A Few Words About the Idiots That Have Overrun the Perot Museum This Week

eagleYes, it is spring break. I get that. Humans are everywhere, out in force, trailing their offspring, trying like hell to keep the little monsters entertained, praying there’s enough red wine on store shelves to make it through the week. And the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is a newfangled attraction perfect for passing such a time (except that, unless I missed it, the Perot stocks zero red wine). I understand all this. Patience is required. Deep breath.

But you inconsiderate sonsofbitches who stare at your phones while your ill-behaved children run amok, you oblivious bastards who zigzag through crowded spaces as if you were the last person on earth — I hope all you people develop a bad case of gout. I hope the uric acid crystals (that’s science) stab your every joint so sharply that you are forced to sit on your couches and watch reruns of Ow! My Balls! 

Let’s focus on one small example. Take the tornado simulator in the roll-off-the-tongue Rees-Jones Foundation Dynamic Earth Hall. It’s an open-sided cylinder in which a fan blows a column of water vapor into a 10-foot-tall vortex that looks like a Lilliputian tornado. Cool, right? You can lean in and touch it. But if every unattended kid and curious teenager constantly sticks his hand into the machine, then the damn vortex will never form! NO TORNADO!

I stood there with my 7-year-old daughter yesterday, waiting for the mini tornado to form in the Rees-Jones Foundation Dynamic Earth Hall. She couldn’t keep her hands out of it, understandably. Every time, the vortex of water vapor would slowly descend from the ceiling of the cylinder, and she — and six other people — would interrupt it. So I did what a parent does. I gently grabbed her mitts and said, “Little girl, every time you touch it, you kill it. Just let it grow. Wait. Be patient. It will look so much cooler if you chill for 10 seconds.”

You see where I’m headed. There were six other people standing there, waiting to touch the tornado, and by God if someone else was going to touch it first. Mutually assured destruction. Ad infinitum. We never got to see the thing do what it was designed to do.

This, to me, sums up my visit to the Perot yesterday. I could write another 600 words about the mom and brat that we encountered in the Texas Instruments Engineering and Innovation Hall, she in her yoga pants and he with his coordinated outfit. My 14-year-old son and I had worked awhile on building a tower that we’d waited our turn to test on an earthquake simulator. As we were doing so, the brat said, “I want to try it!” and reached to remove our structure. Mom, rather than restrain her sour loinfruit, placed her foot on my son’s chair, as if to signal that it was time for him to move on. But I won’t. Write the 600 words, I mean. I’ll stop. Another deep breath.

My research suggests that 75 percent of people suck. If there’s enough red wine on hand, that figure drops by 33.3 percent. I bought a family membership to the Perot before the museum even opened to the public. Still, I have to fight the museum’s poorly designed website to “buy” tickets that stipulate the hour of my admission. That’s fine, though, I thought, even if it meant that there were times that the museum was “sold out,” and I couldn’t, even as a member, get in. The great wisdom of staggering admission times — again, I thought — was that the 25 percent of us who mind our children and ourselves could touch a tornado. The joint would be sparsely populated enough that the jerks wouldn’t be numerous enough to ruin a good time. Yesterday, it was overrun. The expression is “asses to elbows” — in my experience both literal and metaphorical (although I must confess that I’ve never met a metaphorical elbow).

Where once there were frogs (that I recall), there are now no-fun coils of cable.
Where once there were frogs (that I recall), there are now no-fun coils of cable.

I have other complaints. Too many exhibits and interactive stations have been shut down — and not just because they cost a man a finger. There’s an obvious explanation for this. Since the museum rushed to open in December 2012, more than 350,000 people have streamed through its doors. To put that in perspective, the DMA, in what was then a banner year, admitted 641,000 people through its doors in 2007. At the pace the Perot is on now, it will hit 1.4 million visitors in its first year, more than twice that DMA number. The Perot has 180,000 square feet, less than half the DMA’s 370,000.

But wait. That’s not fair, right? Kids don’t go running through the DMA, touching the art. I’m comparing an apple to a socket wrench. So let’s look at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. That sucker is huge, 400,000 square feet. You know how many people run through that place every year? About 1.5 million, roughly the same number that the Perot Museum is on pace to squeeze through less than half that space.

In short, the Perot has pumped a lot of humans and their offspring through its exhibits. And it feels that way. Folks create friction. In this scenario, people are agents of entropy. (Again, science.)

Walk with me for a minute into the courtyard, where yesterday a tow-headed little jackass tried to tear a branch from a tree until my mother, a schoolteacher unafraid to discipline those who need it, told him to stop. When I visited that sacred space as a journalist in November, there was a pond with lily pads floating in it. There were oversized, underlit frogs meant for hopping on. Now those lilies are dead, and many of the frogs are dead. The courtyard was covered with gravel; much of it has been thrown by children into the pond, killing the plants. What happened to the glowing frogs? I don’t know. But sad coils of electrical cord lie where they once crouched.

Too many kids. (They are all evil, no doubt.) Not enough oversight. (Too expensive, no question.)

Here’s the surprise ending: I wrote this post last night. I hope that doesn’t blow your mind. Literally, as I was writing about the worst part of my visit to the Perot, my daughter began regaling my wife with a story about how she touched a tornado. That’s the good news. My daughter can’t wait to visit the museum again.

The bad news is that my daughter didn’t pay for our membership. Congrats to CEO Nicole Small and everyone else at the Perot — especially the Perots — who has made it a success. It really is a wonderful place, a huge asset to North Texas. But how they handle that success will determine the museum’s future. With my own self interest in mind, I suggest granting founding members a second year free, to make up for the less-than-stellar early experiences. And they should immediately start construction on a screening device that rejects idiots. Has Andy Beal been tapped yet? Maybe with his largesse, the tornado can twist unmolested.

47 comments on “A Few Words About the Idiots That Have Overrun the Perot Museum This Week

  1. That’s why I’ve yet to enjoy this wondeful space…friends have told me about the kids that run wild in the place. Parents..your kids are only fascinating to you, and believe me, everything they do is not cute and adorable. And the only thing worse than a loud annoying kid, is their stupid oblivious parents.

  2. I have no interest in going until at least a year from now. Let the new-ness wear off.

  3. You should go to Great Wolf Lodge next, just so I can read a very similar rant soon.

  4. Tim – Ask your son for his cell phone picture of the Mom in yoga pants so you can post it.

  5. I went to the museum in December and I told my sister then, “Engineers are NO MATCH for a clever 5 year old.”
    Many of the exhibits were closed for repair and the building looks much older than it is. I blame the parents – very little supervision or interaction with their children who are irritating the bejesus out of the ones of us who are NOT accompanied by children or grandchildren. That will be the challenge for the musem. How to keep things operable! And enjoyable! And repeatable!

  6. Yours is a fair question. I will try to answer it as best I can. She was blond, approximately 40 years old. She looked fit in a way that can only be achieved by paying someone to teach you how to exercise and by shopping exclusively at Whole Foods. So, yeah, on the surface, she was attractive. But you know how attractive people can look ugly if you stare at them for longer than 30 seconds? She had that thing going on.

  7. Crap, seriously? The frogs are gone?? We’re having my daughter’s birthday there this weekend. She’s been before and can’t wait to see the frogs again. I guess I’ll have to tell her kids without good manners ruin it for everyone. Little bastards.

  8. So she had a pretty high “Peanut Butter Factor.” I think I originally heard Junior Miller call it that.

  9. I think we can all agree that kids pretty much suck. I think we can also agree that parents suck even more.

  10. Laughed hilariously. I have 3 squids. We haven’t been yet for this exact reason and remarkably, at 13, 11 & 6, they haven’t put up a fight to go. Sounds like we will continue to wait the idiots out.

    Just wait until the wino’s get in this weekend for Savor Dallas!

  11. I don’t think Tim R. is exaggerating. Entirely too crowded. It’s downtown and the architecture is intriguing. I preferred the Science Museum at Fair Park. The interactive exhibits have worn out quickly.

  12. I’m of the old-school mindset…scare the crap out of your kids to enforce good behavior. I drive my daughter by the juvenile detention center on I-30, point it out and tell her that’s where kids who don’t mind their parents are locked up. Worked for me – when I was little we drove by this scary, gothic type architecture orphanage to get to my grandparents house. One nod in the direction of that place scared the bejeesus out of me. Boom – super polite kid.
    But I guess all is lost on parents who don’t mind their kids being assholes, huh?

  13. I went in January with my husband. It took us 3 tries to get in, as every time we went it was sold out. The idea of having a “reservation time” is lovely, but not if the damn place is still stuffed. I do not have kids. My husband and I went and I found myself having to fight children and their parents to see the exhibits. Just because you have a child, doesn’t mean that kid is more entitled to enjoy him or herself more than I am. I paid to get in there damnit, so I’m going to enjoy the exhibits, and I really don’t care how much you try to force your child in front of me. Instead, take the opportunity to teach your child a lesson in patience.

  14. Nice Museum, great staff, I asked about the timed general admission, and was told that eventually after things quiet down they’ll remove the time restriction so you can buy an admission with no time attached to it. Too bad the frogs and play area didn’t survive the open.

  15. Wait a couple of months until the trophy children and their parents have moved on to the new Arboretum Children’s Garden. Until then, try the early members only hours at the Perot. It’s the only time we’ve had a pleasant experience.

  16. Well said, Tim. I can only hope the “new” wears off soon, so we can all enjoy the greatness that is the Perot Museum.

  17. I can now envision a possible career for my intelligent and interesting 26 yr old liberal arts diploma-holding, freelance photographing, underpaid auto-mechanic working son who freely and infamously (at least among his 800+ ‘friends’) posts masterfully worded Facebook rants about life’s frustrations and who only yesterday vented to a hapless 911 operator his frustration over sitting far too long in stalled LBJ traffic.

  18. I tell my kid that if he touches gravel, he will go to the North Korean “Camp 22″ gulag at Haengyong, where he will be held in lifelong detention among walking skeletons in rags, with torn-off ears and crooked noses, working from 5 a.m. until 8 p.m. (7 p.m. in winter), subsisting on 6.3 ounces of corn per day and receiving brutal beatings on a regular basis for showing insufficient zeal at his self-criticism sessions. If he grows ill, he will be quarantined, abandoned and left to die. This tack seems to have worked: He never touches gravel and has a haunted look about him.

  19. As we fought the crowds on a recent Saturday (my first mistake), I remarked to my wife that I’d gladly pay $50 to come to a day (or night) at the museum without kids.

    The problem with staggered entry times is there are not set exit times. You need to be in the first group and do the cool stuff before it gets too crowded. Because even though there are timed tickets for every half hour, obviously people spend the better part of a day there.

    The answer is fewer tickets for each half hour…good luck with that.

  20. since you’re a member, Tim, try visiting during the members-only hours Saturday or Sunday morning. I’ve only been twice, but it was a little better during the members-only hours.

  21. Thank you for having the courage to post this, Tim. This was identical to my experience at the Perot. Great place ruined by bad kids and worse parents. I appreciate the fact that you’re attentive enough to monitor your kids, but unfortunately for you, your daughter, and the rest of the 25 percent of us who don’t suck, the remaining three-quarters of people still manage to ruin the experience. I’ll wait for the gout epidemic to make some headway in before going back.

  22. I took my pre-school aged children last week around lunchtime and was amazed by the huge group of school children eating lunch in the courtyard. They were terrorizing it. I asked inside and they said they have approximately 1,500 school children on field trips each day. I am not sure what the student/adult ratio is on an average field trip, but I would imagine that might be part of the problem. I was able to keep a close eye on my two, but I would not want to be in charge of many more than that at a museum that crowded. All that to say – I think parents are ultimately to blame for not instilling better manners in their children, but the museum might want to consider requiring a higher ratio of adult chaperones to students. It was like anarchy in there.

  23. We were there 2 weeks ago and the ponds were all clear and the gravel was where it was supposed to be. Maybe Spring Break is wreaking havoc on the patio?

  24. Actually, I disagree because you’re absolutely wrong. You (and everyone else who hates kids) seem to forget that a) you were a child once and probably annoyed more than a few adults in your day, and b) when you are old and your diaper needs changing, you may regret not taking an interest in helping these young people to become compassionate, considerate adults. Whom will you blame then when you are, literally and metaphorically, sitting in a mess of our own making?

    I get that these parents were neglecting their kids — that’s clear. What I don’t understand is how that’s the kids’ fault. Or, for that matter, why that implies that all parents are bad parents. Do you think all dog owners are bad dog owners just because you’ve seen a few dogs jump on people or crap on the floor? And do you blame the dog for crapping on the floor when no one bothered to house train it? If so, you’re not very reasonable.

    Furthermore, neglect is as damaging to a child as abuse. Who on this thread would hesitate to intervene — with lethal force if necessary — if they saw a child being abused in public? But the sight of kids all around us being blatantly neglected only motivates us to be snarky and judgmental of parents and kids everywhere.

    Just so you know, there are at least a handful of us parents who would drag our kids out by the collar and cram them into a car seat in full view of all their friends if they acted like that. And because our kids know that’s the consequence, they behave.

    Judging by your manners, it seems your parents may have neglected you in much the same way. How sad for you.

  25. As a child, I was sent to North Korea several times a week for exactly that same thing. Can’t even stand the sight of gravel now. On the plus side, I have still have a few million airline miles left – though they are only good for travel to NK or redemption in the Dennis Rodman fan store.

  26. It’s 10 kids to 1 adult for K12 school groups. I took my college-age international ESL students there and super regretted it. On the plus side, a school group only costs $5 a pop. Barely worth it.

  27. And the space at the Fair Park location was much better–larger exhibit rooms with plenty of room for asses and elbows. The Perot is like a rabbit warren: tiny room after tiny room, clearly not planned out well for large crowds IMHO.

  28. It’s an interactive science museum for kids. Enough reviews like this one and soon it will be booked with nothing but cocktail parties and events for the rich who will be heard whispering “isn’t this a lovely space?” Count me among those who would prefer to avoid both of these groups, but, in particular, the latter.

  29. You are just angry at feeling suckered when part of engaging in life means risk. Get over it and have a sense of humor. It is the angry, cynical parents who feel they need alcohol to get through anything kid-related that spoils it for everyone else. I am happy your kids had fun, that was the intent!

  30. I think the solution is probably somewhere in the middle. They need to lower the limit of the number of school groups allowed each day (perhaps by raising the group rate from $5), lower the overall number of people allowed in at any one time, stay open past five (at least a couple of nights of the week), increase the number and decrease the cost of the Science Socials. At least those are my suggestions.

  31. I was afraid of this. Oh well, there go my son’s and my plans for tomorrow. Bummer. He’s nine-years-old and does not tolerate kids who behave poorly, nor do I. I don’t have the patience to tolerate adults who shouldn’t have earned the title of parent, let alone the offspring that the parent(s) refuses to guide into being a cooperative human being. I am so tired of these people who, for whatever reason, believe the world revolves around them, especially in NC TX.

    Thanks for the heads up.

  32. THANK YOU!!! I also bought a family membership and am beginning to wonder why? Why did I pay all that money to be limited to a place I’m a member. Why is it I’m trying so hard to teach my young children patience and respect for others and for culture of the arts and fun education when no one else seems to teach it to their children. The last time we went I finally lost my temper because my 2 kids had been waiting patiently in line to do the race while other kids kept cutting in front of them. After the 3rd time it happened my 6 year old looked up and said she was sad that she wasn’t getting a turn. That was it so the next time those kids came through I grabbed them by their arms and told them no. They threatened to tell their dad and I said go right ahead. Turns out dad was on another floor and these boys were unattended. Honestly I believe the Perot is HIGHLY understaffed and needs a lot more help.

  33. My daughter and I enrolled in their Little Leonardo’s parent/child class and unfortunately it is on Fridays. The day of the week when bus loads of kids scurry like roaches all over the place. Does the museum even limit the number of schools that can visit? I can’t even explain something to my child without having some unsupervised school kid trying to grab the car we are trying to assemble in the Engineering Hall. What will this place look like next year?

  34. This article was as if I wrote it. My husband and I have yet to take the kids here because we hate a-holes. Big a-holes and their little off-sprig a-holes. we haven’t justified the price yet, knowing I will go and hate more people than I already do….even if it means a few hours out with this kids and a better nap. Thanks for the honest and great review!!!

  35. Tim Rogers,
    I guess surrounding yourself in a place you know children will be you were asking for it. You truly sound like a child hater. Surely not the intent. I am heading there today with my daughter’s school for a 5th grade field trip. Hoping to prove you wrong and show this is just a “Dallas” mentality. Yes I am from a small town south of Fort Worth, We have well behaved kids here. As well as parents who dont hate kids for being kids. We also do not think we are too good or above the general population. I am excited to share one of the last few school field trips with my daughter at a museum geared to entertain, inform and inspire our children. That is the attitude I will take going in. Your “drama queen” attitude and put upon attitude will be taken into consideration but im quite sure proven ridiculous. If this is what the “Dallas people” have become, im glad that Joshua is my hometown. I lived in Dallas county growing up. My, people have changed. Not for the better.
    Thanks for your time and listening to the lowly mother of 3 from a real small town.
    Angela ♥