY. What was fascinating about these visits was how our departure from said harbingers of the natural world was arranged.
Via the shop. Both of these tourist attractions have their exit via the shop. After you've finished absorbing yourself in all things underwater, you get to do some retail therapy! After you've finished your dip into the sumptuous surroundings of the Zoo, you can buy a Bindi t-shirt or tiger towel.
And these aren't the only tourist attractions that are arranged thus. We visited the 6th Floor Museum in Dealey Plaza in Dallas in August, and it was the same thing. After you've finished learning about conspiracy theories and magic bullets, go buy something! Now, doesn't that feel natural? - learn something new and fascinating, then take out your wallet and buy! Yikes!
No choice. And you can't decide to enter the store, or not. It's the only way out. I imagine that this exit arrangement is de rigueur if you own a tourist attraction. It's just the way things are done. And way back when this idea first got going, somewhere around the time of the gladiators, I'm sure that some young gun consultant with a PhD in retail consumer behaviour came up with this idea. It was probably considered brilliant and ground breaking at the time.
Manipulate me? But it just feels manipulative to me. Cheap somehow. Dare I say?... tacky. Sure, I may have had a good time at your tourist attraction, but do I really want to be manhandled into a retail environment after I've decided it's time to vamoos? This kind of exit strategy is the equivalent of "would you like fries with that?" (which apparently earned Maccas millions of revenue each year), or those 372-page email sales letters done in Courier typeface, that are full of yellow highlighted words (and have more than their fair share of the word "hurry" in them). It's so obvious it's audacious. Brash, brassy, brazen. And they are just the "b" words; don't get me started with the rest of the alphabet.
Ok, so you've gotten the idea that I don't appreciate being shepherded through a store as I make my departure. Does this mean I'm anti retail opportunities being presented in tourist attractions? Nosiree, not at all. I just like to have the choice as to whether I'll enter them or not.
And just for the record, yes, we went home sans any products bearing the name 'Bindi', sans plush animals in the shape of hand puppets, and sans neoprene stubby holders bearing the image of the dearly departed Steve Irwin. We did, however, take home a squeaky plastic squid ..... which somehow managed to not get thrown out of the window of our moving vehicle, which was to be its fate if the overuse it was getting on the drive home were to continue past the level of normal human endurance.
Phew! After more discussions about the length of Australia's most deadly snake (more bonus info: this is the Fierce Snake and it can grow over 2m long) than I care to mention, it felt like a lucky escape to exit the store purchase-less. There's only so much info a girl can take in on any given Saturday. Right?