This week, Alex's class had a field trip for a special showing of Zootopia at the Landmark Cinemas in Kanata.
The movie was great, but that's not what I want to talk about. Instead, I'm focusing on the how the theatre handled things and let me be up front: I'm not impressed.
I am pleased that they were willing to do a sensory friendly showing. The showing was just for the autism classes at Alex's school and another local school, so things could be adjusted for them.
However, between the theory and the execution, there were problems.
To begin with, they didn't open the theatre doors until 10 minutes after the movie was due to start. This created some behavioural challenges with the kids as the expected schedule changed. We could see people moving around in the theatre but no one came to explain to us what was going on and no one would answer their phone as we called, trying to find out the circumstances of the delay so that we could prep the kids.
As a consequence of the delayed start, Alex's class had to leave the movie before it was finished (we got most of the way to the end, so I think we only missed the post-happy ending joke but we still had to leave as the movie was playing). They needed to catch a specific bus to get back to school and as it only goes every half hour through the day, they couldn't wait for the next one.
Also, the theatre staff were clearly unhappy at needing to be there and were ignoring us for the most part. Alex's teacher waited ten minutes to hand over the cheque for admission while the staff member did something on their computer. There wasn't a word of explanation or even a "We're happy you guys came out here" or anything. Not even a "Thank you" when the cheque was handed over or an acknowledgement that the transaction was done.
I had a similar issue with Landmark when we held Nathan's birthday party there last year. Although they were quite happy to take my money and make the booking, they were not happy at having to provide the service and made it quite clear that we were unwelcome.
So while I am grateful for the idea, the practice fell far short of meeting even the basics of civility.