This summer, I’m taking each of the kids out individually for a day on the town. The first of these trips was with Emily. We went to Fiesta Texas, the San Antonio theme park, on (of course) the hottest day of the week.
Spending time with Emily was the best part of the trip. We talked about friends and the drama thereof, favorite places to eat, what’s required to become a licensed tattoo artist, the efficacy of motion-sickness pills, travel, siblings, and more. It was fun to see the shows and ride the rides, though I’m afraid I’m getting to the point in my life where the lavishly choreographed brass and percussion show has more appeal than the vertiginous fighter-jet coaster rides. I particularly enjoyed getting a photo with Pepé le Pew, my long-time favorite of the Looney Tunes gang. Unfortunately, Porky Pig kept trying to horn in on the picture, which prompted me to tell him I was going to Photoshop him out. Since characters in costume aren’t allowed to speak, his only recourse was to smack me, which he readily did.
Unfortunately, Fiesta Texas itself left a bad taste in my mouth, largely due to constant attempts to wring more money out of us. When I bought the tickets for $30/each, I thought it a reasonable price for a full day’s entertainment. But as soon as we arrived, we had to pay another $15 for parking. When we went to our very first ride, we were told we weren’t allowed to bring our backpacks on, but had to put them in a locker, which cost only $1, but which had prominent signs promising that our backpacks would be thrown away if we didn’t retrieve them within 120 minutes. (It’s a good thing lines were fairly short on Wednesdays!) Bringing food or drinks into the park was prohibited, leaving you with little choice but to buy food at their usurious prices: $6 for a slice of pizza was typical of the fare on offer. And even after shelling out all of this money beyond the ticket cost, we were still subjected to advertisements at every corner and on the in-line monitors that used to show cartoons.
While I understand that making money is what businesses exist for, this sort of bait and switch, nickel and dime approach is awfully short sighted. When people leave the park, you want them to be thinking “Wow, what a great time I had!” Instead, I was left with “Holy rhubarb, in spite of careful planning and self control, I was railroaded into spending $40 more than I expected!”
And given that sour note, I don’t think I’ll be going back.