Toto, We’re Not In Kansas Anymore…But I Was for 7.5 Minutes!
I may be the only person on earth who would drive for three hours just to play 7.5 minutes of laser tag. However, that’s exactly what I did in order to make sure that I got to check off Kansas on my recent trip.
Let’s be real, even I would not plan a route like that as my first choice. My first plan was to fly into Kansas City a day prior and leisurely meander my way southbound while playing several sites from Kansas City through northern Kansas and then end up in Wichita to rest before venturing into Oklahoma the next day. Well, the nature of how I travel means things do not always go according to plan and I had to revamp my agenda on a plane headed to Oklahoma City instead. Ok, I am nothing if not flexible with my tag travels. So after playing at the tourney in Woodward, OK I had to make the decision to either sensibly head back to OKC and skip Kansas altogether or power through and hit everything I could in one day…if you know me at all you know I was all “ruby slippers, get me to Wichita!”
I hit the road and drove for three hours straight from Woodward, OK to Wichita, KS to All Star Sports. The laser tag opportunities in Kansas are few and far between, so this really was my best option if I was going to play in that state this trip. When I called ahead I spoke to a lovely woman who was a bit surprised I would do that, commenting “that’s a really long way to drive just for laser tag!” And I couldn’t disagree, but in order to circle back to laser tag through all 50 states a second time I had to get there while I was this close by.
Driving, driving, driving…
I arrived at All Star Sports and was excited to know I was about to play in Kansas.
I went in and bought my ticket.
The guy at the counter told me he would send another staff member back to get me set up with laser tag, so I headed towards the arena that indicated Lazer Runner would be the system in use.
She allowed the group ahead of me to play an extra game so that I would have some competition in the arena. We suited up and headed in.
I’ll say, it was a sharp looking single level arena. Two things really stood out to me about the space itself. First, the neon accenting against the black looked very in-tune with classic Runner theming and yet it had some unique personality at the same time.
There were some familiar looking panels that made me wonder if this might have previously been a Laser Storm site?
The arena itself was cool. This should have been a memorable 7.5 minutes…which it was, but not in the way I would have hoped. If I am to be perfectly honest, this wasn’t the best game experience for me, but the issue I had is one that can easily be remedied in the future.
The problem was that no staff member was really minding the laser tag attraction. Halfway through the game my pack shut off and, due to the way Runner packs have to be started, I could not do anything about it or swap it out without a staff member being present. I peeked my head outside the arena several times looking for the attendant. She had gone up to the front counter rather than stay available by the laser tag. Some other guests were also looking for assistance with getting into the next game and they could not find anyone nearby either. So I just walked around the arena with a dead vest and really only played half of one game…that I had driven three hours for (facepalm).
At the end of the game the attendant was nowhere around the laser tag to help conclude the experience either. All of the players were left to remove their vests and hang them on the racks ourselves with no guidance or support. This is NOT how the process should work for an optimal guest experience. In fact, it’s an illustration of what is wrong with the idea of automating laser tag. FEC’s may like the idea of not having someone tethered to an attraction, but if something goes wrong…who ya gonna call? Go ahead and insert the Ghostbusters theme in your head now. :)
So the experience did not play out as well as I had hoped. I probably should have said something, but in the interest of getting back on the road in time to play a few more arenas before the day was over I just thought to myself “that was a bummer” and left. If there is any constructive takeaway from my experience here I hope that it is a heightened awareness of how important it is to have good and attentive staff minding the laser tag because a good customer experience may all come down to the person starting the game.
Well, at least I got a few good minutes of game time in the arena, so I can say that I technically did play laser tag in Kansas. Mission accomplished.
Comments or Questions?