Created By: 32_Footsteps on June 22, 2011 Last Edited By: morenohijazo on March 23, 2013

Tourist Trap

A cheesy vacation spot that purely exists to get out-of-towners to waste their money

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Trope

Not to be launched until cleanup of the current Tourist Trap trope occurs. See this page for details.

On a Vacation Episode, there are plenty of places one can go. There's Viva Las Vegas for those wanting a little gambling or excitement, or Aloha Hawaii if you want to go somewhere tropical with beautiful beaches.

Or, if you don't have the cash, time, or inclination to go all the way there, you can just pick some place incredibly cheesy to visit.

The Tourist Trap is a theoretical vacation destination that's in existence not because it's all that interesting of a place, but convinces visitors to show up through sheer oddity combined with effective advertising. They generally come with cheap and poorly made setups, overpriced flimsy souvenirs, and poor accommodations for people looking to stop by and spend a night. Of course, Nothing Exciting Happens Around Here frequently.

These places can be enjoyable for those visiting, of course - although it generally takes someone who can appreciate things done simply for Rule of Fun (or Rule of Funny). Being able to appreciate Camp also greatly helps.

It's not limited to episodes. Some works just feature the trope. Others are set entirely in one. Also, some tourist traps are attached to places that are "that interesting". They're just full of kitschy brick-a-brack and whatnot.

Not to be confused with the 1979 horror movie, Tourist Trap. Super Trope to Souvenir Land, which is about cheesy amusement parks.

Obviously, Truth in Television. The Other Wiki article on Tourist trap might provide useful information.

See also Roadside attraction and Tourist attraction.

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Examples:

Comic Book
  • In the Judge Dredd story "Emerald Isle", the former Ireland has been transformed into a giant tourist attraction playing up every Irish cliche. This includes every meal featuring "potatoes" which in fact are made of imported rice.

Comic Strips
  • Garfield (and Jon) end up in several of these. One was notable for having the sleazy hotel owner being related to the rat-faced rental car salesmen. Another had one drink costing upwards of 20 dollars.

Film
  • The town Amity in Jaws. The whole reason the Mayor wouldn't shut down the beaches was tourism dollars.
  • Dante's Peak Mayor didn't want to evacuate despite concerns of a volcano erupting was tourism dollars.
  • One of the Beethoven sequels had this, as the Bumbling Dad is obsessed with recreating the vacation from his childhood. Except of course, what was to him a wonderful adventure (or at least so he says) is now a collection of sleazy traps, lousy rides, and one with sumo wrestling.

Literature
  • In American Gods these roadside attractions are places of power. Rock City plays a particularly important role in the narrative.
  • John Brunner's Muddle Earth has a man waking up from cryonic suspension in the 24th century to find that the entire Earth has been turned into a tourist trap.

Live-Action TV
  • The Supernatural episode "Mystery Spot" takes place at one of these. In "Mystery Spot", the Winchesters are initially in a town to investigate a man who went missing, associated with the local tourist trap, a Mystery Spot. Then it turns into a "Groundhog Day" Loop, which is the actual focus of the episode, although several scenes take place at the titular Mystery Spot.
  • Wonderfalls is set in a little tourist trap near Niagra Falls.

Music
  • The "Weird Al" Yankovic song "The Biggest Ball Of Twine In Minnesota" is about a (fictional) family trip to one of these. A few others that the family visited are mentioned in succession at one point; all of these existed at one point. (The titular twine ball can be seen here.)

Video Games
  • In Sam & Max Hit the Road, Sam and Max visit a number of these in the course of their investigation, including a giant ball of twine and a Mystery Spot.
  • The World's Largest Bullet in Borderlands. You can even get an achievement called "One Born Every Minute" by paying for a tour of it.
  • In Earthbound, Summers is even described in-game exactly as one of these.
  • In Tomb Raider: Legend, Lara explores a tourist trap in the west country claiming to be where King Arthur died. Turns out the real tomb is right below said tourist trap.

Western Animation
  • The lead character in Doug once went on a road trip with his family, and he repeatedly pestered his family into checking these out when he saw them advertised on roadside billboards.
  • One episode of Ben 10 involved Ben, Gwen, and Grandpa Max visiting one of these, with Ben enjoying it greatly and Gwen being annoyed the whole time. It would have been quite dull for a trip if Ben hadn't messed with the Schmuck Bait contained therein.
  • The Mystery Shack from Gravity Falls, a Museum of the Strange and Unusual where all the attractions are fake and the merchandise is overpriced. Meanwhile, the town and surrounding woods are filled chockablock with actual weirdness.
  • In The Simpsons "Homer at the Bat" Major League baseballer Ozzie Smith falls into the "Springfield Mystery Spot" on the day he is supposed to play softball for Mr. Burns' team of Ringers.
  • In an early episode of Futurama Earth's moon has become a tourist trap, with nobody even knowing where the actual place "man first set foot on the moon" is.

Other

Real Life
  • One of the most famous in Real Life, due to advertisements well over 100 miles away, is South of the Border, which lies just south of the border between North and South Carolina, not far from Interstate 95, which more or less runs the length of the Unites States eastern seaboard.
  • Wall Drug in South Dakota is similarly famous. They attracted visitors by offering free ice water, which was a big draw for tourists on their way to see Mt. Rushmore. And, as Dave Barry wrote in his Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need they're "advertised by a string of billboards that begins somewhere outside the solar system".
Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • June 22, 2011
    MetaFour
    • Wall Drug in South Dakota is similarly famous. They attracted visitors by offering free ice water, which was a big draw for tourists on their way to see Mt. Rushmore. And, as Dave Barry wrote in his Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need they're "advertised by a string of billboards that begins somewhere outside the solar system".

    • In Sam And Max Hit The Road, Sam and Max visit a number of these in the course of their investigation, including a giant ball of twine and a Mystery Spot.
  • June 22, 2011
    shimaspawn
    • In American Gods these roadside attractions are places of power. Rock City plays a particularly important role in the narrative.
  • June 22, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • The town Amity in Jaws. The whole reason the Mayor wouldn't shut down the beaches was tourism dollars.
    • Dantes Peak Mayor didn't want to evacuate despite concerns of a volcano erupting was tourism dollars.

    Which makes this trope related to the one where you have the person refusing to believe The Jor El about the disaster about to happen.
  • June 23, 2011
    Bisected8
    • The World's Largest Bullet in Borderlands. You can even get an achievement called "One Born Every Minute" by paying for a tour of it.
  • June 24, 2011
    randomsurfer
    The Memory Play Leaving Iowa is about a family's annual trip to these.
  • June 24, 2011
    morenohijazo
    In Earthbound, Summers is even described in-game exactly as one of these.
  • June 24, 2011
    Chabal2
    • One of the Beethoven sequels had this, as the Bumbling Dad is obsessed with recreating the vacation from his childhood. Except of course, what was to him a wonderful adventure (or at least so he says) is now a collection of sleazy traps, lousy rides, and one with sumo wrestling.
    • Garfield (and Jon) end up in several of these. One was notable for having the sleazy hotel owner being related to the rat-faced rental car salesmen. Another had one drink costing upwards of 20 dollars.
  • June 25, 2011
    Arivne
    The Other Wiki article on Tourist trap might provide useful information.

    See also Roadside attraction and Tourist attraction .
  • February 20, 2013
    TonyG
    The Mystery Shack from Gravity Falls, a Museum Of The Strange And Unusual where all the attractions are fake and the merchandise is overpriced. Meanwhile, the town and surrounding woods are filled chockablock with actual weirdness.
  • February 20, 2013
    randomsurfer
    • In The Simpsons "Homer at the Bat" Major League baseballer Ozzie Smith falls into the "Springfield Mystery Spot" on the day he is supposed to play softball for Mr. Burns' team of Ringers.
    • The play Leaving Iowa concerns a writer reminiscing about his family's annual Road Trip to these. Nobody likes doing it except the dad.
  • February 21, 2013
    foxley
    Super Trope to Souvenir Land, which is about cheesy amusement parks.
  • February 21, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Please un-wikify Ringers in the Simpsons example. It goes to the series, not a trope. My bad.
  • February 22, 2013
    IsaacSapphire
    The Supernatural episode "Mystery Spot" takes place at one of these.
  • February 23, 2013
    morenohijazo
    ^ Could you elaborate a bit more, please?
  • February 24, 2013
    IsaacSapphire
    In "Mystery Spot", the Winchesters are initially in a town to investigate a man who went missing, associated with the local tourist trap, a Mystery Spot. Then it turns into a Groundhog Day Plot, which is the actual focus of the episode, although several scenes take place at the titular Mystery Spot.
  • February 24, 2013
    IsaacSapphire
  • March 20, 2013
    Xtifr
    It's not limited to episodes. Some works just feature the trope. Others are set entirely in one. Also, some tourist traps are attached to places that are "that interesting". They're just full of kitschy brick-a-brack and whatnot.

    Live-Action TV:
    • Wonderfalls is set in a little tourist trap near Niagra Falls.

    Literature:
    • John Brunner's Muddle Earth has a man waking up from cryonic suspension in the 24th century to find that the entire Earth has been turned into a tourist trap.
  • March 20, 2013
    Lumpenprole
    In the Judge Dredd story "Emerald Isle", the former Ireland has been transformed into a giant tourist attraction playing up every Irish cliche. This includes every meal featuring "potatoes" which in fact are made of imported rice.

  • March 21, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In an early episode of Futurama Earth's moon has become a tourist trap, with nobody even knowing where the actual place "man first set foot on the moon" is.
  • March 21, 2013
    leaskie
    In Tomb Raider Legend, Lara explores a tourist trap in the west country claiming to be where King Arthur died. Turns out the real tomb is right below said tourist trap.
  • March 23, 2013
    Prfnoff
    Is this about tourist trap towns or roadside attractions? (I'm also annoyed that "See also" is being used to link to Wikipedia articles rather than trope pages.)
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