Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ford's Theater National Historic Site

Ford's TheaterDate of Visit: March 26, 2012

This time of year we could have gotten day of tickets on the weekday without much trouble, as when we got there to pick up ours most tours had tickets available.  However, our noon tour was sold out and it is worth the convenience fee to have them reserved.  We choose to pick them up via will call because the other options cost extra.

We arrived at Ford's Theater about an hour early for our tour, since I knew I had to at least pick up the tickets.  It took us awhile to figure out that the door everyone lines up outside of for the tour is actually the one to go in for the box office.  Then it took about 15 minutes to pick up our tickets even though we were next to be served because the two ticket people were helping people buy show tickets.  We had purchased the audio tour tickets, but I did not realize we were supposed to then pick up our audio tour things before getting in the ticket entry line.

The walkthrough is self-guided and it is just timed entry.  Depending on the time you choose you get access to the museum and a theater walkthrough or just a visit to the theater for a ranger talk.  You also get access to Petersen House with all tickets, but I do not know how that works since I am pretty sure it is not accessible.  Additionally, you get access to the Center for Education and Leadership next to Petersen House, which I did not realize at the time, although it is accessible since it is new.

Booth's Gun
Overall we enjoyed the museum, although it was annoying that a school group gathered up waiting for everyone to meet at bottom of stair exit making it hard to view the end of the exhibit.  They did seem to try to be as out of the way as possible, but there just is not much room in the museum.  It would probably be best to hand back while the line comes down the stairs and join the back of the timed walkthrough group.  After the museum you take the elevator back up to the lobby and be confused by there being no sign of what to do next.

We wandered over to the ticket scanning spot and the person who escorted us earlier to the elevator was there and escorted us down the ramp to the theater.  From here you can see most of the theater, although the upper seating blocks the view of the boxes somewhat, although I image if you manage to not skip the balcony access you would get a decent view still.

Ford's Theater
After we were done looking at the theater, I was waiting at the bottom of the ramp to go back up when the security desk ranger came over and let us out the deliveries door right there.  The timing was right when a tour entry started and I just figured we would wait for the entry line to clear and head back up the ramp.  Going out the deliveries door was fine, although I guess we should have done the balcony before the main theater level.

By the way, I was not impressed with them for not being visitor friendly and informative since they did not tell us about picking up our audio tour first or that we could go to balcony or have a sign or say you might want to go check out the stuff across the street included with your ticket.  Not to mention the ranger in the theater was rather rude to the school group yelling at them to go only one way and not sit down when he could have politely informed them, as they really did seem like a well-mannered group and it would be my guess the signs are not obvious or helpful from the rest of our experience here.

It does not seem right to have to know yourself, especially since the wheelchair route through is not an obvious route.   I kind of get the audio tour thing, but no one ever said anything to us and I did not realize until we were down in the museum that we were supposed to get them up by will call.  Between the person at will call just handing us tickets and the person scanning them it would seem they would tell you, hey go over there to get your audio tour.

The other two things just mean having signs, which would also be helpful for knowing that you do not have to wait for the incoming line to clear for you to go back up the ramp from the theater, but can leave through the delivery entrance right by theater.  However, at the same time this means you do not end up going to the balcony, which you can do from the same elevator that goes down to museum.

Destination Info:
Ford's Theater
511 10th Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20004

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