The school year in Florida starts in early August (!), so we squeezed in a couple of days of fun for our little boy before the summer ended. One of the places we went to was Dinosaur World.
If you’re the least bit interested in dinosaurs, you must visit Dinosaur World at least once. This was our second visit, and while it’s not likely we’ll go back for another couple of years, it was still a lot of fun. Before you go, however, consider the following:
- Burns and Bugs: Bring sunscreen and, if you’re going between the months of March and September, bug spray. Put them on before you get to the park. While there’s a great deal of shade from trees, you’re still going to be doing a lot of walking (I mean a lot), so you won’t regret protection from sunburn and bug bites. The Dinosaur World gift shop sells bracelets that apparently ward off mosquitoes and the like, but you can’t go wrong with a Deet-rich spray. Wouldn’t be a bad idea to wear a hat, too.
- Hydrate: Bring lots of water, especially if you visit in the spring or summer. Despite the shade, the heat and humidity are oppressive in that part of Florida. We brought a backpack with bottles of ice water which helped a great deal because we perspired about as much as we drank. There are some soda machines scattered about the park if you can’t or won’t bring your own water.
- Grub: Bring snacks and/or a lunch. There’s no food for sale at Dinosaur World. No hot dog stands, no snack bar, no restaurant. There is a Pringles machine outside of the gift shop, but that (probably) won’t keep you going through a day’s visit. (No, I’ve never seen a Pringles machine before or since.) If you do eat lunch at the park, watch out for the squirrels: they’re pretty aggressive, and some of them look like they have some kind of scabies-like affliction. It sounds funny to warn someone about squirrels, but do you want to get bit or scratched by a rabid-looking rodent with ratty little teeth? You can leave the park and come back later that day if you want to eat somewhere else.
- Schedule Your Visit: Not everything starts at the same time. The park opens at 9:00 AM, but the fossil dig doesn’t open until 10:30 and the dino gem excavation doesn’t open until 11:00. Both are worth the money: at the fossil dig, you get a sifter and a tray, and you go to a sand trough that has fossils you dig for (you can keep three fossils). If you do the dino gem excavation, go for the emerald bag: it’s tremendous fun to pan for rocks and you end up with some very neat little stones like rose quartz and amethyst.
- So What’s There, Anyway: The park itself has numerous life-sized statues of dinosaurs like Pachycephalosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex, to name just a few. Some are sculpted in little scenes, like smaller dinos feeding on a larger dinosaur, and other such things. You can pose with/touch very few of the dinosaur statues; most of them are behind ropes. There’s also a decent-sized playground, a few interactive exhibits, and a museum to cool off in.
- Merch: If nothing else, go to the gift shop. It’s immense, and…just go.
Dinosaur World is one of those places you have to try hard to not have a good time in, particularly with a small child. Just be mindful of the heat, humidity, and hit to your wallet.