Serve a little cheese
with your slots

Mar 13, 2006 11:07 PM

Although I am lactose intolerant, I love cheese. Of course, the cheese to which I refer has nothing to do with Havarti, Gruyere, or even Elvis’s favorite heavily processed, dairy-like Velveeta. The fromage du jour is all about the tourism ”¦ the cheesy kind.

Branson, the Wisconsin Dells, Niagara Fall are all bastions of cheese. Beyond hosting "Ripley’s Believe it or Not" odditoriums, wax museums with guest visits by the real Joan Rivers and Michael Jackson, and putt-putt golf/bumper boat/ go-cart funertainment centers, they offer an emulation ready model for other tourist destinations.

While taking in Frederick Antonio’s Waltzing Waters Show — 40,000 gallons of choreographed dancing waters and rainbow of colored lights accompanied by Frederick Antonio playing two pianos simultaneously while a fountaineer interprets the music through rising and falling waters (or in other words, a poor man’s hybrid of Liberace plays the Bellagio) may not be to everyone’s liking, it is just one of the multitude of entertainment opportunities available to a Branson tourist.

The option of antique shopping while in The Dells (bringing truth to the maxim of one man’s trash is another man’s treasure), touring a spare MIR space station at Tommy Bartlett’s "Robot World", and watching cute-but-rabid squirrels water ski (all in a morning for some grey panthers) is what keeps these locales viable.

Yes, the initial natural beauty of the Dells, Niagara Falls, and the Branson Ozark region is what originally brought tourists, but the contemporary breed of stimulation junky vacationer visit again and again more for the Duck Boats than the waterfalls.

Prior to gambling, the historic mining towns of Colorado were chocked full of mom-and-pop shops selling everything from flip-flops and T-shirts (many with "clever" quips) to caramel apples and crafts. The towns were enjoyed as a simple retreat and appreciated for their historic mythology.

To diversify a historic mining town visitor’s experience, more good old fashioned wholesome cheese should be incorporated into Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek. An Old West themed wax-museum or nickelodeon theater that runs classic Westerns would make great additions to the current recreational experience (Note: I know that I cannot help myself from whistling the theme to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly when moseying down Bennet Avenue in Cripple Creek or ordering a "red soda pop" just like Shane after bursting through the swinging shudders of my favorite bar in Central City).

There are some significant plans on record of a golf course and retail outlet development in Gilpin County near Black Hawk/Central City. If these projects come to fruition, the immediate region surrounding the historical mining towns will be one step closer to achieving a necessary critical mass that will not only attract but also retain a greater number and more diverse grouping of visitors.

Limited stakes gaming, while it is a form of entertainment, is (as its name suggests) limited in not only how much can be wagered and what games can be played but also its ability to hold the attention of patrons.

The more diversified and recreationally inclusive the Colorado towns now known primarily for their casino gaming can become, the greater the chance these tourisms centers will remain feasible over the years.

(David Paster serves as Strategic Database Manager with National Hirschfeld, LLC of Denver, Colo., a single-source printing, digital imaging and direct marketing company offering clients targeted solutions aimed at increasing profitability. He can be reached at [email protected]