The apatosaurus dinosaur was one of the largest animals to ever walk on Earth. Standing more than 20 feet high and 80 feet long, this giant long-neck herbivore lived in the Jurassic period approximately 150 million years ago.
Long Islanders can encounter more than 80 animatronic dinosaurs at Jurassic Quest, a prehistoric, interactive adventure at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale from Feb. 17-19.
“Dinosaurs capture a unique fascination with people because they existed on the planet when it was an entirely different world,” says fossil expert and dinosaur trainer “Prehistoric” Nick Schaefer. “They are a gateway to every field of science. Astronomy, biology, geology and physics can all be taught through the lens of dinosaurs.”
DINOSAURS COME TO UNIONDALE
Guests enter through the giant pillared archway leading into the dinosaur exhibit as the journey begins. Immediately they will be grabbed by the sight of a life-size animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex and triceratops.
WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 17-18, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 19; Nassau Coliseum, 1255 Hempstead Tpke., Uniondale
COST $36.85, $52.05 includes unlimited activity bracelet, for ages 2-10 (individual activity tickets can be purchased for $6)
MORE INFO 516-654-8203, www.jurassicquest.com
“One of the best moments is to stand at the entrance and watch little kids’ first reaction to the dinosaurs,” says dinosaur expert "Park Ranger” Marty Hoffman. “Their eyes light up and their jaws drop. Dinosaurs are like dragons that really existed minus the fire breathing.”
The main dinosaur exhibit is broken down into three periods — the Triassic (251-201 million years ago), the Jurassic (201-145 million years ago), the early Cretaceous (145-109 million years ago) and the late Cretaceous (109-66 million years ago). Each contains dinosaurs that move and make noise set in the environments they would have lived in.
“These dinosaurs were created with the help of paleontologists to make them look realistic,” says Jeff Munn, CEO of Jurassic Quest. “But this is not just about showing good dinosaurs, we are also educating as well as pushing connection, inspiration and driving fun.”
The Triassic period features the Plateosaurus, which was discovered in Belgium as well as oldest North American dinosaur the Coelophysis and the herrerasaurus, a large predator from Argentina in a desert-like setting.
In the Jurassic period, visitors can see the stegosaurus with bony plates on its back and spikes on its tail plus the allosaurus, an apex predator that used large claws to grip its prey, in a jungle environment.
The early Cretaceous period contains Siats, a large predator that lived in North America prior to the Tyrannosaurus rex, iguanodon, which is one of the first dinosaurs ever discovered and spinosaurus, the largest land-based carnivore at 80 feet long. Don’t miss dinosaurs in the late Cretaceous period such as the therizinosaurus with long claws used to climb trees and grab branches, the ankylosaurus, which had a tank-like body with a club tail used to defend itself and the Ornithomimus that resembled a large ostrich with a long neck and consumed plants plus fruit in a forest-like swampy setting.
TOUR GUIDES AND SCAVENGER HUNT
Each section has a virtual tour guide (“Prehistoric” Nick, “Park Ranger” Marty, “Safari” Sarah and “Dino” Dustin) that provides both fun and informative facts about the dinosaurs.
“When our characters speak on the monitors in a very basic way, we find that the children stay and listen,” says Munn. “Guests can move through the exhibit at their own pace. If you want to stay an hour or 5 hours, both are OK. We want everyone to absorb the education we are providing and interact with our team, learn about the dinosaurs and ask a lot of questions.”
Kids can even take “The Quest,” a self-guided scavenger hunt quiz, located in the free brochure. Once completed, participants can claim their prize at the end of the exhibit.
FOCUS ON FOSSILS
Move onto the Fossil Experience consisting of a display of museum fossils, both real and replicas, along with accompanying educational material.
“Each bone is correlated with the dinosaurs from the exhibit,” says Sam Genung, director of tour operations. “If you just saw a raptor, we will have a raptor claw for you to see at the Fossil Experience.”
Become a miniature paleontologist at the Fossil Dig where different fossils are buried in sand.
“Kids are given a brush and they are able to uncover fossils,” says Genung. “They might uncover a triceratops skull or some Tyrannosaurus rex ribs.”
Catch the Live Raptor Training Experience where guests can meet a utahraptor and help train them.
“The raptors are interactive, moving around and responding to commands,” says Schaefer. “They are trained to do tricks with audience participation.”
Kids can time themselves against the speed of a raptor at the Raptor Run or learn how to lasso a raptor at Rope-a-Raptor.
Come face-to-face with baby Tyrannosaurus rex named Tyson, baby triceratops Trixie and baby Camarasaurus called Cammie, which are all held by a trainer/puppeteer.
“Cammie likes to steal things from people. She can be a little feisty that way,” says Hoffman. “Tyson is a handful, you can tell he’s a carnivore. Trixie is the most gentle and sweet one. Even the nervous kids like petting her.”
Jump on top of a carnotaurus or a Brachiosaurus to take a dinosaur ride, both stationary and walking rides are available. There are also small electric motorized Jurassic Jeeps that kids can drive around and parents control with a remote.
Dinosaur-themed bounce houses, crafts, green screen photo-ops and a souvenir shop “the Dino Store” round out the experience.
“It’s very free-flowing,” says Genung. “We’ve created an atmosphere that gives each family a chance to find the experience that they want.”
'ERTH’S DINOSAUR ZOO'
Dinosaurs are brought back to life by puppeteers at “Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live!” which is coming to LIU Post’s Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in Brookville on Feb. 21 at 2 p.m.
“Children inherently love nature. Dinosaurs are an example of how wonderful nature can be,” says artistic director Scott Wright. “We treat science with respect. It’s not patronizing.”
The one-hour show features a host with 10 dinosaurs including a triceratops, Tyrannosaurus rex, a baby parasaurolophus as well as a sauropod, which is so big it can’t fit on the stage and ends up bending its head in from the side. There’s also a lot of audience participation.
“We invite members of the crowd on stage to help feed the dinosaurs and give them water,” says Wright. “There are even giant insects like Meganeura, which is an early version of the dragonfly, that come out into the audience.”
MORE INFO 516-299-3100, tillescenter.org.