Summer Hours: Mon-Sat, 9:30 am-5:00 pm

Party Rules & FAQs

Back to Birthday Parties

Considering a birthday party at the Virginia Discovery Museum? Great choice! Here are a few things to keep in mind to help things go smoothly on your child’s big day.

A Few Basic Party Rules

As the host of the party, you are responsible for the following:
  • Allowing enough time to set up and break down for the party
  • Having at least one adult chaperone for:
    • every three children younger than 4
    • every five children 4 and older
  • Keeping all food and drink inside the party room or kitchen
  • Supervising party guests during playtime in the Museum galleries
  • Remaining until every guest has been picked up by an adult

 


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Scheduling & Arrival
    Scheduling & Arrival

    How far in advance can I schedule my child’s party?
    You may schedule your child’s party as far in advance as you would like, but all parties must be scheduled — and the reservation deposit paid — at least two weeks before the requested date.

    How do I reserve a party date?
    First, make sure the date you want to reserve is open by using our easy-to-use online Availability form or by calling (434) 977-1025 x105. Then, after our staff has helped you settle on a party date and time, you can either submit your $50 reservation deposit via the online deposit link we email to you or pay it in person at the Museum. It’s as easy as that!

    Please note: Your party date and time are not reserved until you receive a deposit confirmation email from a Museum staff member. If you do not receive a deposit confirmation email within 48 hours of submitting your deposit, please contact us.

    What happens if I have to cancel the party? Is my deposit refundable?
    The $50 deposit is refundable for parties canceled two or more weeks before the reserved date. Our staff is also happy to help you reschedule for an alternate available time.

    What if my child is sick or inclement weather makes the roads too treacherous the day of my party?
    We get that life doesn’t always cooperate with the plans you make, and sometimes situations arise that are outside your control. We are happy to work with you to apply your deposit to an alternate available date. If the cancellation is due to inclement weather that causes the Museum to close, and you cannot reschedule, your deposit may be returned.

    The party date I’d like to reserve is less than two weeks away; can I still schedule a party?
    As long as the date and time you are requesting is available, absolutely! However, a $35 late fee will be applied to any parties scheduled less than two weeks before the requested date.

    I would like to drop off my party supplies before parking the car. Is there a place to unload?
    We have a small loading zone outside the Museum’s rear exit, right next to our party room. We’d be happy to give you directions to this area when we confirm your party date and help you unload when you arrive.

    Please note: This is an emergency exit; for safety, a staff member must be present for you to use this door. Party guests are not permitted to enter or exit the Museum from this location.

    Where can I park during the party?
    The Market Street garage is conveniently located directly across from the Museum along Charlottesville’s downtown pedestrian mall, and the Water Street garage is located about three blocks away. VDM will validate tickets from both locations for two free hours of parking for you and your party guests. Street parking is also available around the Downtown Mall, and there is a pay lot located next to the Water Street garage.

  2. Attendees
    Attendees

    Does the Museum provide party invitations?
    No, not at this time.

    Which children at the party are included in the total count?
    All weekday, Saturday, Sunday, and evening rentals include 10 children in the rental cost. For standard parties, there is a $5 cost for each additional child; for themed parties, there is an $8 cost for each additional child.

    For weekday and Saturday rentals, we count all the children who participate in the party (children who use paper products and receive a goody bag). Any non-participating adults and children who wish to stay at the Museum to play will need to pay admission at the front desk.

    For Sunday and evening rentals, all children who stay at the Museum during the party period are counted because the Museum is closed to the public.

    How many adult chaperones should I bring?
    The Museum requires one adult chaperone for every three children younger than four and every five children 4 and older, but you are welcome to invite as many as you would like. Just remember that Saturday parties are limited to 30 total guests.

    Is there an additional cost for adults?
    No; all adult chaperones are admitted free.

    Where can my party guests park during the party?
    The Market Street garage is conveniently located directly across from the Museum along Charlottesville’s downtown pedestrian mall, and the Water Street garage is located about three blocks away. VDM will validate tickets from both locations for two free hours of parking for you and your party guests. Street parking is also available around the Downtown Mall, and there is a pay lot located next to the Water Street garage.

  3. Decorations & Goody Bags
    Decorations & Goody Bags

    Does the Museum provide decorations? Can I bring my own?
    We offer some simple decorations for both our standard parties and theme parties, including a birthday banner, wall decorations, and coordinating tablecloths. You are certainly welcome to bring additional decorations.

    How much time do I have to set up for my party? Can I request more time?
    For weekday and Saturday parties, the party family may arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled start of the party. If more setup time is needed, an additional 15-minute block of setup time — up to a total of 30 minutes before the party starts — may be reserved for an additional $20.

    For Sunday and evening parties, the two-hour rental period should include set-up and clean-up times for your event. Additional time spent in the Museum, either before or after the event, will be subject to a $75 charge for each 30-minute block of time.

    Our staff will have the party room cleaned and decorated before your arrival, and we will take care of cleaning the room after you’ve packed up your supplies.

    What’s in the goody bags the Museum provides?
    Our goody bags include, but are not limited to, a coupon for a 10% discount on an annual Museum membership, a coloring sheet and crayons, bubbles, a temporary tattoo, pinwheel, and small toy. For theme parties, the coloring sheet and toy are specifically selected to correspond to your theme.

  4. Food & Drinks
    Food & Drinks

    What tableware does the Museum provide?
    We provide plastic tablecloths, plastic forks and spoons, paper plates and cups, and napkins for the children.

    Does the Museum provide any tableware for adults?
    We request that the party family bring plates and tableware for their adult guests if you are providing food and drinks for them.

    Do you provide food, cake, or drinks?
    The party family is responsible for all food, cake, and drinks.

    Can we have food delivered?
    Absolutely! The Historic Downtown Mall features several local restaurants within walking distance that provide pick-up and/or delivery services and a few that offer catering, as well. Some family favorites include Baggby’s Gourmet Sandwiches, Vita Nova Pizza & Pasta Bar, and Christian’s Pizza. Some chains will also deliver to the Downtown Mall.

    I’m bringing something cold/frozen; where can I store it?
    We offer limited storage space in our refrigerator and freezer for you to store any drinks, cake, ice cream, or other treats you need to keep cool.

  5. Activities
    Activities

    Is there a set schedule?
    There is not a set schedule; however if you’re having a standard or theme party, we provide you with a suggested schedule to help make your visit with us as easy and as fun as possible from the moment you arrive until the time you leave. But the best part is that your schedule is completely flexible and customizable to fit your needs!

    Can I bring my own activities?
    Absolutely! Our theme parties include a craft and activity planned and led by your party host, but families who are throwing a standard party are welcome to bring their own crafts, activities, and games.