The Magic of the movies: Surviving the cinema with toddlers

Last week I took Jack to the cinema for the first time which was, in my opinion, a fairly monumental milestone. As a child, going to the 'pictures' was one of my favourite treats. If you grew up in Scunthorpe pre-2003 the chances are you might have enjoyed the delights of the Majestic Cinema as well. With it's heavy velvet curtains, low ceilings and ever so slightly itchy seats I think it's fair to assume that the place probably hadn't had a refurb since it's 1930's opening and was, to all intents and purposes, a bit of a shit hole. But still, it was a place where dreams were made, hearts were broken (if you got stood up on the steps when you were 15 *sniff*) and many a happy Saturday afternoon was spent whooping along to Bring It On or sobbing at Titanic with friends.

Sadly the Majestic was demolished in the early 2000's and replaced with a shiny, new complex where there are no little old men who come in mid screening with trays and torches to sell ice cream, but there is a Ben & Jerry's counter where you can buy customised milkshakes if you're willing to take out a small bank loan beforehand. And while it may lack some of the charm of it's predecessor, I thought it was about time that Jack experienced the magic of the movies. After all, what could possibly go wrong?!

A lot, actually. I wasn't expecting him to be engulfed in sheer terror as we took our seats in screen 4. And I certainly hadn't bargained on him bolting towards the door shouting 'NOT LIKE BIG TELLY, WANT TO GO HOME NOW!' at the top of his lungs. But thankfully after some gentle persuasion he calmed down and seemed to enjoy the film. And as with most new, toddler-related experiences it was a learning curve for me too. Here's what I learnt about surviving the cinema with toddlers in tow.

Ticket price
For some reason I had this crazy idea in my head that as a grown up taking a child to watch a U-rated film, I might get some sort of concession based on the fact that not many grown adults would actually go and see Thomas and Friends: Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure out of choice. Two full price tickets later I learnt that this was a false assumption. It didn't make a difference that it was 10am on a Friday morning and that I would get no personal enjoyment whatsoever from watching Thomas dick about with his pals, there would still be no discount. However you CAN save money on...

Take your own. Seriously. Smuggle those Fruit Shoots in like your mortgage depends on it. Fluorescent slush puppies and mammoth pick 'n' mix counters are like beacons to small people but if you don't want to spend the equivalent of a week's shop on sugary snacks then you better come armed with a cheaper alternative stashed in your mum coat. Oh, and remember to tell them that popcorn is exploded sweetcorn; this isn't technically a lie and the mere mention of vegetables will put them right off, saving you a few quid in the process *evil cackle*

God bless you, Space Raiders!

Timing is everything
I learnt to my cost that arriving too early is a big mistake. Something about an empty cinema is actually quite eerie and Jack only really relaxed when other children started arriving. Not only that, but by arriving early you're wasting precious concentration time. Children's films are usually mercifully short but if they've already sat through half an hour of adverts and trailers, you might find that their attention span will run out and the fidgets will set in way before the end of the film.

Pick your seats
Don't be fooled into thinking you'll get a full hour of peace sitting in this darkened room because you know and I know that you'll probably spend most of the film traipsing to and from the toilet. So pick your seats accordingly - preferably somewhere near the bottom and at the end of an aisle to avoid disturbing the whole row, being heckled by toddlers then scrambling down several stairs in near blackness.

Enjoy it!
Even now I still think there is something magical about the cinema with it's smells and sounds and spine tingling opening credits. And taking Jack for the first time only made it more special. Seeing his eyes widen as the screen came to life was precious and as the end credits rolled to Thomas the Tank Engine singing a catchy tune, he got up and danced in the aisle with some other little boys and I knew that it had been time and money well spent.

Belly flashing good times!


  1. hehehe! That last photo made me chuckle...
    Going to the cinema is so expensive isn't it....We always go to Poundland for snacks before. Our local Vue cinema allows you to take your own treats in....Phew!
    It sounds like you both had a fab time x

  2. Oh gosh it's ridiculous isn't it. Don't get me started on those 'combo' meals that sound as if they're going to be great value but really aren't! We did have a great time, will definitely go again and hopefully skip the initial hysterics this time!

    Thanks for reading :) x

  3. Haha! I have yet to try cinema with my little ones, but I am glad to know I can have a good excuse for being late (kids don't like it empty), given that I am always late! #weekendbloghop