By Estelle Sobel Erasmus
I have always been a fan of both the Flinstones and Jetsons cartoons.
There is just something so alluring about the idea of people mingling with dinosaurs ; (and who doesn’t adore the precocious drooling talk of the irrepressible Dino).
Also, my three-year old daughter recently became a huge fan of the television show “Dino Dan”, where a rather smarty-pants young boy actually interacts with prehistoric dinosaurs when nobody is watching.
Check out this YouTube video about the attraction
The day was perfect. As we arrived to the field, set against the backdrop of the New JerseyMeadowlands, we saw the beautiful tree-surrounded land, upon which “roamed” 30 life-like, animatronic dinosaurs who through the wonder of robotics swish their tails, make growling noises and appear alive to kids, like my daughter and her friend, who loved being scared by the “saurus’”.
What’s cool about the exhibit is that kids of all ages have the opportunity to learn about the links between birds and dinosaurs through a variety of workshops (although we didn’t catch any the day we went). They could also dig for fossils in the sand (which my daughter and her friend enjoyed) and older kids (7 years +) can play jeopardy-like games connecting the story of dinosaurs to the world we live in today.
The first attraction we saw as we entered the field just after we picked up our tickets/passports at the box office was a replica of a “very scary” as my daughter put it T-Rex. It was a very hot day, and I would have welcomed a bit more shade, but we were able to cover the entire field in a little over two hours, including a performance and some lingering. With lunch (which you can also bring yourself and eat under the tents), workshops and games a family could probably stay for up to five hours.
One of the highlights of our day was seeing the fun, funny and fierce “Feeding Frenzy” where a hungry, growling, tail-thrashing T-Rex (a man or woman in a dino costume) gets fed in a show that entailed (or should I say entrailed) a bucket which may ormay not have been filled with blood; a few brave children who served as volunteers, and a tooth pulling that resulted in a very happy dinosaur. To say the kids ate it up, would be minimizing the appeal of the dramatic vignette. The crowd groaned, cheered, gasped and had a great time while snacking on the foods sold in the nearby food pit: hot dogs, popcorn, ices and guzzling bottles of water in the heat of the sun. We ate the dogs, but I would have liked to have the option for other refreshments; I believe that is in the works.
When you go be prepared for a lot of walking and dress accordingly. I was very glad that I chose to wear sneakers (my friend wasn’t so happy in her sandals, which picked up every bit of gravel). I was also a bit nervous using the porta potties, but found them to be clean and easy to use.
I found myself wishing for a few more activities for young kids, and maybe even some teacup-type dinosaur rides; or even something where they assume a dinosaur avatar (hello, huge Argentinosaurus) throughout their walk in the field, and have a more personalized experience. Perhaps in the future.
I’m certainly appreciative that we were able to engage in this educational blast from the past.
Laurel HIll Park, One Dinosaur Way
For GPS: 1000 New County Road
For hours, pricing and information check out Field Station Dinosaurs
We enjoyed complimentary admission to the park. Ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own.