Monday, March 22, 2010

KC Trip Reflections

Just a few thoughts from our trip to KC this weekend:
  1. Staying at the Weston Crown Center is teh awesome. The facilities are first-rate (as you would expect from a four-star hotel).
  2. We have a pretty good idea of why Union Station is struggling a little to attract tourists and crowds. We toured the KC Rail Experience and Science City, and while both attractions were okay, they didn't seem well subscribed. The KC Rail Experience had some nice displays (the train engine unit/simulator that is the centerpiece of the collection was a hoot), but the Experience overall seemed a little bit disorganized or not very visitor-friendly. For example, you can't tell exactly where the entrance is (we had to ask someone), and once inside, the display/presentation stations were numbered, but you couldn't tell where the starting display was and what the sequence was (we started at station #4 because we couldn't find stations #1-3 ... a diagram/map would have helped). Science City was also a little disappointing because there were too many cases where things weren't working/needed repair. Sadly, we love the Union Station facility, but neither attraction did a very good job of "attraction" vs. what they charge for admission. We can only hope that this will improve in the future. P.S. We did explore the Irish Culture-Heritage Museum on the lower level as well, and it was very well done. There were also some SCA presenters there that were very fun to talk with. To be fair, they've announced on the Union Station Facebook page that they are doing some upgrading to the Rail Experience, so it's possible that the managers know that there are some places it's lacking.
  3. The National WWI Museum, on the other hand was/is very well done, but alas, it's showing some wear as well. I would have loved to go up to the top of the Liberty Memorial, but that's not going to happen during a winter snow. The designers of the WWI Museum did a great job with the displays (especially the trench simulations), and there is some very nice audio-visual integration overall. I also liked that they focused on more than the military and technical aspects of the war ... a bit of the displays focused on the cultural/social changes the war caused as well. Finally, the very large video wall and diorama that makes up the focal point of the museum is ... well, very huge and very impressive.
  4. Imo's Pizza is best served fresh in the restaurant rather than delivered.
  5. Lauren reminded me of this one: at Union Station, we had stopped off at the Segway store there because we wanted to test drive one (just to say we had ridden one). You are supposed to be able to do a test-drive of 15 minutes for a small fee. Unfortunately, when we stopped at the store, the person at the desk was chatting on the phone and didn't even bother to look up at us or acknowledge us. We waited for a couple of minutes, realized the guy was too busy to talk to us, shrugged, and then went off to go find lunch.