on Thursday, November 10, 2016
One of my unique talents is being able to figure out bowling scores by hand. That talent is completely unnecessary at virtually every bowling center you’re going to go to now. But where most places just have an automated scoring system, Maple Lanes in Waterloo offers some great entertainment that adds to the bowling experience…and keeps me from feeling like my talents are completely outdated.
The system that Maple Lanes has installed offers more traditional scoring, so when they’re hosting leagues and tournaments (which they do throughout the year), the competition is the most important part. But when you’re there with your kids or with a group of friends, your picture is up on the monitors above your lanes. There are animations, like what you saw at the end of the episode, where competitors are skydiving or arm wrestling. That enhancement makes the experience a lot of fun for all ages. Kids can even build their own monster, an example of which you see in the episode, and the customization is based on the number of pins they knock down. The chance of two people building the same character is more than one in a million, Rich told us.
Over the past couple of years, Rich and his partners have invested in the interior atmosphere. They’ve kept some of the “old school” feel while updating the technology and really upgrading the food and beverage experience for guests. Kingpin Bar & Grill offers awesome food and drinks for bowlers, but they also have become a destination for sports fans who want to watch football or baseball games. The atmosphere is extremely comfortable, and the staff is very friendly. Kingpin features karaoke as well, and all skill levels are welcome for that.
Last spring, the front of the bowling center was damaged by a wind storm. That’s going to allow Maple Lanes to get a facelift and over the next few months, you’ll see some really exciting developments. The old signage will stay, and Rich told us they’re going to move forward while also embracing the historic nature of the center.
I enjoy bowling and wasn’t a stranger at Maple Lanes. The best part of filming this episode for me, though, was getting to see the pit. I’d never been to the back of the house at a bowling center, and seeing (and hearing) it was a really cool experience. The technology and machinery that operates consistently, day in and day out, is impressive. It would have been fascinating for a lot of people to see time-lapse video of what happens in the pit, with pins being moved and set, bowling balls returned, and belts and conveyers moving things around. No matter where it is, if you get a chance to get into the pit at a bowling center, you should.
I didn’t get to 300 this time, but I think I found a couple of good teachers in this episode.
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- Aaron Buzza, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau