When the Little Man (now 5.5 years old) was well, little, I desperately wanted to do all the typical mommy things with him. Playgroups, meeting friends for tea, visits to the park, and trips to the movies for those specific parent and baby screening things. In the end, he had some health issues that directly impacted his sleep (and mine!) so I ended up giving most of those things a pass because we needed to nap . . . a lot.
Fast forward five years and I still love the movies, but knew the husband and I wouldn't be spending many weekends at the flicks - at least not at first - now that we had two children, one of them being an infant.
This time around, with the Baby Man (now 4 months old), I'd really hoped to be able to get to at least a few of the parent and baby showings. There's a new theatre just up the road from us here in Orleans, with just such a program. The Baby Man contracted a nasty case of pneumonia in early February, but I did make it out to Empire Theatre's REEL BABIES program to see "The Vow" toward the end of the month. I was very pleasantly surprised with what I found when I arrived at the theatre.
The service was great, right from the start. The staff were super helpful, offering to carry snacks and drinks for moms with babies in car seats and strollers. The theatre was pleasantly dimmed, but not completely dark and the set up was fantastic. Play mats, exersaucers, swings and bouncy chairs were readily available, right inside the theatre itself. They were impeccably clean, even up to my high standards. Parents were able to bring their strollers right into the theatre, something which wasn't an option when I went to check out a similar program at another theatre chain.
Also right inside the theatre was a proper change table, again scrupulously clean, and a microwave and bottle warmers. Again, at another chain the change table option was found only in the lady's washroom and the microwave was outside the theatre doors.
Empire had some issues with the sound when the previews started rolling - it was on "full blast", but as soon as we let a staff member know, it was remedied right away.
My only complaint was that the sound was turned down a little too much, making the movie hard to hear over the noise of the wee babes from time to time. And while I understand that the theatre wants to run their Reel Babies program when the theatre is already open for regular matinee showings, the timing can be a bit tricky if you've got to get home to meet an older child off the bus or at school. The movies don't begin until 1 pm, which means having to make alternate arrangements for your other children if they get home anytime before 3/3:30 pm. Fortunately that's not an issue for me, but I can see it being a stumbling block for other parents.
Overall, it was a really wonderful way to while away the afternoon, and I was very impressed with the set up at my local Empire Theatre.
If you go . . .
- Although there are a few Empire Theatres across Ottawa, the one in Orleans is the only one with the Reel Babies program.
- Matinees are just $8.99 per person and the baby is of course free.
- The Reel Babies program runs every two weeks, on Wednesday afternoons, at 1 pm.
- You can create an account on the Reel Babies website and then be eligible to vote for which movie they'll show at their next event!
The Giveaway We have two free passes for any Reel Babies showing across Canada, valid until December 31, 2012. Along with that, two $3 off coupons that can be used for future ticket purchases to a Reel Babies showing.Please note that in order for the winner to claim their prize, they must be willing to either pick up the passes and coupons from my home in Orleans, or share their mailing address with me (Carly) so they can be mailed to you.
To enter, just leave a comment! Although the Reel Babies showings are geared toward parents and their wee ones, you don't actually have to bring a child with you to the show - the matinees are open to anyone and the passes are good whether you come with child or without.
We'll do a random draw for one winner on Monday, April 2nd at noon!