Rob and I took Toby, Eleanor and Callista to see Frozen – their first theater movie – today, and the experience couldn’t have gone much better.
I’m amazed to have learned that, in a world full of technology, ETC were blown away by something as classic as a movie theater. I really shouldn’t be that surprised because if the technology were that obsolete, we wouldn’t fork over all the cash they demand these days. But when I think to the technology of my childhood and compare it with the technology of today, then the movie theaters of my childhood compared with the theaters of today … well, the technology differences are much greater. As far as movie theaters go, the only real change is screen size and stadium seating (plus sound and picture quality, but that’s the sort of thing that muddies in memory over time).
Anyhow. Regardless of our 42-inch flat screen TV at home. Their hands-on, on-demand favorite shows, the two times they’ve watched movies at our friends’ home theater – regardless of all that, I saw magic in my kids’ eyes today.
Toby, who said, “Ooooh!” at the sprinkling of pixie dust over Cinderella’s castle in the familiar Disney logo.
Callista, whose eyes were big, glued to the screen the whole time and completely enamored.
Eleanor, who looked around wondering what was happening outside when she noticed the surround sound, then couldn’t turn back around because she saw the tiny version of the movie shining through the projector window.
I wanted to take pictures of my tiny people in the big, red chairs, but we got there during the opening trailers and waited too long for the lights to finally come up. I settled for a photo next to the movie’s poster outside the theater, realizing the size of my kids compared with the size of the chairs is just another thing that can change, as those chairs weren’t as luxe when I was their size.
It isn’t their size that I wanted to remember, after all. It was the look of joy that I couldn’t quite capture with the darkness of the theater but still glimmered to some extent as they walked out, still giddy from the excitement of such a big, independent experience.
If you’re taking your own tot to their first movie theater experience, here’s what worked for us:
- Eat right before you go. The fuller the belly, the less wiggly.
- Sneak in your own popcorn and snack cups that are easy for holding and refilling. We also brought their water bottles.
- For multiple kids and adults, flank the kids’ seats with your adults so wiggly little ones can get up occasionally (or, you know, test out different seats once or twice) but not escape or bump into anyone unfamiliar.
- Go during the week, during matinee hours. We saved $3.50 per ticket by going on a Thursday. With a family of five, that’s a lot. Plus, there were only two other families in the theater. We were able to distance ourselves so Eleanor’s occasional too-loud question or remark bothered no one and Toby’s five insisted potty breaks during the first 15 minutes didn’t leave me tripping over any strangers’ feet.
- Pick the right movie. Singing – and lots of it – is what ETC love most, so when I heard Frozen was “Broadway-y,” I knew this was the perfect first theater movie for them. They didn’t get bored once.
- Set your expectations low but hope for the best.