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Why play is not just for kids in the Twin Cities

In an effort to broaden their appeal towards a wider audience, a number of kid-centric Twin Cities attractions have now started offering adults-only events.

One of the most popular ones to do so is the Science Museum of Minnesota, which hosted two sold-out sleepover events since last year. The Minnesota Zoo is scheduled to host their first adult sleepover sometime this year, along with the Minnesota Children’s Museum, which has announced plans to host an adults-only evening in its recently renovated 74,000-square-foot building, offering adults a chance to try their new catwalk and laser maze.

Encouraging more visitors

Officials say that these events are a great way for museums and zoos to add thousands of new visitors every year, many of whom have fond memories of visiting the attractions during their childhood.

According to Bob Ingrassia, the vice president of external relations for the Children’s Museum, having an event for grown-ups gives them the chance to explore and interact with exhibits in a low-stress setting, which can be an enjoyable experience.

According to another representative of the Children’s Museum, while adult-centric events help in raising revenue, that is not the main goal. The events are designed to be more “mission-oriented.” Recent studies have shown that there are certain benefits that can be gained from play without a particular goal in mind, as it allows one to simply enjoy the process. Skills such as problem-solving and creativity can be enhanced and improved through play.

Fun overnight events at the Science Museum

While about half of the Science Museum’s visitors consist of adults without children, it began hosting adults-only events since 2011, which included lights-out nights, murder mystery nights, and bike nights. All of these events attracted around 1,000 to 2,000 guests with a median age of 29. Tickets to the events cost $18.95, with discounted prices for museum members.

During a recent adults-only event, guests with beers and cocktails explored the halls of the Science Museum, viewing the exhibits happily and interacting with staffers as electronic club music pulsed from the venue’s sound systems.

The Science Museum has experience with hosting museum sleepovers for children and has only tried hosting an adults-only sleepover event in October of 2016. The event was a smashing success, with all tickets sold out. This led to a second adults-only overnight event last April, which was joined by 300 guests who brought their sleeping bags so they could get some shuteye under gigantic dinosaur skeletons.

Minnesota Zoo adults-only nights

The Minnesota Zoo has followed suit by adding more events for the summer. Their events run from 6 pm to 9 pm, attracting crowds of over 3,000. Their adult nights are usually paired with their popular speaker series.

The zoo will host its first sleepover event later this fall, which will include dinner, drinks, breakfast, and several activities. Guests will be allowed to set up camp right beside shark tanks and other sea life displays throughout the museum’s Discovery Bay exhibit wing.

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