Blame it on Kathie Lee Gifford (she treated Cody and Cassidy to one at FAO Schwarz). Or Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (they captured a musical one on video). Or on everyday parents who feel terrified by the idea of a crowd of kids pulling an all-nighter or who just want to make their child's birthday party more of an event. Whatever the reason, in some parts of the country, slumber parties have entered a whole new phase.
What's new are the kinds of places where parties are being held. Two years ago, FAO Schwarz introduced the Ultimate Sleepover Adventure in its flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Imagine your child and 14 friends partying in what they may consider paradise; the overnight exclusive includes a scavenger hunt and a gift certificate entitling each guest to $100 worth of toys. It sells out regularly, often via events in which some of the fee is donated to charity, according to Liz Nagengast, co-owner of In Tandem Productions, which also produces a Madeline tea party at the Four Seasons Hotel. She gets all kinds of requests: "People have asked, 'Can we have a sleepover at Tiffany?'"
Well, not yet. But you can throw a slumber party at some pretty spectacular locations, including a Navy submarine at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the Franklin Science Museum in Philadelphia, and the Ballpark at Arlington, home of the Texas Rangers.
"I love the fact that everything is planned," says Teresa Harner, a Carrollton, TX, mother whose son attended the Rangers sleepover with his Cub Scout troop several times. Harner was so pleased with the program -- which includes a tour of the dugout and locker room and batting practice with plastic bats and balls (for safety) -- that she now coordinates a yearly sleepover outing for 150 scouts in her area. "A lot of dads volunteer as chaperones," she says with a laugh. "They want to spend the night at the ballpark too."