Last week, Carowinds opened their new attraction for 2013, Dinosaurs Alive!. It’s a new section within the park that features life-sized animatronic dinosaurs. A gift shop located between Planet Snoopy and Afterburn has been turned into the entrance for Dinosaurs Alive!. Passing through the gift shop, you wind your way around a short path before reaching the admissions desk. Entry into Dinosaurs Alive! costs $5 per person with general admission. You cannot go into Dinosaurs Alive! unless you’ve already entered the park through the main gate.
Looking at the park last year, I wouldn’t have known that there was this much space. Dinosaurs Alive! consists of 1,000 yards of path with more than 30 dinosaurs covering 25 different species. You can expect popular dinosaurs like the Stegosaurus, Triceratops, and the Tyrannosaurus Rex, but also quite a few you’re probably less familiar with. Each exhibit has a sign with a detailed description and nearly all of them move and roar. Their actions are triggered by motion sensors in intervals. So, you may happen to catch one in action or be passing one when it’s not moving and then all of the sudden it comes to life. There were also a few dinosaurs that guests could interact with via control panels. With the control panel you can move the head, neck, tail, and arms.
Notable Dinosaurs at Carowinds
I wanted to be a paleontologist when I was kid. I remember checking out a particular book from the library over and over that had realistic “photos” of dinosaurs. So, I was just a little geeked-up for this attraction. While not the most fierce the turtle-like Dyoplosaurus was among my favorites as it reminded me of my favorite dino as a kid (Anklyosaurus). The 40-foot tall, long-necked Ruyangosaurus will make you feel really small. It’ll likely be one of the most visible dinos from outside of the area.
I thought that the Parasaurolophus made the most interesting noise. To me it sounded like a distorted electric guitar. The Carnotaurus was really mean looking animal. Not the type of lizard you’d like to run into in a dark alley. The attraction ends with the path winding its way up a slight hill. It opens up a bit to showcase a Tyranosaurus Rex and a majestic-looking Triceratops. In all, it’s a good collection, but it’d be cool if they had also included the winged and finned dinos. There was an area that looked like it’ll be used as a pond, but I don’t think they’ll put a dino in there.
Kids Get to Dig for Bones
Near the half-way point there’s a large sand pit where kids can uncover dinosaur bones. An attendant stated that the bones are placed in the sand and covered. It sounded like even she didn’t exactly know what was in the pit. It was up to the young paleontologists to see what they could find. When I was there, kids were busy clearing sand away from a large bone. There are benches around the area as well as bucket, brushes, and shovels for the dig. It would have been nice if there was some more shade for parents watching their kids. Hopefully, they’ll add some trees and/or awnings.
Some of the dinosaurs were incorporated into scenes. The most memorable was the Pack Attack where a couple of raptor-like Deinonychus pounce on the much larger Tenontosaurus. I heard a kid remark that he felt sorry for the dinosaur as it’s pretty clear how that scene might play out. But, I guess if you’re going to have more than one dino in a scene, they aren’t going to be playing chess.
After just marveling at their size and diversity, this scene was a bit of a jarring reminder of what carnivore means. I think it provides a good teach-able moment where kids will really understand why some dinos have those sharp teeth. It’ll be interesting walking through this area with my 6-year old daughter. I’m glad they included a scene like this, it just took me by surprise at first.
Dinosaurs, Giants of the Patagonia 3D
Outside of the Dinosaurs Alive! section, in the Action Theater there’s a new 3D movie called Dinosaurs, Giants of the Patagonia 3D. The movie is described as: “a journey through the late Cretaceous periods”. I missed the movie during media day so I can’t share my thoughts on it, but I’ll be sure to check it out on future visits and update this post then.
Is Dinosaurs Alive Worth It? – My Take
At the end of day, Dinosaurs Alive! is an up-charge attraction and it’s going to come down to the question: Is it worth it? I’m admittedly a bit of a dinosaur fan, but there’s a pretty objective way to decide the attraction’s worth a bit.
Just like anything else you have to gauge your interest level before buying tickets. For now, while there’s little vegetation blocking your view, you’ll be able to see most of the attraction from the admissions desk. So, you should be able to make a pretty informed decision. I can’t imagine too many guests will be disappointed if they think before they buy. It’s not like they’re marketing something that you won’t get.
You get to walk by life-sized, life-like dinosaurs that move and roar in a zoo or park-like setting. There’s detailed information about the dinos and the scenes that are depicted. You can control a few of them and there’s a sand pit where kids can uncover dinosaur bones. I think if something like this appeals to you or your kids, you’ll be okay paying $5. I understand that theme park trips are already an expensive endeavor, but I can say that I feel that it’s fairly priced now that I’ve experienced it.
What’s Your Take?
Have you been to Dinosaurs Alive! at Carowinds or at a similar attraction at other Cedar Fair parks like Cedar Point, Kings Dominion, or Kings Island? What did you think? Leave a comment below.
I received complimentary admission to attend this media event. However, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are my own.