When I was pregnant one of the regular pieces of advice I got from parents was ‘go to the movies while you still can!’
Fortunately having kids hasn’t completely curbed my cinephile habits and a number of Melbourne’s cinemas cater particularly well for kids.
Note that you can often get discount tickets at many of these cinemas, either on discount days (typically Monday or Tuesday), through vouchers from the Entertainment (Formerly Entertainment Book) or Small Ideas or with cinema membership.
Best cinemas in Melbourne for babies & kids
The 2 screen cinema combines movies and play, with a play area in the foyer or within the cinema and a slide inside the cinemas that’s open before the main feature and sometimes at interval!
Other features include modified sound and lighting, an intermission, a light-up dance floor and special candy bar.
VJunior is popular so make sure you book ahead. You can even choose from comfortable standard seating, beanbags or recliners.
VJunior, Village Cinemas, Southland, 1239 Nepean Highway, Cheltenham 1300 555 400
2. ACMI[ACMI has reopened but the ACMI’s Kids Flicks cinema program is not currently running]. Every weekend and school holidays ACMI’s Kids Flicks program shows films that are a bit different from your run-of-the-mill fare.
Inside the uber-comfortable cinemas with grandstand seating (so everyone has a great view) you can discover latest releases and international animated features (with subtitles).
ACMI’s Kids Flicks, Federation Square, Melbourne 8663 2200
3. Babes in arms /Cry Baby sessions
If your child is still a baby then catch the latest releases at a Babes in arms sessions. Often you get to see great, adult-focused films at a cheap price plus there’s pram parking, change facilities, dim lighting and reduced sound. They generally run during school terms and not school holidays.
For instance, at HOYTS The District Docklands you can visit the first sessions every Wednesday in a freshly cleaned cinema, where they will dim the lights and soften the volume, to ensure a baby-friendly cinema experience.
Most cinemas have them – check out what’s showing at Hoyts Prams at the Pix, Palace Babes in Arms, Village Cinemas Baby-Friendly Sessions, Reading Spit the Dummy and independent cinemas such as Classic Theatre BYO Baby and Thornbury Picture House Cry Baby Sessions.
4. Sun Theatre
The Sun Theatre in Yarraville was originally opened in 1938 as a 1050 seat single screen cinema – and was certainly a luxurious night out. After TV became popular, the theatre was eventually closed and became derilect. After the current owners took over in 1995, it has been brought back to life and now has 8 theatres, each decorated in Art Deco style – scoring it a place on Time Out’s list of the most beautiful cinemas in the world.
The Sun screens latest releases, including kids movies, Australian movies and art movies from around the world. Some cinemas are decked out with couches so you can watch the movie in maximum comfort (I’d also suggest having one of their tasty choc tops in hand).
They even offer Bambini sessions during the day AND the evenings for working parents so that you can enjoy the film as a couple. Cheaper than going out for dinner and no babysitters required!
Sun Theatre, 8 Ballarat St, Yarraville, 03 9362 0999
The program is similarly unique. You’ll often find family-friendly Hollywood classics, offbeat arthouse films, sing-a-long sessions and animations, particularly during school holidays.
If your kids are able to sit still for long enough you can book for a double bill.
The Astor Theatre, Corner of Chapel Street and Dandenong Road, St Kilda 9510 1414
6. Lido Cinemas
Lido Cinemas are a Melbourne institution, with eight theatres, plus a rooftop cinema that’s primarily open during the warmer months, but does occasionally hold a screening in cooler months. Lido shows current releases, art house films and holds events with special screenings.
Lido Cinemas, 675 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn, 03 8658 0000
This newly established cinemas are part of the transformation of the former historic Pentridge Prison into a centre that also includes shops, restaurants and cafes.
The 15 theatres inside Pentridge Prison Cinemas all include reclining seats with foot rests. Palace Club members can purchase tickets for $14.
If you’ve got a bit of extra time either side of the movie, there’s a children’s playground and water play area in the Pentridge complex.
Pentridge Cinemas, 1 Champ St Coburg, 03 8579 5380
8. Hoyts Jnr
Hoyts regularly runs a Hoyts Jnr cinema program, a dedicated cinema programme for families with pre-schoolers 3-6 years. Sessions generally screen every Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday mornings and the programming includes kids movies and preschool content.
Hoyts Jnr offers value for families with a flat ticket price for adults & children (Child: 0-15yrs).
Hoyts Victoria Gardens in Richmond also have two theatres with crying rooms. Two of their biggest theatres have a small, soundproof room with seven seats at the back of the theatre. They’re perfect if you have a baby and want to go out without worrying about missing feeds or booking babysitters.
Hoyts Jnr, various Hoyts cinemas
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Older kids will be awed by the world’s second-largest IMAX screen presenting 3D films on a giant screen, including blockbusters.
Better still you can visit Melbourne Museum afterwards. Get half-price entry into Melbourne Museum with any IMAX Adult ticket purchase! (Kids and Concessions are FREE at Melbourne Museum)
IMAX, Melbourne Museum Precinct, Rathdowne St, Carlton (03) 9663 5454
10. Coburg Drive-in
Melbourne doesn’t have many drive-ins anymore so the Village Cinemas Coburg Drive-in is an experience not to be missed.
Drive your car in with your own pillows and blankets, snacks and drinks, and the drive-in can be an economical (and exciting) movie-going outing.
Kids under 12 years are free.
Coburg Drive In, 155 Newlands Road, Coburg
11. Outdoor cinemas
During summer lots of outdoor cinema events pop up around Melbourne, including Openair Cinemas, Barefoot Cinema, Rooftop Cinema, Moonlight Cinema, Cameo Outdoor Cinema and Sunset Cinema. There’s even an outdoor cinema where you can watch the movie from a bed with Mov’in Bed!
While these cinemas are mostly geared towards adult audiences sometimes they run family-friendly programming.
Many local councils will often set up free family films in outdoor areas over summer too.
Note films that are showing in a summer outdoor cinema don’t screen until after sundown (which can be as late as 9pm with daylight saving) so it may not be suitable for little kids who have an early bedtime.
Finally, while libraries are technically not cinemas often during school holidays particularly local libraries will run free movie screenings that are family-friendly.
Related: Best Libraries in Melbourne
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I hope this post has helped or inspired you! Subscribe to my weekly newsletter to find out more ways for your family to have fun together!