"Let's all go to the lobby. Let's all go to the lobby. Let's all go to the lobby and get ourselves an overpriced snack!"(Seriously, 12 bucks for water and a popcorn? That's insane!)
One of the kiddo's favorite past times is to convince me to take him to movies. He especially loves to charm me into seeing the same one more than once. Sometimes I'm pretty convinced my dollars are paying for some Pixar employee's kid to go to college. I've mentioned this before on here and on my Facebook page and everyone is very quick to ask about if we go to the Sensory Friendly showings that the AMC theater chain is offering. Here's the thing, we don't. I know you're shocked that I'm taking advantage of that but it's not honestly something we need. Plus when we started going to flicks, it wasn't even available in our area. So Mama had to make due. I've got nothing against the concept but rarely do the times it's offered ever work for us. Not to mention it's usually only done ONCE for each movie. You miss it, you're out of luck. So if you are wondering how I have done it, here's the breakdown of what we do.
1) Timing, timing and timing. Critical timing is key. (aka Give them their medication BEFORE you leave the house.) Kiddo is always calmer, chill, zen like in the mornings. We always go to a first run of the morning. I've learned my lesson. After noon, and it's like he turns into a Gremlin in a theater. When is your kid at their best? Go then. Also, go Sunday morning or mid week. Nobody goes then excepts maybe us. That's cool though. Come sit by me. Realize there's a good chance I might be snoozing. If my snoring is getting to loud, poke me. Blame your kid that they did it. And for the love of your sanity, don't go that first weekend it's out. You know it will be madness.
2) Prep work. Order tickets online. This saves you the hassle of waiting on a line there to get them Plus you know you got your seats. My local theater now even let's you choose your actual seats too. How awesome is that? So I get to pick my preferred location which is on the end by the door. You never know when you might have to make a potty run or a complete retreat. Best to make it easy on yourself. If you go to AMC theaters, get their "Stubs' card. It waives online ordering fees AND let's you upgrade your size on drinks and popcorn for medium prices. Eventually you get enough points and you get reward bucks for more free movies!!! If you ever rolled your eyes when they have offered it to you, get it. Trust me. Apply online. I walk right up to a computer kiosk that never has a line, wave my card, POOF! Tickets printed.
3) Now you either take out a small loan and get snacks on the concession stand or you can rock the big mom purse. Let's face it. We all know we're not suppose to sneak stuff in. They know it too but we do. I've walked in with my Mama Sherpa bag and they have never said a thing to me. I usually bring some cookies and some juice boxes because I need to pay my mortgage next month. If you're a dad reading this, wearing cargo pants. That's why the good lord invented pockets dude.
4) Hit the bathroom before you go in. Expect to make a potty run sometime in the middle of the show and you'll probably go once more when you leave. If you're a mom of a son, take him in with you. Yes, the ladies rooms I find are pretty full of moms and kids, both sexes. We all get it. Who wants to send a 8 year old into a men's room alone? If anyone says a word to you about that, explain why. I bet ya that will shut their flapping gums. Hey theaters of the world, maybe it's time to make a family bathroom ya dig?
5) Yes, the sound is loud and the advantage of the sensory friendly is it's usually lower volume. Got noise canceling headphones? Bring them with ya! You're already sporting the Mary Poppins's handbag. What's one more thing? Also a fidget or two doesn't hurt. Also, skip the 3D viewings. If your kid is like mine, they don't really see 3D anyway because of visual processing issues. Plus the glasses are annoying. Frankly 3D is a gimmick on most movies that stink to begin with. You don't need to give them another three bucks. That's all that three stands for.
6) Now of course you can prep your kids to the moon and back about being quiet and considerate of fellow movie goers but they are kids. Noise happens. Here's the thing, I do find there's a smidgen more understanding/patience at kid movie showings. They get excited. They suddenly remember that they need to pee. They drop stuff and then cry. It happens. My point is, your kid will not be the only one making noise. Now if you have the type of kid that wants to scream the entire viewing, clearly abort the mission and get out of there. But if junior squeals with delight every time there is a well timed fart joke, let it pass. Your kid or any other there. You're not watching a production of King Lear. It's Smurfs 2 or Alvin and The Chipmunks or some junk like that. Let it roll. The noise will pass in seconds. Of course redirect if it gets out of hand but don't think it's the end of the world either. Chill fool. You got this.
7) Hold something over their heads for motivation. Good behavior in the movies means a run to a drive thru where if the timing is right, one can get a Happy Meal with a crappy piece of plastic junk toy that's a character from that flick. Extra bonus fun!!!
8) Expect to be bored. You're not really there for you. You're there for them. Expect Pixar movies cause they're well Pixar. Hello Toy Story 3!?!? If you didn't sob at the end of that movie you have no soul. None!
9) If you happen to be one of those adults without kids who still likes to go to these movies because you are a big kid at heart or whatnot, do me a favor and go later. Do yourself the favor of not being bothered by kid noise at a late night showing. Don't come to my 9:45AM showing and be all huffy under your breath at my son squeals. This is the mom zone time. Suck it up sunshine. I'm not going to be a hermit and never take my kid out. I will be on him like white on rice but don't get in a snit because we are there.
10) While I dig this whole sensory friendly thing for movies cause folks, I sure won't care if your kid is flapping as mine would be too, here's my issue with it. I don't see them offering any sensory friendly viewings for older kids. Like the tween, sparkly vampires, superheros set. So I guess one of the reasons I don't go to them is that I want the kiddo to get use to going to any show. If this blog is read by any higher up in a movie chain, how about more sensory friendly flicks for older kids? And french fries! You offer chicken tenders and mozzarella sticks. How about fries dude??? Come on!
Thus concludes my list on how we do the movies. The kiddo has been going for five years now. Every kid movie, we go. I've only had to take him out twice. That's pretty good odds when you think about it. :-) So try it. You might be able to do it. Also, you didn't hear it from me BUT if you do have to leave early, sometimes managers will see you struggling and give you comps to come back another time and try again. But don't tell them I told you that. Shhhhh. Our secret.