A Look Ahead …

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The beginning of summer is upon us. Not the official summer by the equinox, but the social season, by the placement of the first of the two main holidays. Summer always begins socially in the USA with Memorial Day, and ends with Labor Day.

This coming Monday being Memorial Day Observed (Official Memorial Day is always May 30th), this weekend is the start of the Summer Season, socially.

Here in Kansas City, that means the opening of the Oceans of Fun section of Worlds of Fun. This year Oceans of Fun opens on Friday morning. Since I have to work, and didn’t take a vacation day for it, I won’t be able to be there at opening — a tradition of mine for many years — but I intend to make it before the end of the day.

Worlds of Fun also has several Military Appreciation days throughout the year, and one of them is Monday, May 29, Memorial Day Observed. Complimentary tickets available for active duty, retired or reserve military with honorable or medical discharge and government issued ID. They can also received discounted tickets for some members of their families on that day.

Which is a natural segue to the comment about Memorial Day.

What also will be happening is the placement of a lot of flowers. Memorials remembering those who died in active military service; also, more generally, and not meant to detract from those who died in service, it is used by many as the placing of flowers on the graves of all loved ones who have gone before. I know my family will be placing flowers on the graves of my family back in New York State. Not living anywhere close to those graves, I haven’t participated in that tradition in many years, but I do think about them.

Finally, there will be a lot of picnics over the weekend.  For while Memorial Day is an observance (one should not wish someone a “Happy Memorial Day”, at least according to some people, based on the somber nature of the observance) it is also a holiday, and people do celebrate and play. So remember to take time to be thankful for the sacrifices given, while you take full exercise of the freedoms those sacrifices make possible.

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For those following, below are the current stats on the All Season Dining plan:

Total Price Paid $497.44
Total Number of Meals 125
Total Retail $1,280.70
Average Price Per Meal $3.98
Total Drink Price 29.64
Total number of drinks 99
Total Retail $99.00
Average Price Per Drink $0.30

A Look Ahead … race weekend

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Usually, when we hear race weekend around here, it means NASCAR. And who knows– certainly not I — there could be something going on at the speedway. But that isn’t the race I am thinking of.

This Saturday is the Kansas City Corporate Challenge Half Marathon. The half marathon will take place at Southcreek Business Park.  It is the first half marathon I have run for the KCCC, and my second half marathon. It begins at 7 a.m., and everyone has to finish within 3 hours to earn their points. Unlike my other half marathon, I haven’t had the time to see this course beforehand. Looking at the numbers, I think it has more elevation changes than my previous race.

There is also potential for rain on Saturday. I actually like running in rain, so it might be a good thing.

Besides the race, this is the season for graduations, and graduation parties. After the race in the morning, I will spend the late afternoon and evening at one of those parties, a niece of mine is graduating in Kearney and it is her party.

And as always, this is Worlds of Fun Season. The actual news is that the park is closed on Sunday. I am assuming that some private group has rented out the entire park — thus making it closed to the general public.

So we won’t be having any meals at the park that day.

Speaking of which, below are the stats for our meal plans for the year so far, as of Wednesday night. As you can see, the retail price has passed one thousand dollars, the price paid per meal has gone below five dollars.

Total Price Paid $497.44
Total Number of Meals 101
Total Retail $1,041.24
Average Price Per Meal $4.93
Total Drink Price 29.64
Total number of drinks 82
Total Retail $82.00
Average Price Per Drink $0.36

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.

A Look Ahead …

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Starting yesterday, Worlds of Fun is open daily through the middle of August (excluding Sunday, May 21 — when someone must have bought out the whole park for a private event). So you can attend the park today and the rest of the week.

But a warning: my daughter and I went over around 11:30 a.m. for lunch, and while C lot was less than half full, the park was full from all the school buses that unloaded groups of students. Every food line was out its crowd control gates. When we went back around 4:30 p.m. there were no lines, though lots of kids assembling to head home. So you can head to the park today (Thursday) but I’ll guess there will be a lot of school kids there, with lines throughout the day.

This weekend is the final of three weekends for the Worlds of Fun BBQ & Brew Festival. Having participated in it during its second weekend, I found it more active, and chaotic, than our experience last year, but well worth the participation — for the food — forget the brew.

Last year’s festival took place in the same space in Americana, but under white vendor tents. This year they have movable booths. While smaller, the booths do seem to crowd the space more that the tents did, make it feel a little smaller. The Worlds of Fun staff should look at how they are arranged next year to give everything a more free and open feeling.

But that is a review comment, and this is supposed to be a newsy post.

This Saturday also has other events I will be attending.

The first being the Men’s Breakfast of the Cornerstone Wesleyan Church, starting at 8 a.m. at Golden Corral, Kansas City North, 8800 NW Skyview Ave, Kansas City, MO 64154. This time of fellowship is a welcome and refreshing event for me and my son every month.

Then right after that we have the Avondale United Methodist Church Book Club meeting at 10 a.m. at the AUM Church, 3100 Winn Road, Kansas City, MO 64117. This month’s book is Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman. It tells the story of two Women American Reporters to did in actuality what Jules Verne wrote in fiction, going around the world in 80 days — but in different directions. Which one will win?

Sunday of course is Mother’s Day. Let me recommend that you choose to do something for your mother, and the other mother’s in your life, that is meaningful to her, and not something merely suggested by the commercialized media. Some need a lot of people, others need more privacy and quiet. So put some thought into it, and make it simple, elegant, and meaningful.

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.