Laval-Cosmodome

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Another date day with the 7-year old and we were debating between a museum downtown and the Space Science Centre in Laval.

Space. Let’s go to space! That looks cool.

And decision made!
Opened in 1994, the Cosmodome is the only Canadian museum dedicated solely to the space sciences and is also the home of Space Camp Canada, one of five space camps in the world. 
In 2011, the Cosmodome introduced three interactive 60-minute long space missions designed and developed by gsmprjct° including The Impossible Dream, Red Planet, and The Outer Limits of the Cosmos. The admission price includes a mission (or all three) and access to the Permanent Exhibition.
I’d looked quickly at the website before we headed out and thought the Red Planet mission would be good for us. Because…Martians.
“But I want to do all three!”
At $16,50 for me and $13 for him, no way was I shelling out for more than one mission as each additional one costs (for an adult) $30 for two missions and $43 for three missions. Yoiks. Also, we didn’t really know what they entail, so one was a good start.
“You get one. ONE mission!”
You can see the full rates HERE. Kids under 7 are free and there are family rates as well as discounts if you have a CAA Card
But while kids under 7 are free, the missions and museum part are NOT geared towards kids younger than that. The website actually has this disclaimer: “**** The virtual missions and permanent exhibition are aimed at an audience aged 7 and over. A younger audience may not understand all the information. Parental discretion is advised.”
And after having visited, I totally agree. This is not a place for toddlers. 

It was an easy drive from the West Island (Laval is always closer than I think it will be. Unless it’s a Friday afternoon in the summer, then it’s hell), and I told my guy to watch for the giant rocket (a replica of an Ariane 4)and we’d know we were close. 
“I see it! I see it!”
“Honey, that’s a chimney”
“Oh.”

And then we really did see the rocket ship. And it was way more impressive than the chimney.
After parking (for free!) in the large lot, we took some selfies in front of the rocket and then ran up the path. The interior is beautiful with high ceilings, lit up displays, and well…cool space stuff.
We bought our tickets, hung up our coats (also free, phew) and then had a look over the glass railing at the training simulators and replica of the space shuttle Endeavour. If I hadn’t read beforehand that this section is NOT included in the admission price and we wouldn’t be able to access it, we’d have been really excited. BUT, unless you’re in one of the space camps, birthday parties or other special events, you’ll only be able to watch.  

Waiting a few minutes for another family visiting Mars with us, we had a quick peek into the museum part and then it was time to get started!
You type in your names, choose a mission logo, and are given bracelets which will enable you to log into your screen throughout  your hour. 
The mission is comprised of different movies and three interactive rooms where you control your mission on computer screens. With sliding Star Trek-style doors, futuristic hallways and creative viewing rooms, the aesthetics are amazing. 
The interactive part, not so much. While the idea behind the mini-missions are interesting (move a rover, fly your ship, and build a base), the screens themselves are just frustrating and not super responsive. My 7-year old was losing his mind, and with a timer counting down, the rest of our ‘crew’ were giving up. I took over for 2 of the 3 screens, just to get us through them, which left him with nothing to do but watch. 
And while the movies are ok, it’s hard to gauge what age they’re aimed for. Too juvenile for adults, but over the heads of most kids. 
Upon the completion of our mission, we left our bracelets (it would have been neat to have a certificate or score or something to commemorate the end), and then saw the very, very small museum. The scale models of the planets with their terrain underneath them were what we enjoyed the most, and we had a look at the space artefacts, books and played a bit with the lego placed on a table. And…that was it. 
“Is that it?”
“Um…yes.”
“Oh.”

At almost $35 for just the two of us, that made for an expensive 1.5 hours. Trying to stretch it out a bit, we watched someone doing the Multi-Axis Chair simulator (there are six different kinds of simulators), decided I will NEVER do that, and then we had a look at the (really nice) gift shop and peeked into the Café Ariane where you can buy soups, sandwiches, pizza etc. 
There are also some vending and candy machines located in the lobby. 

So…..while I loved the look of the place, we weren’t totally enthralled by our mission or the museum. Because honestly, there wasn’t all that much to do. We got spoiled by our recent trip to the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa which was way more hands on. 

I think that the various space camps (including a Robotics Challenge Camp and a Parents-Children Camp), birthday parties, and the different events where you can experience the rest of the facilities might be more interesting and a better value for the price. 

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