Night at the Museum

Once I had learned about the adult sleepover program that was being offered at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The AMNH has always been one of my all time favorite places in NYC.

The price per ticket for this event was hard to stomach as it was expensive. For a whopping $350.00 ($300 for members) you’ll get a champagne meet and greet, a buffet dinner, access to the whole museum including special exhibits and planned events specifically for the sleepover. You’ll also get snacks, breakfast and early access to the gift shops. You’re really paying for the experience here. The chance to roam the museum without so many guests was such an alluring prospect. Money aside, I really found it difficult to convince myself that this wasn’t worth the hefty price. There were no other reasons I wouldn’t go so I ended up purchasing  a ticket because isn’t life all about finding adventure?

I am a bit of a planner so the first thing I did was go to the internet with hope of finding advice on what to pack, what type of food to expect and a general itinerary. After finding little on google searches, I headed to instagram where I found the hashtag #amnhsleepovers. I ended up getting all of the answers I was looking for, plus a little more. Though I will add, I was quite disappointed in the internet. I found only three great articles about the event – those pieces were from The New York Times, The Huffington Post and The Gothamist. My disappointment arose because none of these articles were written by bloggers. I didn’t mind the articles I read, they were actually well written and informative but the journalists who wrote them were essentially working. I didn’t want to only read articles from the press, I wanted a blog post from a fellow geek. I wanted to read a piece from someone who is as passionate about the museum as I am.

This isn’t a particularly normal post for my site but I felt compelled to write this. I hope that if you’ve stumbled upon my blog while researching the adult sleepover program that you’ll feel the magic oozing out of every sentence.

Without further ado, lets get right into it!

I really messed up my work schedule this month and I ended up having to work a half a day, which meant I had to wake up at 3:30am. While normally I would attempt to go to bed early, I had so much preparing to do that I didn’t go to bed until 11:00pm. This was a huge problem because I was utterly exhausted, sluggish and not as prepared as I would have liked. My two friends and I ended up leaving for the city around 5:00pm instead of the 4pm we had originally planned upon. We sat in traffic for over an hour and didn’t arrive at the museum until 6:29pm. I really wanted to get there a lot earlier to secure good sleeping spots but we did arrive just in time with everyone else.

Check in was a complete breeze – we were given a package with a floor map, itinerary, one general admission + all ticket for future visits, VIP pass, a second floor map (and activity book) that is actually a hard cover keepsake book, a t-shirt and an animal sticker/paper for the meet and greet.

After check in, we walked to The Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, which is where we were sleeping for the night. Most of the cots on the outside were taken but we did manage to snag 3 underneath the walruses. I wouldn’t say that this was an issue but as soon as we walked towards the cots and placed our things down, the family to the right of us did not appear happy that we chose those particular cots. While placing opening our sleeping bags and placing our things down we began discussing how many portable phone chargers we had amongst us when my eye caught a power outlet right next to the cot I was to sleep in. The family that I mentioned earlier waited just a moment before placing their things all around it, hiding the outlet from us. Like I said, I wouldn’t say this is a huge issue as we all brought portable chargers but I thought it was just a little bit rude especially since we were all there for the same thing and we all wanted to ensure our phones were charged to take stellar pictures.

We moved on to the champagne meet and greet which was above us on the upper floor of the hall. At first we kept to ourselves but we soon learned that the animal stickers and papers given to us at check in were meant to be worn and the papers had sentences on them that we were to finish with someone else in our group. We did end up running downstairs and getting them but none of our groups ended up winning (probably because of us!) Everyone we met seemed so happy to be there, the air was filled with joy and laughter.

Soon afterward, we moved on to the buffet dinner. They served a fresh baby spinach salad with a creamy balsamic vinaigrette, a mixed vegetable rice, grilled fish, well done seasoned beef, steamed asparagus and steamed squash. For dessert they had mini vanilla cupcakes with a whipped frosting and chocolate sprinkled over top, whip cream and sweet blueberries. We were pretty close to last in line so by the time we got up to the buffet there wasn’t all that much left to eat but they were replenishing the dishes just not when we were up there. The food was actually very good. Everything tasted absolutely perfect, nothing was over salted, wilted or burnt. I would have liked to see a breaded fish plus a chicken option as well though. Admittedly, they did not have much for vegan/vegetarians though. One person in our group only ate only salad and rice for their dinner. Also, scattered on the tables were ring pops (nice touch) and a gorgeous stuffed animal right in the middle. The stuffed animal was to be given away to one lucky winner if they happened to have the post it under their chair. One of my friends actually won the table prize, which happened to be a stuffed lion, she generously gave it to me since she couldn’t possibly bring home only one stuffed animal when you have three children, plus my sons name is Leonardo (hello Leo the lion!)

At this point it was 10:00pm and we were set loose to roam. All of us had been to the museum several times so we knew we wanted to see dinosaurs without the massive crowd that is typically there. Of course we made a beeline straight for the titanosaur because that exhibit is just plain awesome. We set off in that direction first then made our way down the floors. A lot of people who chose not to catch one of the movies or see a special exhibit did exactly as we did, it was a popular floor. Around 11:00pm is when things started going downhill, one person in my group got very sick. She had no more to drink than us but she ended up becoming violently sick. One of the security guards, Barbara, actually called for a wheel chair because at this point she couldn’t go on any longer. Along with the wheel chair came the sleepover supervisor, Pierce, who walked with us while I personally wheeled her back to our cots. He was extremely nice considering my friend vomited. He could have been a lot harsher with our group but instead he saw us put her to bed safely.

After my other friend and I put the sick one to bed we changed into our matching jurassic park pjs and went off to explore for another two hours. We got to handle a starfish, finally see Dum Dum, the Easter Island head and explored the Margaret Mead Hall of Pacific Peoples. It was one hall I found that I never seemed to have visited before. We also went to the second floor to the Akeley Hall of African Mammals where we found Barbara again and had a nice conversation with her.

Exhaustion was hitting us hard now so we headed to the lunar lounge for some snacks and delicious hot chocolate. We lounged on a bed of pillows while watching a black and white movie for a few. We had intended to take the tour that met up at the lounge when we got there but it appeared to be going a little slow for our energy levels, we were already dragging so it wasn’t in our best interest to continue with them. With some of our energy revived we continued on until about 12:30pm when we decided to check on our friend and take our makeup off. We noticed there was one more showing of Unseen Oceans so at 12:58 we booked it to the 4th floor where we missed it by one minute. It was so disappointing!

We finally called it quits slightly before lights out at 2:00am. We could not go on any longer. Our feet hurt and we were so so tired. A few minutes after we called it quits the lights actually went off above us to signal “lights out.”

The lights suddenly came back on at 7:00am on the dot in addition to whale sounds. Pierce came on the mic to let us know that breakfast would be served in the kids cafeteria and the gift shops would open at 9:30am. They did not discourage us from leaving but we did have to pack our things so they could put the cots away for the hustle and bustle of the day. Breakfast included coffee, orange juice, apples, oranges, bagels, muffins and Chobani plain fat free yogurt. The breakfast was definitely less than stellar but it is understandable, the museum was to open at 10:00am, they needed to prepare for the thousands of people that were to walk through those doors that day.

We will always have our “Night at the Museum” but as the lights came abruptly on, as the line for the bathroom snaked just outside the door and as we shuffled into the school cafeteria with our things a bit of the magic faded. Our night faded just like a dream that fades away as you wake from a deep slumber. For that reason, among others, I would absolutely buy another ticket and do this sleepover a second time. It’s an experience I want to experience again and again.

xoxo Amanda



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