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Visiting The USS Arizona Memorial With Kids

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We all know that Pearl Harbor is a very important place in American History and the events that took place there had a huge impact on America. When you are visiting Oahu Island in Hawaii taking a visit to Pearl Harbor is a must do. Visiting the USS Arizona Memorial with kids I believe is an important stop on your vacation in Oahu, Hawaii.

USS Arizona Memorial

Visiting The USS Arizona Memorial With Kids

There are many different exhibits and things to see when you are visiting Pearl Harbor. However, our focus when we went to visit was seeing the USS Arizona Memorial and learning about it. Visiting the USS Arizona Memorial with kids is also the focus of this blog post.

Instead of going to all the different and sites in the Pearl Harbor area, we wanted to focus on one area of importance. We didn’t want them to be overwhelmed with information especially since one of our kids is only 6 years old.

Our plan is to go back to O’ahu and explore more of the Pearl Harbor sites. We want to make sure that we are giving the kids the time they need and want to fully understand each section of Pearl Harbor. There are 4 historic sites that you can visit when you are exploring Pearl Harbor.

Kids at the USS Arizona Memorial

What is The USS Arizona Memorial?

The start of the United State’s involvement in World War 2 is because of the actions and events that took place on December 7, 1941. On that day the ship USS Arizona was attacked and sank with 1,100 people on board.

The USS Arizona is still in the same place that it sunk back in 1941. The ship has remained untouched and so much so that it is still leaking fuel to this day. The memorial building is built over top of the sunken ship.

You can see parts of the ship sticking out of the water on either side of the memorial. You can look down into the water inside of the memorial and see part of the ship.

There is a wall with every person who lost their life that day inside the memorial along with those services members who opted to have their ashes placed in the ship.

USS Arizona Memorial sticking out of the water

Important Facts To Know

Many of these facts will be told to you on your tour. Since you are planning a trip with kids I think it is helpful to know these things before going.

  • The people who were on the USS Arizona on the day of the attack are still with the ship to this very day.
  • The military shipmates who were survivors of that day have the option to join their fellow service members on the ship if they choose. A special ceremony is done where the urn is taken by a diver and placed in the sunken ship.
  • The memorial building is built above the ship. You can see the sunken ship while you are standing in the memorial building. The Memorial is to remember those who gave their lives that day and are still aboard the ship.
  • It is a memorial, running around and being loud is not something that is acceptable.
  • You can take photos and they are encouraged when at the memorial site but respectful of others.
part of the USS Arizona ship sticking out of the water

How Do you get Tickets to Uss Arizona Memorial?

Tickets to the Visiting the USS Arizona Memorial are free. Daily there are 1,300 tickets available on-site.

If you are wanting to reserve tickets ahead of time online you can. You will pay a $1 service fee per ticket when ordering online. No longer free, but means you do not have to worry about not getting there in time for the daily tickets.

Tickets do sell out quickly as they are limited each day for the boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial. 8 weeks before the date is when the tickets are released on the Recreation.gov website. If you miss the presale tickets you can arrive at 7 am and attempt to get standby tickets.

boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial

What does The USS Arizona Memorial Tour Consist of?

The USS Arizona Memorial Tour consists of a museum area, a boat ride to the memorial site, and a movie. Our suggestion is to do the movie, the boat tour and then the museum.

Boat Ride to USS Arizona Memorial

When you arrive they will check your ticket for the line to board the boat. You will take a ride to the memorial site on the boat. Once you arrive at the memorial site you will get off the boat and walk inside the memorial. Once inside you will listen to a short presentation about the USS Arizona. You will then have time to explore the memorial. You will have about 45 minutes to spend at the memorial site. After that, you will board the boat again and be taken back to the main site.

Pearl Harbor Attack Movie at USS Arizona Memorial

The Pearl Harbor Japanese attack movie that is played at the USS Arizona Memorial runs 23 minutes long. If you are seeing it before your memorial boat ride be sure to plan for enough time. The movie was very well done. While it was detailed and informative it was not too much for the kids.

Many times I worry about a history movie being boring and many times they are. The Pearl Harbor USS Arizona attack movie that is played at the USS Arizona Memorial is not boring at all. The movie kept the kid’s attention. Even our 6 year old’s attention was kept during the whole movie. The information was done well enough that all of the kids understood the historic events of that day in our history.

USS Arizona Memorial museum

USS Arizona Memorial Museum

There is a small museum that is near the exit of the theater. We did this first but after going thru the memorial site we think it would be best to be the last thing you do.

As you walk thru the Museum you learn a lot of information about what led up to the Pearl Harbor attack, and the time during the attack, and life after the attack during the war.

The displays are hands-on and perfect for getting the kid’s attention and having them interested in history. If you have kids who are not normally history fans but you want them to enjoy learning history going hands on is the best way.

Tips for Visiting

Watch the movie before the boat ride. We were instructed to watch the video after going on the boat ride and going to the memorial site and we did. However after our time there and talking with the kids we all agree that it is best to have the kids watch the movie first. After the movie go to the memorial site, and then take a walk thru the museum. My kids, while they have been educated on the events of Pearl Harbor and World War II said the memorial would have had more meaning and understanding had they watched the video first.

Leave your bags in the car. You are not allowed to bring bags of any type into the Pearl Harbor grounds. If you do bring one with you security will instruct you to go to the baggage storage and you will have to pay for storing your bags.

Wear good walking shoes. If you are planning on staying there for all of the exhibits then you will want to wear good walking shoes like sneakers. If you are only going to be doing a short visit then you will be ok wearing flip flops.

Sunscreen. Hawaii sun is bright and hot. You may not think you need a ton of sunscreen but I am telling you to take the advice. Put sunscreen on before leaving your hotel room and throughout the day all day long while you are in Hawaii. 

Be selective in your outfit. This is a memorial and a place where very important historic events took place. They do not allow clothing that has profanity or anyone to wear swimsuits in. It would be best to wear a nice pair of shorts and a nice shirt when visiting.

How long does it take to tour the USS Arizona Memorial?

Plan for 2 hours if you are traveling with younger kids and 2.5-3 hours if you are traveling with older kids who want to read all of the signs.

What is the best time to get tickets for?

Personally I would go for the earliest that you can go. You don’t want to have the crowds and you also want to beat the heat of the day. It will get hot since it is Hawaii, but being out during the hot with crowds is not always an enjoyable experience with kids in tow.

We booked the 9 am time slot for our tour because we were coming from the East Coast and we knew that we would be up early in the morning. We left the area at 12:30 to head back to the hotel area. Because of some issues going on at the location we ran into some delays so it took us a bit longer than we had planned on being there.

Things to do with Kids in Oahu Hawaii

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