Not literally or anything, but it appeared to be packed this past weekend. And I asked them, I says, “Is this a free day or something?” And they’re all like, no, it’s just a regular old three-day weekend, just business as usual.
Now, I’ve heard all the complaints. Let’s deal with them, below.
Become a member or get your tickets online ahead of time, and then you avoid this line around the building.
Click to expand.
“The CalAcademy is too small.”
All right, I’ll tell you I was never in there at the old building – I understand it had cool stuff that you miss. But some people, especially the NIMBY neighbors in the nearby Inner Sunset area, think the new building is too big, too popular. The Academy couldn’t continue with the old building due to earthquake concerns – what was considered a safe enough building before in the last century is no longer considered safe enough now. Sorry. (Damn you, San Andreas Fault, damn you.)
“The CalAcademy is too crowded.”
So they must be doing something right, right? What you’re saying, in a way, is that the CalAcademy is too cheap.
“The CalAcademy is too crowded with kids.”
Yep, especially when those school buses roll up. Oh well. The Academy has a mission of public education, does it not? That’s for the benefit of California’s kids. Does that directly benefit you today right now? Maybe not. Sorry.
“The CalAcademy is too expensive.”
Well, this ties in with the first complaint. How can it too expensive if it’s packed all the time? You know how much the Monterey Bay Aquarium is these days? $30. If you live in San Francisco, you’re entitled to something like 20 days of free admission per year plus a free NightLife entry on your birfday (assuming the stars align and they’re having a NightLife around the time of your birthday.)
“Them free days, they’re even more crowded.”
Well, yeah. Get there early, why don’t you? (Or get there late in the day, when there’s less of a line (tho your chances of getting into the Planetarium and/or rainforest dome will be lower). The Bernard Osher Foundation Third Wednesday of the Month Free program is open to all, so of course it gets crowded those days. But the zip-code based free days are less crowded, so San Franciscans, including you born-and-raised-San Franciscans, you old goats, get six of those not-so-crowded days a year.
“The food’s too expensive.”
Check out the nearby Inner Sunset area for food if you want. It’s walkable. Get yourselves a perfectly cromulent fat burrito at Gordo’s at 1239 9th Avenue near Lincoln. Get it to-go and have an outdoor picnic.
“The rainforest was closed when I was there.”
Yep, sometimes. Life’s like that. They don’t keep this kind of info a big secret, however.
“There’s no place to park.”
Maybe – that’s by design, in a way. Actually, you’re lucky to have that underground parking garage whether you use it or not, so count your blessings. Whatever you do, don’t drive into Golden Gate Park, big mistake on busier days. Think Fulton, think Lincoln, think about spending ten minutes walking through the park to get the CalAcademy. That’s not a bug, that’s a feature. And on Sundays, all parking is free in the surrounding Inner Sunset and Inner Richmond areas – it’s totally wide open. Might not be as easy to park as you’re used to, but you can deal. And there’s plenty of bike parking since they added in a bunch of new spaces.
Here’s the thing – you gotta work the system, baby. Plan ahead, try to figure out when the place has fewer patrons, check the schedule, make a beeline to the Planetarium to get your free show passes as soon as you get in, monitor the rainforest line to see when it’s shorter.
So, if you’re unhappy customer, you gotta think:
1. Maybe your expectations were too high because you didn’t plan ahead (which isn’t the CalAcademy’s fault), or;
2. Maybe the CalAcademy isn’t for you (which isn’t the CalAcademy’s fault)
And all you NIMBY neighbors, please realize that the CalAcademy was here even before you.
Let’s thank Gaia we’re not saddled with some big hulking wreck that nobody wants to go to.
See you there!