Location: 2450 Grand Blvd, KC MO:
Website: Crown Center. This link takes you to the Crown Center Event Calendar.
Cost: Usually Free, however an UNVALIDATED parking ticket will cost a min of $7.00.
Hours of Operation: Visit Crown Center Event Calendar for more details.
Although we will be talking about seeing the replica vehicles from the movie "Cars", this review is really for all of Crown Center.
Crown Center, one of our area shopping centers, can offer some pretty great stuff from time to time as far as free little programs come through it. We have seen the Lego Exhibit, a replica of The Wizard of Oz, Santa and now the "Cars" cars.
So let's get right to it. Parking kinda sucks. It just does. There are some free lots around the mall but expect a pretty long walk. There are parking garages that offer pretty good spaces though and that's what I went with. However, if you do not have a validated ticket from someone in the mall, it's going to cost you a min of 7 bucks. If it's validated, you get 3 hours free. I forgot to get my ticket validated so I had to pay. In general, I hate paying for parking and I hate it even more for something like this. 7 bucks is just way to much to pay for parking unless there is beer involved. So that part was a bit of a rip off.
Onto the event itself. The cars were in front of the mall in the fountain area. Other Crown Center Programs are usually on the second floor. For this one though, there were 3 cars to look at. Lightning McQueen, Mater, and the new car from the new movie. They were full size and I will say, were very well done. They looked exactly like they did in the animated movie. If your kid is a fan of Cars, this was a cool thing to do. They also had 2 bounce houses that the kids could play in. The set up was pretty nice and really well done visually.
Now this is where I start panning Crown Center stuff.
The organization for this event, and for several Crown Center events usually just isn't that good. In this case, it was a one day showing so everyone and their dog was there. The crowd was huge. I don't like crowds so maybe this sours me a little. However, I don't think so. In order to see the front of the cars, you had to wait in a very long line for about an hour. Then a professional photographer would take your picture in front of the cars, which were roped off and no touching rule was in force. I thought this was kind of crap.
Have you ever waited an hour in line with a kid for a 3 second payoff? Not good man. And since other people were behind you waiting their turn, you couldn't really just sit and look. To do this, you had to go around the side and see the cars that way. Mater, a child favorite, was just to far away for the kids to really get into it. I chose not to wait in line that long and we just looked from the side and took a few quick pictures. It was a lot of hype and waiting for very little payoff. The kids quickly lost interest and it was time to move on.
For us, this is the story with events at Crown Center. They can host some really cool and original ideas. But if you go, you have to be prepared to fight the crowds as they are always, always busy. And that means that you won't be able to spend much time at any individual thing as other people are waiting to get in. It's a tough call on whether to go to these things or not. Good and original ideas with bad organization. So it's a crap shoot.
I believe this is our fourth venture into Crown Center for a display and it's been true each time. To many people in to small of a space with to little time to actually enjoy it. We've even gone on "off times" but there usually a crowd waiting. There is to little space to accommodate the large crowds. Use your own judgement on whether or not to go to the next event held there. It will probably be well done, but chances are you and 5000 other parents will be knocking elbows while your child tries to see what there is to see. Just don't forget to buy $1 dollar worth of some crap to get your ticket validated.