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Birthday Parties: Rules & FAQs

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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 …

 

 

  • Setup & Cleanup: Setup and cleanup are part of your rental period, so plan accordingly to allow enough time.
  • Chaperones: Parties must have at least one adult chaperone for every three children under 4 and every five children 4 and older.

 

 

  • Food & Drink: All food and drink must remain in the party room or the kitchen.
  • Supervised Play: Party guests must be supervised during gallery playtime.
  • Pickup: Host must remain 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 to avoid a $35 late booking fee.

    How do I reserve a party date?
    To book a birthday party, call the Museum at (434) 977-1025 x102. In addition to your desired date and time, please have the following information ready when you call: contact name and information, birthday child’s name and age, alternate date and time, party type and activity (if applicable), and add-on options. After our staff has helped you settle on a date and time for your party, a $100 deposit is required to reserve the date. The deposit can be paid via credit card over the phone or in person at the Museum.

    What happens if I have to cancel the party? Is my deposit refundable?
    The $100 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?
    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.

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

    Is there a place to unload party supplies before parking the car?
    We have a small loading zone outside the Museum’s rear emergency 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 time 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?
    We suggest parking in the Market Street Garage or Water Street Garage. Both locations provide the first hour of parking for free, and the Museum will provide you and your guests with validation tickets for an additional hour of free parking, for a total of two free hours. Please visit the Plan Your Visit page for a parking map and directions to the garages.

  2. Attendees
    Attendees

    Does the Museum provide party invitations?
    Yes, we offer free, printable invitations for all party types that families can address and deliver to their guests. The Museum is unable to print or deliver invitations for you.

    How many children may we invite?
    All party packages include admission for 12 children, but additional children may be invited. For Classic parties, there is a $5 cost for each additional child beyond 12, and for Art and STEM parties, there is a $10 cost for each additional child beyond 12. Saturday Classic parties and all Art and STEM parties are capped at 20 total children. There is no cap on the number of children you may invite for Sunday or After-Hours Classic parties as long as you maintain a ratio of one adult chaperone for every three children under 4 and every five children 4 and older.

    What if a parent brings a sibling who is not participating in the party?
    For Saturday rentals, any non-participating children and adults who wish to stay at the Museum will need to pay admission separately at the front desk. For Sunday and After-Hours rentals, all children who stay at the Museum during the party period are included in the final child tally.

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

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

    Where can my party guests park during the party?
    We suggest parking in the Market Street Garage or Water Street Garage. Both locations provide the first hour of parking for free, and the Museum will provide you and your guests with validation tickets for an additional hour of free parking, for a total of two free hours. Please visit the Plan Your Visit page for a parking map and directions to the garages.

  3. Decorations & Goody Bags
    Decorations & Goody Bags

    Does the Museum provide decorations? Can I bring my own?
    All parties include a welcome sign on the party room door with the birthday child’s name, a “Happy Birthday” banner, and a colorful chain garland hanging from the ceiling, and you are welcome to bring your own decorations, too.

    How much time do I have to set up for my party? Can I request more time?
    Setup and cleanup are part of your rental period, so plan accordingly to allow enough time. Additional setup and/or cleanup time is not available for Saturday rentals, but additional time is available for $50 per half hour for Sunday and After-Hours rentals. 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.

    Please note: VDM often hosts multiple birthday parties on the same day. Please be mindful of your rental period and honor the times it is scheduled to begin and end so that our staff has enough time to prepare the party room for the next guests.

    Does the Museum provide goody bags? What’s inside?
    The Museum does not provide goody bags, but colorful “Virginia Discovery Museum” silicone bracelets are provided for all party types and Art and STEM parties include a take-home creation.

  4. Food & Drinks
    Food & Drinks

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

    Do you provide food, cake, or drinks?
    The party family is responsible for all food, cake, and drinks, but VDM has partnered with some local businesses to provide exclusive discounts on pizza and cake for parties booked at the Museum. Vita Nova offers a 10% discount on pizza and free delivery for Saturday parties, and Paradox Pastry offers a 10% discount on cake orders for all parties, but Sunday pickups are unavailable. Food and drinks must remain in the party room or kitchen at all times.

    Can we have food delivered?
    Absolutely! The Downtown Mall and surrounding streets feature several local restaurants within walking distance that provide pickup and/or delivery services and a few that offer catering, as well. Vita Nova offers a 10% discount on pizza and free delivery for Saturday parties, and Paradox Pastry offers a 10% discount on cake orders for all parties, but Sunday pickups are unavailable. Some chains will also deliver to the Downtown Mall. Food and drinks must remain in the party room or kitchen at all times.

    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 drinks, cake, ice cream, and other treats you need to keep cool.

  5. Activities
    Activities

    Is there a set schedule?
    We provide a suggested schedule for all party types to help make your visit with us as easy and as fun as possible from the moment you arrive until the time you leave.

    Can I bring my own activities?
    Absolutely! Our Art and STEM parties include a staff-led activity, but families who are throwing a Classic party are welcome to bring their own crafts, activities, and games.