Taking Your Kids to the Movies for the First Time

One of the most exciting things as a parent is watching your child go through “firsts”. First words and first steps are amazing, but it doesn’t stop there. Watching your kiddo attend the first day of school, learn to ride a bike…they are all such fun experiences. Another fun “first” to celebrate? Taking your child to his or her first movie theatre. It is definitely a milestone (and an opportunity for you to sit back and relax for once—just don’t fall asleep!) but it can be a bit overwhelming. I mean, it is a LONG time to keep your kid quiet and the movies now cost a TON of money so you can be shelling out the big bucks for an epic failure. But fear not, I have a no-fail guide for taking your child to the movies for the first time.

Ensure Your Child is READY

I love going to the movies. I mean, just the smell of the hot buttery popcorn makes my mouth water and to get to devour it while watching a movie and ignoring what is going on in the world for an hour or two? Pure bliss. But just because I love the movies didn’t ensure that my kids would.

Case in point: My oldest son is timid. VERY timid.  Up until about five, he wouldn’t watch a movie that wasn’t animated or a BBC documentary about oceans and its creatures. Anything that was even a tiny bit scary (I mean, we still have NEVER finished “Frozen” because of that darn snow monster) was terrifying to my son. He would run away and hide, only to return once we ensured that any creepy characters were off the screen.

So we waited a LONG time to take him to a movie theatre. WAY after his friends did. And you know what? That’s okay. Because we did what works best for him. While we did have to leave a movie theatre once because he was terrified of sitting too close to the massive movie theatre screen, he now enjoys going to the movies on his schedule.

Even if you REALLY want to see the latest and greatest from Disney…chill out. Or hire a sitter and go see it yourself. Forcing your kid will just end up being stressful and traumatic for the both of you.

And if your kiddo isn’t ready for the big screen yet…check out these fun sports themed movies to watch at home.

Do Your Research

Now that you have ensured that your child can sit still and watch a 90 minute movie from start to finish without complaining/getting bored/deciding to go for a run up and down the aisles, it’s time to choose a fun and appropriate movie for them to see.

First off, let me tell you. Going to see a movie the first day it is out without getting reviews from friends and neighbors is a BAD idea. Why? Because there might be something in it that will set your kid off and during a inaugural movie theatre experience, it can end up being a disaster. I mean, the massive screen, dark theatre, and strangers sitting around them can be intimidating. Add a scary movie scene to that and the outlook isn’t good.

So whether you ask on social media or research movie options using Common Sense Media, which is a great website for parents to have on hand for all things movies.

Lower Your Expectations

Spoiler Alert: Your kids aren’t going to be able to sit still for the duration of the movie. They will also ask questions, probably in a loud, not movie theatre whisper voices. And even when you take them to the bathroom before the movie starts (which is a MUST—even if they claim that they don’t have to go), you will undoubtedly take a trip or two to the bathroom during the movie. Honestly, you won’t even watch most of it. But again, your child’s first trip to the movies isn’t about you. So stop complaining.

Find the Perfect Theatre

One of the absolute BEST ways to ensure a great first trip to the movies is to find the perfect movie theatre for your kids.   There are tons of different options to choose from, but based on my family’s experience, there are a few top movie theatres that we recommend.

AMC Theatres

While we enjoy AMC Theatres because there are so many in the Chicagoland area and they have adorable kids’ popcorn packs (a drink, popcorn, and fruit snacks in a cute container), the theatres can be a bit large and intimidating. But as long as you bring a blanket and a loved stuffed animals to cuddle up with in the spacious seats, you should be just fine.

CMX Cinemas

The aspect that sets CMX Cinemas apart is that instead of going to dinner and then seeing a movie, you can combine the two experiences. Whether you choose a theatre that has luxury dine-in and in-seat service or the gourmet grab and go experience, it is a great option to keep kids fed and happy during their first movie theatre experience. They also show throwback movies during their “Flashback Cinema” showings. 

Don’t overlook your local theatre, either. During school breaks our local theatre shows TONS of free animated movies and it is always great to support your local businesses to ensure that they stay in the community. Also, Tuesdays are often discounted in the theatre world so try to take advantage of those daily discounts if you can!

Looking for other fun things to do as a family? Check out this growing list of family play dates!

Enjoy the show!


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    • Amanda says

      We tried one of those family friendly movies but it didn’t go well because the lights were on and kids just ran around. I recommend waiting as long as possible before taking kids to a real theatre experience just so it can be as positive as possible.

    • Amanda says

      Ferdinand definitely wasn’t their first…just the first time they would stop and smile for me at the theatre. Ha! 😉

  1. Melissa says

    Oh I have to share this with my sister!!! While my 1.5 year old niece is not quite at the moving going age I know she would love to read and prepare ahead of time <3

  2. Louisa says

    It’s important to make sure that their first experience doesn’t leave them with a negative impression. Also the movie content is most important and good advice on getting reviews and waiting a few days to see i rather than watching on the first day.

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