Has anyone else had the same experience as we did? This was our first pony penning week, and having visited Chincoteague several summers before, we were anxiously awaiting pony week this year. What a bummer! We had been warned that the island is very crowded, but problems went beyond that, although the behavior of the crowds and drivers after the swim really left us disheartened. To us, pony week is for the locals -- people who either live on the island or in the surrounding local area and can come just for the day of the swim. It's not designed at all for tourists; in fact it's really nothing more than a huge commercial rip off for tourists. The locals know the ins and outs, and not much is done to help out the tourists who come and spend their hard earned money for a minimum of 5 nights -- yes, that's right -- most places require a 5 night minimum during pony week, and usually jack up the prices over the regular summer rates for that week. It is literally impossible to see the ponies swim either to or from Chincoteague unless you're lucky enough to have a reservation on a boat -- which needs to be made many months ahead. We tried several as early as March but to no avail. Even if we were able to get a reservation, we would have paid $125 and upwards, per person. The Coast Guard allows tons and tons of boats into the channel, such that it is almost impossible to see the ponies from anywhere on the shore. Any local who owns a boat can just bring it out with his family to watch the swim. If he wants to charge and make money, he must be an official boat captain. The only possibility of actually seeing the ponies is to wait in the marsh (and I mean "IN" the marsh!) at the very tip point where the ponies come ashore, and the locals have that all figured out. Locals were charging $20 for tourists to park their cars in their driveways and on their lawns. We saw one man charging $2 for people to clean their feet off with his hose. We also saw a local charging people $100 per person to watch the swim from his pier, which provided no better of a view than the one we had in Memorial Park. The pony auction seemed to us to be a place where rather cheap people come to find a beautiful pony at a very inexpensive price. Watching these people herd their new purchased ponies into their trailers the day after the auction was a depressing sight. It seemed like they had just bought a piece of furniture or a new motorcycle. It also appeared to us that the locals like to use this time of the season to remind the rest of us that we're not....locals. Forget the "nature" part of Chincoteague during pony swim....it's gone. Not to mention that the town appears to be going more and more down hill...we heard this from some of the merchants and innkeepers. We'll not go back, and recommend that you spend your hard earned money elsewhere.