What it is: I'd been meaning to take my kids to the planetarium at UNC for a long time. However, they only offer shows during the week in the summer, so we've had trouble finding a time to go. Since it's the summertime and the shows are offered more frequently right now, we managed to make it to a 10:30 showing of their most child-friendly show, The Magic Treehouse: Space Mission which shows Tuesday-Saturday at that time. The show is geared toward elementary aged children, so most of it went over the head of my one year old and three year old. However, my oldest son was entranced by the movie and stars over his head. My youngest has always been a bit scared of loud noises so parts made him cuddle up to his mom (but I enjoyed that). After our planetarium show we headed downstairs to check out the few exhibits that they had. We explored for a little while and the boys had fun, but there wasn't too much to see. There was also a science stage that had shows scheduled, but we didn't check that out on this trip.
What we liked: If your children like movies, then they'll probably enjoy this show. It's a fun and different indoor treat and they also learn something. The gift shop is a fun place to pick up some space related goodies, and there's a little more to explore beyond the show. In addition, the planetarium is located on Franklin St. and UNC's campus, so once you get done there, you can always check out the many other diversions that that area has to offer including running around on campus, or sweet treats like Locopops or Sugarland on Franklin St. In addition, while it's a little expensive-$6 for kids and $7.25 for adults-we were able to get half off with our NC Zoo membership! Another great thing is that there's a pay parking lot right out in front of the planetarium. It can fill up, but we were able to find a spot.
What we would change: The building itself is not stroller friendly. You can get in the building, but there is no way to get a stroller downstairs to the exhibits. The show may not be appropriate for the youngest of kids. My three year old loved most of it, however, there was one scene with a black hole at the end of the show that scared my imaginative little boy.
Website and other important information:
Address: 250 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC
Phone Number: (919) 962 - 1236
Hours: 10am-3:30pm Tuesday-Saturday, 1-4:30pm Sunday (for the public spaces including the exhibits) Shows run daily during the summer and weekends after August 20, 2011.
Cost: $6 for children ages 3 and up, $7.25 for adults, under 3 are free
1. Several of the exhibits
2. A view from the outside