Last week, on our family Spring Break trip to New England, we visited the Minute Man National Historic Park. Minute Man National Historic Park celebrates the original sites of the first battle of the Revolutionary War.
Here are some quick highlights and tips of this National Park Unit.
The Visitor Center parking lot is just a short trail from the the actual Visitor Center building. Not a huge thing but leave some extra time if you are in a rush to see the film. (of course you don’t know why I am telling you to rush to the film so read on…)
The Visitor Center has a number of interesting displays but few artifacts. See the film before spending time with these things. You won’t have adequate context. Trust me.
Neat pop-up cutouts of all the players int he battle(s). Again, skip through until post-film.
Giftshop. Some great things here. Not the best I’ve ever seen but certainly not the worst. Enough balance of local stuff (Concord Grape Jam!) and standard Revolutionary War items.
Ok, let’s do this!
The Road to Revolution is not just a film…it’s an experience!
I believe the above headline is what every person should be told when they first walk into the building of the Visitor Center. The rangers and volunteers who greeted us upon our entering played it cool. “Are you interested in seeing the film? It starts in a few minutes.” I imagine them watching us go in, sitting back in their chair with their hands behind their head grinning with the knowledge that we were about to get our faces melted. Sorta like this…
…minus the sister kissing part.
When we first walked into the theater we knew something was different. This wasn’t some generic theater that doubles as a lunch break room or local rotary club meeting room. This was a full on set with murals on the walls! Pro lights! Real props! Are we seeing a film or watching a play?
These weren’t community center grade stackable folding chairs either. These were wooden pews! It felt like we were sitting in a quintessential small New England town church from the 1700s! Oh yes, this was going to be different!
Let’s dissect this set of “The Road to Revolution” Experience at Minute Man National Historical Park.
Here’s what’s going to happen: I am going to tell you about some cool things. But I am not going to ruin this experience for you. You really need to see this for yourself.
This is the stage. Cue facemelting in 3-2-1-
The lights dim. All you hear is the annoying sounds of other visitors who clearly haven’t received the hint that it is time to stop flapping their traps and start immersing yourself in the reality of today. And by today, I mean…April 19, 1775.
A. The screen is black. The screen shows subtitles. Humorous ones like “Chirping continues.”
B. Still dark. You start to hear various nature noises. Crickets. The wind. And then a faint sound of a drum beat. I can’t tell if this is a war drum in the distance or the slow crescendo of a drum for musical effect. Regardless, I settle into my pew and wish I had popcorn. This is going to rock!
C. You here a door open and all of a sudden this doorway lights up. It’s a screen too! A dude in appropriately themed attire walks in and addresses you like you are in his living room. No, wait…it’s not a church or a living room at all! It’s a tavern!
D. As he explains the events of the past few days, the clock face lights up and the clock hands move to the relative time in the story!
E. The map above the doorway and screen isn’t just a map! It’s a LED map that shows the positions of the British “Regulars” and the Patriot Militia as well as relative numbers!
F. Please Minute Man National Historical Park, I can’t handle anymore surprises! Then, as our narrator recounts the night of the Paul Revere ride and the old adage, “One if by land, two if by sea” referencing the signal of lighting candles in the bell tower the townspeople agreed on, the mural comes alive and there are 2 candles lit in the wall!
The film ends. The lights turn on. The entire audiences erupts in applause.
We leave the theater and I turn to the original greeter and said, “That movie was awesome!” He just shot me back a grin like this:
Now, the other displays in the Visitor Center is filled with context! I voraciously read every word. I stand by each placard and let out a few audible “huh”s and “heh”s. I’m all-in people!
We jump back into the car and journey a few miles up the road to visit the Old North Bridge. This is THE site for the “Shot Heard Round the World!”
We see a pretty neat Crank-powered audio display:
Unfortunately the pathway was flooded and we couldn’t get to the other Visitor Center. But I still got the picture I was hoping to get: A shot of the kids on the bridge. My wife and I checked that box.
Visit Minute Man National Historical Park!
This National park unit visit was our 76th park unit visited as a family! It is filled with history and is a must-see if you are in the Boston area. And don’t get me started again about the film! Check out our progress towards our goal of visiting 100 as a family by 2020 here.
Have you visited Minute Man National Historical Park? Leave your experience with this great park in the comments!