Sleepovers of the Unusual Kind
By Denise Davy
The prehistoric nostrils of a giant T-Rex may well be the first thing you see in the morning when you wake up after a night at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). While that sounds like an unlikely predicament – waking up in a museum, that is – in fact it’s part of the package when you book a “room” at the ROM’s sleepover event. Now in its fifth year, the sleepover program has been a popular draw among families looking for an adventure outside of the ordinary.
Jovanna Scorsone, Manager of Children and Family Programs at the ROM, explains that the fun has as much to do with the excitement of a sleepover as it does with the venue. Combine being able to roam around a museum after hours with the excitement of an overnighter and you’ve got a recipe for fun. It’s also a badge of honour. “Kids love coming back with their friends and saying, ‘see, that’s where I slept’,” states Scorsone. The Ontario Science Centre (OSC) has been offering sleepover parties since the late 1990’s and on an even bigger scale. Where the ROM has had 260 kids and adults, the Science Centre has welcomed as many as 750!
At the ROM, kids can cozy up beside a dinosaur skeleton, while the Science Centre allows kids to sleep beside a rainforest or cave. Both venues have a similar line-up of activities as part of the package, including movies, activities, bedtime snacks and breakfast.
At the ROM, kids warm up by watching – appropriately enough – the 2006 comedy Night at the Museum where statues and animals come to life. Scorsone says the movie was partly the impetus for the program. At the OSC, kids watch Born to be Wild, a beautiful documentary about saving endangered species. Themes for the ROM’s sleepovers, which run four times a year, include dinosaurs (of course), Egypt, nature and Canada. They also pack the night with arts and craft activities, then end with a karaoke pajama party.
The OSC has hands-on science workshops and during the Space Odyssey sleepover, kids learn about space technology, including a demonstration of how rockets fly and satellites stay in orbit. Overall, the absolute favourite aspect for the kids is often just being able to explore after hours. “There’s more freedom and more opportunities to touch real artifacts from the collections,” explains Scorsone.
Angie Aucoin, Program Leader at the OSC, agrees. “I think a big part of the thrill is just being in this building at night. It’s so different and you see kids looking around like they’re thinking, wow, for some reason we’re allowed to be here.”
Families even bring their owns beds, which can be equally entertaining, notes Scorsone. “We get the most interesting contraptions, from camping mats to inflatable mattresses to pop-up frames that turn into beds.” And while kids can choose where they want to sleep, not surprisingly, at the ROM the first floor Currelly gallery is among the most popular. At the OSC, kids love to snooze near the bubble-making area or the Living Earth room where they sleep near a rainforest.
at the Ontario Science Centre
Welcome / Science Show
IMAX® Film: Born To Be Wild
Hands-on Science Workshop
DJ / PJ Dance Party
Evening pizza snack and boxed breakfast
Exploration of the Science Centre After Dark
at the Royal Ontario Museum
A special film screening (Night at the Museum – Part 1 or 2)
Exclusive exploration of one of the ROM’s most popular galleries
Access to the ROM’s Hands-On Galleries
Opportunities to touch real artifacts from the collections
Karaoke PJ Party
A late night snack and morning continental breakfast