Monday, 27 May 2013

Dinosaur World, Orlando, Florida

We have recently returned from a fantastic family holiday in Orlando, Florida, and the first attraction that we visited was Dinosaur World, Florida. Like most young children, Harry (4) is fascinated by dinosaurs, and from reading about Dinosaur World we could see that it looked perfect for him. Mia (2) is also just at the age where she is taking a real interest in everything that she sees around her, and we knew that she would enjoy it too.

Although this was our second trip to Florida with the family, this was really the first time that we had strayed from the main theme parks. It was a very refreshing change to drive into a free car park with plenty of spaces situated just a short walk from the entrance, and to be able to enter and purchase some very reasonably priced tickets without having to queue.

Family trip to Dinosaur World, Orlando, Florida

From the map, Dinosaur World doesn't look very big, but it's deceptive. Most of the park is taken up with the Dinosaur Walk, where over 150 life-size dinosaurs are displayed outdoors in a natural setting along with information boards. It's a bit of a mixture of dinosaurs from different periods and climates, and there were plenty of dinosaurs which were new to us. There is lots of vegetation which makes for a pleasant shady walk in the Florida heat, and the children loved feeding the Koi carp in the fish pond where you could buy a generous amount of fish food for a bargain 25 cents. They loved exploring the winding pathways and spotting the dinosaurs.

Dinosaur head at Dinosaur World, Orlando

Harry's absolute favourite attraction at Dinosaur World was the Boneyard. It's a big undercover sandpit with raked seating at one end for the adults to sit down while the children use spades and brushes to dig for a buried Stegosaurus skeleton. What a genius idea, and I think that Harry could easily have spent all day there. The park was very quiet on the day that we visited and so he mostly had it to himself, with an occasional influx of school groups to give him a bit of a hand with the excavation. Mia was quite happy sitting at the edge and digging in the sand too.

Digging for dinosaur bones at Dinosaur World, Orlando, Florida

Another big hit was the Fossil Dig. This is included in the child admission (ages 3-12), and under threes can pay an extra $2 to take part, which is well worth it if you have an older toddler. Children stand alongside a raised sandpit and are provided with a little sieve and collection pot. The sand pit is stuffed full of small fossils for the children to find, and they can choose three to take home as souvenirs. I think that us adults enjoyed hunting for fossils just as much as the children! Knowledgeable staff were on hand to help with identification at the end, and we brought home some lovely fossils, including a shark's tooth and an ammonite.

Children hunting for fossils at Dinosaur World

The museum was very interesting, with some excellent examples of real dinosaur fossils. At the end is a small animatronic dinosaur display which I must admit did rather scare Harry, especially as you can hear the dinosaurs before you can see them, so that's worth being aware of if you have a younger child. There is also a large playground with a good range of equipment for both younger and older children, and we enjoyed the Skeleton Garden with some life size skeleton replicas.

There are plenty of picnic tables but the only food and drink available to buy is from vending machines (although details of a local pizza delivery company are available!) We were particularly impressed with the Gift Shop, which carried a wide range of very reasonably priced merchandise. Normally we hurry the children through attraction gift shops, but this time we actually bought them a small plastic dinosaur each for just 50 cents.

We spent about four hours at Dinosaur World, and we only left because it was the first day of our holiday and we were all still suffering a bit with the jet lag and the unaccustomed heat. We could easily have spent a lot longer here, and we are so glad that we visited. It's very easy to overlook some of the less well known Orlando attractions, especially if you have tickets to the major theme parks that take up your entire holiday, but we had a lovely day here and both children really enjoyed themselves. It's definitely better suited to younger children, but if you have children the right age you will find that it is pitched perfectly to them and I'd really recommend a visit.

Disclosure - We received two complimentary adult press tickets to Dinosaur World, normal adult admission is $14.95. We purchased Harry's ticket for $11.95 and two senior tickets for my parents at $12.95 each, children under 3 are free.

3 comments:

  1. And I was really impressed with the lovely landscaping and the whole place was scrupulously clean. Only downside was that they didn't sell coffee for us seniors!

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  2. Ooooh I really think that I will try and squeeze this onto our to do's in November! It looks great!

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  3. Oh wow this place looks amazing. I love the little touches like the wall around the sand.

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