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The 10 Worst & Funniest Reviews of Alcatraz

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Alcatraz Island, why should you go, and is it worth it?  The truth is in the eye of the beholder my fair readers.  We read a ton of reviews to find the funniest complaints that people had about their trips to Alcatraz in San Francisco.

I’ve also visited the island myself, once as a child, and then as an adult tourist when friends visited, and finally as a journalist when the Ai Weiwei exhibit was there. The island has stunning views of the bay, a famous audio tour with lots of history, including things about guys like Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, and even Clint Eastwood (movies about Alcatraz).   I always found the park rangers to be incredibly informative, whether it was about the history of Native protests on the island or the island’s unique ecological properties.

And of course, there’s the literal walk through America’s toughest and most notorious prison (Alcatraz operated as a prison between 1934 and 1963).  That part of the island’s history is probably the main reason why Alcatraz  sees around 1.4 million visitors per year.

It’s also why I found it pretty shocking to see how many people complained about their visit to Alcatraz being too much about a prison. LOL.

There are over 1600 reviews of Alcatraz on Yelp, and to be fair there are only about a dozen one-star reviews, compared to hundreds of super-positive 5-star reviews.   But let’s be real, it’s a lot more fun to read about people’s complaints…

The Top 10 funniest, reviews of Alcatraz Island:

10. Showered in Bird Shit

This may be the greatest example of ‘yelp karma’ in recent history.   He begins complaining about how there are too many tourists…at the most the touristed prison in the world, and then yelp karma hits…

9. I have been to enough new jails…

This visitor didn’t like how the most famous prison tour on the planet reminded him of how many times he’d been to jail himself.

8. On my 3rd visit, the tour didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know!

This lady hated Alcatraz so much that she went three times.

7. What?  No Dungeons! It’s Just a regular prison.

You have to love Ashley M., she was really disappointed that there were no “no torture devices”.

6. Why do people visit a jail?!

At the most famous ‘prison tour’ in the world, this guy was really disappointed that he was visiting a prison.


5. OOOHOOO that smell

Diane had a really smelly time, and a really helpful ‘pro-tip’. “The audio tour was informative, but you can probably hear something similar online”.  LOL.

4. Prison tour connoisseur

This lady thought that the Alcatraz audio tour didn’t stack up compared to “all the other prison tours” she had been on.

3. Lord of the Flies

This is something I was surprised by, and it came up a few times.  At some point between Aug-October, during the cormorants (sea-birds) breeding season apparently there so are massive swaths of flies on the island and ferries.   Alcatraz is the only breeding spot for Brandt’s and the pelagic cormorant in the San Francisco Bay Area.


2. Attacked by Flies

Along with the Birdman of Alcatraz, the island also had a “Flyman of Alcatraz” a forensic entomologist named Robert Kimsey.  Who studied the flies on Alcatraz for years, you can read all about his findings here.  It turns out they are not dangerous to people at all, but they are very annoying to some visitors, like ‘Beth B’ for example.


We’ve had a bit of fun reading people’s complaints about Alcatraz, but like we said in the introduction, the great, great majority of reviews were overwhelmingly positive from visitors.   Most people who visit are not shocked to find the tour is about a prison, and are not bombarded with bird guano!  Here’s just one example of many 5 star reviews:

For more information on Alcatraz and to visit any of the amazing Golden Gate National Parks visit:

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor here at Broke-Ass Stuart. I enjoy covering Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife.

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