The six weeks holidays have begun, and with so many people avoiding holidays abroad (us being one of them) it’s been a time of chilling at home and planning little activities for the break.
I found about Dino Kingdoms through the magic of social media – with it being fairly local to us and a slew of decent reviews we decided to visit. They say:
Step back in time and explore roaring and moving Dinosaurs and state-of-the-art 3D and AR technology. Immerse yourself in unforgettable interactive activities and enjoy a range of thrilling fairground rides, delicious food and drink and much more.
Now, we were very excited to go (to the Manchester event). The kids like dinosaurs – they’re not dino mad, but they could name a few and like themed toys.
This sign you think indicates you’re entering Dino Kingdom which is actually…miles away
First point. Parking is £3 and in a designated area. The email you get prior to your visit states that you must follow the signs and park in the special car park (which is a grass area that has been cordoned off). I have since found out that there is lots of parking at the park (but I haven’t been able to find out if that is free or not)..
Either way, I expected that the designated parking was selected due to it’s proximity to the dinosaur exhibition. Nope.
We walked through the park for around 20 minutes (we have a toddler) before actually arriving at the ‘event’ – it was actually ridiculous that this WASN’T specified because those with younger kids will WANT to bring a buggy for those tired legs. Luckily I had the Mr to carry the youngest for a while when she inevitably got distracted and tired.
When we finally reached the area with the dinosaurs, (the stewards who were greeting us were very nice) everyone was a little hot and bothered but still, at least there were big animatronic dinos to look at….
The Karen of Dinosaurs
So the dinosaurs were generously spaced out, which is expected with the current Covid situation. It wasn’t overly busy when we were there but people still managed to rub up close and get irate with each other (have people forgotten how to behave post covid?!). People stopped to get photos, and there was enough room for a few families to look at each dinosaur…but let’s talk about the dinosaurs.
As I said earlier, my kids like dinosaurs but they’re not mad for them. To a kid who absolutely adores dinos I am sure it would’ve been special. But I found the models largely disappointing. Some moved, some didn’t. When I say moved, I mean, they mad some noises and their heads bobbed around slightly.
Did I expect some Jurrassic Park shiz?
Yes I did. No of course not. But I did expect something a little magical. These dinosaurs reminded me of the ones you see in a very standard museum visit. Having seen some clips on social media of the very animated dinos at the event which the kids were allowed to touch (these display dinosaurs were strictly no touch) I was expecting more of that – but nope. The first half of the ‘event’ was lacking life – it could’ve come alive with some actors perhaps, playing explorers; chatting to the kids, educating about the dinosaurs. But nothing.
The AR experience which I thought would be incredible was basically a few tables with paper templates. Here you colour in your dinosaur then take it in to a tent to be scanned, and your design appears on the screen. It is fairly clever but lacks the dazzle you’d expect.
The lawless pen situation
Also a few problems – there was bout 5 pencil crayons left on the desk which parents were arm wrestling each other for. Someone should’ve been checking and making sure there were enough pens and colours throughout the day. At one point a woman said to me, ‘Isn’t this activity for children?’ as I finished off the kids design since they quite frankly, couldn’t be arsed. Well yes lady, this is for kids but I would like to leave this place in the next 10 hours so mind your own business. Lack of pens = shirty Karens.
Once in the tent a steward who was supposed to be using a dinosaur puppet to entertain the little ones miraculously appeared to stop as we entered. Like, keep the magic alive, dude. The AR itself is clever, but it’s over in seconds and the younger two were like “shrug”.
If you can tell which scribbly dinosaur is yours you can watch it on the screen.
As you leave the tent, the next area has food stalls, a tiny shop stall and a few more random dinosaurs (but the biggest ones have now been passed). There’s a face painting stall – this costs money. There’s a sand activity stall – this costs money. We’ve already passed the area which was included cost wise and now, everything from this point onwards is going to hit the wallet.
In total it took us around 20 minutes to get through the main dinosaur area. You could prolong it of course by just sitting around as many people did, but we ploughed on, through a little muddy area with some more models like a spider and giant frog.
The area at the end of this has a few more dinosaurs, a decent looking dino skeleton exhibit and a singing tree. There were some sandpits but the queues were long for the sake of some sand – then the funfair. The kids were extremely happy to see the funfair, I was not.
RIP My sanity
It does state that the rides are extra HOWEVER – at £2.50 to £3 per person, per ride, is quite frankly a rip off when you’ve already spent £65 on tickets (on the door prices, plus parking). The kids went on a couple of rides with different results. On one ride, the lady on it was nice and friendly to the children.
On another ride, the hot air balloon, the boy (the ride staff all look like Uni students) looked like he’d rather be at home applying fake tan, got snappy at the eldest when he shut the ride ‘door’ himself (well you didn’t do it quick enough did you mate?). Here’s a tip – If you don’t like kids, don’t work on a fairground ride at an event aimed at kids. The rides were about a minute long each so I paid £9 for a minute of ‘babysitting’. Does Jeff Bezos even pay that much for babysitting??
My face when I saw the fair ride prices
We did buy a toy from the gift stall, some toy dinosaurs in a bucket for £10 which were not bad value (I checked and its £14.99 on Amazon). Look – I know that on many day outs you expect to spend a little bit more than your entry fee, usually on food and snacks if you don’t take your own, maybe a little on the gift shop. But this really did feel to me a little bit, well – cheeky.
In total we spent (at the actual ‘kingdom’ – I know, I know I keep calling it different things; kingdom, event, exhibition, adventure, Jurassic Park) an hour from the second we stepped in and back out. You can absolutely spend the maximum 3 hours there if you want by taking a picnic, especially on a nice day. But it’s really no different to being at…well, the park.
Was it worth it? If your child is an absolute hardcore dinosaur fan and will appreciate looking at large models of dinosaurs (with MINIMAL movement) then yes. If you don’t mind spending £££ on top of the entry fee, then you’ll have a nice day.
For me, I was disappointed by how small the main dinosaur area was and how little actual interaction was involved to make the event come to life. It was like – here are some plastic dinosaurs, enjoy your day. Beyond that every little thing cost money, which you could justify if there was enough INCLUDED entertainment. For the price, you could go to a small theme park or go to an interesting museum and get lunch too.
And finally yes – I am disappointed there aren’t more honest reviews online that give more of a critical view of this event, which is why I had to write this one and I hope it helps and even if it doesn’t – man it feels good to write a ranty blog post!
Until next time X