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Night at the Museum New York Sleepover
Believe it or not, one whole family trip to New York City was spawned from an article I read about having your own Night at the Museum sleepover experience at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH).
We had visited the museum once before when my children were toddlers. I remember the claustrophobic feeling I had pushing a stroller through the throngs of humanity to get a peek at the exhibits, and being dressed in just enough layers of clothing so as to make me irritable (it was December). The opportunity to visit after hours and wander the halls without thousands of other people was simply more than I could resist.
After months of anticipation, and several viewings of Ben Stiller’s movie ‘Night at the Museum, our family AMNH sleepover adventure began. At precisely 5:45pm on a Saturday evening, we lined up with other excited families to receive our orientation package covering the events for the next fifteen or so hours.
We were assigned to the impressive Ocean Life Hall where we would choose our cots and arrange our sleeping bags for the best view of the 94 foot long blue whale suspended above us. Admittedly, I was not crazy about the idea of sleeping in a large group setting, but we managed to find a nice corner area on the balcony level for our family. Sleeping quarters claimed, we grabbed a quick bite of dinner in the cafe (which stays open late for the event), and began our exploration of the exhibits.
Note: If you are a foodie, you may want to eat earlier as the food options are quite average (pizza, burger etc.).
In addition to being able to roam the halls freely, we also enjoyed the ever changing special exhibit (in our case it was on Poison throughout the ages), the butterfly conservatory, a life animal presentation, a fossil discovery walk by flashlight, and a late night movie in the Lefrak Theatre.
Would we sleep during our Night at the Museum experience? I was doubtful. As dozen of families organized themselves for bed, a bedtime story was read and broadcast over the sound system (the original Night at the Museum by the author Milan Trenc). Much to my surprise, however, with the story over, everyone simply went to bed. Naturally, there were a few minutes of giggling and shushing…..but then silence. The next thing I remember was waking up to a gentle prompt over the sound system at 7am.
There was a fair bit of hustle and bustle in the morning as we packed up our gear, grabbed a bite of breakfast (included in the stay), and bought a few mementos from the gift shop. By 9am, the kids were well into their day, playing at the Diana Ross playground across the street in Central Park and getting ready for another day of exploring the Big Apple.
Available Dates: Select Saturday nights year round.
Time: 5:45pm through 9am the following morning.
Suitability: Open to children 6 and up with accompanying parent(s) or caregiver.
Important to Note: These event frequently sell out so be sure to book this well ahead of time.
What to Bring: Bring a sleeping bag (or if visiting NYC you can arrange a loaner from the museum), pillow, flashlight, camera, toothbrush and toothpaste, washcloth, warm comfortable clothing to sleep in, change for vending machines, ear plugs (optional), night mask (optional) and a water bottle (the museum does not sell bottled water but you can fill yours up from the fountain).
Cost: $150 per person * (also includes a full day visit on the day of, or day after your stay).
*Although this price may seem steep, if you factor in the fact that you will not be paying for accommodation on this night, it is actually quite reasonable.
For more information on the museum sleepover see: AMNH sleepovers.
Note: If you choose to just do a day trip to the American Museum of Natural History Museum, keep in mind that if you want to save some money, this is one of the over 80 attractions included in the New York Pass.
For Adults: The AMNH is also offering Night at the Museum sleepovers just for adults.
Other Museum Sleepover Programs
Here are some other notable Natural History Museums offering Night at the Museum style sleepovers.
Natural History Museum Sleepover – Los Angeles – www.nhm.org
Smithsonian Museum of Natural History – Washington D.C. – www.smithsoniansleepovers.org
The Field Museum – Chicago – www.fieldmuseum.org
Carnegie Natural History Museum Night – Pittsburgh – www.carnegiemnh.org
The Royal Ontario Museum – Toronto – www.rom.on.ca
The Royal B.C. Museum – Victoria – www.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca