(Disclaimer: I kinda, sorta forgot that maybe this would be a good topic to write about for GP so I didn’t keep as good an eye to detail as I should have for a thorough review. Accordingly, this will be a short review.)
I’m not really sure if Discover the Dinosaurs is the same as the similar event that came to town when I was a kid, but I suppose it doesn’t matter either way.
A few thoughts about dinosaur exhibits in general:
1) there is a lot of new information coming out constantly about dinosaurs and their appearance so it may be expecting a bit much at any given exhibit or amusement that the dinosaurs will be always up to date with the latest information, and
2) I’m not a costume-maker but I have come under the impression that good looking feathers are harder to make than latex skin and scales, and
3) that there is an idea that feathered dinosaurs just don’t look as scary and cool to the general populace as scaled dinosaurs, and
4) these things are expensive
Or maybe these are just the things I say to calm my dinosaur-loving mind whenever I’m going to a dinosaur exhibit, expecting to be disappointed. Dinosaurs and other extinct creatures were always a huge hit for me when I was a kid. I spent hours tracing and visually copying pictures from dinosaur reference books, Dinotopia, etc… and you better believe I’m anal about the facts.
Ahem, anyway… the exhibit. It was a decent time. Definitely a hit with the age 9 and under crowd. As typical with many events, their plus pass does not include everything. A full list of included activities and those you’ll be paying extra for is available on the website when you click on event’s location to buy tickets. When I went, something called Haunted Jungle (or something similar) was offered as an extra event to pay for, but was no longer available and I notice it is not in the current listings.
The inflatable dinosaur-themed bouncing castle and slides were large, and the most popular and the line moved quickly enough for my impatient 3-year old. Note, there was no toddler safe bouncing area. My friend’s toddler was smooshed in the bouncing castle that had appeared to be set aside for younger children, and had to be removed.
There were moving, roaring dinosaur mounts (actually I think just about everything in there roared which kind of made it hard to distinguish between them… it is VERY VERY noisy), but I was a bit disappointed that only one of these dinosaurs showed any attempt to decoratively hide the metal frame holding the dinosaur in place. I can’t be sure if it is for safety reasons or not, since one of the dinosaurs did have a faux rock base, but it may have simply had a different frame to accommodate it. All I can say is, even when I was a kid, that kind of thing was viewed by me as lazy and illusion-shattering. But, I was always pretty cynical like that. My son loved it and so did numerous other children I saw. They were the second most popular activity.
On the flip side, one of the unlimited activity areas was an area sectioned off by an inflatable wall with a padded floor and nothing but four stationary dinosaur statues that could be sat on by very small children. Children were not allowed to run in this area. I could only figure it was more of a “rest stop” for parents than anything else.
Other activities included mini-golf, a sandbox fossil hunt, face-painting, and a couple of little rooms used as theaters for Disney’s Dinosaur and one of those Animal Planet “documentaries” featuring time traveling scientists making a zoo for extinct creatures (sorry, I forget the title). Even though my son never sits still at home for such a long show, something about the environment of the event made him want to watch the latter title and he sat through it for quite a while. In fact, he only left because I insisted that it was time to go.
The dinosaur (and contemporary animal) exhibits themselves were very attractive generally with few exceptions for the dinosaurs. Some had limited controls for the kids to activate.
There was a section cordoned off for Ice Age animals which is so abysmally awful that I couldn’t even bring myself to take a picture of it. The mammoths looked the best. For the most part for this limited selection of animals, stitched and corded areas bulged like veins underneath mangy fur covering deformed anatomy.
Soon before I left, a friend I ran into there pointed out to me that the scavenger hunt card listed brontosaurus as a possible answer to one of the questions. Unfortunately I had no way to double check at that point since I had already submitted mine after quickly rushing through it with my son. However, I know I can trust my friend in this matter and I have some corroborating evidence:
Conclusion: The animatronic dinosaurs are impressive and not something you see every day. If you have a young kid who loves dinosaurs they will surely be impressed by the displays. Be prepared for some outdated information and slightly lackluster activities… chances are that your children won’t notice as much as you and the afternoon will go a lot quicker than you’d think.