I recently had the opportunity to take my family the The Henry Ford Museum Rouge Factory Tour (courtesy of The Henry Ford), and I have to say that every one of us was blown away by how much fun it was!
The tour starts outside the The Henry Ford, where you board a bus that will shuttle you over to the factory. The buses depart every 20 minutes, with the last bus leaving at 3PM. It’s a fairly short trip, less than 10 minutes, but be prepared for standing room only. There were not seats for the children on our way to the factory, so we all stood, and the adults held tightly onto the kids.
Once you arrive, you’re greeted by friendly museum staff who give you a brief introduction and advise the rules. There is no photography or cell phone use allowed in either of the theaters or while in the factory.
You then enter the Legacy Theater, where a 10-15 minute film is shown that illustrates the history of the Ford Motor Company from it’s inception and role in helping to build the middle class in America, and specifically Detroit, as well as the role of the Rouge facility through the World Wars to it’s current eco-friendly state.
After the first film, guests are ushered into the Manufacturing Innovation Theater. Prepare to be awed left wanting a new Ford F-150 after experiencing this multi-sensory presentation! there are screens all around, two manufacturing robots that demonstrate some of the assembly process on a model F-150. The film gives a sneak peek into the design, testing, and assembly processes and is augmented by exciting music, visuals, and other multi-sensory experiences.
The Living Laboratory Tour is only open seasonally, April 18-October1, so we weren’t able to view that section. When it’s open, it allows guests to view how Ford is working to make manufacturing a greener process, with their living roof materials, storm water treatment ponds, an orchard, solar power system, song bird habitat, and bee hives.
The next section of the tour is the Observation Deck inside the actually assembly plant. We could have stayed here for hours watching the men and women work alongside the robots and automated components to build the F-150 trucks! Modern manufacturing is truly a marvel, and folks who have never been inside a manufacturing facility would probably be surprised at how clean and relatively quiet it is!
All told, my family will definitely return for another tour of the Rouge Factory again! There was enough action and sensory experience that my 3.5 year old (with no nap this day!) was engaged throughout. My 7 year old LOVED seeing just how things worked and also enjoyed the historical movie. My husband and I enjoyed the entire tour, and were sad that the Living Laboratory wasn’t open while we were there.
Parking at The Henry Ford is ample, and there are clean restrooms available throughout the facility. the bus is handicap accessible, but be ready to stand and hold onto a pole or handstrap if it’s a busy day, and you’ll have to hold or wear infants and toddlers. The Rouge Factory tour is open Monday-Saturday 9:30AM-5PM and the last bus departs at 3PM. Tickets range from $10.75 for member children to $15.25 for non-member adults. There are some dates when the tour is closed, as well as dates where there is no manufacturing happening in the factory. See the museum website for additional information. https://www.thehenryford.org/visit/ford-rouge-factory-tour/tickets-and-hours/