As you may have already noticed from previous posts and pictures, we have a dinosaur crazy 2 year old.
So when we heard about Jurassic Kingdom coming to Phillips Park in Manchester, we were thrilled and instantly knew that we NEEDED tickets!
With our tickets booked, I took to the Jurassic Kingdom website to check out the selection of attractions.
The experience is described as ‘A spectacular outdoor dinosaur experience aimed at family audiences with over 30 impressive installations of animated dinosaurs with electronic moving parts. Animatronics include arms moving up and down, tails swaying side-to-side, heads moving up and down, eyes blinking and jaws opening wide with roaring sound effects. Making for a truly awesome educational and entertaining Jurassic experience!
With that in mind, we were eagerly counting the days …
FINALLY, today was the day!
We booked weekend tickets as we wanted to take our eldest (although, as a very girly girl, we weren’t sure how much she would enjoy it).
We kitted Ellis out in his favourite dinosaur t-shirt, hat and wellies (as true Manchester style, it was raining).
And we were off!
Altogether, there was myself, my partner Justin, our 6 year old, 2 year old and 6 month old, and Nana & Grandad. So as you can imagine, it was not a cheap day out.
Tickets are slightly lower priced if you buy them online, and had cost us £63 in total, the youngest two got in for free.
The event offered free parking, which surprised me, but it was close to the park and we managed to find a space straight away.
We setup the pushchair for our 6 month old, and decided to brave the reins for the 2 year old. We followed the signs to the entrance, and walked with the crowds of people heading to see the ‘amazing animatronics’.
After carrying the pram down some stairs (Would’ve been fun if I had chose to go on my own!) we were inside the park.
We showed our printed out tickets, and headed into the actual exhibition …
The first thing that we came across was a small sit on dinosaur and a dinosaur egg which the little people could climb inside. There was a big queue of children, eagerly waiting to have their pictures taken on these, and of course, we had to join the queue.
No sooner had they climbed onto the dinosaur and inside the egg, there was an impatient parent pushing them out of the way to squeeze their child on, in order to hurry on around the rest of the exhibition.
We walked further down the walkway and came across a few more animatronics, Ellis was amazed!
He screamed with excitement and was very keen to give the Brachiosaurus a cuddle.
Obviously we had to chase after him and stop him from going past the little blue rope surrounding it, and try to explain that he wasn’t allowed to touch the dinosaurs.
Telling a two year old that he can not get up close and personal to his favourite thing in the whole wide world, as you can imagine, wasn’t an easy task as we walked around the 30 animated dinosaurs.
We trudged further along the pathway, and in the distance saw the impressive looking T-rex.
Now this was what we had been waiting for.
Ellis’ best-loved friend!
He is forever screaming ‘T-REX, T-REX!!!!!’ whilst running around the living room, or walking around The Trafford Centre.
We pointed it out to him, and well, we didn’t quite get the reaction we expected …
He was absolutely petrified, and so after a few minutes of trying to encourage him, we gave in and said ‘Bye bye T-rex!’ like Ellis insisted.
We walked passed a Euoplocephalus, which if I’m honest, with his missing/broken eye, was looking his age!
There were a few Pteranodon located in the trees, which looked a lot more realistic than the other half-hearted efforts we had passed.
I mean, without being too graphic, the T-rex had genitalia to make it look life-like, yet they made no attempt to disguise the metal frame and cables which it was attached to.
When looking on the website, the different dinosaurs are shown in their natural habitats.
Some are stood in sand, some surrounded by boulders and others in the middle of foliage.
It seems that on their travels around the world, they lost all of this, and just went with the basics, travelling light.
This just looked feeble in my opinion.
So far, I wasn’t impressed, as you may well have gathered.
It was as if every corner that you turned, you were expecting to come across the high light of the exhibition.
Upon reaching the half way point, there was a cove like area which had various food vendors and different activities, to wake the children up a bit.
There was a large sandpit, excavation area, where you could dig for fossils. This was a bit of a wash-out due to the wet weather.
There was a couple more smaller sized models which the children could climb inside (but again the wait time for these was much longer than a 2 year old is prepared to wait).
Also, in the centre of the field was a gruesome looking raptor attack. The kids obviously loved this, and it triggered one or two questions, but once again, the cables and socket covers were all on show, which really dampened the realistic look.
We managed to find a table and sit down for a quick coffee and food stop.
The food was really nice, I was pleasantly surprised.
The 2 year old and 6 year old spotted a dinosaur which you could actually climb on, unlike the many others, which had signs stuck to their heads or chests, warning not to climb or touch (this didn’t really add to the authenticity of life-like dinosaurs but hey-ho!)
Walking over to the queue of the ride on dinosaur, we could see that there was an additional charge for this attraction, and again, the children got fed up of the wait, so we gave up, and continued our adventure around the park.
We passed some interesting signs, and more really ‘convincing’ looking models.
After seeing a couple more shoddy looking beasts, including a Carnotaurus and a Pachycephalosaurus, we were back at the T-rex, though this time Ellis decided it wasn’t so bad, and went for a closer look.
Overall, I was really disappointed.
I feel the whole experience was massively over hyped and for the price you pay, it isn’t much of a ‘Spectacular experience’ as described on their website.
I have summed up the highlights & the ‘not-so’ amazing points below:
- For dino mad ‘younger children’, you can’t go wrong. The dinosaurs move and make sounds, so it pleases the fans!
- Free parking
- Food vendors were good quality
- There was a huge selection of animatronics, and they were spaced out so never felt too crowded.
- The Manchester exhibition is situated right next to a park, and so after your walk around the event, the kids loved playing on here.
The Bad (and The Ugly!) :
- The informative signs explaining dino-facts could’ve been more child friendly & colourful, as oppose to small print and no pictures.
- The cables and bases of the models should’ve really been disguised as to ‘set the scene’.
- There were a few of the attractions which had eyes missing and ride on’s which had been damaged, looked really poor and was dispiriting to see.
- As an attraction for children, I would’ve liked to see more in the way of interactive exhibitions and perhaps allow the children to be able to touch some of the dinosaurs (Under supervision of course).
- There was a 9D experience by the entrance, but yet again, this was an additional fee and ridiculous queues.
- I pictured it, as it was described, as a festival type event. I assumed there would be face paint attractions and dinosaur balloons for sale … but there wasn’t any of this.
I wouldn’t go again personally, but if you have little children (I would say under 6 or 7), and you can find a discount code (there are a few available at the moment) then it’s worth giving a go.
The major downfall was the lack of authenticity. I just feel a bit more effort could’ve been made when setting up the dinosaurs habitat.
It was a nice way to start the summer holidays, but I wasn’t as amazed as I was expecting to be, and felt a little bit deflated afterwards sadly.
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