We took a trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico last week and we saw a bunch of newsworthy things that really rocked the boat of our ability to take the cake. We'll cover all of them in uncomfortable detail in coming weeks, but first I have to point out the horrible travesty on child-named attractions that is the Puerto Rico Children's Museum. All I can say is that it's no place for kids.
We'd setup our visit about a week in advance and we were pretty excited to see this, the only place in San Juan Puerto Rico dedicated entirely to children. We'd read some pretty okay things and the price looked good, but when we got there it all fell apart.
They weren't expecting us, despite our confirmation from the government tourism agency, but that's not normally a real problem. We've had that experience before, where we weren't expected despite preparations, but these guys took the ignorance to some really extreme kind of new, unbelievable level.
We spent a good half-hour in the lobby, waiting for the chaperone to check out our credentials and permit us inside. We weren't there for a traditional day of play, but rather an abridged 20-30 minute version in which we'd check out half of everything half of once to take a bunch of pictures and formulate our review.
They denied us entry, stating that they would permit us entry if we had called, but that we'd have to pay $31 to come in and perform our review… Please bear in mind that there were no children in attendance when we arrived and equally zero when we left discouraged and crying more than 30-minutes later.
The $31 for admission was more than 50% higher than what any of the four Puerto Rican guidebooks told us it would cost, even though the exhibits were unchanged since they were written.
During our painful wait, Brendan had to take a bathroom break, which happened to be upstairs. That meant he got a chance to take a full, though unsanctioned trip through the entire "museum." The place is roughly the size of a convenience store, though spanning two floors. Worse still, most of the "fun" is supposed to come from interaction with other kids, of which there were none despite the place having been open for two hours already.
Left - This picture was taken in the lobby, which was about as far as we ever got in this place. It's a shame because it seems like at least a three-star place, but with five-star prices, who will ever know?
After Brendan got a full (though unofficial) tour of the place, the ultimatum was set. We could pay $31 for 20-30 minutes of conspicuously lonely play or we could pass on the whole thing, despite a hurricane brewing outside and an obvious lack of grounds to dismiss us.
They checked out our credentials on the spot, and confirmed that we'd published more than 1,200 articles, including reviews from Canada, China, San Francisco, and other places. They told us plainly that it wasn't a problem with our credentials, but just that no one had called in advance, even though we gave them the name of our contact, who inconveniently could not be reached at the time. So it wasn't that we weren't real or that we were trying to get something undue for free, it was that our person hadn't talked to the right member of their staff of right persons… call me a child, but that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.
The place was empty, it's not like we were putting anyone out by our attendance. Further, we left without paying for admission, so it's not like there was an opportunity cost. How come me, as a three-year-old, can see the plain logic in what these people, at ages presumably older than three, could not? Have I been taking my crazy pills again?
In Spanish it's called the "Museo Del Niño Puerto Rico," but anyhow you slice this acrid bud, this rose don't smell nothing but sour.
We had endured enough such problems with Puerto Rico tourist attractions by this point so the last thing we were going to do was pay them an exorbitant amount of money to bring them promotion. We left.
It boiled down to a decision by our onsite liaison to deny us admission even to take pictures and write a review. As we were leaving into torrential rain with my brother Brendan in play-deprived tears, daddy said to the man, "You realize that if we leave now, this is going to be the review."
He said that he understood and that we should only report our experiences exactly as they took place… This from a guy working at a Children's Museum with his lower lip pierced and his hair gelled like a Hollywood B-movie actor.
So that, unfortunately, is our review. The place is the size of a convenience store, there are painfully few kids there (if any), and it costs five-times as much as the nearby historic landmark El Morro, which offers hours of enjoyment, countless exhibits, entertaining films, remarkable history, and doesn't go out of their way to insure that kids have the worst possible time imaginable.
In no uncertain terms should anyone ever take their kids to the Puerto Rico Children's Museum. It's a waste of time, a waste of money and they don't give the first rat's batooty about kids. Period and done.
Above - The lobby makes the place look pretty spectacular, but the lobby accounts for roughly 25% of the total museum floor, so if you just check out that part and leave, you're getting like an $8 value.