Does your family love movies?
So do we!
We have Family Movie Night every Friday. Drive-in movies are a summer tradition. Dinner and a movie is our go-to date night. We travel with movies. That's how much we love a good movie.
We were so excited to work with the Sundance Film Festival last winter. Like many Utahns, we had never seen a Sundance Film Festival screening, but always kind of wanted to. We had never considered taking our children to a Sundance movie because its films are new, independent and still unrated, so it can be tricky to know whether a movie is good for kids or not.
Then we found out that there are movies especially for kids at Sundance. These films are just like other Sundance Film Festival selections, except that families can know for certain which movies are appropriate for younger viewers. Check the Sundance Film Festival Program to find Kids films.
Here are my tips for a successful trip to the Sundance Film Festival with kids.
Want to visit the Sundance Film Festival with kids? Here are my tips for success.
Book rooms as early as possible
Sundance Film Festival is Park City's biggest event of the year. There are many rooms and rentals in town, but book as early as possible for best rates and availability. The uber-luxurious Montage Deer Valley is an outstanding choice for families.
Salt Lake City offers the widest selection of rooms and may be the best option for families on a budget. The University Guest House is located near Parley's Canyon, about 20 minutes from Park City. Try Extended Stay America in Sugarhouse or Sandy for the most affordable rates.
Heber Valley is also a good option. It is located about 20 minutes beyond Park City and offers lots of fun winter activities for families. Resorts like Zermatt and the Homestead offer shuttles to Park City.
Buy tickets in advance
There are many package and ticket options that go on sale on different dates before the Festival. Review your options and purchase packages or individual tickets at www.sundance.org.
Festival and ticket packages go on sale in the fall and popular packages may sell out weeks before the movies are announced in December. Specially priced packages for Utah residents and Youth are available. Single tickets go on sale in January.
Tickets to Kids screenings are less expensive than tickets to regular Sundance screenings. This is great for families!
If you just want to attend one or two Sundance Kids movies with your family, purchasing individual tickets is the way to go. Buy them online in January or at box offices up to the day of the show.
Buy tickets as early as you can. Both screenings we attended were full. Snow Day had a few seats left while The Eagle Huntress was sold out. There are Wait Lists for all shows. The first 15 people in line – or more for larger theaters – will typically get in.
Try a premiere
You may be treated to some extra perks and excitement if you can get tickets to a movie's first screening at Sundance. We attended the U.S. premiere of Snowtime! at the Salt Lake City Main Library. My son and I happened to sit right in front of the film's director. We didn't talk to him, but I still geeked out a little.
After the movie, the director, producer, actors and others took the stage to answer questions. They only took questions from kids, which was fun. Then they invited all the kids up for a “snowball” fight with felt snowballs.
My daughter and I attended the last showing of The Eagle Huntress a week later. One of the film's creators took questions at the end, but everyone else from the film – including its heroine – had already gone home. It was still a fun experience, with lots of Sundance energy and spontaneous applause from the audience throughout the film.
Park City vs Salt Lake City
Sundance Film Festival screenings are held in Salt Lake City, Park City and Sundance Mountain Resort. If the location matters to you, pay attention when you choose your screenings.
Most of the screenings are in Park City. Salt Lake City has a handful of theatres that host screenings. Sundance Mountain Resort in Provo Canyon has just one screening location.
Park City is the hub of Sundance Film Festival and there will be a lot to see and do there. However, crowds and parking may be challenging.
Salt Lake City has more space and fewer screenings. Since just half a dozen theatres host Festival screenings, you may not notice extra crowds in Utah's biggest city.
Allow plenty of time before your screening to figure out parking and public transportation. If you'll be going to Park City, plan to use Park City's free shuttle. The Redstone theaters at Kimball Junction are a little outside Park City, near Interstate 80. We arrived early and did not have trouble with parking.
Salt Lake City may be easier. You'll deal with typical city traffic and parking, but we didn't notice anything exceptional on our Saturday afternoon screening at the downtown City Library.
Find more tips for locations and getting around at www.Sundance.org.
Seats to Sundance screenings are first come, first served. If you want good seats, all together, I recommend arriving 30-60 minutes before the start of the show.
Plan a ski day
Park City Mountain Resort is the biggest ski resort in the United States, and it is relatively uncrowded during Sundance Film Festival when everybody in Park City is watching movies. I tried it with my dad and kids a couple of years ago and we enjoyed short lift lines all day! You'll beat Film Festival traffic if you arrive in the morning. When we left Canyons Village late in the afternoon, all the traffic was heading into Park City, while we drove out.
Featured photo courtesy of Sundance Institute
Disclosure: We received complimentary screening tickets for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.
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