Of Turkey Legs and Time

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I seem to be blogging a lot about Worlds of Fun this spring. It gives me something continuous to talk about.

Today’s post is about today. And a bit about last night.

When I went for my second visit to the park last night, I overheard one employee and his supervisor talking, and mentioned expecting 18,000 people to attend the park on Saturday. “Only an estimate” the supervisor said.

I’m not sure how that number compares to other days, but to me, it seemed quite an impressive number.

So, writing this today, I don’t know if they made it or not. What I do know, and what I will write about, is our experience getting Turkey Legs.

In preface, however, I will mention that my first experience with Turkey Legs this year was the discovery that they had been moved to the BattleCreek Barbecue from the Nordic Nook. On that same visit I learned that, while on the menu, they were out of them.

So today, when I went to the barbecue for a Turkey Leg, I asked if they had any before I stood in line to order them. I was told it would be a few minutes, but they should have them by the time I ordered. Which proved to be true.

The son arrived enough behind me to be about 10 people back in the line, but when he ordered his turkey leg, his was available immediately too. The daughter, about another 10 people back, found that the turkey legs were going to be a few minutes. She heard them say 5 minutes, so she ordered. What they had really said was 45 minutes. When she discovered this about 20 minutes later, she was not happy.

Having had a large brunch at the men’s breakfast earlier in the morning, I had only eaten about a quarter of my turkey leg, so I  calmed the daughter down by offering to let her eat my turkey leg while I waited for hers to come out. I also asked the staff if she could get her fries to eat while she waited.

During the waiting time I saw the self-service kiosk run out of forks twice, napkins, mild barbecue sauce. And with the amount of staff it took them awhile to fill each of these lacks.

But the staff I talked to, as saw working, I saw as very conscientiously working, checking with people, making sure orders were correct. They were trying to find things that they either didn’t know where they were filed, or weren’t always where they belonged.

When the supervisor, a lady I know and recognize (though I couldn’t see her nametag, it got flipped over while she worked), popped out, she apologized for the wait on the turkey legs, gave me a 3 minute time estimate, saying they want to make sure they are properly done, and said she’d give us an extra because of the wait.

Being busy, she moved on before I had the moment to think what I wanted to say, which was “thank you for the offer of a second, but instead could I just have the first wrapped to go when we get it.”

It ended up taking another 10 minutes before it came out, and we got the extra leg. By this point the kids had finished eating, and we took the two new legs between two plates and carried them home to eat later.

During my waiting time I talked to a lot of customers coming through, some of them more or less stressed by the wait. I made light conversation, and did what I could to help each get the service or items they needed from the staff. I mentioned that the staff was good-hearted, but still learning the ropes, some of the young and possibly first time or first job types, and that I was sure it would get smoother later in the season.

Everything can’t always be perfect, but today’s service was more flawed than normal. But the efforts of the staff to smooth and re-mediate and give service through the flow and lack of some items available to them at various times, gives me a good feeling about their ultimate skills and service levels.

Worlds of Fun Celebrity

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My original plan was to put together a video from the BBQ and Brew Festival at Worlds of Fun for today’s post. I have one, and will be making comments here about the festival.

But before I do that, I want to discuss my “celebrity” status I experienced on Saturday.

Saturday was a perfect weather day. Between that and a lot of prescheduled school groups visiting the park, the place was rather busy. I was standing in the Americana Plaza, trying to decide which line to stand in for lunch, Tacos or Subway, when a gentleman came up to me and asked if I was the “Worlds of Fun blogger guy”. I was taken aback a bit. I mentioned nothing official, but I do blog periodically about the park and the meal plan, and how much we save on it.

That led to the gentlemen pointing out his wife and kids at a nearby table, and explaining that his wife had found my posts on the dining plan, and they had read them, and appreciated the way I had laid out how the plan worked. It was because of what I wrote, he said, that they decided that the plan would work for them, and so they had picked it up.

When his wife saw me standing there, she pointed me out to her husband, and said she thought I was the guy from the blog, which I was. So he and I had a nice conversation, and thanked me for what I wrote, saying that people do read it.

I told him he was welcome, and it was good to know the information helped someone.

That was celebrity moment number one.

After eating lunch, I was walking out of the park, when a couple of ladies with what appeared to be their older elementary daughters came up to me while i was between the entrance kiosks and the security kiosks. They asked if they could take their picture with me. I said sure. I wasn’t certain why they wanted my picture: did they recognize me from somewhere, or was it just my unique, eclectic wardrobe? In either case, I posed like a celebrity for their pictures.

Celebrity number two.

The third moment was after our foray into the BBQ & Brew Festival on Saturday evening. A teen girl asked to take her picture with me. Here I’m pretty sure it was to be funny, and because of my eclectic wardrobe, but, like earlier, I posed like the celebrity I was pretending to be so her friend could take our picture.

Moment number three.

And the final moment actually occurred earlier. While filming a section of the festival, some teen boys cut across the camera, realized what they had done, apologized, then asked if I was a photographer. I said, just an amateur, but I was taking some segments that I was going to be posting to my blog. One of the kids said “on youtube?” to which his friend, with almost tired patience “Blog”. So I went from the possibility of a cool youtube uploader to a more nerdy blogger in their eyes.

Moment number four.

With that, let me make some comments on this year’s BBQ & Brew Festival, and then embed the video below that for you to watch. This year’s video will be more of a rough edit, less smooth than last year’s more snippets with less flow.

This year’s BBQ & Brew Festival has six food stations, and six drink stations, pairings, just like last year. Instead of tents they have more permanent, but movable, booths to put everything in. That said, the overall organization and festive air felt a little more rough.

Of course, we went during the busiest day of the festival this year.

They have a booth right there for purchasing your tickets and getting your age verification. That is a definite improvement.

Not being drinkers, we only tried one alcohol sample, for a cider. It was okay, a little tart. We’d rather have a regular sweet cider.  We didn’t try any of the beers or ales; after last year we knew we just don’t have the taste for them.

But the food was good. Though they were so busy that they ran out of some items.

I really enjoyed the Smoked Sausage. But our favorite was the Chicken Waffles, we found stupendous last year: a waffle cone with beans in the tip, barbecue chicken on the top, and crowned with a bit of sweet cole slaw.

The first item they ran out of that we noticed was the bread for the turkey sliders. But the food server at the booth was keeping the festival going by serving up the turkey without the bread, and arranging it, with sauces, in a very festive and decorative fashion. I was quite impressed by him.

The person serving up the ribs did a nice job as well. It wasn’t until I got back and started writing this up, that I realized it was supposed to be served with a savory corn bread. I saw no corn bread. They must have run out of it.

The one tasting we didn’t have was the corn of the cob. There was no corn visible any of the time we were there. What was supposed to make it barbecue was barbecue in the butter. So I felt a little let down, since I enjoy corn on the cob.

But the ending was superb with the barbecue donuts. Though we were trying to figure out where the barbecue was. It took overhearing the server tell someone else that the sugar on the donuts had a slight bit of barbecue flavor. I didn’t notice that flavor, but they were very good finish to the festival.

With those comments, please see the video mish-mash of the festival here:

And finally, the dining plan wrap up. Let me begin with comments about the food and concessions staff and equipment.

I have made comments before about many of the wonderful people working in the food concessions, and about the new touch-screen kiosks they have for ordering food at some of the venues. Today I am going to make a couple of not completely positive comments.

I was waiting in line at the Pizza Pier to order pizza. When the guy at the cash register saw me, he asked if I was waiting to order something, and told me I would have to use the kiosk. I told him the kiosk wouldn’t do the order I wanted, so I had been told previously I needed to go straight to him. He still made me use the kiosk.

So I used the kiosk, and ordered my combo with a side salad. When I showed it to the guy at the cash register, he said they didn’t have salads and I would have to have bread sticks. I said I didn’t want bread sticks, i wanted a second slice of pizza, which I know the plan allows.

When I know more about the plan than the wait staff, and when they don’t listen, and tell me things I know won’t work, it doesn’t make for a pleasant experience. If someone who knew what they were doing, and whom I had seen previously, hadn’t come up to assist, it would have gotten worse. Instead, it all got itself resolved very well.

But they do need to figure out a way to adjust the kiosks so someone cannot order something that they are out of. They have always had salads on the pizza menus, but so seldom have they been available to actually order.

Now, on some very positive elements to the food plan and service. They converted the booth where the Nordic Nook was into a soda refill station. The Nook served brauts and turkey legs. Brats were on the plan, Turkey legs weren’t. Turkey legs got moved to the Battlecreek Barbecue, and got put on the plan. And Sunday, the first day we saw the G’Rilla Grill open, we got to see brauts on the menu. It makes sense to move the turkey legs with the BBQ, and the brauts with the hot dogs at the Grill. So another win-win.

That said, I will conclude with the following stats to date for the All Season Dining Plan:

Total Price Paid $497.44
Total Number of Meals 63
Total Retail $655.35
Average Price Per Meal $7.90
Total Drink Price 29.64
Total number of drinks 49
Total Retail $49.00
Average Price Per Drink $0.60

A Look Ahead …

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This past weekend, along with the next two weekends, is the BBQ and Brew Festival at Worlds of Fun. So I’ve chosen a look back, at last year’s festival, as a way to look forward to this year’s.

This coming Saturday, like when I posted about last year’s festival, is also the Kansas City Corporate Challenge 5K race. Located at the same place, same time.

So this weekend is going to be an interesting and busy one.

Enjoy the blog, and video, from last year.

Renewing a Passport

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My first trip out of the United States (except for Canada — back in the days when that didn’t require a passport) was 10 years ago. So the renewal of my passport is coming up this summer.

Since we are working on summer travel plans that might include a foray into Canada, and since it is a lot harder to submit a new passport application than renew one, I have been working, slowly, on the process of filling out and submitting my passport renewal.

I started by going to the travel.state.gov website, and downloading the PDF form and trying to fill it out as a pdf on my computer. When I got frustrated with that, I went to the website and followed the link for form filler, and found out that was the way to go. So I filled out the form, and had everything ready, except needing to have my passport photo.

That is where it got interesting. I went to USPS.com and looked up post offices near me that helped with passport applications. They all said you had to call to make an appointment. Each one I called either couldn’t do it because of equipment issues, or they only did it like once every so many weeks at a special “faire”.

But the one USPS person suggested CVS, Walgreens, Sam’s Club — and with that I decided to visit Sam’s club. Photos within the hour. Turned out to be 10 minutes and $4.96 for the two.

Then it took finding a stapler at home we could use to fasten the photo on to the form.

It was noontime, so I decided to wait and go later to avoid the rush.

But even at 3:45 p.m. there was a line at the post office. I got in line, hoping to ask questions about how to ship. But then I saw their display with mailing envelopes. I picked up the envelope for Priority Mail Express, but could only find mailing labels that said Priority Mail, so I filled that out while waiting in line, slapped it on, and waited some more.

When I got up to the desk, the person, Beverly, was very friendly and helpful, but mentioned I had the wrong label. I told her I hadn’t seen any, and asked her to give me the right one, which I stepped out of line to fill out and then came back once I was done and she had finished with the next person.

That part of mailing it was easy, but when I went back out to the postage rack, there was indeed no Priority Mail Express mailing labels. I went back in to try and let them know they needed to fill the rack, but everyone was “busy”, so there was no one I could mention it to without being unduly rude.

So I found the process not too bad, post office staff helpful, but the post office business model quite lacking. No wonder their business is going elsewhere.

Now to see how swiftly and efficiently the passport renewal application itself is processed.

A Blast of the Past #93: India, Part 4

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I spent two weeks in India, which means I had one weekend between them — one free weekend. So I flew halfway across the country from Mumbai to Bangalore. Why? Because I had friends there.

When I met Kumar and Shanthi, they lived in my hometown, Corning, NY, working for Corning, INC. They also led the singles’ group at North Baptist Church.

Now, 15 years later, they were back in their home country, though not home state, living and working in Bangalore. So I flew to visit them.

I got to see them and their 5 kids.

The trip to Bangalore gave me a broader appreciation of India, of the vibrant, secular democracy, and religious freedom, despite the great breadth of languages and religious affiliations. They learned well from the British, but adapted it their own way.

While riding around the streets in my friend’s van, I saw a lot of interesting cultural life.

I saw vehicles of all sorts, a wedding party coming out a temple, buildings in various stage of construction. We looked in various stores for items and sampled various restaurants and fast food places. We looked at authentic tea shops, and governmental buildings.

 

 

A Look Ahead …

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Today’s look ahead is going to strat with a look behind. Last weekend, opening weekend for Worlds of Fun, included times with the Easter Bunny.

WOF Easter Bunny

The above photo was taken on Saturday in the new entry plaza. My family was too busy with church and larger family activities on Easter to actually make it to the park, though the park was open. So we’ve already missed one day.

This coming weekend the park is open 10-10 Saturday and 10-7 Sunday.  We expect to get to the park on Saturday, but I don’t know about Sunday. Because there are two other events I will be in on Sunday.

The first event, starting at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, is the Northland Half Marathon/5K I will be running my first half marathon at that time.  The round is described thus: “The Northland Half route has it all: Line Creek Trail, road through Riverside and pebbly Missouri River Levee. It is diverse, flat and beautiful.”

The current weather forecast for Sunday is sunny and a high of 70. Of course, the low Saturday night is 42, so the start of the race could be a bit chilly. Which is how I usually enjoy running, better than the heat.

After running for nigh on two hours in the half marathon, I will head on down to my afternoon concert. I have a 1:30 call, but the audience can show up a 3 p.m. at Faith Lutheran Church Prairie Village KS 4805 W 67th St, Prairie Village, Kansas 66208

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The concert will feature antiphonal works for choir and brass, along with new works by local composers. Admission is free, with donations accepted.

Those are the events for the weekend.

So now I will end the post with the current stats for the All Season Dining Plan at Worlds of Fun.

Total Price Paid $497.44
Total Number of Meals 16
Total Retail $162.79
Average Price Per Meal $31.09
Total Drink Price 29.64
Total number of drinks 12
Total Retail $12.00
Average Price Per Drink $2.47

There are some assumptions in the numbers above, but you will gradually see certain numbers grow quite large, while the per unit prices go down.