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“An interesting place - and with kids under age 16 free - go NOW!”

Thomas Edison National Historical Park
Ranked #1 of 15 things to do in West Orange
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Level Contributor
92 reviews
33 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
“An interesting place - and with kids under age 16 free - go NOW!”
Reviewed December 28, 2013

It's a self guided tour of the whole lab complex. When we went, building 5 was the main building to tour. Rest are eithe locked or you can just peek in the door. Building 5 is main machinary lab - 3 floors high, and all tourable. We didn't get the audio tour thing ($5 per person which I thought was fairly reasonable) becasue I'm too lazy to push buttons, and like to read the placards that look interesting. Not a lot to read on this tour. It's not like there's nothing, but it could go with a lot more. A volunteer apeared out of nowhere, gave a really interesting history on the thing we were looking at at the time, and then vanished. Too bad - would have trucked him around the whole place. Only about 3 or 4 things to actually touch - didn't faze me, but the kids commented.
Lab has weird hours of operation, so check the website. We got there at 10:30 (they open at 10:00) and were able to get tickets to tour Edison's Home (a mile or so away). These home tour tickets are limited, so get there early if you want them.

House tour is a guided tour by a Ranger. We got Ranger Tim. He was knowledgeable and pleasant and gave a good tour. At the end of the tour he made a point to try and tie the whole Edison/Lab/Family/Wife/Home thing together - basically pointing out that Edison spent a lot of time at the lab, and that he was able to do that because he had a wife he could rely on to take care of the family (6 kids total) and home. Can't argue with that.

All in all, kids liked house tour better than lab tour. I thought the house would be a bit lame (one of those "this is the entryway and living room. Thanks for visiting.") but it turned out to be interesting.

Time-wise, we got to lab at 10:30 and stayed there till 2pm. Had lunch in the car (park free across from the lab), then drove 7 minutes to the house. Walked the grounds a bit, and then went on our 3:30pm tour (last tour of the day). Note that when we got to the lab at 10:30am, the only tours of the house that were left were the 3pm and 3:30pm.

It's a fun and interesting day. I always thought of Edison as a cranky old inventor. To see that he was a businessman (invented these wild time clocks for workers) and a family man were both interesting.

Visited December 2013
2 Thank forseeme
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Hebron, lsrael
Level Contributor
168 reviews
166 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 264 helpful votes
“The History of an Important Aspect of Today's Culture”
Reviewed December 28, 2013

The Thomas Edison National Historical Park is where the great man made his major inventions - the light bulb & recorded sound. It is accessible by bus from Manhattan's Port Authority Bus Terminal, about every hour (try to make an early start). From where the bus drops you off at the freeway exit, you still have to walk about a mile (about 1 1/2 km), northwards.
The park consists of 2 parts: The factory, where you enter; & the Glenmont estate. In the former, there are his original laboratories, a reproduction of the "Black Maria" film studio (the first of its kind in the world), & many worthy exhibits. Don't miss the fascinating presentation, given at fixed times, of the history of his favorite invention: the phonograph - you actually get to see & hear an original 1912 cylinder record played on an original period player! The song heard was YES, WE HAVE NO BANANAS!
The Glenmont estate is Edison's home, in Llewellyn Park, an early gated community. Its denizens are very persnickety about whom they allow into their little haven; the site, open only during certain days (check first), is accessible at no extra charge, but only with a piece of paper given at the entry counter, on a first-come-first-served basis. You can walk there. The house is a beautiful & quirky Victorian edifice, asymmetrical but of monotone color, & contains all the original furnishings (some predating Edison's purchase of the building). The tour is fascinating, & displays all interesting inventions & gadgets for use in his home, as well as very valuable artwork. His gravesite is behind the house. Also open to the public, & also interesting, is his nearby garage.
What a pity that his most important invention - the incandescent light bulb - is now outlawed in the United States & in most "progressive" countries. This is a classic example of "big government" - the government can decide everything, even tell you what light bulbs to use! Didn't the government hear about the First Amendment?

Visited August 2013
1 Thank Dave S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
South Jersey
Level Contributor
95 reviews
63 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 131 helpful votes
“Great way to spend a day!”
Reviewed December 20, 2013

My National Park Pass was expiring, so my wife, baby son, and a buddy went out to see the factory complex at the end of November. Definitely an interesting way to spend the day!

FACTORY COMPLEX: Self guided or ranger led tour (we did the first one). The room that impressed me the most was the library, with it's bazillion books, semi-hidden movie screening equipment, various trophies of Mr. Edision on display, and Edison's work desk. The sound complex on the third story was also fascinating, don't miss the side room with the various horns that were used to try to get better recording sounds. The whole place looked, minus the rails that were installed, like folks would be coming in to work any minute. As a history buff, I learned a ton just from the signs. As someone who loves to take pictures, I had a ball with the different buildings and equipment all over the place. The buildings next door are part of the original complex, but are not part of the park.

In the gift shop, they have cheap Edison posters.

THE HOUSE: We took a tour of the house as well, located in the first gated, private neighborhood in the country. Though Thanksgiving wasn't quite here yet (it was so late this year), they had already decorated the house for Christmas. This was perfect, because the house tours during the holidays are supposed to be hugely popular - we got the decorations without the massive crowds. The ranger that led the tour was informative, entertaining, and kept us moving through the house. He had answers to everyone's questions, and was top notch.

After the tour, go pay your respects to Mr. and Mrs. Edison, who are buried behind the house.

Overall: Something for everyone. The history is great, the house is beautiful, the old machines and the amazing variety of inventions are fascinating, and my toddler ran around in the courtyard. A great spot to visit in the greatest state in the Union.

Visited November 2013
Thank mikebickerson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
59 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
“Time well spent learning about this amazing man!”
Reviewed December 15, 2013

On Sunday, Nov. 10th, 2013 my cousins and I toured the laboratories and workshops, and then we toured Mr. Edison's home.

What a great day out filled with education and wonder at the man's genius and achievements!

Be sure to allow enough time to drink it all in; you won't be disappointed. Highly recommended.

Visited November 2013
Thank BBinSEA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Springfield, Virginia
Level Contributor
45 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed December 4, 2013

I really didn't know much about Edison, but he was ahead of his time. His home was amazing -- take the time for the tour.

Visited July 2013
Thank Suzanne J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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