Can you believe October is soon approaching? Where has the year gone? Anyhow, October for the Roloffs of course means Pumpkin Season.
The Roloffs have released information and changes they have implemented for the upcoming Pumpkin season:
I will dissect some of those changes and details now.
There are some new attractions, but there are also new charges and costs. Where do you stand on this? Good business or greedy and price gouging?
The first big difference is there is this:
Parking $2.00 per car
Admission to Pumpkin Patch FREE!
Displaying it that way does smack of a smart business mind, doesn't it? This is a new charge. They haven't charged for parking in the past.
What is somewhat humorous here is the catch -- the only way to enter the farm is by car. So you have to pay $2 to park - a new charge for the Roloffs to make money off the customers, but they bold the part about the FREE admission. ;-)
Is it greed or good business? The Roloffs get thousands and thousands of visitors. $2.00 a car is going to mean a lot of extra $ for the Roloffs, so on that standpoint you have to say it's good business because $2.00 per car is probably not going to deter people who were set on going anyway. However, still, whenever something was free in that past and somebody slaps on a new charge...that's kind of...hmm.
The other big change: A private 30 minute farm tour with a member of the immediate Roloff family on Thursdays (remember in October the kids are in school on Thursdays). That sounds pretty cool, doesn't it?
But wait, for a family of 4, the Roloffs will charge you $300 for that 30 minute tour of the farm (the western town, Molly's castle, etc.) with a Roloff. They're charging $250 a tour for up to 3 people and $50 for each additional person.
In the last episode of pumpkin season, viewers saw Matt sub in as a tour guide - it would be neat to have a Roloff as a tour guide, but little did viewers know that was apparently the pre-cursor to the Roloffs setting the price at $250 for up to 3 people, for the privilege of having the tour in the presence of a Roloff.
I have to be honest about this one, I think that's outrageous! Personally, I honestly do enjoy a lot of things about watching the actual episodes, but it's times like this that I have to call the Roloffs on some of their public statements. The Roloffs have always said they don't do the show for the personal gain, they don't do it to be a celebrity or for the special treatment they receive, they don't do it for all the vacations or all the money (and let's admit it, nearly all the revenue generated during pumpkin season is all because they have the television show fame). The Roloffs maintain that they don't do the show to be famous or to be celebrities (or to meet celebrities which is expected to become increasingly common in season 5), they're just regular people doing the show in the name of dwarfism awareness (which I absolutely would agree that the show does accomplish that goal).
However, if they're not doing the show for money or to be a celebrity, in my opinion, they certainly have adopted a high opinion of themselves as regular people to charge a family of 4, $300 bucks to drive around the farm with them for a 30 minutes. More than ever, it appears they're pulling out all the stops they can to make every dollar they can off of their celebrity status directly from their fans.
Of course, the counter argument for this is the old business adage, if people will pay it, charge it. If people will buy your dirt, tacky or not, you're not wrong to sell it to them. If people will pay you $250 to sit in your presence for 30 minutes, scorch them all you want. If a sports ballpark charges $12.50 for a hot dog and a soft drink, they can because some of their customers will pay it....but it's still outrageous.
There are some new attractions to the farm which are actually....free. There is a new children's hay maze. The Zootica that was introduced last year is still free. The pumpkin fun house is still free. And they aren't charging for "photo opportunities". I have to say if they're charging $250 for a tour with a Roloff, I am surprised that they haven't started charging for photos, perhaps that will come 2010?
The last important warning if you're considering making the trip is the same message that was posted last year:
"The family is actively filming new episodes of 'Little People, Big World'. As such, they may not always be available to meet the public. Although there is no guarantee, they are around often so keep your camera ready and be on the look-out!"
Of course, sometimes they just aren't around because the kids are just in the house because they'd rather not be out there and sometimes they have activities planned (sporting events). But it is important for people to know that if you're going to spend the money and the time to devote to the Roloff Pumpkin Patch, be aware that there's no guarantee you will necessarily see any of the Roloffs.
I just wonder as viewers in the 5th season are going to increasingly see (presumably- unless they edit it out or come up with a sneaky way of masking it) the Roloffs receive special treatment, like special access to other celebrities, tourist attractions and sporting events (for the soccer fans, the Roloffs special access to the Portland Timbers is nothing compared to what you're going to see with the Roloffs and some legendary "football" clubs in Europe).
And now that they're charging the public hundreds of dollars to sit with them and ride with them for a tour, will there come a point where fans start to feel that they can't relate to the Roloffs anymore? Somewhere along the way, the other TLC family show, Jon and Kate Plus 8 generated a backlash because their viewers felt they could no longer relate to them - that it was all about vacations and felt they had changed as people.
All I'm saying is if the main appeal of Little People, Big World still is that fans feel the Roloffs are just so real and they can relate to them, I wonder if there is going to come a point where the viewer can't relate to them because the special treatment they now receive is just so different than that of a regular person and it will become harder to identify with them when they're to the point where they can and will charge you $250 basically to be in their company for a few minutes and most fans are aware that the Roloffs reputation online is they are the type of celebrities that won't communicate with 'normal people' themselves . Even the few public messages the Roloffs do release usually are done through their 'people' rather than just doing it themselves like real 'regular' people :) I think it just all goes against one of the reason why viewers were attracted to the Roloffs in the first place.
I'm somewhat fascinated to see how they're going to portray the show in the new season. This blog hears from people everyday who tell us what they like about the Roloffs and Little People, Big World and from people who tell us what they don't like about the Roloffs and the show. The number one positive thing people list is the Roloffs 'realness'. That they seem just like down to earth regular people living lives just like their own (the viewer). It's just an interesting scope of people who enjoy the show and why - some enjoy it as the vacations become more luxurious and frequent - because they like living vicariously through the Roloffs because they aren't ever going experience those things themselves so they like it. But then there's other fans who cite the very opposite reason - that they feel the Roloffs are just like themselves and are just regular people struggling to pay the bills and get the kids off to school, etc. It's just interesting to hear what the appeal of the show is for different people.