To Our Readers

By John Flanagan

Saturday, August 24, 1996


Coming soon to a mall near you

DESCENDING past the beaver dam and rainbow trout pool into a clear plastic tunnel through deep fresh water tanks full of muskellunge, walleye, gar and catfish, I decided that Mall of America's version of UnderWater World isn't exactly what we should expect when the Hawaii version opens at the Dole Cannery.

Both the concept and the machinery I saw at the monster Minnesota mall probably will travel well, however.

Attending the Asian American Journalists convention in St. Paul last week gave me an opportunity to preview the attraction that the Dole folks hope will pack the Cannery.

A conveyor belt, like those used for luggage at airports, moves visitors slowly through 300-odd feet of crystal clear tunnel. Meanwhile, they listen to narrators describe the fish and other critters on earphones connected to cassette players worn around the neck.

The MOA version has both fresh and salt water tanks. The fresh has local lake and river specimens and the salt has a Caribbean sea and reef theme. The narrators get a little carried away over the five- and six-foot sharks, but it's a real kick to watch one of those bad boys swim inches over your head.

The beauty of individual tape players is that the tour can be tailored to the language, interests and sophistication of visitors. I can't wait to hear Hari Kojima's lip-smacking version of UnderWater Hawaii.



John Flanagan is editor and publisher of the Star-Bulletin. To reach him call 525-8612, fax to 523-8509, e-mail to publisher@starbulletin.com or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.





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