Pulling up to the brand new shopping center on 137th and Antioch, Prairie Fire, I was immediately drawn to a jagged building with tall, multi-colored stained glass windows. This building stands out from the taupe neighboring buildings that make up the rest of the shopping center. If you have ever been that far south, you know the “look” — cookie cutter brown houses that look like they were all copies of each other and Prairie Fire shopping center is no exception to the out-south look.
I later found out the stained glass building is the Prairie Fire Museum, which shows real exhibits from the American Museum of Natural History. This was one of the reasons this new center has drawn in so many people since it opened in May. It’s also one of the reasons I made the 30 minute journey out there.
The outside of the museum was the most interesting part. When I walked into the museum I saw just a single room filled with fish imprints, portraits of ancient creatures and my favorite exhibit, a T-rex skeleton. Other than that, there was a “discovery room” upstairs– which is a hands-on activity room for younger kids. I wouldn’t consider it a museum, because there were only a couple of exhibits. The fact that it was new made it not feel like a museum to me. My advice, don’t go expecting the Smithsonian, because you’ll end up at a much smaller high-tech version.
Besides the museum, Prairie Fire has a new kind of movie theater called Cinetopia. Before going to Prairie Fire, I read about the theater and saw it was a major component of the shopping center, so I made sure there was enough time to see a movie.
Walking into Cinetopia, I was impressed. It was like a movie theater from the future. The movie tickets were just printed receipts, which I thought was sensible and modern. I bought a ticket to “Tammy”. It starred Melissa Mccarthy, who is one of my favorite actresses, and I loved it. After getting my printed receipt-like ticket, I started the route to the “living room”-style movie theater, which was unlike any movie theater hallway I’d ever walked through. The wall was covered with big movie screens in place of a typical movie poster. This made the experience a lot more interactive.
The “living room” style movie theater blew me away. Instead of the traditional fold-up movie theater seats, the room had the decor of an actual living room, decked out with couches and big comfy chairs neighbored by side tables that you could put the delicious food you can order from the endless menu. I’m a Cineobsessed now.
Later on I had a chocolate craving, so I headed to Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates. Cocoa Dolce is a chocolate and ice cream parlor. I’ve never gone out and bought fancy chocolates so I don’t know the typical prices for them, but they priced theirs at $3 a chocolate, a little pricey considering they were bite size. But being the chocoholic I am, I tried five of their best selling chocolates: creme brulee, salted caramel, strawberry balsamic, Tahitian chocolate and dark chocolate. Creme brulee was the winner — it was identical to a cup of creme brulee, the way it was in a chocolate cup and had a crunchy, almost-toasted top. It had a delicious spot-on taste as well. I enjoyed salted caramel, even though it was heavy on the salt. The dark chocolate was the perfect amount of bitter and sweet. Strawberry balsamic and tahitian vanilla, on the other hand, were not my favorites. I still can’t get the weird cheesy taste of the strawberry balsamic and strong alcohol undertone in the Tahitian vanilla out of my mouth.
The three components of Prairie Fire that I got to enjoy on my Saturday afternoon were all more than worth the 30 minute drive. I felt like I “wasn’t in Kansas anymore” when I was there. If you like dinosaur skeletons, high-class movie theaters and fancy chocolates, you’ve met your match. I would say the Prairie Fire shopping center was on fire.