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Norwalk's Maritime Aquarium Offers Sensory-Friendly Mornings

Lights will be dimmed and sounds muted as The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk presents “Sensory-Friendly Mornings” April 2-4.
Lights will be dimmed and sounds muted as The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk presents “Sensory-Friendly Mornings” April 2-4. Photo Credit: Megan Maloy

NORWALK, Conn. — For some, The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is a place with too many stimuli. From Saturday, April 2 to Monday, April 4, the Aquarium is planning three special mornings to give guests with sensory-processing differences a fun, comfortable and accepting environment.

On each of the Sensory-Friendly Mornings from 8 a.m. to noon, lights in the Aquarium will be lower, and music and other sounds will be turned down or off. The Aquarium will also show two specially selected IMAX movies with lower volume and dimmer theater lights. Tom Naiman, director of education, said the Aquarium created these debut Sensory-Friendly Mornings to be supportive of the children and adults with special needs who often visit.

“We recognize that some elements of our exhibits can present a challenge because the spaces may be seen as too bright or loud or crowded for some people,” said Naiman. “So we’re offering Sensory-Friendly Mornings to make the Aquarium more accessible and more enjoyable to them.”

Naiman noted that the first half of each Sensory-Friendly Morning occurs prior to the Maritime Aquarium’s normal opening time. Aquarium staff can then focus on special-needs guests, and special-needs guests averse to crowds will be less likely to encounter them. Bonus activities include game stations such as a beanbag toss, a frog-jump mat and take-home crafts.

The movies selected for the Aquarium’s IMAX Theater’s sensory-friendly content are “Flight of the Butterflies” at 10 a.m. Saturday and at 9 a.m. Sunday and Monday, and “Born to be Wild” at 11 a.m. Saturday and at 10 a.m. Sunday and Monday. A special low-volume seal feeding is planned for 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 3.

All three days, a quiet room will be available for guests that need a calm space. For families that need to leave within the first 30 minutes of arrival, passes will be available to come back.

Admission during “Sensory-Friendly Mornings,” including an IMAX movie, is $22.95 for adults, $15.95 for ages 3-12, $20.95 for youths 13-17 and seniors (65 and over).

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