After years of having annual passes to The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI, we finally availed ourselves of one of the extended attractions offered. Apart from enjoying Greenfield Village one can also take a walking tour of the Ford Rouge Factory.
The tour started for us with the payment of a member discounted ticket for just $14.50 US ($17.00 for non-members). Seniors and child tickets are cheaper. We boarded the free shuttle bus and were taken quickly from The Henry Ford Museum to the Ford Rouge Factory.
Up front I’ll say that the staff for this attraction are top notch! Friendly and knowledgeable and obviously in love with their jobs. We were greeted at the door and given a brief overview of what we were to experience and then shown into the first of two theaters. Let’s begin your vicarious tour with the attractions:
Archival Footage of the Rogue – Featuring rarely-seen historic footage from The Henry Ford archives, you’ll learn about the triumphs and tragedies that took place at the Rouge and how Henry Ford’s soaring ideas became actualities and helped define American manufacturing and industry. The music you’ll hear was written and performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
I personally liked this presentation, but those who aren’t big on sitting in a seat for 15 minutes or so watching instead of doing… maybe not so much! But you will learn things you never knew about Ford.
Approximate time: 13 minutes
Manufacturing Innovation Theater
Manufacturing Process Up Close – Celebrating the engineering ingenuity behind the production of the award-winning Ford F-150 truck, this multisensory film experience comes complete with vibrating seats, gusts of wind, and winking robots. With jaw-dropping special effects, from “floating” 3D laser projection mapping and high-energy audio to a breathtaking behind-the-wheel finale, you’ll see the manufacturing process up close, from concept to highway.
This was much more entertaining than the first visual presentation. As far as attractions go, this one had some very cool features! Especially interesting was the use of the F-150 model as it was modified from basic shape to full-fledged running vehicle.
Approximate time: 10 minutes
Bird’s Eye View of the Rouge – You’ll also get a bird’s-eye view of Ford’s famous “Living Roof.” This eco-industrial wonder – the largest living roof in the world – blankets the top of the final assembly building. Two interactive exhibits help explain the environment features in view.
Not much to see here really. You look out the windows and see buildings. If you’re into reading though, this is the place for you!
Approximate time: 5-15 minutes
Assembly Plant Walking Tour
View F-150 Assembly – The elevated walkway, a 1/3 mile journey, provides you with a unique bird’s-eye view of the plant’s final assembly line. You’ll see firsthand the complex web of equipment, robotics, parts delivery and skilled workers that come together to build one truck per minute at full line speeds.
The tour gives you glimpses of the trim lines for cab, box, and door as well as final testing. You’ll see the F-150 come into the plant as an empty shell and leave as a fully tested F-150 ready for you and me. I’ll take mine in red, please!
FUN FACT: We were told that it was rare to see a Raptor pick-up go by on the line. Why? It may have something to do with this trim lines price tag being upwards of $75,000 US!
The only thing I could nit-pick about this part of the tour is that you start near the end of the process and finish near the beginning as you walk the main plant area. You do then go out to see the finished vehicles being checked and driven away. I thought it might have been better to bring you in from the other side of the building.
Approximate time: 30-45 minutes
Historic Rouge-made Vehicles – Take a journey through time and see some of the most famous Ford vehicles made at the Rouge. The cars on display inside the Legacy Gallery include:
- 1929 Model A
- 1932 Ford V8
- 1949 Coupe
- 1955 Ford Thunderbird
- 1965 Ford Mustang
- 2015 Ford F-150
Explore the stories and engineering behind this vehicle in the Truth About Trucks kiosk. Go deeper into The Henry Ford’s collections with the Collections Explorer kiosks that include interactive educational games, Expert Insight videos, curated collection highlights, and complete access to thousands of digitized artifacts.
Basically, you look at six vehicles and read some more.
Of course, no trip to the Ford Rouge Factory Tour would be complete without a visit to the Factory Store located next to the Legacy Gallery.
We picked up this commemorative pin for just $5.99 US at the Factory Store on our way out.
Approximate time: As long as it takes!
Buses leave for The Henry Ford Museum every 20 minutes or so. We finished our tour and boarded the bus for the trip back. One hitch came when we were dropped off at the final tour stop. The doors into the museum were closed because we came back close to closing time. So we had to walk to the front entrance. If it had been raining this would not have been good! The bus could have pulled forward and let us off closer to the front entrance as it had to exit the property via that route anyway.
Cool Rating: 4.5/5
I would highly recommend the Ford Rouge Factory Walking Tour along with the other attractions offered at The Henry Ford Museum! That said, it is basically a one-time experience, as things won’t likely change quickly unless Ford radically redesigns the F-150 or updates the manufacturing process.
For full details, check out the Official Website here.