The Mystery Spot
Having grown up relatively local to the Santa Cruz area, I estimate that I have been to the Mystery Spotabout four times through out my life. Today, I made visit #5 with a couple of friends who have never been. For me, this place was entertaining the first time around and if you space your visits over several years, it can still be entertaining. Nevertheless, it’s one big fat tourist trap (and an extremely successful one at that!).While my friends ooh’ed and ahh’ed throughout the whole tour, I was a bit cynical as many of my high school science teachers made a point to drill that into my head its just an illusion. To help explain and with a little help of Google, I was able to dig up these simple-to-read explanations:
- “Santa Cruz ‘Mystery Spot’ Explained”, Berkelyan, 1998 – Psychological theory that explains the optical illusions at The Mystery Spot.
- “Mystery Spot” by Illusion Works, LLC – Nice summary explanation for all the crazy Mystery Spot happenings that the tour guides explain.
One thing that I was glad to see is that the price of admission and parking has not become outrageous, still just $5 for 1 ticket and $5 to park. When I go to other tourist traps and amusement parks these days, I almost feel faint when I see how much the price has jumped…..Disneyland being one big example. Nice to know that you can still find “attractions” that don’t completely rip you off.
Marketing the Mystery Spot
If you grew up and lived in Northern California, it’s hard to have not seen the “iconic” Mystery Spot bumper sticker on at least one car on the highway. In looking for a photo of this bumper sticker, I was amused to find so many discussion about these stickers on-line:
As one reviewer pointed out on Yelp, it’s an ingenious marketing plan. For some reason, some people feel more than willing to stick a free bumper sticker on their car. It’s a quirky low-cost marketing gimmick, on the part of the Mystery Spot, that’s obviously helped spark the interest and curiosity of many, many tourists to visit. The tour guide claimed that they can receive up to 800-900 visitors a day during the summer. That’s a lot of suckers, uhm….I mean visitors (myself included).
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
After the Mystery Spot, we headed over to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, yet another piece of my childhood. It’s hard to believe that this oceanfront amusement park is over 100 years old. According to Wikipedia, it first opened in 1907 and has survived to be California’s oldest amusement park. Fancy that.I accompanied my friend on one of the roller coaster type pendulum ride. While these types of rides don’t usually scare me too much (but I’ll admit that I’ll scream once I am up in the air and falling down), I shouldn’t have drank that blended ice chai beforehand. About half way through the ride, I felt sick and couldn’t look because the dizziness was making me so nauseous. Meanwhile, my friend was freaking out. Afterwards, we decided to stick to the kiddie rides and games like bumper cars and the haunted house. I guess its a sign that my time of youthful fearlessness is passing or that my self-proclaimed casted iron stomach isn’t as strong as it used to be.