Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience to Unveil New Exhibit, Replace T. rex After Fire

Thursday, May 3, 2018

The T-Rex at the Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience was destroyed by a fire that was ignited by an electrical issue in March. The museum plans to replace the animatronic. (Zach Reynolds / Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience)

Stego Mania event set for May 19 to welcome new member of cast skeleton collection.

The Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience is ready to roar this spring with a new event after rebounding from a fluke electrical fire in late March.

The fire, with its 30-foot wall of flames destroyed the animatronic T. rex. Video footage and photos taken of the fire by director Zach Reynolds was viewed by tens of millions of people across the world on television news programs, newspapers and other media websites.

In a press release on Wednesday, the museum said the fire incident wasn't the type of national attention it was seeking when it opened its doors in July 2016, but it is back after a two-month hiatus with upgrades and improvements to its 10-acre grounds and 16,500 square-foot museum.

The museum will host a Stego Mania event from 1 to 3 p.m. May 19 to welcome the newest and most high-tech member of the museum's cast skeleton collection. In the press release, the museum states the event is in line with its official mission statement of providing affordable, dynamic and high-value educational opportunities for children of all ages.

The Stego Mania will celebrate the arrival of the brand-new Stegosaurus display, which was custom-built by Mike Triebold of Triebold Paleontology, Inc., a world leader in dinosaur casts and the builder of the RGDE's entire cast-skeleton collection — this one using cutting-edge scanning and printing technologies.

Triebold was granted permission from the federal government to create a three-dimensional digital scan of the physical bones of Denver Museum of Nature and Science's Stegosaurus, which was discovered by famed paleontologist Fred Kessler in Colorado's Garden Park Fossil Area in 1936, not far from the museum.

"I believe that this is the first dinosaur skeleton in the world to have been completely made from 3-D scanning and printing," said Triebold of the life-sized casting.

The project took two years to complete. Once unveiled, the unique Stegosaurus casting will reside on its own custom-built permanent display on the southwestern corner of the Main Museum Exhibit Hall.

Stego Mania festivities will kick-off at 1 p.m. May 19 with the official unveiling of the new Stegosaurus cast, followed by a presentation about the skeleton's high-tech creation process from Triebold.

Diana Biggs, one of the RGDE's Adventure Guides and resident dinosaur experts, will present "Stego 101" for children (ages 4 and up) in the museum's Kids Interactive Area. The museum also will make Stegosaurus-themed crafts on the patio with younger guests (ages 4-12), and provide light refreshments for everyone. Additionally, food trucks will be available, and all Stegosaurus-related items in the gift shop will be 15 percent off during regular business hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum also will hand out giveaways during the event.

In the release, the museum states it has ordered a replacement animatronic T. rex, and the nearby Ropes Course was thoroughly inspected, re-certified and re-opened a week after the fire. The now-iconic photograph of the fire will grace the cover of an upcoming rock-n'-roll album, and the museum plans to make the image available on official RGDE gift-shop merchandise.

The museum will offer half-off admission for all moms May 13, Mother's Day. Also, all gift shop items will be 15 percent off May 18 in celebration of International Museum Day. Beginning May 24, the RGDE will expand its days and hours to 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday.