Thursday, July 5, 2012

Review of the Ontario Science Center

The Ontario Science Center is located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  The center's mandate is to, "To delight, inform and challenge visitors through engaging and thought-provoking experiences in science and technology."

Upon arrival at the Ontario Science Center, the out side is nicely decorated with some fabulous pieces of art.    We took public transit to the attraction and its was adequate.  A word of caution, the bus we were on did not specially announce a 'Ontario Science Center' stop.  When entering, there is a couple of options for tickets.  One was for the IMAX and another for the general exhibits.  While we figured out where to go rather quickly, it did take some thought.  Attractions such as the Georgia Aquarium have their entrance procedures designed to limit confusion and enhance customer service - this is not the case here.

The ticket prices are not exactly cheap.  An adult admission to just the exhibits is $22 (add the IMAX and it costs you $28).  Students, seniors and youths cost $16.  Children 4-12 are $13.  Upon purchasing tickets, one goes into the exhibits through staff that aren't exactly jovial or welcoming.  While there were some throughout the facility that were having 'fun' and connecting with the patrons - many more were 'going through the motions.'

The facility is celebrating 40 years of being in operation with a special exhibit on the science of Circuses.  The exhibit is well put together and kids (and their accompanying adults) will learn a lot.

While the specials exhibits are nice:  The heart of the Ontario Science Center is its regular exhibits.  There is six levels of exhibits in which to choose.  My daughter Robyn, who is 14, found many of the exhibits to be fascinating.    Robyn's favourites were the Science of Sports, The Human Body and the one entitled the A Question of Truth.  We arrived at 1:45 PM and closed down the facility at 5:00 PM and could have easily spent another two hours there.

Overall, visiting the Ontario Science Center is a good value.  Here is my summary:

The Good:
  • The exhibits are very good and some are excellent. They are high interactive and provide a lot of valuable information. 
  • The artwork around the Ontario Science Center is very well done.

The Okay:
  • The facility is good but starting to show its age. Many of the exhibits could use a freshening up. 
  • The price is good value for money. Given the prices of other attractions in Toronto and similar places I visited, the price is mid-ranged. 
  • The signage is good in places and poor in others. The facility is not easy to navigate and more directional signage would enhance the experience. 
  • The staff team is very hit or miss. Some are outstanding, some are okay and many are just putting in time. The management team really needs to conduct some customer service training with the staff. It costs little to be friendly and welcoming.

The Not-So-Good:
  • Only open to 5:00 PM in the summer tourist season? Really?

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