You'll see nice big ads for Windmill Island on the backs of various travel publications from the Western Michigan shoreline. It's a prominent ad, and it certainly sounds good. You'll also see brochures for it everywhere. And again, they sure sound good. But save your money, and keep reading the brochure, because it's far more entertaining than the real attraction. And it'll keep you occupied far longer.
Because when you get there, you find it's $7 a person to get in. So you pay, thinking that the place is going to be really nice, and have all these neat things to see and do, based on what you saw in the ad and the brochure.
Nope. We paid our admission, drove in, and were there all of 15 minutes. And we pretty much exhausted everything to see and do. Perhaps back in the 1960s, when this attraction opened up, it may have been neat. But today, it really begs the question, why be open? There's nothing to DO here. And oddly enough, I'm somone who appreciates roadside kitsch, and cheesy old theme parks and attractions. But I feel that the $14 was completely wasted.
The lush greenhouse? It's tiny, and it's filled with exotic house plants. The garden center down the road from me actually has far more exotic plants in it. I'm not sure what the greenhouse has to do with a faux-Holland setup, anyway. There was a line of Dutch buildings there, it looked like 4 or 5 different buildings. Yet they were connected inside, and it was a snack bar, serving such Dutch treats as "pigs in the blanket," and kielbasa, and a fudge counter, a gift shop selling knockoff delftware souvenirs, and an area selling wooden shoes and books about Holland. (the country, not Michigan) With a couple of sullen teenagers, standing there bored, wearing wooden shoes.
Outside was the Post House," which had restrooms (nicely clean, I'll give them that much), and showing a "full color slide show" about Holland (the country, not Michigan). We skipped it, because in this video age, a slide show presentation just didn't seem a whole lot of excitement. There was also an Amsterdam street organ outside, which played once. There was also a full windmill, originally from Holland (the country, not Michigan). It appears that you can climb up inside it, and look out on the expansive view. Of a bunch of luxury condos nearby. I didn't climb up, and even when I walked in, there were two sullen teenage employees, wearing wooden shoes. They were talking to each other, and didn't talk to me.
Of course, things might be different there in season. We were there the first weekend of June, before tourist season really begins. And perhaps it's much nicer when there's actually tulips in bloom ... they were all gone, and replaced by some annuals. But still, it seems for $7 a person, there should be at least SOMETHING to do there. Even if it was way cheesier, it would have been better. But no, there wasn't even a kitsch factor working here.
If anything, we stayed only 15 minutes, because the woman at the front gate was so friendly and enthusiastic, we couldn't face slinking past her on the way out. We were also thinking of doing the Nelis Dutch Village, and the Klompenshoe factory, but decided that enough faux-Dutch stuff was enough. And plus, we figured we already lost $14 at Windmill Island, and why make it worse? So we passed, and instead went to the beach. That only cost $8, but it was so much nicer.
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