1. I took my daughter on a train ride in an outdoor mall this Christmas, and it was $4/person. It was something like 10-15 minutes, though, so I felt OK about it.

  2. Not a CIDU for you but is one for me.

    As for the rides… they charge *anything* for them? Other than a chuckle “how cute, a toy train in a mall— it’s cute it exists” I can’t see that anyone would actually *want* to ride in one. It’d be like if the had tree frond huts in the parking lot. “Do you want to park in it?” “Sure, it looks cute” “Okay, that’ll be $3 extra to park in it” “What? I don’t want to park in it enough to actually do anything or pay any money or make any effort! I just want to park in it if it’s there.”

    But if they are charging *anything* I’d assume it’d be at least seven bucks. Nothing is less than seven bucks.

  3. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen train rides at a mall. Apparently at this mall, parents put their kids on by themselves so they can teach them that getting into a vehicle driven by a stranger is fun?

  4. woozy: “I can’t see that anyone would actually *want* to ride in one.”

    Are you under six years old? If not, you’re probably not in the target audience.

    Mark M: There was one in a mall in San Diego that my daughter rode by herself. I wasn’t real worried about the stranger driving the train because (1) he worked for the mall (2) the loop was small enough that you could see the train at the other end of the mall and (3) the train was slow enough I could have walked alongside it if I had wanted to.

  5. The kids ride the motorized animals round the area of the kiosk. I assume if they venture too far, the power cuts off.

    This actually is kind of cool.

  6. “Not a CIDU for you but is one for me.”

    Snidely D. Villain keeps trying to tie up Polly Pureheart and throw her on the railroad tracks. Except the train tracks are in the mall’s food court, and it’s holding up the kiddie train rides.

    The engineer is sympathetic to Snidely’s need for (melo) drama, however, and offers to help the guy out after the mall closes and the little kids clear out.

  7. “Are you under six years old? If not, you’re probably not in the target audience.”

    But when I was under six years old I wouldn’t have been able to afford $5.

    “The engineer is sympathetic to Snidely’s need for (melo) drama, however, and offers to help the guy out after the mall closes and the little kids clear out.”

    But isn’t the melodrama better *with* the kids as audience members?

    Or is he planning on running over and killing Polly to help the villain out and wants no witnesses? That’s grim, dude.

  8. There really aren’t any tracks there though to tie Ms. Pureheart to.

    Many tourist railroads (the kind with real, authentic antique railroad equipment) offer staged events to spice up the rides. These include faux Western-movie style train robberies and such, so maybe in this scenario Ms. Pureheart’s hero will arrive at the last minute to scoop her up.

  9. No trains at the mall by me, but they have the animals you can ride. I have seen some pretty big kids riding them and I think maybe even a mom riding with their child. Not sure what the price is to ride.

  10. “But when I was under six years old I wouldn’t have been able to afford $5.”

    Not even right after Christmas?

    “Or is he planning on running over and killing Polly to help the villain out and wants no witnesses? That’s grim, dude.”

    I didn’t write it. I just explained it. Take it up with the author. You’re right that it isn’t necessary for the joke, but if it makes you feel better, I’m pretty sure all that would happen is that it would push Ms. Trueheart around the floor. Grimy, but not deadly.

  11. In a few local malls there are kiddie trains on a loop smaller than a merry-go-round circumference, for kids with a very low threshold of excitement. Just once saw a train like the one in the cartoon. It carried adults and kids, and there was a guy walking in front of the train to clear pedestrians out of the way. It went away pretty quickly.

  12. There’s at least one mall near Meryl and myself that has those ride-on animals. The kids can ride them all over the mall, and do. I think the parents have to make a deposit.

  13. “Isn’t she Nell?” Only in Dudley Doright. She was Nell Fenwick. But in “Barney Oldfield’s Race for a Life” (which was a comedy) she was just “the girl” (played by Mabel Normand). There’s no Polly Pureheart nor Snidely D. Villain. Those are amalgamations mostly from Snidely Whiplash of Dudley Doright and Perils of Pauline, Sweet Polly Purebred and Pearl Pureheart.

  14. I don’t know of any of these kinds of train rides at any malls near me. However, I live in an urban environment. Children who live here see trains and streetcars and buses on a daily basis. Even kids in our nearby suburbs are likely not strangers to trains. I think these would be popular in suburban areas of the USA that are devoid of public transportation and where a train is an unspeakable novelty.

  15. I don’t know: my nephew’s best treat is to ride the tram or underground from one end of the line, to the other end, and back. He’s 7 and lives in Paris. It’s a thing with tracks: he doesn’t care for buses.

  16. Where the heck do you guys live that visiting Santa isn’t free? Good heavens. And nothing costs less than $9?

    You all need to move someplace normal.

  17. I thoroughly embarrassed my then-girlfriend by laughing so loud and hard the first time I ever saw those ride-on animals at the mall. Fortunately, that did not wind up being a deal breaker for her.

  18. “They charge FIVE DOLLARS for these rides now???”

    Said like a true old person.

    I happen to agree, but I’m not an old person.

    No, I’m not.


  19. The apparent rate of inflation in my lifetime seems to be roughly a factor of 10, that is, stuff today will seem to be about 10 times as expensive as I think it should be. So that $5 train ride should be 50¢. I mentioned this to a friend, we were talking about comic books, and he refused to believe me, until we went to the numbers: I remember buying my first comic book for 30¢, and the same series title being available now for 3 bucks ($2.99); My first issue of Mad Magazine was 60¢ (cheap), and now it costs $5.99. It was spooky because it worked out to exactly 10 times, where I (and he) would have been happy with “in the general ballpark of”…

  20. Our local mall is a triangle; the train ride (once around) costs €2.50 per person (about $3). That’s just expensive enough (in comparison to the shortness/boringness of the trip) that I’ve never been willing to let my kids try it, but now I think I might just let them try it. They’ll probably never ask again.
    P.S. While I have seen “riding animals” here, they are not a permanent attraction, and they were not motorized. Instead, they were horses (in three different sizes) that the kids could propel by rocking on them. It was surprisingly effective, but my son got tired of it before his time was up.
    P.P.S. We’ve never done the “Santa’s Lap” bit with our kids, but when I looked at the setup at the mall just before this past Christmas, it didn’t seem like they were taking money for it.

  21. But when I was under six years old I wouldn’t have been able to afford $5.

    I couldn’t afford anything at that age. Yet I had food and clothing and occasional entertainment that cost money. Admittedly my parents would not have been likely to pay for something like that. Not that it came up, as we didn’t live in a place that had a mall until I was 11 or so.

  22. We’ve never done “Santa’s Lap” either, but I thought the trick was always that your kids got to sit in his lap and talk to him for free, but then you had to pay for photos.

  23. At the mall nearest to us, Santa is part if a photography enterprise. I’m not sure whether kids are allowed to talk to Santa if their parents haven’t paid for a photo package, but personal photography is prohibited.

  24. “‘Isn’t she Nell?’ Only in Dudley Doright.”

    In “Along Came Jones”, she’s’s “Sue” (with various adjectives)

  25. Are those robot animals really interesting enough to where any kid would ride them for 12 or 18 minutes? I’d expect the novelty to have work off completely by the 5-minute mark.

  26. She seems rather unperturbed by the whole thing in the comic. Maybe it’s just role-playing.

  27. The entire time I was there, I didn’t see a single kid riding one of the animals. The only time a parent showed any interest in paying for a ride, the guy in charge was MIA.

    One big problem with the concept: they were located in a section of the mall that got very little foot traffic — but of course they had to be since in a busy part of the mall, you can’t have kids riding motorized Pink Panthers underfoot.

  28. There was a mall near Portland that, when constructed, had an ice-skating rink at the center of the food court. (That particular mall’s ice rink is famous because it was where Tonya Harding practiced).
    The demand for ice sakiting was low enough to start, and then when Tonya brought infamy to ice skating in the region, it dropped off even more. Eventually, the mall ripped out the skating rink and filled the space with a variety of rinky-dink small-children’s rides… the kind you used to find one-at-a-time outside the grocery store. The galloping horsy, the car that went up and down for some reason, the rocket ship and moved exactly like the galloping horsy, etc. There’s probably a train around the perimeter. The biggest challenge is that it’s on the first floor, and all the food court establishments are on the second floor. So, the target audience for such a thing (parents with small bored children who normally get a “play area” with their Mcmeals) are up on the second floor eating, looking down on the children who happened to drag their parents into the mechanical play area from the first floor.
    This same mall has a free (?!) play area at one end of the mall, just outside one of the anchor stores. It’s basically a padded bit of floor, with benches around the sides, a small bank of cubbyholes for shoes, and about a 2-foot-tall plastic slide. And about 15 rules for playing in it, in large type, on a sign by the entrance gate.

  29. Carl – there were two malls with them, but one seems to have gotten rid of them – we did not see them at Broadway mall when last we were there. Broadway mall let one ride around. The other mall (I forget which one, but I think it owned or managed by the same company as Broadway mall – had them going around a delineated area.

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