Blue Line

Home > News

Animatronic dinos a theme-park draw

Columbus Dispatch

Original Article »

June 12, 2011

Dinosaurs ruled the Earth for millions of years, and now they're the kings of entertainment.

Kings Island amusement park has advanced the dino experience a tyrannosaur-size step forward with its Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit, which opened during Memorial Day weekend.

The collection of more than 60 animatronic dinosaurs adds a new family-friendly draw to the Cincinnati-area park, now owned by Cedar Point parent Cedar Fair.

Although the realism of the park's animatronic dinosaurs can't compare with the movie and video-game special effects that today's kids have grown up with, there's something to be said for seeing something in the flesh - so to speak - rather than on a screen.

My children, big fans of 3-D movies and video games, still had a sense of awe in the shadow of a 25-foot tall model dinosaur towering over them. The models, touted as "life-size," range from the size of a horse to almost 40 feet tall.

"Awesome," my wide-eyed 9-year-old son said as we entered the exhibit, which sits on 12 previously undeveloped forested acres at the back of the amusement park.

"Cool," my 7-year-old concurred, mimicking one dinosaur's pawing hand motions.

My husband was a little less impressed.

"This would've been better as a ride," he mumbled about halfway through the three-quarter-mile footpath that visitors follow through the exhibit. There were a fair number of benches to stop at along the way, near carts manned by young workers who cheerfully sell $4 bottles of water and soft drinks.

Dinosaurs Alive! features dinosaurs that lived between 245 million and 65 million years ago, from well-known favorites such as the stegosaurus to lesser-known giants such as the Yangchuanosaurus (named for the area of China where it was discovered).

The attraction costs $5 in addition to the Kings Islands general admission fee and can be enjoyed on several levels: as pure visual entertainment, as a parklike diversion and as an educational exhibit. I didn't know, for example, that the brontosaurus has been officially decommissioned from the dinosaur world; researchers in recent years have determined that it's just a variation of the apatosaurus.

My kids weren't terribly interested in these details. They were content to soak in the visuals while we paused to read interesting dino facts on the plaques in front of each animal.

The robotic effects aren't perfect. As they move, many of the dinosaurs shake as if suffering from a dinosaur version of Parkinson's disease. A couple of the models have control buttons that allow you to move the dinosaur's body on command, a nice interactive touch.

Some didn't move at all; with their movements regulated by timers and motion sensors, they sometimes remained static even when visitors moved around in front of them.

I wished some of them were more brightly decorated, in keeping with recent theories that some of the precursors of modern birds could actually have been quite colorful. Instead, these dinosaurs retain the grayish-brownish colors we've become accustomed to seeing through the years. They're best viewed from a slight distance; up close, they look rather dry and rubbery.

About three-quarters of the way through the exhibit, an "excavation area" provides a fun hands-on activity for the young ones, along with a chance for parents to sit and relax while the kids dig for "dinosaur bones." My kids tired of it after about 10 minutes, though some of the younger children seemed to remain enthralled longer.

One thing we appreciated about the exhibit is that it provided something else that the whole family could do. At their age, my kids have outgrown the smallest kiddie rides but aren't yet ready for the big coasters. Along with the newish Boomerang Bay water park inside Kings Island that's included with regular admission, Dinosaurs Alive! gives families with elementary-age children other options besides the rides.

The final element of the exhibit, inevitably, was the gift shop we had to pass through on the way out. We managed to avoid shelling out $10 for a stuffed animal or $6 for a key chain, and instead made a beeline back to civilization. I'm sure the next time we visit Kings Island, the kids will ask to go back in time again.


Blue Line
Company Info  |  Contact Us  |  Terms  |  Privacy  |  Links
Copyright© 2011-2023 - Burketech. All Rights Reserved.
ParkInfo2Go is not affiliated with the Walt Disney Company, Universal Studios, Six Flags or
any of the other Theme and Amusement Park operators featured on this site.