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Studio Movie Grill Sensory Movie Screenings – REVIEW

Why Sensory Friendly Movies Are Needed 

Many families like to go to the movies.  With so many different family friendly films to choose from, there is bound to be something for everyone.  Sounds like a great and simple trip out right?  Well, what if you child didn’t like loud noise?  Or lights being too bright or too dark?  Or even large crowds?

And I don’t mean just a simple I don’t like but full blown meltdown, possibly even in pain. What sounds like a simple outing is now turning into a nightmare.  A child in tears and maybe even a parent too, due to seeing their child like this or just dealing with the stress of it all.

Something that so many families do every day and take for granted, may be something another child never gets to experience.  This is where programs for special needs come in.  They help make what may seem like the impossible, possible.

What Is A Sensory Friendly Movie? 

Studio Movie Grill is one of thousands of locations that have teamed up with various Autism awareness groups to make the possible.  To make a simple trip to the movies, just that.  Through their Special Needs screenings, about once a month; a current new release is played just for these kids and their families.

How does this work?  It’s actually simple.  Smaller theater size, lights stay brighter, and sound is played lower.  This keeps the experience manageable for those with the sensory processing issues.  What about noise from the kids?  No problem.  They are allowed to stand, talk and even dance if they want.

The other families are all there for the same reason and will understand or as I like to say “just get it.”  The staff too.  They understand and are very quick with a “that’s okay.”  But I must say that Studio Movie Grill is a step ahead of most theaters.  They don’t just play a sensory friendly film, but make it truly enjoyable for the whole family.

Studio Movie Grill Goes Further 

Anyone who has a special needs child knows it is not cheap to raise such a child.  Therapies, equipment, special diets, doctors, and list can go on.  And sad to say that GA is a state where insurance does not have to cover Autism.  So a simple speech therapy visit of 45 minutes can cost $140 or more.  Money is very tight for many and extra is not a word used to often.  This is where the one step ahead comes in.  Studio Movie Grill shows these movies FREE for the special needs child and their siblings.  Adults are just $6 dollars.  Not a bad deal for anyone.

I have gone to many showings with our lil man.  Before the Duluth location opened up, we would drive to the Holcomb Bridge location.  Now we visit Duluth.  Both locations offer superior customer service and exceptionally friendly staff.  They are great with the kids and want to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves.  Now things can go wrong and sometimes do.  But I can personally say they are quick to make it right.

Our Experience 

One of the things we love about Studio Movie Grill is that you can order from a full menu right from your seat and have it brought to you by the staff.  The food is pub fare and taste great.  Of course they have the usual movie popcorn and candy as well.  Sometimes an order may be wrong or mixed up.  This can even happen in the best of restaurants.

I’m embarrassed to say that I was having one of those stressed out days when our order was mixed up, served to someone else and even forgotten.  The staff was great at making it right but even the manager was on top of it.  He personally came out to see me and took care of us beyond what was necessary.  I explained through tears that it was just a bad day and I couldn’t accept what he was offering. That I didn’t feel right for I knew it was me. Again he insisted and hoped that it would be the start of a better day.


Today we saw our manager friend again.  Something went wrong with the box-office.  These films are not available for pre-purchase and you must go to the window to purchase all tickets.  Well, since the doors open at 10am and we were the 10th family in line; to be told it was now sold out when I got up there didn’t make sense.

This meant that people were buying them online and at the ticket kiosk.  I asked when that rule changed for I was always told you had to be in person and it states so on the website as well.  Not to mention the many more families in line behind us who were also saying the same thing.   A call was placed for the manager to come up front and it was our friend from last time.  He remembered us and was very pleasant.  I explained what was going on and he right away made a few calls and not even five minutes later, had another theater opened for the showing.

The mistake will be corrected and no one had to leave with disappointed kids.  He knew that most of those kiddos just wouldn’t understand and may have had meltdowns.  He didn’t want anyone to be unhappy and was more than happy himself to find a solution.  A normal family would simply leave or pick a different movie when the first choice is sold out, but Studio Movie Grill gets it.  They know that for families like ours, it is not that simple.

They Care! 

Talking with others this is not the first time either location has sold out and made arrangements for additional seating.   I’m sure this takes more seats from their revenue but proves that they are a venue that cares about their customers.  Today we hear so much about the bad customer service and even the rude comments people give about our kiddos; that it is truly a breath of fresh air to know you can go out and everyone will be comfortable.  Everyone will enjoy themselves.

So even if your family is not a special needs one.  This is still a great indication of the type of service you will get at Studio Movie Grill.  And while you’re there, tell them you heard about their program for special needs families and congratulate them on their great work.  They love to hear from you.

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Stephanie is a wife and mom of two, a Virtual Assistant, freelance writer and Social Media maven. Stephanie is also the owner of The Autism Diva - a travel, lifestyle blog and special needs resource as she is raising a non-verbal son with Autism. The Autism Diva covers events in the metro Atlanta area and New England. Also hosts giveaways, reviews, recipes and more. With a background in Business and Finance, she left it all behind to be a stay-at-home mom and also homeschools both her kids. Coffee is a must and while life can be crazy, she wouldn't have it any other way.

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