There are a number of free things to do in Kansas City. One of them includes going to the Hallmark Visitors Center where they'll promise you'll see exactly how cards are made.
Do they deliver? Do they get to wear the crown?
Is it worth it?
Let me put it this way -- if I had only a wee bit of time, I wouldn't bother. But if you're out shopping in Crown Center, you can whip through it in a half hour or less. It's kind of interesting and fun, especially if you prefer history over process.
The history is well displayed in showcases following decades, as well as showing a huge amount of the various cards and products produced by Hallmark over the years. The graphic descriptive info is brief but tells the story.
I grew up with Hallmark. This card is very similar to one I have from my grandparents that I received as a child. My parents always bought Hallmark cards, and while I don't so much now, they still come out with terrific cards.
Their Hallmark Hall of Fame specials are always well done. There is a theatre where you can see segments of these as well as their tear-jerking commercials. (And yes, I've cried at Hallmark commercials). They also have a great collection of original art that appeared on their cards by famous artists like Grandma Moses (and Norman Rockwell and Winston Churchill!)
Most of us with Christmas trees have at least one Hallmark ornament -- you can see them all here, along with some of their vintage holiday home accessories.
And it was interesting to see the presidential cards.
This was Gerald Ford's. I thought it the prettiest of all of them.
So, in history and pleasing displays, I give the center high marks. But in "seeing how a card gets made" (which interests me tremendously), the marks aren't so great. One of the employees just seemed bored, once she hung up the phone to answer questions about die-cutting.
The displays were a little more helpful and I'll show them one after another in order.
I got excited when I saw a printing room behind glass.
Then I realized the room was a big mural and the presses only ran when a fellow came out to talk to folks.
I know a lot about printing, so I didn't ask him many questions, but those from the group there at the same time were well answered and enthusiastically. He showed them how the word "wife" was printed on a Valentine. He was knowledgeable, enthusiastic. But they could have shown so much more.
In addition to the video there were some fun interactive exhibits. The photo on the bow making machine didn't show well, but this is what turns out those bows we can buy at bulk at the holidays.
Press a button and you get to take home a bow.
I had enjoyed seeing some of the various Hallmark crowns that were made from year to year.
They also have a virtual crown photo spot. One stands there, looks at the camera and it "finds" your head and places a virtual crown on it.
So, back to the hotel I went, in Kansas City's lovely covered walkway, "The Link."
In some ways, it is art in itself, with its lovely angular design...
... and a great view.
Hallmark -- you get a mixed review. History: A- / Production: C- / Price? A+
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