I visit the Wilmington area a lot. It’s one of my family’s favorite areas in North Carolina to visit. In fact, we’ll be heading back down to that area at the end of the month. The last time we planned to go down there, I contacted the PR person for the USS North Carolina Battleship in Wilmington, NC. I asked if they offered discounted tickets for the press. They countered by offering my family free tickets to visit the USS North Carolina Battleship.
I had taken my son there a few years back, so I wasn’t worried about how he would react to being aboard the battleship. I was expecting everything to be great. It was, except for a little problem at the first set of stairs we had to go down. My NT daughter balked. She was scared, and did not want to go down them. I tried everything to entice her down the steps. It was a wonderful stranger that finally got her down them. The kind lady talked with my daughter, and guided her down the steps. There was something about her that made my daughter feel safe. I was so grateful to this angel that took the time to help us.
There were so many things that I did not remember from our previous visit. I didn’t remember the engine room, or the kitchen (galley). I remember going through the galley before, but the details of what I saw were vague. I didn’t remember the ovens for baking bread, or the big mixing bowls. I remembered the sleeping areas, but forgot how tight quarters they were.
I have found that the best time for my family to visit is when they first open up. You can find out their seasonal times on the USS North Carolina Battleship website. My son doesn’t do well in crowds, so it’s always best for us to arrive before everyone else does. This worked out great for us, until we came upon a tour group that had arrived early, too. We waited for a little bit, but my on was getting more and more anxious as time went by. There were others that were stopped with us, and a line of people had formed. We were stuck in a really narrow area, and could not move. Finally, we decided to interrupt the tour group. We excused ourselves, and walked through the group to move onto the next area. I felt a little bad about that, at first. But, when the others waiting with us followed our lead, I felt a little better.
We spent two hours touring the battleship. Afterwards, we were all tired. My kids had a great time, and loved checking out everything on the ship. Especially my son. He loves to explore new things. A few times, we had trouble keeping up with him. I didn’t mind. It’s really nice when everyone in the family is enjoying themselves. That’s a hard thing to accomplish when you have an autistic child.
If you are planning a visit to the USS North Carolina Battleship in Wilmington, NC, with an autistic child, keep a couple things in mind. They give out wrist bands that you have to wear when you get your ticket. For NT’s, that isn’t a problem. For an autistic child, there might be sensory issues with this. If you think this will be a problem for your child, call ahead of time and see if there’s an alternative to putting it on the wrist. Next, there are the stairs. They aren’t easy to get up and down for anyone. And, they can be a little scary for some children. You also need to keep in mind the narrow areas of the ship. I liked them, because it meant that my son couldn’t dart off to another area. In the open areas of the battleship, My husband and I would take turns chasing after him. Last, but not least, is the number of other visits there when you arrive. If you go off-season, or right when they open, you have a better chance of avoiding a lot of other tourists visiting the ship.
I’m looking forward to visiting the USS North Carolina Battleship again. I think we’ll plan to go again in the fall.