Jurassic Kingdom: Wollaton Park

As we all know, I’m all about all things dinosaur. So, a bunch of animatronic dinosaurs coming to my city in the park that holds Batman’s house (Wollaton Hall is the house used in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises) is enough to get me buzzing.

I’ve been waiting over a year for Jurassic Kingdom to come to Nottingham so I could visit. Originally, it was scheduled to be in the Arboretum last year but, for some reason, it didn’t happen. It was super disappointing because the Arb would’ve been an awesome place for a load of dinosaurs. Lots of trees, a huge pond, and blind corners that if a dinosaur jumped out then it would’ve felt almost real. Wollaton, on the other hand, is full of wide open spaces and a big grand hall. Not to say it’s not a lovely venue because it’s huge and beautiful.

 

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See, it’s beautiful.

 

So, we went on Halloween, which was a mistake because it was school halfterm which meant it was super busy with each parent crowding around each dinosaur trying to get a picture of their kid in front of it. It got very frustrating, very quickly. People always say they hate other people’s kids but I disagree. I hate the parents. The kids don’t know any better, they are inquisitive by nature and don’t necessarily know what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. So, when a kid touches an animatronic dinosaur, that the sign specifically says they shouldn’t do, I don’t find that annoying. What I find irritating is that the parents watch and say nothing. It’s honestly no wonder that half the dinosaurs are broken eg. missing eyes or horns.

 

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The kids touching this baby Parasaurolophus breaks my heart.

 

We should have gone on a quieter day and that probably hindered the experience. Especially when a man turns around when looking at a Mosasaurus and says “well that’s clearly not real is it? It is just stuck two dinosaurs together”. The level of ignorance. It makes me sad that the kids seem to know more about dinosaurs than their parents… “Oh look it’s a T-Rex!” “No Dad, that’s a Carnotaurus.”

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It’s clearly not a dinosaur. It’s a mosasaur. And it existed.

Did I enjoy it? Some of it definitely. A park full of dinosaurs is always a good thing in my opinion. However, I was underwhelmed.

If you’re going to have a park full of dinosaurs then obviously loads of children are going to visit. Therefore, shouldn’t you make educational and factually accurate? I mean, the whole point of it is to have fun but it should be bang on the money with the information it’s putting out there. Otherwise, a whole generation of kids is going to grow up misinformed. We’re stuck in a cycle. Events putting out versions of dinosaurs which they think people will want to see. People keep on believing the misconceptions about dinosaurs. And the cycle continues. Jurassic Park hits it bang on the mark; if there was a park full of genetically engineered dinosaurs then the owners would create dinosaurs people wanted to see rather than real life dinosaurs.

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The pictures were more accurate than the animatronics.

The dinosaurs were broken. There were no feathers on the theropods. The dinosaurs were often the wrong size – there’s no way an Amargasaurus comes up to my hip, a velociraptor comes up to my chin or that the Spinosaurus, the largest land predator ever, was about my height (5ft7). I mean the fact the T-Rex was to scale but the Spinosaurus was tiny is a joke. Again, it demonstrates that they’re showing what people want to see. Everyone loves a T-Rex so let’s not make another dinosaur look more impressive than it.

The sounds the dinosaurs were making were wrong – an Iguanodon that sounds like a raptor from Jurassic Park?! There were dinosaur fights depicted which could never have happened eg. a T-rex vs. a Spinosaurus. The signs even said they could never have happened but kids don’t read the signs do they? They see a fight that’s factually inaccurate and believe it’s true. There was a Dimetrodon which isn’t a dinosaur. I can forgive pterosaurs and the water creatures but a Dimetrodon is too far.

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An Iguanodon with no eyes and a call of a Velociraptor.

The Dilophosaurus had a frill! Don’t get me wrong, I love Jurassic Park and I love Michael Crichton’s explanation as to why the Dilophosaurus has a frill and spits poison in the book and thus the film. BUTTTTTTT ultimately, it’s fiction. Jurassic Kingdom is not Jurassic Park – it should be educational and factual. And the fact that the sign had a picture of the Dilophosaurus without a frill points to the fact they want to show people what they want to see rather than real life.

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I mean, the frills are cool but it’s not Jurassic Park.

I want a park full of realistic dinosaurs. Imagine a giant Spinosaurus on all fours hunting for fish. A T-Rex with feathers. A velociraptor that was actually the right size – an overgrown turkey! Huge sauropods with whipping tails. I want to be amazed by the new discoveries in the world of paleontology, not disappointed by dinosaurs that are based on our idea of them 20 or 30 years ago.

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A fight that never happened.

Overall, I’m probably being too harsh. I did enjoy it. It was nice to walk around Wollaton Park surrounded by dinosaurs. However, the factual inaccuracies really do annoy me. It’s so important to educate people about natural history because it affects our everyday life in ways we cannot even start to understand. Dinosaurs definitely play a massive part in this. We need to not have half-arsed attempts at showing the wonder of dinosaurs. We need excitement, intrigue, fascination. Not just a nice walk through the park.

Would I recommend it? I’m not sure. I wouldn’t go again. I would prefer to spend my money on a trip to London to the Natural History Museum.

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