Not an enchanting experience

After complaining about my underwhelming experience with Fandango, I just had to put away my laptop and have a little fun with my six-year-old daughter, who had been patiently waiting for me Saturday morning while I shamelessly blogged like the negligent parent I am. I had promised her a visit to the Enchanted Castle in Aurora, Illinois, one of those casino-like environments where children and their parents can burn through piles of cash playing games like Whac-a-Mole and the highly addictive (for me) SpongeBob Game.

We spent an afternoon of daughter-father bonding, mostly fixated on the Dino Dash, where we fed $20 worth of tokens racing these ridiculous looking cartoon dinosaurs who try to leap over rocks and logs on their way to an animated finish line. My daughter even tolerated me muscling her aside for some solo rounds (for the second time today patiently waiting while I goofed around with a computer).

All was going well until my daughter asked for an ice cream. We strolled past the children and parents crowding the LOUD gaming floor and over to the food counter, where I asked a young Enchanted Castle staffer about our choices of ice cream. She pointed to a sign and invited me to study the basic choices of banana split, vanilla, and a couple of other flavors.

“Well, how about we order a –” I started to say when I glanced up and noticed our food server behind the counter was blatantly picking her nose like the most industrious person you’ve ever noticed in the car next to you at stop light. And even after I made eye contact with her, she kept on going while waiting for me to make up my mind for my ice cream order. No look of embarrassment. No attempt to even fake me out with a sneaky hand gesture or a cough to camouflage the act.

I stood there in what can best be described as stunned silence — not angry, not offended, but feeling more like Mike Tyson probably did when he got knocked down for the first time in his boxing career by Buster Douglas.

What exactly do you say in this situation? “Pardon me, but would you mind taking your finger out of your nose and serve us up some delicious chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream?”

I just glanced at my daughter and whispered into her ear a promise for lavish servings of ice cream at one of her favorite ice cream parlors near our house. We flew out of the Enchanted Castle together although for completely different reasons.

The next time I hear some marketing pundit wax poetically about your brand being no better than your customer experience, I’ll remember the notorious nose picker at the Enchanted Castle. Think about it: one moment that took but a few seconds, really, undid all the goodwill that had accumulated over an afternoon.

We’re curling up with books tonight and bonding the old fashioned way.

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