15 Sep 2019 Attractions Management Handbook

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Attractions Management Handbook - Ultimate Sleepovers

Open all Hours

Ultimate Sleepovers

Live animal shows, story-telling sessions and large film screenings are just some of the activities on offer at attractions embracing the sleepover trend. Helen Patenall rounds up some of the best twilight offers

Helen Patenall, Leisure Media

A Night at the Museum

American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), New York City, NY, USA

Explore the dimmed corridors and say a hushed hello to your distant relatives in the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Hall of Human Origins, before climbing the staircase and shining your torch on the mighty T Rex in the Age of Dinosaurs. Meet live bats and listen while the curators tell about their natural habitats, before watching the Mysteries of the Unseen World at the IMAX. Round off the night by snuggling down to sleep beneath a huge blue whale.

Who: 6-13 years
Adult/child ratio: 1 to 3
Cost: US$145pp
When: monthly
Limited to: 465



A Night at the Museum
Sleeping with the Sharks

National Marine Aquarium,
Plymouth, UK

Young visitors can experience what happens at night in the underwater world by spending a night in close quarters with native sharks. A twilight tour of the UK’s largest aquarium is followed by crafts in the Just Add H2O Creative Centre, and a late-night movie on a big screen in front of the aquarium’s Eddystone Reef tank. Then it’s time to bed down alongside the scary shark tank.

Who: 5-15 years
Adult/child ratio: 1 to 5
Cost: £40 child/£30 adult
When: variable



Experience the underwater world at night by Sleeping with Sharks
ROM Sleepover

Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, ON, Canada

Get up close to the museum artifacts, speak to ROM experts, and enjoy a special movie screening of Night at the Museum. Join the exclusive after-hours access tour of the hands-on CIBC Discovery Gallery and Patrick and the Barbara Keenan Family Gallery of Biodiversity.
Jack Hanna Family Fun Sleepover

Busch Gardens, Tampa, FL, USA

Sleeping in Tiger World – a floor-to-ceiling glass box looking out onto the zoo’s tiger zone – is sure to be a life-long treasured memory. But that’s not all on offer at the Summer Nights and Jack Hanna sleepovers. Handlers will also teach you all about tiger training and feeding techniques, and night hikes will let you explore the zoo’s nocturnal animals while they are out on their night-time prowl.

Who: 8+ years
Adult/child ratio: 1 to 2
Cost: US$78pp
Limited to: 200
When: variable


Sleepover with Sharks

Turkuazoo, Istanbul, Turkey

Turkey’s first giant aquarium – Turkuazoo – invites school groups to spend a night surrounded by sharks, giant rays, groupers and more than 10,000 different fish species. The educational programme is geared towards teaching children about the marine environment and how best to safeguard its future. The evening kicks off with a documentary about sea life, followed by an adventurous journey into Istanbul’s longest underwater tunnel. Equipped with torches, the children discover the night life of the top ocean predators, before meeting an injured loggerhead turtle and rehabilitated green turtle. The evening comes to a stunning end when the children get to camp down in the Panorama Room, which offers 270° panoramic views of the capital city lit up at night.

Who: 7-12 years
Adult/child ratio: 1 to 10
Cost: 115,00 Turkish Lira
When: term time weekdays
Limited to: 115



School groups can spend the night at Turkey’s giant aquarium surrounded by sharks and rays

ZSL London Zoo, London, UK

BedBUGS promotes its sleepovers as being small and intimate, so that guests enjoy a more personalised experience. Animal talks, a torch lit tour of the zoo, games and storytelling sessions with an animal theme promise to keep the kids busy right up to bedtime and are held within the zoo’s biodiversity and conservation exhibit – B.U.G.S. People with creepy crawly phobias need not apply!

Who: 7-11 years
Adult/child ratio: 1 to 3
Cost: £50
Limited to: 80
When: monthly 2014



BedBUGS offers children a small and personal experience with their animals and bugs
Night with the Sharks

Genova Aquarium, Genova, Italy

Children are invited to discover little-known and fascinating facts about sea creatures by getting to visit their tanks under the cover of darkness. When the lights are turned off at sunset, the children witness incredible transformations, as new creatures and colours are revealed alongside nocturnal movements and behaviours. The experience comes to a close when the children bunk down in sleeping bags next to the shark tank.

Who: 7-13 years
Cost: €80pp
Adult/child ratio: 1 guide to 17
When: monthly Limited to: 35


Young Friends Sleepover

British Museum, London, UK

The museum invites you to explore its hugely significant collections at night, complemented by storytelling, music and dance workshops, reenactments and craft activities. This year, three themed sleepovers are on offer: Vikings, Mummies and Ming. Bedtime quarters are located in the Egyptian Sculpture & Mesopotamian Galleries.

Who: 8-15 years
Adult/child ratio: 1 to 4
Cost: £35pp
When: six per annum
Limited to: 260


Photo: © benedict johnson

Young Friends Sleepover
Science Night

Science Museum, London, UK

Promising to be “an all-night extravaganza with a twist”, the Science Museum’s special overnight event features fun hands-on workshops, science shows,
and an IMAX show.

Who: 7-13 years
Adult/child ratio: 1 to 5
Cost: £45 When: monthly
Limited to: 460


Sleepover with Sharks & Dolphins

National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD, USA

Where can you get the chance to fall asleep while dolphins swim above your head? Baltimore’s National Aquarium. You can watch dolphins in action during the amphitheatre show, access behind-the-scenes areas and learn fascinating facts at the Dolphin Discovery Lab. To top it off, trainers will show you the tricks of their trade, demonstrating how they teach dolphins to jump through hoops to the delight of audiences. The aquarium’s shark catwalk will dare you get up close to these silent swimmers, while hands-on experiences like holding shark jaws and eggs in the Shark Discovery Lab will enlighten you about these amazing ocean predators. Behind-the-scenes activities include a visit to the food prep area to learn how the sharks are fed and cared for.

Who: 8+ years
Adult/child ratio: 1 to 10
Cost: US$114.95pp
When: weekly
Limited to: 55


Get up close with the dolphins at Baltimore’s National Aquarium
Roar and Snore

Taronga Zoo, Sydney, Australia

Marketed as “Sydney’s ultimate sleepover”, Roar and Snore invites you to camp down in a plush safari tent set on a cliff edge with spectacular views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. This overnighter promises two captivating behind-the-scenes tours and a night safari where you’ll be introduced to native Australian reptiles, before setting off on a night tour showcasing nocturnal animals from the African waterhole and the Big Cats. And with adults-only and corporate events on offer, Roar and Snore isn’t just for families, .

Who: 5-17 years
Adult/child ratio: 1 to 3
Cost: AUS$205 child/AUS$320 adult
When: every weekend year-long
Limited to: 44


Enjoy spectacular views of Sydney from your cliff-edge safari tent at Taronga Zoo
Kip in a Ship

HMS Belfast, IWM, London, UK

Kip in a Ship offers an exciting educational opportunity for schools and youth groups with its one- to three-night sleepover on the River Thames. Dedicated overnight concierges provide a personal point of contact for visitors, who even get to sleep in real sailors’ bunks on the mess decks – the original sleeping quarters. A learning session provides an overview of HMS Belfast’s extraordinary history from convoy duties in icy Arctic conditions at the height of the Second World War, through being one of the first ships to open fire on German positions on D-Day to patrolling coastal waters in support of U.N. forces during the Korean War. Guests can examine historic photographs and film clips and explore all nine decks to fully immerse themselves in the lives of those who worked onboard.

Who: 8-18 years
Adult/child ratio: 1 to 10
Cost: £42 Limited to: 52
When: numerous each month



Kip in a Ship
Dino Snores

Natural History Museum (NHM),
London, UK

Now in its fifth successful year, the monthly NHM sleepover invites children to join its Dino Snores torch-lit trail and be scared senseless by the stalking T Rex! Or they might perhaps prefer a live show about creatures that bite and sting at Revenge of the Minibeasts, before bedding down under the shadow of the 26-metre Diplodocus skeleton. Wake up to a breakfast accompanied by owls and meerkats at another live show narrated by Animal Man Nick Spellman, before heading home with a personally designed Dino T-shirt. Even big kids can get in on the act, with Dino Snores for Grown-ups: The Ultimate Sleepover! Kicking off with a three-course dinner in the museum’s restaurant, this unique event offers an unforgettable night of stand-up comedy, live music, an all-night natural horror movie marathon, dinosaur-drawing classes in the Darwin Centre atrium, and a science show on the sex lives of insects, before tucking into a most unusual midnight feast of edible insects. Other after-hours events include Crime Scene Live, Night Safari and Lates.

Who: 7-11 years
Adult/child ratio: 1 to 5
Cost: £52pp (Dino Snores)
£175pp (Dino Snores for Grown-ups)
When: monthly
Limited to: 400 (Dino Snores)
220 (Dino Snores for Grown-ups)



Photo: © trustees NHM,LONDON

If bedding down under the skeleton of a Diplodocus is your thing, sign up to Dino Snores!
Spend the Night

Calgary Zoo, Calgary, AB, Canada

At Calgary you can choose from a selection of exciting sleepovers. At the Savannah Sleepover children fall asleep to the noise of splashing hippos and rustling giraffes, learn about African animals and plants, and even try out West African drumming and dancing, before making a souvenir African mask. The Dinos After Dark Sleepover takes you back to prehistoric times, kicking off the evening with a tour of the zoo’s prehistoric park, before retiring to the Karsten Discovery Centre atrium for an edu-taining programme with themed activities. Northern Nights features a starlight tour of the Canadian Wilds and an evening of activities at Cequel Energy Lodge. And who could resist waking up to the playful antics of river otters? Penguin Sleepover teaches you all about the habits of these adorable birds with an evening of interactive storytelling, activities and a penguin-specific craft, and you bunk down in the Karsten Discovery Centre. Rainforest Adventure celebrates the zoo’s bats, snakes and gorillas with sleeping space at the rainforest atrium.

Who: 5+ years
Adult/child ratio: 1 to 4
Cost: CAN$60
When: monthly
Limited to: 20-50


Science After Dark

Carnegie Science Center,
Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Science After Dark’s shut-eye sleepover explores circadian rhythms and hibernation. You can test your reflexes in the simulated sleep-deprivation challenge, investigate ultraviolet light in the glow room and make a sleep mask. And who better to snooze next to than R2-D2! Activities include an Omnimax movie, a planetarium or laser show, a live theatre show and a science workshop. And for really early learners, the Jammie Jams sleepover offers an ‘almost overnighter’ for younger children. Preschoolers can enjoy make-and-take activities, a live theatre show and storytime before going home at 9pm. And you guessed it, they can even wear their pjs.

Who: 4-10 years
Adult/child ratio: 1 to 8
Cost: US$35 ($15 Jammie Jams)
When: October, November, December 2014
Limited to: 540 (typically 250-300)



Get scientific at your sleepover

Merlin Entertainments has jumped on the sleepover trend with last year’s launch of its overnight Mediaeval Glamping experience at Warwick Castle. Visitors sleep in one of 41 ready-to-bed mediaeval-themed tents, before breakfasting at mediaeval-styled tables in a banqueting tent set amid a beautiful woodland glade; just five minutes’ walk through the grounds from the magnificent castle. Evening entertainment includes Have-A-Go Archery, Jester’s School, Knight’s School and mediaeval games.

Who: families & youth groups
Adult/child ratio: not applicable
Cost: £200-400/tent
Limited to: 41 tents
When: daily May to September



Mediaeval Glamping

Helen Patenall is the Handbook Editor of Attractions Management Handbook

[email protected]

Originally published in Attractions Handbook 2014 edition

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