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Sensory Friendly Family Outings



In the wintertime, being creative with family outings can be a more difficult task for parents. For parents of children with sensory needs, the task may be even more daunting to find sensory-friendly establishments that can be fun for the whole family including neurotypical siblings. The following companies offer environments that are specifically catered to sensory needs including dimmed lighting, lowered volumes, limited crowds as well as accessibility via ramps and accommodations. Many offer continuous sensory friendly hours/days throughout the year, making them a great addition to parents’ go-to list for a family day.


Alamo Drafthouse

Alamo Drafthouse currently offers an “Alamo For All” program that aims to provide inclusive

movie screenings to families with children of all abilities. During these showings, lights aren’t

fully dimmed, their no talking policy is lax, the movie volume is lowered and guests are free to come and go during the show. To purchase tickets for showings with these accommodations, Alamo Drafthouse has designated an “All Ages” category while ordering tickets online. Showtimes are available for kid-friendly movies throughout the week.


AMC

Like Alamo Drafthouse, AMC Theaters also offer sensory friendly showings throughout the

week as well. With lights turned up and music dimmed, guests are encouraged to sing, dance, walk and converse during movies. Movies are available for guests with sensory-sensitivity with morning and evening showtimes throughout the week along with a 30% discount on tickets for showtimes before 5 pm.


Chuck E. Cheese

All Austin locations of Chuck E. Cheese have resumed their Sensory Sensitive Sunday

programs. Locations open 2 hours earlier on the first Sunday of each month and staff are trained ahead of time to help with sensory-sensitive guests. All games will have dimmed light features and sound features are muted/lowered as well. Additional accommodations include less visits from Chuck E. Cheese, but siblings are welcome to come and their full menu is still available. The company is also available to coordinate birthday parties with Sensory Sensitive Sunday events as well!


Morgan’s Wonderland

Morgan’s Wonderland is a theme park located outside of San Antonio that offers accessibility

through all their rides as well as their waterpark. Guests with special needs, including autism, are offered free admission to the park. Morgan’s Wonderland sits on 25 acres of land with rides and games such as carousels, ferris wheels, and trains that are friendly to guests of all ages and needs. The park also offers musical shows, magicians and dancing. Their waterpark offers a splash pad that is sensory friendly and wheelchair accessible. Guests are also provided free waterproof wheelchairs to transfer to during the day as well.


Thinkery Children’s Museum

Thinkery offers a hands-on experience for children to explore and learn through different

exhibits including a water lab, exploration of the earth, art center, simulated farmer’s market, light lab and outside jungle gym. Throughout the year the museum hosts sensory friendly hours which includes free admission. During sensory friendly hours, admissions will be limited to reduce crowd size and stimuli will be reduced throughout all exhibits. Tickets need to be reserved in advance via their website, but the whole family is invited to attend.


ZACH Theater

The ZACH Theater offers productions throughout the year that are mindful of sensory needs.

The theater provides spaced out seating, a quiet lobby for guests to step out during the show if necessary and a relaxed theater environment for guests to move during the show. Sudden sound and light changes during the production are adjusted for sensory friendly showings as well. The theater occasionally offers free tickets to these showings throughout the year, available through their website.



References:


1. Alamo for All. (n.d.). Retrieved July 16, 2021 from

https://drafthouse.com/austin/program/alamo-for-all

2. AMC Sensory Friendly Films. (2021). Retrieved July 16, 2021 from

https://www.amctheatres.com/programs/sensory-friendly-films

3. Sensory Friendly Hours. (2021). Retrieved July 16, 2021 from

https://thinkeryaustin.org/program/sensory-friendly-hours/

4. Sensory Friendly Shows. (2019). Retrieved July 16, 2021 from https://zachtheatre.org/sensory-

friendly-shows/

5. Sensory Sensitive Sundays. (2021). Retrieved July 16, 2021 from

https://www.chuckecheese.com/events/sensory-sensitive-sundays/

6. Ultra-Accessible Attractions. (2021). Retrieved July 16, 2021 from

https://morganswonderland.com/attractions/

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