Recently, the wife and I took the younglings to the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. We had been there a couple of times before but now that the kids are a bit older, we wanted to see how they would react. Plus there was a Star Wars exhibit going on that we wanted to explore.
The first time we went, our GPS took us on this long and winding tour that seemed that it lasted forever. I guess I had turned off ‘toll booths’ in settings and there are quite a few toll roads in Upper New York State. Note to self, don’t turn that off again. We had purchased the $5 (CDN) ‘Roam Like Home’ package from Rogers so we were able to use the wifes iPhone 6 as a GPS to get us there. I also brought my iPad Air 2, which actually seemed to do a better job as a GPS then the iPhone did. We got a bit lost in downtown Rochester and it was the iPad that got us out of that mess.
The kids were pretty comfortable in the car and didn’t complain, that was a bonus. Plus we were able to fill out the 2013 Mazda5 for only $30(USD), compared to the usual $60(CDN)
The goal was to arrive just after they opened on a Saturday at 10am. We were there by 10:15 and the parking lot was filling up but it wasn’t insane. The entrance fee was $14(USD)/person but parking was free.
I made a short video of it below and took quite a few pictures. We bypassed the Seseme St. exhibit this time since the kids felt a bit old for that. We skipped the shopping store and built in train station as well. The last visit to the Strong Museum of Play was back when the kids were 6 and 5. This time they were 9 and 8 and were strictly focused on the Star Wars exhibit and working arcade.
Okay, I’m going to go off on a tangent here for a second. The arcade is AWESOME. It’s vintage 80’s with such classics as Space Invaders, PacMan, Asteroids, Star Wars and Paperboy. All the games require tokens which you can purchase at vending machines and it seems to be 5 for a dollar so you actually get more plays than you remember as a child. There are three main areas for the games. One is near the entrance when you walk in and it has a small collection of games including a LARGE scale Spare Invaders. Another one on the main floor is a room dedicated to PINBALL games. Some older pinballs showing how the games have evolved through history. We spent a bit of time (and money) in that room as well. From there, the larger of the three is on the upper floor. It actually resembles a vintage arcade with the games back to back and the room is shrouded in darkness. I could have spent all day in that room alone but the wife wouldn’t let me. The kids wanted to stay there too. It’s not just vintage arcade games but also classic console games and even some LARGE scale iOS apps. My kids wanted to stay on Super Mario Brothers using a 3 foot long controller. It required two people to play. One to steer, one to jump. My kids loved it. That alone is worth the price of admission.
Speaking of games, there is a whole section dedicated to the history of board games. My kids got lost in a large version of Battleship and the youngest spent a lot of time with Blocks, just a simple blocks game. It was great to see. There were some chairs for the parents to sit down and relax so that’s what we did.
There are dozens of videos on YouTube of The Strong Museum of Play for you to check out and review for yourself. When the kids were younger, they liked the library area. Then they moved onto the mystery area and the superhero exhibit.
This time it was the Star Wars exhibit that drew them in. The museum had hired a couple of characters as well as storm troopers and a life sized R2-D2 Robot. There was even a smaller section dedicated to the history of Star Wars toys which brought me back to my childhood. Also a PS4 was set up to play some Lego Star Wars console games for the kids.
It was really an enjoyable time and I can’t endorse it enough to go and check out.
The museum has a built in cafeteria with a few chain restaurants. Prices are higher there than usual but you can also bring your own lunch if you choose to. As well, an old train passenger car has been converted into a diner car / restaurant as well. We’ve never been there though so I can’t give my opinion on it.
Will we go back? I hope so. Like I said, the kids are a bit older now but this seems to be a good destination for anyone under 14 or 15. Plus it’s a great spot for a date or for parents to go and re-live their childhood.