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Published on September 22nd, 2009 | by travors


CSI: The Experience

Last Sunday the weather in Dublin was a little gloomy, so my wife and I decided to visit CSI: The Experience, in the Ambassador Theatre on O’Connell Street. We were both big fans of the original CSI TV series when it aired a few years ago (up until the constant repeats & spin offs got  a little overbearing), so we’d planned to drop in to this exhibit for a while.

So with some excited trepidation we arrived at The Ambassador around 5pm, and purchased our tickets in the lobby. When buying our tickets we  had two options: €18 per person to “investigate” one crime scene or €50 to visit all three. We chose to visit crime scene 1, paid our €36 and headed off to the debriefing room armed with our CSI clipboard (this had a preprinted, multiple choice crime scene sheet on it) and pen, given to us by some slightly bored and contemptuous looking staff in lab coats.

CSI The Experience

In the debriefing room (a dark room with 3 TV screens) we joined a small group of people and waited a while for the recorded message to start. Our introduction ended with the actor telling us to go to our chosen crime scenes and start taking “evidence” notes on our clipboard. Everybody waited around for a while expecting a staff member to arrive and show us were to go next (it seemed like this was supposed to happen), but after a few minutes it became obvious that nobody was coming, so we shuffled back out to the lobby and found the entrance to the crime scenes ourselves.

Our crime scene consisted of a sitting room with a car crashed through the front wall. We had to stand behind some crime scene tape (it was actually Garda crime scene tape, it looked kind of silly and out of place and elicited a few unintentional sniggers), and draw notes on our preprinted map of the scene from a safe distance, without actually examining any of the evidence (no interaction here folks). The whole scene looked like it had been put together on a shoe string budget, by a freckle faced American kid, for Science experiment day. My wife thought she had found some interesting evidence until she realised it was the trolley that the car prop had been wheeled in on (evidently left in place to save a bit of effort closing up shop after the show). And this was the highlight of the exhibit. After that, we continued on to the information booths, which provided information on the various types of evidence.

I’ll tell you what, let me save us both some time here and cut to the chase: The whole exhibit was shameful exercise in squeezing as much money as possible from unwitting CSI fans, whilst at the same time providing the flimsiest, cheapest excuse for a CSI experience in return. You could have created a better experience yourself at home by squeezing some tomato ketchup on your walls, chucking some chicken giblets at your cat, donning your mums favourite apron, throwing fifty quid out the window and watching a crappy interactive CSI cd-rom.
At least then you wouldn’t have to do the I’ve-just-been-ripped-off walk of shame, to get back home.

Included on our CSI experience for our entertainment were:

  • Touch screen terminals, some of which nearly needed to be hit with a 16 pound lump-hammer in order to elicit a response.
  • A UV torch booth demo, which contained a single UV torch with dead batteries.
  • Absolutely no interaction with a single live actor or presenter.
  • An awful recreation of Grissom’s office with laughable hand drawn butterfly props, all of which had to be looked at from six foot away behind a glass wall.
  • Tedious waiting around for looped videos to begin and consoles to become available.
  • Buggy demo software which liked to skip right back to the beginning, before you’d finished entering your information.
  • A dummy autopsy demo which looked promising, until it became obvious that the video track was 2 minutes ahead of the autopsy projection.
  • The cheeky request for another 5 quid, just to print out your 1 page CSI cert towards the end (we opted to have ours emailed to us for free).

Then at the very end (after we’d passed through the poorly stocked CSI experience gift shop), came the final slap in the face: Your CSI clipboard was snatched back by the surly lab coat folks for the next victims visitors to reuse.
Within an hour we were back out on the street, wondering what the heck had just happened.

So, on final, careful analysis of the evidence, I have deduced that a crime was indeed committed upon my person last Sunday afternoon: €36 was nicked from my wallet by this rip off, crappy exhibition. Please folks, protect yourself from a similar traumatic experience: stay away from the CSI one.

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About the Author

Dan Walsh is a musician, artist, nerd and cubicle dweller from Dublin, Ireland. In early 2008 Dan started the webcomic GarfieldMinusGarfield.net which went on to become one of the most celebrated blogs of 2008. It has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Rolling Stone Magazine, The Washington Post & The New Yorker. He received a book deal with Ballantine Books and Garfield Minus Garfield the book was released in late 2008. His personal blog is travors.com.

8 Responses to CSI: The Experience

  1. Darren Byrne says:

    I appreciate the honest review. I figured it would be a lot like you described, but maybe worth trying out anyway. I was even up on O’Connell Street today and I considered buying tickets, but now I’m glad I didn’t.

  2. Julie says:

    I’m surprised your experience was that bad – we went the first week it opened, did the same crime scene, and thoroughly enjoyed it – none of the buggy issues you’ve described (although I’d agree about the touch screens not always responding immediately) and the staff were extremely helpful. We also didn’t have any need to wait for consoles to be available. The hour you’re allocated for your session seemed to go really quickly – to the extent that we have been again and done another crime scene since.

    I guess we just went hoping to be entertained and it certainly delivered.

  3. Séamus says:

    Sounds like a fail for the CSI experience.
    I used to watch that show, but my viewing fell off eventually. I went to the Harry Potter exhibition while in Chicago this July, was interesting to see items, clothing and parts of sets there, no interaction except for throwing a quaffle through hoops [fun for kids I guess]. The shop was decent.

  4. Travors says:

    I would implore anyone thinking about it, not to go.
    You know, even if they dropped the price from €18 to €5, I still wouldn’t go again. Utter rip off, I was really frustrated.

    Just glad I had an outlet to vent my frustrations, thanks to culch.ie 🙂

  5. Arnie says:

    Have to say I enjoyed it, and didn’t experience any of the problems you seemingly did. Provided you think of it not as some sort of RPG but just an exhibit about forensic science aimed at older schoolkids (and upwards), you should get plenty out of it.

  6. I was going to go and am completely turned off the idea now. Thanks for saving me a few bob!

  7. Niamh says:

    This is not the first bad review I haveheard of this thing. I wasn’t too interested in the first place despite being a fan of CSI. Definitely won’t be bothering now!

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