Baby Day at the Alamo Drafthouse

 Note: What used to be Baby Day at the Alamo has now grown up to become Alamo for All, inviting parents and caregivers to bring babies or any guest with special sensory needs who might make a little extra noise. Click here for movies, dates and screening times.Baby Day Alamo Drafthouse

When my daughter, Pearl, was just a few days old, I remember thinking (actually, more like wailing in my head), A week ago right now, I was at the movies! It seemed impossible (and impossibly unfair!) that so recently I’d been able to do something I loved — going to the movies — that was suddenly so far out of reach.

So you can imagine how excited I was to find out about Baby Day at the Alamo Drafthouse—which has since evolved into Alamo for All. No more waxing wistfully nostalgic about the incredible luxury of going to see a real movie at an actual theater; I could pack Pearl up on a Tuesday morning and go see a real, live, actual film at my favorite movie theater!

I did this a handful of times with Pearl when she was younger, before she started preschool. Then, on a recent Tuesday morning, I took Zephyr for his very first Baby Day screening at the Alamo Slaughter, where we saw (most of) This Is Where I Leave You. (The movie was…decent. But I don’t even care when the film doesn’t wow me — I’m just so happy to be there!!)

Here’s how Alamo for All works: On Tuesdays and certain weekend mornings (with the exception of national holidays or special screenings), parents can bring their little ones along to see any film starting before 2:00 PM at select Alamo locations. Alamo for All is also open to other guests of all ages with special sensory needs; there are no trailers, the film’s sound level is kept a little low, and moving around and making noise are permitted. Click here for movies, locations, dates and screening times.

A special note about Alamo for All, straight from the Alamo Drafthouse website: “The launch of ‘Alamo for All’ also comes with a new, clarified approach to the Alamo Drafthouse’s ‘No Talking’ policy, ensuring that guests with autism or other needs who are not able to strictly adhere to the rules are given a bit of leeway — not just at sensory friendly screenings, but at ALL Alamo Drafthouse shows.” Sounds great to me!

Here are some things you might be wondering about:

What age does my child have to be to come to an Alamo for All screening?

Infants, babies, children, and guests of any age are welcome at Alamo for All film showings.

But what if I want to go see an R-rated film — can I still bring my baby?

Yes, you can. You can bring your little one to any film that is a Baby Day screening. You just have to use your own parental judgment about whether a particular film might be too much for your child to handle.

The Alamo website says the theater lights are a little brighter and the sound is a little quieter than at regular screenings, right?

Yes — but in my experience, this wasn’t always necessarily true. Or maybe it’s just all relative. At the film Zeph and I went to see, the sound seemed pretty loud to me, and the lights pretty dim. This wasn’t a problem for me, but it didn’t seem very different from any other film showing. If you know your baby is sensitive to loud noises, Alamo for All screenings may not be quiet enough for you.

What if my baby cries the whole time, or wants to be walked up and down the aisle for an hour straight?

That’s okay! Alamo for All screenings are a place where babies are allowed to be babies. You won’t get kicked out of the theater for having a crying child. That being said, most people do seem to follow the usual baby/public space etiquette of taking their little one out to the hallway if they become too upset for too long. As for walking and bouncing your baby up and down the aisle — I did this through several Baby Day screenings (back when it was Baby Day), and no one seemed to mind. Zeph was a pretty active 15-month-old toddler, and he would definitely do his share of crawling around, pointing, talking a little bit… And it was fine. And then he would nap in my arms for a while — whew!

I know the Alamo serves food, but can I bring my own snacks for the baby?

I’m actually not sure about this. I’ve always just ordered food at the film and shared it with my little ones, rather than bringing my own. (And I always make sure to leave a good tip for the server!!)

But I’m a film purist — I love hearing every word of dialogue and catching every nuanced expression on the actors’ faces.

Yeah…in that case, Baby Day may not be for you. If your own little one isn’t distracting you, someone else’s might. You’re almost guaranteed to miss at least some bits of the film, or to have to leave early (as I did with Zeph, who just didn’t want to stay once he woke up from his power nap). If you really want to see the whole film, you may be better off adding it to your Netflix queue and watching it at home.

I love Alamo for All. When Zeph and I went, an employee assured me that “there are basically no rules” for the children inside an Alamo for All theater. They can climb around, cry, talk, get fussy, and it’s all fine and acceptable (as long as they are with their parent/guardian, of course). If you’re home on a Tuesday morning, it’s a  great time to go to the movies. Hardly anyone goes to early shows on Tuesdays, so you get rock star parking and your choice of seats. And now there are Alamo for All showtimes on weekends, too!

When Zeph and I went, we enjoyed the Bleu Cheese veggie burger and fries, and sat spellbound by the film. What could be better?

Austin has no shortage of fun things to do indoors with babies, by the way — here’s a great list of everything from free classes to storytimes, toy stores and more.

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