Archive for the ‘Lakeville’


Lakeville 21 Theater: Lakeville, MN

Special Edition: Movie Theater Reviews by Mikeh

Mikeh has offered to post the reviews he’s been writing on local theaters on the site over the remainder of the summer. This is the fourth posted and the rest will come up as he completes them. Enjoy!

lakevilletheater

It is turning out that the South Metro Theaters are more alike than they are different (shocking, I know) with a clear dividing line between theaters with Massive Screen sizes vs theaters with Typical Screens. Is the experience worth the price difference? Today I’m reviewing the Lakeville 21 theater and it’s Monster Screen.

So far I have reviewed: Regal Eagan Stadium 16, Carmike 15 – Apple Valley, and Marcus Rosemount Cinema

The lone remaining theater to experience: Paragon Odyssey 15

On Sunday July 14th I visited the Lakeville 21 theater with my son to see the movie Pacific Rim (2D) at the 10:40am showing. This theater has what they bill as the largest theater screen in Minnesota called their Monster Screen. Recently upgraded to 6500 watt 4k projectors, there is now a $2.00 surcharge to view films on the Monster Screen.

Ticket Purchase and Lobby – Ticket price was $6.75 (matinee price) plus a $2.00 upcharge for the Monster Screen per ticket. Their matinee price is the same as Carmike in Apple Valley, but both are $1.75 more than the Marcus theater in Rosemount. Like all the theaters thus far, they also have special pricing days and other offers, check their webpage for more info. Tickets can be pre-ordered via MovieTickets.com and there is a surcharge/handling charge. As you may note from my picture the facade is very large which I believe is to make it visible from I-35. Tickets are purchased from a line of booths just as you enter. We purchased our tickets and entered the massive lobby. I do not know if this lobby is larger than a place like Carmike, but I know it’s taller. The roof height allows for movie posters all along some walls up high in front of you, to the left, and to the right. Below those walls on the left and right are long concessions counters, and in front is the guy ripping tickets to enter the hallways for the screens. In the middle are some benches, and a number of tall tables that you can set your food on if waiting for the theater to be ready for seating. Lighting in the Lobby was pretty good but with all the windows may be affected by the sunlight outside. They do have some video games off to the side in alcoves. Only one side of concessions were open at the time we arrived, but the other side could be seen getting prepared.

The concessions counters were not blocked by anything and were easy to access, their price list though has gone electronic and like at Regal, and at first i couldn’t see what they had to offer because they were showing an add on one of the screens. I saw half the menu but not the other half. I have been here before though, so I knew what to order but in general the animation stuff blocking the list can slow the process for people. And if you’re there on Friday night for a big new release, slow concessions lines is not what you want. Prices include tax and this is a Coke shop so smuggling in your Diet Pepsi is required. You can get free refills all day on a large popcorn and large pop, something my wife appreciates, as she doesn’t go to movies often so we refill when the movie is over and bring the popcorn home to her. Popcorn seemed unsalted, but they have shakers available if you wish to add more salt. Popcorn flavor was similar to the Marcus theater.

Theater Impressions – We arrived in the theater at 10:20 for a 10:40 and were in our seats by 10:30. Note that if you don’t like walking, the Monster Screen is not for you. The theater layout is in a long run going north to south. Once your ticket is ripped you go left for 8 theaters or right for 11 theaters (actually one is right in front of you, their former main screen). The Monster screen is all the way at the end of the right section. It is so far down that they added another concession stand in that area as well as a set of bathrooms. The concession area was not staffed that morning and didn’t look like it was used much. Lighting in the hallway was somewhat dark, clear enough to see where you are going, but not so much that you notice the quality of the carpet. Digital lighted signs stick out and are visible down the hall with the theater number and show name. Walking into the theater you are in hallway with tall walls and can see just the edge of the screen. While this screen is only about 2 feet bigger than the Carmike Big D, the theater itself appears significantly larger. The theater can seat just under 600 people and has stadium seating with high back chairs that can lean back and the armrests can be lifted out of the way if you want to get closer to your significant other. Seats are covered in cloth and well padded, I noticed no discomfort sitting in them.

When we entered the theater the lighting was bright, and we could easily see the seats as well as all the people (maybe 5 couples) already in the theater. At about 5 minutes before show time the lights dimmed one level, still not theater dark but if you left to get popcorn and then came back you might have trouble finding your seat again. At 10:40 (showtime) the lights dimmed completely, and the full projector started up first showing us that this was a theater used DLP powered projectors.. Once the trailers started I noticed something different here that I hadn’t noticed at the Big D. The sound system was quite loud, and there was an abundance of bass. Both audible bass and sub-frequency as I could feel the floor and chair I was in vibrate especially during the Wolverine trailer. I also noticed a rattle in the top right of the theater due to the heavy bass during the Wolverine trailer. It wasn’t loud like I needed to plug my ears, just generally loud and I was hoping it wouldn’t get too loud during the movie.

The movie started at 10:46, only 6 minutes of trailers which was great since I’d already seen most of them so far and so much better than the endless trailers and Carmike. During the movie I noticed no image issues, with a plenty of detail and not too dark even considering much of the movie is set at night, in the rain, and/or in dark buildings. The sound was excellent, so much so that I felt dragged into the movie more so than i would have expected. I get the feeling that the quality of the sound was due as much with the movie, as perhaps the theater, but it really was stellar. I can’t describe how really good it sounded, but again, it may just be some incredible work by the director and his audio engineer. At a minimum the theater was up to the challenge.

Since my experience at the Regal Theater I was now on the lookout for staff walking into the theater and I did spot a guy once. I did not notice him right away because he didn’t walk under the screen but instead walked up the stairs on my right, all the way to the top of the theater. Again, a clipboard with a white piece of paper was what caught my eye as he moved around. I suggest these guys use a cover sheet of dark paper when moving around to limit the distraction they cause. He didn’t walk under the screen, so it wasn’t as distracting as at the Regal and if he came in a 2nd time I never noticed.

Likes:

    All day free refill on large pop and large popcorn.
    Great sound system.
    Big Screen.
    Fabric backed seats with recline and good padding

Dislikes:

    Staff noticed walking around the theater (white paper is the tell, cover that with something dark)
    Long walk to the theater and for refills.

The follow is a list of prices I noted and include tax.

Prices:

    Matinee Ticket – $6.75
    Monster Screen Surcharge – $2.00
    Large Popcorn – $5.50
    Large Pop – $4.00
    Candy – $3.00 & $2.50
    2 Large Pop and a Large Popcorn – $13.50

Have you been to Lakeville 21? If so what did you think about it? Would you go here over other local theaters knowing their trailers are limited to only a few minutes? Does a long walk to a particular screen bother you? Do you agree that if a staff member walks into the theater they should be doing what they can to hide themselves? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as we’d love to hear what you have to say.

Farmington to Spend $30k on Marketing Consultants

According to this article in SunThisweek, Farmington is at it again trying to drum up business for the small town that few know exists. This time, instead of the soybean festival and drunken snowmobiling, they’re going to spend up to $30,000 to hire a marketing consultant to help them bring in commercial and industrial businesses.

From the article:

“We’re really at a starting point to let people know about Farmington,” she said. “I’m hoping the consultant packages that plan. … We’re not marketing professionals at city hall, and we shouldn’t be. We need professionals to help.”

The money for this project will come from the community development and block grant fund, and the $30,000 figure was taken from Lakeville’s costs of hiring a marketing team a few years back.

While Farmington is using CDBG funds to pay for the marketing consultant, the city is restricted from using these funds to actually implement the marketing strategy.

There are two key parts to this:

    1. They are paying $30,000 just to hire the marketing company. This $30,000 is not going to go towards implementation which will likely cost even more.

    2. They settled on the $30,000 because that’s what Lakeville spent several years ago.

While the City of Farmington may not remember what Lakeville’s marketing consultants came up with back in 2012their city council should probably either abandon all hope for Farmington or at the very least steer completely clear of whoever Lakeville chose because Lakeville’s “Positioned to Fail” campaign isn’t exactly a stroke of genius.

Farmington had to fight to bring a grocery store to town and they want to hire a marketing consultant to develop some sort of marketing campaign for them? Seriously, the City is in a lot more trouble than a simple marketing firm could ever possibly help them to fix. While any smart private sector company is going to chew through that $30,000 like it was nothing, no one is going to be able to alter the perception that a quick tour of Farmington will provide to any prospective company looking to setup shop.

What do you think about this one? Is Farmington just throwing grant money away at something which cannot be saved? Do you think the City of Farmington did any research into Lakeville’s marketing campaign when they set the $30,000 amount? Should they do more to at least see the poor quality before they think that it’s worthwhile? What do you think the potential slogans for the City should be? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Red Line and MVTA’s Customer Service Sucks


Note: this is not a BRT bus as we were originally led to believe

This past weekend I was without a car and wife but had both the kids. With the weather as it was, it was difficult getting out and about aside from a few hours between the rainstorms. However, on Sunday morning after hoping the weather report was correct, I decided to brave the elements and walk to the Apple Valley Transit Station to take advantage of my tax dollars being utilized for free rides on the joint venture by Metro Transit and the MVTA for the new BRT service running as the “Red Line” to the Mall of America. It was during this trip that all of my fears about the line were realized and then some.

I left the house at around 9:40 AM hoping to make it to the AVTS for the 10:20 AM bus. As I was passing the old AVTS which is stil being used as a reststop for bus drivers, doubling the taxpayer’s cost in operating two facilities instead of one which in 2010 was already 3x as expensive to operate than that of the old station, I saw a Red Line bus ready to depart for the new Apple Valley Transit Station. Knowing that they were running about 30 minutes apart on the weekends, I ran the rest of the way, boarding just before it departed 4 minutes earlier than I expected it to.

The northbound trip was more or less uneventful. While I was surprised that the Red Line, billed as “Bus Rapid Transit”, still has to exit Cedar at Diffley to get to the Cedar Grove Transit Station and head back along the same route to get back on Cedar. While there are the beginnings of plans to add another millions of dollars more to this already $100+ million project, currently the route adds 3 minutes Northbound and 5 minutes Southbound. While the northbound bus scraped the elevated walkway at the Mall of America as it arrived, nothing else was out of the ordinary from any other MetroTransit city bus as that’s exactly what this was! They weren’t even MVTA branded as was promised back in 2010 and especially did not meet the super special “Trains on Rubber Wheels” marketingspeak talked about so many times before (including in the 1950s when the oil companies bought out the streetcar lines and replaced them with buses). Where are our fancy train buses the County and MVTA were touting in 2008?

After spending a few hours at the Mall of America, we headed back to the Red Line. Now, this is where the problems begin:

    1. The Red Line access point is on the other side of the LRT vehicles and have very little signage. In fact, if I hadn’t come northbound I would have had no idea where to get on at all, incorrectly assuming these buses would pull up to the windowed area at the Mall of American Transit Station.

    2. The access to the Red Line from the direction pointed to by a single board noting the location on where to go (on the LRT platform) is not handicapped accessible. I had to navigate a narrow section of sidewalk between the concrete stanchions and the elevated edge of the platform only to find that I could not access the Red Line buses from there. I ended up having to hop the kids down into the parking lot and walk all the way around (more than 100 feet I’m guessing) to get to a handicapped accessible entrance. Cute. More signage and less ridiculous access points are needed immediately.

    3. As I board I am rudely admonished for not folding my stroller by an MVTA/Schmitty and Sons trainer (not the driver). This was not done in a professional or polite manner as I would expect from a public/private partnership when dealing with the customer/taxpayer. Admittedly I immediately went on the offensive in response as this was the first time I’d heard of the buried stroller policy (it takes 4 clicks from their main page to get there and in my 5+ years of riding the bus have never heard of this or heard of any driver asking for another person to fold their stroller).

    I find the entire policy to be in need of a revamp:

    1. Remove child(ren) from stroller(s).
    2. Collapse stroller(s) and make sure it/they are not blocking the doorway or the aisle of the bus.
    3. If strollers do not collapse for storage, we are unable to accommodate you on the bus.
    4. Strollers may not be placed in the wheelchair area on any bus. These spaces must be available to our mobility-challenged riders at any time.

    NOTE: Folding the stroller not only makes it easier for other customers to get on and off the bus, but it also makes the ride safer for you and your child. A child in a stroller runs the risk of being injured as a result of sudden bus movements. Thank you for your cooperation.

    Our double-wide stoller has a four-point harness for each child and four brakes. It is infinitely more secure than me having to have one child, unbelted and facing sideways in a seat next to me while another sits on my lap. When the bus driver slammed on the brakes as someone made an expected turn into White Castle in Apple Valley, my son nearly went flying out of his seat due to the lack of being as safe as he would have been in the stroller.

    4. After being rudely and unprofessionally admonished for my lack of following the unposted and buried rule on strollers, of which I begrudgingly complied, a woman approached the trainer to ask a question carrying a large drink. While there is a sign above the driver (on all buses) which asks for no eating or drinking, I made sure to mention that all rules must be equally applied including the no drinking clause. I was ignored.

    5. When I pointed out that the trainer was in violation of the placard which reads:

    Federal law prohibits operation of this bus while anyone is standing in front of the white line.

    I was told she was a trainer and therefore permitted to stand there.

    6. I asked for the driver’s name and badge number and alerted her to my intention to speak with Beverly Miller at the MVTA on Monday morning. She ignored me and I again asked for the information to which she rudely replied that she would provide it to me in a minute.

    7. As I was packing up the stroller to disembark, the trainer rattled off her name and badge number. I told her that I patiently waited for her and she would do the same for me. After rattling it off two or three more times before I got it all, I explained to her that the placard did not read “anyone except MVTA staff”, it read “anyone”. It was at this point that she turned her back on me and walked towards the back of the bus for no reason. I told her that she will listen to what I have to say and she continued to walk away. I mentioned again I would be contacting MVTA staff in the morning and then, after I had left the bus, I heard her yell something about wanting my name. She will learn soon enough I’m certain.

Now, the bus line itself is a problem. It’s nothing that it was originally promised to be all those years ago. It does not at all fit the true definition of BRT as it exists elsewhere, it is no different than any other city bus route or anything other than a more direct variation of the several MVTA routes which already head to the Mall of America from Apple Valley.

While the bus line is useless, the fact that after 1.5 years of not riding the bus and taking only two rides before running into some sort of customer service issue from the MVTA is disgusting. Riders are to be treated kindly, fairly, and as adults. All drivers must be reeducated on the stroller policy (including the one who allowed me to continue uninterrupted that morning) and Ms. Larson (#1134) needs to be told to stay behind the line when the bus is in operation and go to some sensitivity training to learn how to better meet the needs of her customers.

What do you think about the failure that is the Red Line (!BRT)? Do you think all rules should be evenly and equally applied? Do you think that MVTA staff should treat customers better than they do? Whatever you have to say about this oe go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Elko/New Market Residents Happy by Luck

According to this article in the Star Tribune, the first ever resident survey in Elko/New Market shows that residents are extremely happy with their city when compared to other similarly sized exurbs. However, the reason for their happiness seems to relate more to the fact that residents outside the city, located in the larger county, are footing the bill for much of what Elko/New Market needs.

From the article:

Despite a bare-bones police operation, with many hours covered by sheriff’s deputies, the city’s rating for police patrols is in the top 10 percent in the metro as a whole and the top 5 percent among exurbs, city officials say.

[…]

It’s part of Scott County, meaning it can take advantage of an aggressive program of sharing costly equipment and technology with the county and the three big suburbs to its north — things like excavators, which can cost a fortune yet be rarely used.

Listen, being fiscally conservative is a great thing and no one is complaining about a city which takes it seriously. However, while sharing less critical resources such as excavators makes sense and having access to the County’s services are part of paying taxes there, it seems almost wrong to rely on limited Sheriff resources while other cities have to fund their own large police departments to ensure proper coverage and then tout it as a great thing.

Elko/New Market has learned from many of the mistakes of its neighbors and is taking the proper approach to growth by waiting for actual need rather than confusing ‘need’ with ‘projection’. Still, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it and to brag about using the services of the county paid for by other much larger groups while claiming fiscal conservatism will likely rub some the wrong way.

What do you think about this one? Is Elko/New Market somewhere you’d like to live? Do you think they’re taking it a little too far when they are able to piggyback off the success of other local large suburbs by sharing resources and having to fund little of their own? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.