Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wannadon't City

Yesterday, instead of going to the movies, R and I took the boys to Wannado City (further known as Wannadon't City in my house). Once I got past the price of getting in there (and the ridiculous fact that Me, Ren and the BABY had to pay too just to go watch Chris) it was pretty overwhelming. If you've never been there before, there's a slight learning curve to figuring out how the whole place works. It doesn't help that the people at the registers don't really explain things to you. A simple "Welcome! Have you visited us before? Would you like me to explain how it works?" would have been nice. I guess I've been spoiled by Disney. No friendly mousketeers here, they just put an electronic prisoner tracking bracelet on all of us (I'm guessing so they don't steal your child or in case he gets lost), hand you a piece of paper (a check) and throw you to the lions. There are posters on the wall showing you the map of this place, but there are no maps that you can actually take with you as you go inside, which would be oh so helpful.

We walked inside, looked all around and didn't even know where to start. I crossed the miniature street without getting run over the miniature fire truck and noticed that there were little stations all over the place. Each station had a little (or not so little) line of children waiting to get inside. We walked around a bit and stopped someone to ask them what we were supposed to do with this little check. They told us to go to the bank and cash it or deposit it. Interesting. So we go to the bank and gave the lady the check and she gave us a wad of Wannado City money. Cute, OK, now what?

We went back into the city and looked around for a line to get into. We found a Willy Wonka factory line and were just about to get in line when I noticed that in all the activities, there were only kids in there. Not ONE parent. Parents weren't even allowed to wait in the line! Now if anyone knows my son, then they know that this trip just became a huge waste of time and money. He HATES being by himself and he is super slow to warm up to things, so there was no way he was going to wait in line, let alone go inside the mini little buildings to do things BY HIMSELF. HA! I quickly asked one of the workers there if all the activities were like that and if parents were allowed to go in with the kids. She said they could but that we had to have a special pass which we had to go pick up at guest services which was where exactly? Oh yes, my very own map would have been nice right around now.

After finding the cleverly hidden guest services, we get our pass and go back in the city. With pass in hand we head over to one of the little rides in the Wannado Fair. Surprise surprise, Chris doesn't want to ride by himself, so we went on the merry-go-round instead, where I AM allowed to go with him. We then head over to the Willy Wonka Factory. I get in line with Chris and we wait...and wait...and finally they let in 12 children. Wouldn't you know it, we're #13. The lady tells us that the next batch of children will be let in in half an hour. Nice. In the meantime I start chatting it up with one of the kids in line to get the scoop on how this place works. She tells me that you have to pay some of your Wonga bucks to get inside the fun stuff, but then you can go do a "job" (Fireman, Doctor, Dentist...etc) and you get paid. Wow, we get to do this in real life, why come and pay to do that here!?

We wait and wait and wait, and my child is getting bored and restless:

Chris: Can we go to the Haunted Mansion?
Me: There is no Haunted Mansion here.
Chris: How about the YO-HO's?
Me: There are no YO-HO's here either babe.
Chris: Awww.

Perhaps it was all the time spent in line that made him think that we were in Disney. I felt the same way too (minus the nice employees, more on that later). More than half an hour later, we finally get called in and we have to pay 60 of our Wannado bucks to get in. The actual experience is pretty cute because they had the kids make a little candy ice cream cone. Fortunately for me, Chris took one bite and didn't like it. It was delicious.

Now it was time to go work and make some money. Chris had seen the little ambulance and firetruck driving around, so he wanted to do that. The firetruck line was super long, so we went to the hospital instead. We got in line. They let 8 children in. Surprise surprise, we were #9 (I'm sensing a trend here). The lady said the next fire truck would be here in 45 minutes. Seeing as how we had time to kill, R waited in line with Jordan (wearing the special pass or else he can't even stand in line) and I took CMan across the "street" to the cafe to get something to eat. We ordered our pizzas and just as we were about to sit down to eat, R called me to tell me that one of the kids didn't want to ride the ambulance so I had to bring Chris back now because they weren't going to wait for him and adults weren't allowed to hold a spot in line anyway. So I piled my pizza plates one on top of the other and grabbed the sodas and ran over there, only to discover that the kid that chickened out, decided to ride after all. So here we were standing with all this food and the cheese of the bottom pizza got stuck to the bottom of the plate of the top pizza and the top pizza was too hot to eat and we had to all wait in line RIGHT THERE for 45 minutes because no one could save a spot for anyone.

We're all standing there eating our food when it suddenly occurs to me to ask if parents (with the guest pass) are allowed to ride the ambulance with the children. Surprise surprise. NO. Um OK. So we ask what time the next job starts and the super friendly lady dressed as a nurse points to the wall and says "the times are right there". On the wall are a bunch of little clocks with the name of each job posted on it and the hands of the clock pointing to when the next one will start. It looks like Surgery is starting in the next 5 minutes so I tell the lady that Chris will not be riding the ambulance and that he'll do whatever job is next. She says fine. So we wait...and wait. When all of a sudden I hear someone say that the line for the other jobs is inside. We go inside and the lady tells us to just have a seat inside at which point I not so kindly ask her why she didn't tell us this 10 minutes earlier when I told her that he was going to do another job. She says she did. Rrrright. You know this Wannadon't City really does mimic the real world. I feel like I'm in one of those hospitals with the jaded work staff that is tired of talking to sick people all day and just doesn't give a damn. Amazing.

I leave R and Chris waiting in the waiting room for the next job to start (which is now like in 20 minutes because Surgery is now full) while I go change Jordan. When I get back we switch and R takes Chris to the bathroom. While I'm sitting there, the same lovely nurse tells me that parents are not allowed in there because that is the waiting area just for children to which I reply "he went to the bathroom and I'm holding his spot. Seeing as how we already wasted a lot of time waiting outside since nobody told us that the line was in here, I have no intention of losing his spot again". So There! She didn't say anything.

I continue waiting in my little waiting bench when a group of girls walks in and asks what the next available job is. The nurse at the desk tells them it's Pathology and the waiting area is over there (pointing to an area that I am NOT in) but there is only one spot left. No sooner has she finished saying that when one of the girls sits in that spot. I am just about to have a major freak out when R walks back in and the following exchange ensues:

Me: "What specific job are we waiting here for?"
Ren: "Pathology"
Me: "Oh really? because the lady just said that Pathology is over THERE and there is one spot left, and someone just took it"

At this point Nurse Ratched notices that I am about to stuff my pizza up her ass and she quickly states that it doesn't matter where the waiting area is, we are in the next group.

You know what, this is way too much stress. I leave and sit on a bench with Jordan while R and Chris put their gloves on to do their Pathology work. Is there a miniature insane asylum in this little city because I want to go there.

After the hospital fiasco we head over to the Archaeology area. Chris goes inside with Ren and fortunately this time we checked the sign first to see how many kids go in at once to make sure that we are not that number+1. Their adventure is uneventful and he and I switch off so that Chris and I can do the next job of digging for dinosaur bones. We are happily sitting down waiting for our turn when the lady in the line behind me starts whacking her kid because he did something for the third time already and she is just fed up (she must have just come from the Wannado hospital too, they have that effect on people). Another lady starts reprimanding her, calling her an animal, and telling her to stop hitting her kid or else she is going to call the cops on her. What do you know Wannado City has a Jerry Springer job too!

The rest of the day was spent going on the merry-go-round one more time (don't sit on the horses ma'am....damn, I'm not that heavy) and then we decided to call it a day. We went to guest services to return the guest pass and ask them where we can go to have our prisoner bracelets removed and they direct us to stall number 9 or 10, the sign of which was super tiny, so if we hadn't asked, we'd be wandering around trying to figure out how to leave.

Review and Recommendations: It's a cute concept, but some activities need to be a little more organized (cough cough, hospital, cough cough) and the staff needs to be friendlier. When you walk in they should give you a map and brochure detailing how it works . I also think the age range should be higher maybe ages 4 and up because some 3 year olds just aren't ready to do all these things by themselves. Babies shouldn't have to pay to get in.

Don't expect me to set foot in there for at least another 3 years (until JJ is 4).

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9 Comments:

Blogger gcbron said...

Older kids enjoy it but it is a waste of time for kids under 4 and adults. My impression pretty much mirror yours on the entire experience. Also, I thought the cost was not worth what you receive. There are better ways to entertain the kids. I don't plan on going back. My kids have a better time bowling on Lincoln Road or running in the water park in Pinecrest.

10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems to me most of your complaints are either things that are not their fault (such as you getting in line and the cut off number being one before you... there has to be a cut off number somewhere!) It is a far better concept than half the things that are out there these days! The reason they don't allow adults into the activities is to give children a full experience, which I think is actually pretty intelligent! As for parents getting into a fight, I've been there numerous times without witnessing anything like that, but even if I had seen that, don't you think it falls back more on the parents than the company? My neice loves Wannado City, and I have nothing negative to say about it. It's cheaper than most theme parks and there is more for the younger kids to do than somewhere lets say, like Disney! If you call ahead of time, a lot of these "complaints" would have been explained to you!

12:21 PM  
Blogger Claudia said...

gcbron I agree, Wannado is probably great for older children, but for young kids you are better off going to Pinecrest to let them play in the water park for about $5.

Annonymous, my other son (11 months) couldn't do anything, so I find it ridiculous that we basically had to pay for him to just sit in his stroller. I don't know what Disney park you're refering to, but the Magic Kingdom has many rides that small children can ride on and kids under 3 are FREE. Yes, some of the things I was complaining about were not the place's fault, but others were (unfriendly staff, unclear signs, lack of a map, no guidance). Any good company should be willing (and would want) to accept constructive criticism. Their concept should be clear to ALL visitors (first time users, people that just happened to walk in because they were shopping in the mall), not just those that "call ahead".

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand the unfriendly staff.. that is unacceptable anywhere! And if you had gotten the employees names you should have filed a formal complaint so that Wannado City could take the neccessary actions to improve. By writing terrible things on here about it, it isn't really constructive critisicism as much as filing a formal complaint would be. I understand your frustrations but I don't feel you should make such a strong assumption about the place after one visit, where even you said the concept is awesome! I just feel that you were being a little harsh on Wannado City. As a whole I think it is a great concept and I wish they had something like that when I was little! Usually if someone doesn't know anything about a place, they don't just pop in, but I understand the spontaneous aspect if you were just shopping. I just hate to think that people are going to see this and have such a negative view of a palce when I have had such positive experiences with Wannado City.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Claudia said...

Yes, you're right, I should have filed a formal complaint. That would have been the more constructive route, but it’s my blog and I can cry if I want to.


On the other hand, Wannado City should address any grievances on my blog by leaving a comment with their company name instead of commenting as Anonymous and passing themselves off as a concerned citizen. Only an employee of the specific company involved would get all worked up because someone had a different experience at a place than they did.

A simple “I’m sorry you didn’t have an enjoyable experience; we value all our customer’s feedback and will take into account the information you have shared so we can improve on the quality of our guests' visits. We’d love to have you back again when you feel your children will enjoy the experience a little better” would have sufficed.


Damn, I should work in Customer Service.

2:03 PM  
Blogger AmandaDufau said...

LOL, you should! That's definitely the wiser thing to say, rather than not validating your experience. I bet if you had praised the place, Anonymous's tone would be quite different.

Perhaps Anonymous should talk to his or her boss and get you some sort of discount voucher, since clearly they work there! (thank you, stat counter!)

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I WORK AT WANNADO CITY AND I AGREE WITH YOU CLAUDIA, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO COMPLAIN ALL YOU WANT, YOU SHOULD HAVE COMPLAINED A LITTLE BIT MORE, BECAUSE WHEN YOUR A CUSTOMER HERE, WHEN YOU COMPLAIN THE WAY OF ACCOMEDING YOUR NEEDS IS: THEY TRY TO SUCK UP JUST BY GIVING YOU FREE STUFF(COMP TICKETS,A JUMP START IN LINE,TELLING YOU THAT THE EMPLOYEE WHO GAVE YOU PROMBLEM MITE BE FIRED LOL LIES), IM PRETTY SURE YOUR GOING TO GET A FRIENDLY LETTER FROM US SAYING COME BACK IN 3MONTHS AND SEE THE FRIENDLY CHANGES WANNADO CITY HAS TO OFFER YOU WHICH IS SUCH BS...TAKE IT FROM ME FROM AN INSIDER WHO WORKS HERE WANNADO CITY, IS AN OVERPICED, LOW BUDGET PIECE OF CRAP PLACE FOR KIDS, SO IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE IN SAWGRASS MALL SHOPPING AND NEED A QUICK FREE BABYSITTER FOR $35 THEN WANNADO CITY IS YOUR PLACE.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah I totally agree that an apology would be the best way to handle this situation. I as a regular customer came across your blog and just felt that my words were needed to be heard as well. If you need a name, it's Katie. I wasn't trying to backlash, I just wanted to let you know my feedback as well. As a person who has had better experiences I thought maybe I could offer a few tips if you do ever choose to return in the future. I hear so many good things about the place that I was shocked to see such a negative experience which is the only reason I took concern.

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AND FOR THE RECORD I"AM NOT THE ANNONYMOUS PERSON WHO IS DEFENDING WANNADO CITY!!!!

2:33 PM  

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