GLOB's Day Tripper goes Jurassic in land of giants
EDITORS NOTE: GLOB Communications Director Tonya Marie Upton is also a feature writer, as well as the GLOB's Day Trippn' Gainesville escape artist. Tonya relocated to North Florida last year and enjoys discovering Florida in day trip adventures.
My three-year-old nephew Aiden, photo right with dad, loves dinosaurs. He loves them so much he will spend hours playing with his dinosaur friends, watching them on TV, and when you ask him a question his response is a dinosaur growl.
It doesn't matter if he knows you, or if you're a stranger saying hi, Aiden's response is a large-for-Aiden Jurassic growl. His dad is trying to break Aiden of growling at people, and telling him to say hi instead, but if dad pushes the issue his little dinosaur turns into a screaming toddler defending his right to live in a world of Jurassic imagination. Aiden may not be walking the dinosaur, but he certainly is growling the dinosaur talk.
Being the really awesome Aunt that I am I decided to go online to look for a big dinosaur toy to mail Aiden, and what I discovered was something even better.
I discovered Dinosaur World, right in Gainesville's backyard.
No toy could be as great as a dinosaur adventure. When this adventure roared at me I knew I had to share this outdoor dinosaur park with my nephew, and Gainesville Lunch Out Blog readers.
Now I'm sure there are plenty of little Dino-the-Dinosaur growlers in Gainesville that would love to visit this world of yesterday. So we jumped into our urban assault vehicle and headed to Plant City Fl., home of Dinosaur World. A theme park guaranteed to capture your child's attention.
The drive to Plant City Florida wasn't that bad a drive. There is no missing the turn off or driving past Dinosaur World.
There is a massive, giant, mean looking T-Rex on the corner of the Dinosaur world property. To which my nephew's face responded with a wide-eyed open mouth expression of excitement. Well, maybe a lot of excitement, combined with a good dose of an anxiety rush.
The entrance to the park is clean, neat, and has a large, well kept parking area.
Admission to the park is reasonable at $15 for adults 12 and over, $12 for children 3 to 11 years of age. Kids under 3 are admitted free. Plus armed forces servicemen are admitted free. A Big GLOB Thank You to Dinosaur World for caring about America's troops. Ckick this link for Dinosaur World general information.
Walking through the gift shop at the entrance it was difficult to stay focused and head into the park because the shop was large and full of everything a dinosaur enthusiast could dream of having. The gift shop has everything from clothes, toys, stuffed animals, back packs, signs, basically anything you could want with a dinosaur on it.
We all promised each other we would do our shopping on the way out of Dino World, now it was time to take a walk into the past.
The seven different, carefully landscaped dinosaur habitats makes it feel like you are peering into the former sub-tropical land of More than 150 different dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are lurking around every corner of the park as though they are waiting to eat you. Although they do not move, they are huge, painted in detail to look very real. The settings of the displays, and park grounds are unique. The beautiful bridges, waterfall, winding concrete pathways, the plants, our surroundings left us with a sense of lost in time in a clean, well manicured environment that was customer friendly for strollers, wheelchairs, and anyone that may be elderly and need a secure walking path.
It was so clean around the park it was hard to believe there were kids and dogs meandering throughout the park. Dinosaur world is a dog friendly adventure as long as your pal is on a leash, plus they get in free. Woof!
Wandering through individual areas of the park amongst the larger than life dinosaurs of every variety was relaxing.
As an adult I liked how the environment was ecstatically pleasing and quiet, there are koi ponds filled with fish. The park's tree canopy included so many trees that it kept the sun off of most of the walking paths.
Every large dinosaur exhibit has the dinosaurs placed as though they were frozen in time; a picture from the past. Next to each different type of dinosaur is a plaque with the name and a synopsis of the dinosaur's facts & figures. This adventure is educational for children, and adults, as well as fun.
There is a soda machine but no concession area so it would be best to bring water, and your own drinks and food.
Dinosaur World is a wonderful place for a picnic. There are plenty of covered picnic tables that are stained and shellac for cleanliness, and comfort.
I love a park with a nice place to sit and eat. There are picnic tables throughout park but our favorite ones were located in the Dino play area. The Dino play area has a nice playground filled with swings, climbing dinosaur, slides and monkey bars.
This playground kept my little nephew busy and when we were ready to move on he protested leaving it with the unmistakable roar of a 3 year old baby dinosaur dodging grown ups as he fled to the safety of a giant slide.
One of the seven theme areas is the Dino World Fossil Dig that is offered and is a nice addition to the park. The dig is included in the admission price and is a scheduled event they hold a few times a day. The kids get to keep fossils they find as souvenirs to take home.
The parks indoor museum is a small exhibit that is a perfect walk through the end of the dinosaur interaction. The dinosaurs in the museum are animated which I thought Aiden was going to love. Instead he quickly turned and ran away, we went chasing him and carried him back to the museum, however Aiden was terrified by the moving images and was hiding his screaming face in his mom's shoulder.
It occurred to me on our walk through Dinosaur World how interesting it would be to have the dinosaurs animated, but now I see that would make it scary for the little kids. Being three and seeing these dinosaurs was so real in his imagination it's a good thing they didn't move or the park would be filled with screaming toddlers escaping from their worst T-Rex nightmare.
Dinosaur World, Florida is located on Interstate 4, Exit 17 in Plant City. The park is open every day from 9:00 am Eastern time to 6:00 p.m. Eastern time. During November, December and January we are open from 9:00 am Eastern time to 5:00 pm Eastern time.