The Most Thrilling Dinosaur Attractions Around the World
Chris Leadbeater digs out the best dino destinations on the planet.
Rex the joint
If you’re going to go to Hawaii to imagine dinosaurs running through it, you may as well flit to Kaua’i, too. Lots of “Jurassic Park” was crafted here. America As You Like It (americaasyoulikeit.com) runs a regular nine-night “Hawaiian Adventure” tour, from £3,599pp, with flights.
Yes, yes, Hawaii is amazing. But what of dinosaurs? How about the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park in Los Angeles (universalstudioshollywood.com; day passes from $109)? It has an official Jurassic Park ride.
It’s the release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom on Wednesday. This is the 706th instalment of the rehydrated-tyrannosaurs franchise, and its arrival means that the cinematic sequence has now been going for longer than dinosaurs actually walked the earth.
OK, that isn’t true. It’s the fifth episode of a big-screen sequence which began in 1993 with Jurassic Park – and has made stars of both velociraptors and Hawaii, where much of the “action” has been filmed. Let’s look at the latter – and Kualoa Ranch (kualoa.com), a private nature reserve on O’ahu where parts of the latest film were shot. Hence its “Jurassic Jungle Expedition”, which shows off the key sights by Jeep ($46/£35).
While tyrannosaurs are past-tense predators, the arena show Walking With Dinosaurs shows no clear sign of heading for extinction. It will be live in UK cities from July to December. Tickets from £25, (dinosaurlive.com).
Dinosaurs did not just hang out in America. They were all over Croatia’s Istria peninsula in the Cretaceous period (79-145 million years ago) too. You can see footprints on the isle of Veliki Brijun in Brijuni National Park. And you can go on dino-related rides at Dinopark Funtana (np-brijuni.hr; 140 kuna/£17), near Porec.
I’m an adult. I wish to see dinosaurs in a grown-up way. Then you want the American Museum of Natural History (amnh.org; $23/£17) in New York. It has a 122ft-long cast model of what is deemed to be the biggest dinosaur species ever unearthed. Dubbed “Titanosaur”, or patagotitan mayorum. Dull.
Why oh Wyoming
Anyone with a child under five may recognise Arlo, the titular hero of “The Good Dinosaur” – the 2015 Pixar film set on a parallel Earth where sauropods live alongside humans. The animated scenery was inspired by Wyoming and Jackson Hole – a craggy option for travel that is featured in the 16-day “Rocky Mountain States” road trip offered by Bon Voyage (bon-voyage.co.uk). From £2,725pp with flights.
I’m not going all the way to Manhattan to ogle replica reptilian ribcages. I can do that in south Kensington. True. Better still, the Natural History Museum is still running its much-loved “Dino Snores” nights, where guests sleep over at the institution – in the child-friendly form for £60pp; an adult version with dinner and drinks for £180pp (nhm.ac.uk).
Few places are as heavy on dino-heritage as Alberta. The “Badlands” of the Canadian province are littered with relevant sites. Take in Dinosaur Provincial Park (albertaparks.ca/dinosaur), with its fossil deposits. Gawp at 130,000 exhibits at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology (tyrrellmuseum.com). Canadian Sky’s 10-night “Self-Drive Family Adventure in Alberta” starts at £1,199pp – with flights (canadiansky.co.uk).
The new Jurassic movie wasn’t just filmed on Hawaii. It used Blackbushe Airport in Hampshire, too. Why mention this? Does it have a brontosaurus buried under the runway? Did Marc Bolan once land here (think about it…)? No. It offers flying tuition (from £120 per lesson; airfirst.co.uk). Which could be useful if dinosaurs ever do return…