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Maritime Aquarium offers Sensory-Friendly Evening on July 26 for guests with sensory-processing differences

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is planning a special evening on Mon., July 26 to give guests with sensory-processing differences a fun, comfortable and accepting environment.

And, thanks to the statewide “CT Summer at the Museum - Free Admission for Kids” initiative, admission will be free for most Connecticut residents.

During this "Sensory-Friendly Evening," from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., all Aquarium exhibits will be open, including the enormous new seal habitat called “Pinniped Cove.” But lights in galleries will be lower, and music and other sounds will be turned down or off. Plus, tickets will be discounted for guests not eligible for free admission.

While The Maritime Aquarium offers “Sensory-Friendly Evenings” several times a year, the date for this upcoming event – July 26 – was chosen to celebrate the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The ADA is one of America's most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life -- to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in state and local government programs and services.

Tom Naiman, the Aquarium’s director of Education, said the advantages in offering this event after the Aquarium’s normal opening hours are two-fold: Aquarium staff can focus on the guests with special needs, and guests averse to crowds won’t encounter them.

As during daily Aquarium hours, admission during the July 26 “Sensory-Friendly Evening” is free for Connecticut residents age 18 & younger, along with one accompanying adult, through the “CT Summer at the Museum” program. For additional adults and non-residents, discounted admission is $19 for adults, $17 for seniors (65+), and $14 for children (3-12).

For those wanting to include a movie in the new 4D theater, guests can enjoy the films wearing 3D glasses but with sounds lower and theater lights brighter, and without any of the sensory effects. (Guests aren’t required to wear the 3D glasses but, without them, images onscreen will appear blurry.) Pick from BBC Earth’s “Shark: A 4D Experience” (12 minutes long) at 7:15 p.m., or “Ice Age: No Time for Nuts 4D” (10 minutes) at 6:45 and 7:45 p.m. Tickets for a 4D movie, which are optional, are $7.

Based on recommendations of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the state of Connecticut, unvaccinated guests and all children age 2-11 – except for those with a medical note from their doctor – must wear masks in The Maritime Aquarium. Vaccinated guests are strongly encouraged to continue to wear their masks too.

Reserve tickets for the July 26 “Sensory-Friendly Evening” in advance online by going to www.maritimeaquarium.org and clicking on “Visit,” and then “Aquarium Happenings.”

Learn more about the free admission summer initiative for Connecticut residents here

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