Home / Guides  / All Kinds of Kids Guide  / Sensory-Friendly Experiences for Kids on the Main Line

Sensory-Friendly Experiences for Kids on the Main Line

These fun and enriching experiences are made more accessible for kids with autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder, and other sensitivities.

Many museums, attractions, and theaters have increased their commitment to sensory-friendly spaces. This change stems from an increased awareness about the challenges that children with sensory sensitivities experience in public spaces. From relaxed performances and social stories, to the addition of quiet areas, institutions have made adjustments to help make experiences more sensory friendly and accessible for all. In addition to the many attractions in Philly, here are some sensory-friendly experiences you can find around the Main Line.

Museums & Attractions

Brandywine River Museum of Art

1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford

Sensory-Friendly Saturday at Brandywine Museum of Art.

Three times during the year, the museum hosts Sensory-Friendly Saturdays designed specifically for visitors of all ages on the autism spectrum or with sensory processing disorder. Registered guests get free admission before the museum opens, pre-visit social stories, hands-on activities along with support from experienced volunteers, fidgets, noise-cancelling headphones, and sensory break areas. These special sessions are scheduled from 9–10:30 a.m., with three arrival time slots to spread out the number of people in the galleries.

In addition to the sensory-friendly mornings, Brandywine River Museum also created Sensory-Friendly Museum Packs, available for free during museum hours. These packs contain social stories, fidgets, noise-cancelling headphones, and activity suggestions. To request a pack, inquire at Visitor Services when purchasing admission.

Elmwood Park Zoo

1661 Harding Blvd., Norristown

A small group enjoys the zoo on a designated “Quiet Morning.”

Elmwood Park Zoo is the first zoo in the world to become a Certified Autism Center. An accessibility map, a sensory guide, and a social narrative help prepare and guide guests through the zoo with important insight where crowded areas, noise, bright lights, and strong odors might be found. The zoo also provides a dedicated quiet space (located across from the Prairie Dog exhibit) for guests to take time out.

Throughout the year, Elwood Park Zoo hosts early access “Quiet Mornings” for guests with special needs and their families to enjoy the zoo in a relaxing setting before it opens to the general public. Guests are welcome to take a complimentary Sensory Backpacks containing noise-cancelling headphones, fidget toys, sensory maps, and other items.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center

Plymouth Meeting Mall, 500 W. Germantown Pike, Plymouth Meeting

On a Sensory Friendly Day, LEGOLAND makes accommodations throughout the attraction for sensory-sensitive children. There is a reduction of sound and light levels in certain areas, quiet spaces, and a smaller visitor capacity. What’s more, LEOGOLAND has created social stories, in partnership with The Ruttenberg Center for Autism, to help families and caretakers with sensitive children prepare for their visit.

Sesame Place

100 Sesame Road, Langhorne

Julia “a sweet and curious muppet girl with autism” at Sesame Place.

Sesame Place is the world’s first theme park to be designated as a Certified Autism Center. As part of that certification, Sesame Place staff Ambassadors receive specialized autism and awareness training to ensure they cater to all children, including those with special needs. The park features a Ride Accessibility Program for guests with physical disabilities, mobility impairments, and/or cognitive disorders. Guests can take a break from sensory stimulation in the park’s Quiet Room, pick up noise-cancelling headphones at the Welcome Center, or visit other low sensory areas. There are also opportunities to meet and interact with Julia, a little girl Muppet with autism.


AMC Movie Theaters

AMC has partnered with the Autism Society to offer unique movie showings where they turn the lights up and turn the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout, or sing! Their Sensory Friendly Film program is available on the second and fourth Saturday (family-friendly) and Wednesday evenings (mature audiences) of every month. Please check your local theatre listings for specific showtimes.

People’s Light

9 Conestoga Road, Malvern

A quiet area in the People’s Light lobby where patrons can take a break.

Throughout the year, People’s Light offers Relaxed Performances for individuals with autism, ADD, ADHD, dementia, and sensory sensitivities. During Relaxed Performances, the theater becomes a “shush-free” zone and house lights remain on at a low level. This allows patrons to freely move around, express themselves, and enjoy the show. The theater creates a quiet sensory lounge and provides pre-show materials, fidgets, and other sensory toys to borrow as needed. For each Relaxed Performance, the theater also offers a pre-show sensory tour, when patrons can enter the theatre space, view the set and props, and ask questions.

Regal Cinemas

180 Mill Road, Oaks

Regal’s My Way Matinee gives everyone the opportunity to experience a movie with the lights turned up and the volume turned down. This becomes safe space where guests are free to express themselves by singing, crying, dancing, walking around, talking, or shouting while enjoying Hollywood’s latest films! These showings will be the first show of the day on select Saturdays each month. Find a Regal sensory-friendly screening.

Studio Movie Grill

53 S. 69th Street, Upper Darby

Studio Movie Grill (SMG) is a first-run movie cinema that offers in-theater dining and a full service bar. SMG’s Special Needs Screenings are shown with the lights up and the volume lowered, and children are free to move around and talk during the movie. These sensory-friendly screenings are free for children with special needs and their siblings, and adult tickets are available at before-noon price. 

Click here for more sensory-friendly resources in Philly.

Lead photograph courtesy of Elmwood Park Zoo. Laura Swartz contributed to this article.

Main Line Parent Writer & Calendar Editor. Email beth@familyfocus.org.