John Huibregtse, lead flight director at the
The youngsters attending the birthday party last December 19th had just successfully completed their moon mission, despite an oxygen emergency and being hit by micrometeoroids. But the real icing on the cake came when Huibregtse moved the children outside. In the clear sky above, two white dots — the International Space Station and Space Shuttle Discovery — twinkled back at them. “Even the parents were wowed to see history flying over our heads at the end of the party,” he remembers. Of course, most parties at the
“It was a great deal of fun, and a learning experience too,” says Tricia Scobey of
Challenger Centers nationwide honor the pioneering spirit of the Challenger astronauts. A simulated space ride, in conjunction with math, science, technology, social studies and language skills, combine to help children solve real-life situations and problems.
Guests of honor age nine or older can choose one of three missions: Return to the Moon, Voyage to Mars, or Rendezvous with a Comet. On the big day, the group is briefed upon arrival and all the revelers are assigned a job. Half take their place in the Mission Control simulator; the others don blue vests and enter the Spacecraft simulator.
There’s no motion or anti-gravity sensation in the simulators; rather, high-tech tools such as computers, cameras, robotic arms and monitors — along with soaring imaginations — send partygoers to new heights. “One of our simulators looks like a Mission Control room, just like the ones you would see in
Scobey says the party “flight directors” warmed up her 14 guests in the
“Some of the tasks weren’t that easy, but the whole party, and mission, moved along really quickly,” Scobey says. “It really exceeded our expectations.”
The age nine-and-up party is $330 for up to 16 guests. Each additional child is $10, with a maximum of 30. The Secret Moon Mission for younger children (which includes hands-on activities, a look at the sun through solar glasses, a scavenger hunt, and a rotation through the Spacecraft) is $260, with room for a maximum of 16 space travelers.
Terry Bernardo knew that birthday celebrations would be keeping her on her toes when she and her husband, Len, built Skate Time 209, a 30,000-square-foot roller skating rink and indoor skateboard park in
The birthday child and guests begin the party in the private VIP Lounge. Here, the kids gather while being kept busy by the “Party Hero,” who plays games, does magic tricks, and has the group sign a tote bag or T-shirt for the birthday girl or boy.
After the group has assembled, it’s off to the roller rink or skateboard park for 50 minutes of some “wheelie” good fun. The Party Hero has previously called the parents to learn a little about the guest of honor. “If she likes Barney, we’ll make sure the Barney theme is played while the group is skating,” Bernardo says.
The Party Hero focuses on the birthday boy or girl, so it’s recommended that parents consider the $15 option of a skating helper. “Nothing brings a party to a screeching halt like a kid who can’t skate,” says Bernardo.
The roll theme continues even after the wheels are at rest. A signature après-skate option is the Cool Dog — vanilla ice cream shaped like a hot dog on (you guessed it) a roll that’s really a cake. The Cool Dogs or a sheet cake follow pizza and drinks in the party room. Later, the children troop into the arcade, where the games are all family-friendly (no violence) and include favorites such as Dance Dance Revolution, air hockey, and various racing games.
Watts Your Hobby, a hobby/skateboarding store located inside the rink, runs a gift registry so the birthday child can sign up for specific gifts. Registering for an expensive items, such as a customized skateboard, can be broken down into affordable parts; one guest can purchase the wheels, another the grip tape, several can contribute towards the deck, and so on.
The Ultimate Skate Package (two pizzas, two pitchers of drink, paper goods, invitations, roller skates, arcade tokens, Cool Dogs and goodie bags) is $199 for 10 kids. The Super Skate package (no Cool Dogs or goodie bags, and fewer tokens) is $175. Skate Time 209 is located at 5164 Route 209 at
Imagine your child starring in a version of the Ben Stiller movie Night at the Museum. All right, the exhibits won’t come to life, but pretending you are a red blood cell traveling through the heart and lungs is still pretty fun.
The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum in
Youngsters love the bubble machine — where they step inside, pull on a cord and find themselves encased in a real soap bubble — or the new Hudson River Dive Bell, the museum’s own yellow submarine (and yes, the song is played), where special lights and sound effects give the sensation of descending into the depths of the Hudson River. And there’s a live fish tank full of slimy eels.
Another favorite is the new history exhibit. Children can visit an old jail or ride a coin-operated horse and pretend to be Sybil Ludington (the 16-year-old girl who alerted settlers to the advance of British troops during the American Revolution). Buttons to push and robotic arms to manipulate keep kids busy for hours — well, minutes, until they’re rushing off to pull on something else.
From the party room, there’s a breathtaking view of the
“Parents bring the food and paper goods. We provide the space and free use of the museum,” says Sara Capozzoli, director of media and community relations. “You can have pizza delivered and just bring dessert. We make it easy on parents to just have fun with the kids.”
The cost is $150 for a party with 14 children; $7 for each additional child. The cost to rent the entire museum when it’s closed is $200 to $250. The museum is located at
; call 845-471-0589 or visit
; call 845-471-0589 or visitwww.mhcm.org.
Looking for a party concept that’s sure to score a home run with your little slugger?
Consider loading all the bases with a celebration at a Hudson Valley Renegades game at Dutchess Stadium in
The festivities begin when the gates open. The birthday “team” is ushered by a hostess to a tented area near Playland. Everyone gets a food voucher for a hot dog, hamburger or chicken sandwich plus chips and a soda. Of course, there’s a personalized cake, and paper goods are supplied. Guests receive a Renegades pennant and two Playland coupons; the guest of honor, typically age 14 and younger, gets a team-autographed ball.
During the second inning, the hostess guides the group to their reserved grandstand seats. The birthday child — the day’s most valuable player — is photographed on top of the dugout with the team’s raccoon mascots, Rookie, Rene and Rascal. There’s recognition of the birthday child on the scoreboard, and another pitch is made over the loudspeaker.
“The kids really get into it,” says Ticket Account Manager Kristen Huss. Kids have often been heard saying “I want to take Rascal home with me,” which leads to another birthday option: hiring the mascots to come to your party. One or more raccoons will arrive with an assistant, a boom box and music, and entertain the youngsters for up to two hours.
The Dutchess Stadium option costs $225 for 15 children and adults. The stadium is on Route 9D in
Perhaps your child’s imaginary flights of fancy travel back in time rather than above the Earth. In that case, a party hosted by Dinosaurs Rock could be the ticket.
Ever since Rockland County resident Neil Brown opened his first geode (that’s a round volcanic rock) and exposed a gorgeous crystal, he’s been hooked on the mysteries of geologic and prehistoric treasures — including, of course, dinosaurs. Seven years ago, he and his wife Leslie Freund gave their son a birthday party centered on dad’s delight with dinosaurs, and the concept of a fossil-fueled business mushroomed from there.
Dinosaurs Rock regularly appears in public places such as the Bronx Zoo, but it is also known for the fabulosaurus parties it stages in private homes. Depending on the package selected, some 40 pieces of prehistoric skeletons — including a nine-foot-high mastodon leg or a five-foot wide T. rex skull cast from real fossils — transform the backyard into your very own Jurassic Park.
“Our goal is to give an authentic learning experience in a fun way,” says Freund. “We recently did a party with 163 kids and parents. Everyone stayed riveted for 50 minutes. There was absolutely no wandering, either mentally or physically.”
Laurie Landgarten still can’t believe how Brown mesmerized 25 seven-year-old boys in the garage of her
“He’s very engaging. The kids ask a lot of questions,” Landgarten continues. “And he’s very good about catering to the birthday child. He used Noah to illustrate the difference between the size of a child’s head and a dinosaur’s.”
After the presentation, Noah and his guests got to dig through huge tubs filled with dirt, rocks — and real fossils (each child gets 10 to take home). Brown and Freund have cultivated sources from around the world, which keep them in a steady supply of genuine geodes, fossils and minerals. A prehistoric treasure hunt followed, and the party wrapped up with a ring toss around the toes of a dinosaur bone. While Brown cleaned up, the boys ate and shared dinosaur tales. They’re still talking about it, Landgarten says.
Parties range from a Little Raptor gathering ($395) for three- and four-year-olds to a super-sized Extreme Party ($1,250) that’s geared for ages up to about 12. Prices are for up to 20 guests. For more information, call 845-368-3466, or visit www.dinosaursrock.com.
If your birthday bambino is especially hard to please, consider these options:
The Inner Wall: 4000+ feet of climbing wall will keep your little cragsmen entertained for hours — book a slumber party for climbers who need to rest after their hard day’s work. New Paltz. 845-255-ROCK or www.theinnerwall.com
Kelder’s Farm: Time at the petting zoo, hayrides, cow milking, and a picnic lunch are all included in this farm-themed festivity. Kerhonkson. 845-626-7137 or www.kelderfarm.com
Museum of the Hudson Highlands: Book a private party room, choose a nature theme (like Nature Sleuths) for a fun but educational birthday bash.
Musical Munchkins: Your little guests will have a ball singing, dancing, and playing
instruments and games. In