We were watching the film Night at the Museum with the kids the other night. Ben Stiller mentioned that everything comes to life once the night falls…and then we experienced it.
It’s nighttime and the doors are closed to the public. Only sleepover guests have full access to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and that’s when the real fun begins. The schedule reads like the itinerary on a cruise ship. You can explore the museum on your own or join in the activities. Movie in the auditorium (Night at the Museum, of course). Create a mask or paint a canvas in the arts centre. Meet a few crawly creatures and learn from the experts. Oh, and don’t forget karaoke at 10 pm. There’s also late night pizza and popcorn snacks before the lights go out at midnight.
This is the very popular ROM Sleepover for families and if you have the opportunity to experience this with your kids…DO IT! You think you’ve been to the museum? Well, at night it takes on a whole different feel. Since this particular sleepover was so close to Christmas their were about 65 of us parents and kids who had registered for the event. Some dates swell up to 250 people but with all the space at the museum it’s quite comfortable and open.
The toughest decision was what to do. We hang out at the ROM several times during the year and we never run out of things to do. I brought my 9 year old and a friend to the sleepover and they immediately wanted to see the Canadiana exhibit as they’ve recently learned about the First Nations people. Cool. I was pleasantly surprised. You think they weren’t paying attention at school? Guess again!
We wandered through the Asia, Rome and Eygpt exhibits and took our mobile devices to use the Scopify App. Designated objects in the museum have special crypted codes that when scanned will bring up fascinating and interactive ways to learn more. It’s like a treasure hunt in the museum and the kids LOVED unlocking the museum secrets. Note to self…bring more devices next time!
Friends and family asked if it was creepy being in the museum at night. We did feel like we were the only ones in the museum most of the time. When you venture to the nooks and crannies it’s very cool. I’m not gonna lie, I did get shivers looking at the mummies at night! And it’s quiet. The bat cave also takes on a very different feel at nighttime. We hesitated before entering but we were brave…even me.
We all brought sleeping bags. It’s kinda like glamping…bring a sleeping bag and a toothbrush. That’s pretty much what we brought. Yes, I know you’re surprised. But I’m actually not that high-maintenance. Okay…only I sleep in cashmere. Hey, it’s warm and cozy! Don’t judge! But I noticed that other families did bring mats or air mattresses. I figured it was only one night and it’s part of the experience!
But the kids didn’t care. They were fast asleep once lights went out at midnight. Actually I was impressed how fast everyone fell asleep. Sleeping around dinosaurs in the main hall is very cool.
The staff is super organized and security staff helped keep everyone feeling safe throughout the night. The ROM Sleepovers have been going on for the past 3 years and they know what works. Tons of knowledgeable researchers and volunteers gave their undivided attention to the kids answering all our questions from why the Dodo bird is extinct to how the Sea Urchin eats and how often the Constrictor eats…we found out that Roberta the snake is fed one mouse about every week and a half. So…we stepped back a little.
Morning wake up came early. Lights gradually phased on at around 7 am with staff walking about whispering “time to wake up, sleepy heads.” Breakfast was served down at the Druxy’s cafe complete with scrambled eggs, bagels, granola, yogurt, cereal, juices, milk and coffee/tea. This is totally civilized and it’s my kind of sleepover!
The families were given the opportunity to continue the exploring before the museum opened to the public. My kids wanted to head back up to the Nature exhibit where they were greeted with the Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches and other creepy crawlies and they didn’t want to leave!
Each ROM Sleepover has a theme — this particular one was NATURE. I know they want to go back for more. Next time we’ll go a little bit earlier and stay a bit longer. One night was not enough for us. The experience was incredible!
For more information about the ROM Sleepovers (Toronto) visit www.rom.on.ca
By the way, there were a couple of small groups that were celebrating birthdays – what a great idea! And what a cool gift for the holidays!!
Have you ever slept over somewhere really cool?