For years I had thought about taking my kids here but had never gotten it together to make the 40 mile trek from home. One thing that appealed to me when planning this day out was that the admission price is not cheap ($15 a person and it probably only takes about 2 hours to see everything if you are slow) and so my hope was that there would not be too many unruly children running around with no supervision as there often are at less expensive and free children's' museums. Unfortunately, to my dismay, when we arrived, there were a ton of people in line, and subsequently we realized that it was "first Tuesdays Santa Ana residents get in free" day (if you've ever been to Santa Ana, you'll realize this can be a scary prospect). But since we had made the drive I went ahead and paid what it took to get in (pretty sure we were the only people there who paid to get in). It was tolerable inside about the first half hour but once the place began filling up, it became increasingly unbearable, stinky and loud. But my kids had been having a good time (when they weren't getting crushed) and again, we had driven so far, I tried to suck it up. But finally after about an hour and a half of getting trampled by dirty, unruly children and teens with no supervision, I decided to inquire at the front desk if it would perhaps be possible to get a voucher to come back another day or perhaps even be given a discounted offer or coupon so that we could come back on a less miserable day. The ticket girl made herself scarce and pretended to go speak to her supervisor and upon coming back then told me that there was nothing they could do- that in fact this is the high season and this day was no busier than any other day would be. I find this difficult to believe as what place isn't more busy when it's FREE? (And in fact later on when I asked a gift shop employee and the parking fee attendant, they both told me that it was crazy today and it's not normally that bad.) I explained that I was not asking for a refund and that they would not be taking a risk by offering me a future discount that I may or may not use and her solution was that maybe I should apply what I spent on our admission to getting a full family membership ($100). Wow. So you do absolutely nothing for me after we have a miserable time and then you expect me to shell out another 50 bucks? Sorry but no way.
So, sadly, we won't ever be going back, which is really a shame because the facility is quite nice.
FYI, teachers get in free, but annoyingly, when we purchased our tickets, my sis-in-law asked if they offered any kind of teacher discounts and was told no so she paid full price.
However, if you are a Santa Ana resident who can get in free and/or you are unfazed by dirty places overrun with unruly, possibly lice-bearing children and you don't mind poor customer service, you and your kids might just have a good time.
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