Cheltenham Rocks

Movies for Juniors: A First-Timer’s Guide

I seem to have an ability to turn even the most simple of tasks into a drama so it should have been no surprise that my first Movies for Juniors trip with Max was a comedy of errors of blockbuster proportions.

I’ve been wanting to take Max (my eldest) to the cinema for a while. I’m a big fan of sitting down and eating for long periods of time so I’ve been counting the days until I had a legitimate reason to do this under the pretence of kids' entertainment.

A combination of Max turning 3 last month and Cineworld adding Finding Dory to the Movies for Juniors bill told me that the time had come. Max was about to be bestowed with this rite of passage and I was going to have my first taste of cinema popcorn for what felt like an eternity.

So last Sunday morning off we went, Max wondering what was wrong with the TV in house that we had to go out in the car to watch a film “Ah, but it’s much, much bigger!” (he didn’t get it). Me, blissfully unaware of the peril ahead.

So, what did I learn from the experience?

Movies for Juniors

1) There’s (usually) no need to pre-book

Before we left the house I added to the ‘jobs-to-do-before-leaving’ by getting on my laptop to book our tickets. This is a) completely unnecessary as the MfJ showings don’t usually get fully booked* and b) more expensive as a fee of £0.70 is added to each ticket bought online. So, I bagged two tickets for £5.40 instead of £4.00. Winning already.

(*Note, if the film you are hoping to see is a new release, it's worth checking the online booking page and booking ahead if the seats are filling up. View the online booking page here)

2) Munchbox + little fingers = little popcorn left

I’d been puzzling over how Max’s cinema snacks were going to pan out i.e. would he be expected to share mine? So was delighted to find that Cineworld have a special package for mini cinema-goers called a Munchbox. It’s a cardboard box (à la McD’s Happy Meal) and you can choose a Capri Sun, raisins or Magic Stars and then the rest of the box is filled with your their choice of popcorn. These are £2.50 at MfJ showings and £3.50 at all other times. We loaded up, Max with his Munchbox, me with my long-awaited delights and headed to our screen. So far so good, except that I made the mistake of taking my eyes off Max and the Munchbox whilst I juggled my own snacks and drink, reaching in my pocket for the tickets at the screen desk. During this time, HMS Munchbox sustained some sort of structural damage which resulted in a constant but unnoticeable trickle of popcorn from that point onwards…


3) Don’t get there too early

We got in to our screen at around 10:15 for a 10:20 start. The screen was blank and the seats were empty. I went out to check the screen number on the door, then back in, then back out to ask at the screen desk too. It was the right screen. I was baffled. I expected there to be just a handful of other keen beans there too, 5 minutes isn’t that early after all. More on that later, meanwhile...

4) There are booster seats outside each screen

And now we get to how utterly clueless I really am.

We got to our seats and I lifted Max onto his (this is the first point where I noticed the popcorn trail and half-empty Munchbox). He practically folded up in it. “Aha! There must be some sort of catch/latch to fix it down” I thought, fiddling around with the seat mechanisms like I knew what I was doing. When my search for the magic latch drew a blank, I used our coats to wedge the seat. I felt rather pleased with myself that this worked but as soon as Max kneeled to reach for an item from our extensive buffet, the seat flipped back and his foot got caught in between the seat and the seat back. (Which he found it hilarious).

A quick Whatsapp message to some gal pals and I learn that there are in fact booster seats for little ones which a) stop the seat from flipping and b) raise them up so they can see better. This actually makes quite a bit of sense.

…Don’t get there too early continued

Although it was helpful not having an audience for the seat gymnastics, it wasn’t long before I learned why we were the only mugs in there so early.

Sure enough at just gone 10:20 the screen lit up (excitement!) and then… the adverts start. 30 minutes of adverts in fact.

During this time families are slowly trickling in and some (I doff my cap to) actually walk in about a minute before the ACTUAL FILM starts (at around 10:50).

As most people with a 3-year-old will know, concentration is hard to come by. We have a few aces up our sleeve, in this case, novelty factor and the drip feed of refreshments and I had completely blown both of these by the opening scene of Finding Dory.

Needless to say, we didn’t make it through much of the film. There was quite a lot of chit chat from Max who was asking questions at normal volume(!) during the quiet bits(!!). Then some wandering around in the aisle (his cinema etiquette needs work, I know) and eventually - 25 minutes into Finding Dory - we leave. (Personally I was loving the film so no spoilers please).

This isn’t the end, I’ll be back but just not quite so early.

For the latest Movies for Juniors showings, visit the listing here