Stephanie: So, this past Tuesday, February 15, 2011, a few of my classmates and I visited Alcatraz Island to receive and review the “authentic tourist experience.” One of our classmates was missing…
Toni: And that would be me. But, we decided to write a blog comparing each of our perspectives. Stephanie showed me a few of the pictures she took while she was there and I gave some feedback.
Stephanie: We want to review the authentic experience of visiting a local tourist destination…
Toni: And examine any preconceived notions of that destination. It started with me viewing a few pictures that looked like this:
Toni: So, Stephanie…Alcatraz Cruises? Is that a new luxury line of cruise ships? I thought you guys were visiting a penitentiary.
Stephanie: Well, we definitely rode in luxury from Pier 33 (Alcatraz Landing) to Alcatraz Island. I would definitely say the boat ride was the best part. I was also surprised to see so many enthusiastic tourists on a rainy and windy Tuesday morning.
Toni: From what it seems, the people who run the tours and other functions on the island effectively set the mood with that cruise ship ride.
Stephanie: I think they make it a point to heighten the mood while on the ship so that the tourist can experience a more dramatic shift to “ominousness.” Not to mention that as soon as we got to the island, we were treated like children. They made it seem like the whole experience was going to be really dangerous, suggesting that we sign waivers. Since we were part of a school trip the tour guides wanted to keep track of all of us for our own “safety.”
Toni: As ominous as the place looked, everything appeared to be very manicured…manicured in an unusual way, though.
Stephanie: I definitely agree that the atmosphere seemed somewhat superficial. We heard on the tour that Alcatraz was closed down because the facility was too expensive to maintain: “…the weather took a toll on the buildings and everything.” Yet, obviously, the facilities are still standing, and in very good condition on the inside. From the outside, we see ruins of buildings, chipped paint, and “rusted” jail bars. They have obviously spent a considerable amount of money making the facilities on the island safe, presentable, and convenient for tourists (like electric golf carts to shuttle tourists up and down the hill). They also seem to purposely let certain aspects of the prison fall into decay to promote that dramatic shift to “ominousness.”
Toni: That’s really interesting. Sometimes I feel like if I were to go to Alcatraz, I wouldn’t really feel like I was entering a prison. It seems to be just like any other cheesy tourist attraction trying to be the real thing.
Stephanie: Despite the cheesiness, it’s still a beautiful place and worth the visit. The tour company makes a sincere effort to convey the hardships that the prisoners experienced, but the contrast between the painful and traumatic events that happened inside the prison with the pretty scenery surrounding it makes Alcatraz a pretty unique place to trip to.