It was an overcast morning when my best friend, David Albaugh, and I drove down from his native Rhode Island to see the Dinosaur Place in Montville, Connecticut. He’d already written about this attraction on the site we share, Terror from Beyond the Daves, but I refused to even look at that post back then since I knew I’d want to see it for myself. Unfortunately, the one day we had to visit was slated for thunderstorms and I came dangerously close to taking a literal rain check. However, after pondering things a bit, we accepted the fact that lousy weather was no match for the magnetic pull of its super-sized dinosaur gift shop, and made the trip anyway. I’m sure happy we did as the rain held off till much later and, unlike the one hundred degree weather he dealt with during his last visit, the temperature was perfect.
In fact, the threat of those storms ended up working to our advantage as we pulled into an empty lot and discovered that we pretty much had the entire place to ourselves. We stepped out of the car and were greeted by two velociraptors that stood over the entrance like Cretaceous gargoyles. Once inside we found ourselves in a small gift where we purchased our tickets. I started looking around the store but my buddy reminded me there was a much bigger and better one next door and to hang on to my wallet a bit.
As soon as we walked out to the trail we middle aged guys had to make a stop and use the men’s room. In this case, either the Mr. or Mrs. Caudipteryx rooms. I thought that was pretty clever at the time…or maybe I just really needed to go to the bathroom.
After a sigh of a relief, we began our hike which, surprisingly, began with T-Rex. Usually, dinosaur attractions save that animal for last but here at The Dinosaur Place, it was straight out of the gate. Though smaller than the actual beast, they did an excellent job with details, color, as well as the texture of the scales. Clearly, this was going to be a better attraction than I initially thought!
The fact that their T-Rex was a bit small shouldn’t imply that the rest of their dinosaurs were. This was made abundantly clear by a full-sized and, might I add, gorgeous Brachiosaurus that was just down the hill. Best of all, you could walk right up to it and pose beneath it. WAY too big for a selfie, though. Thank heavens I came with a friend.
Since this is a family-friendly attraction (not so much the price but I’ll discuss that later) they offered plenty of activities for any young dinosaur fan in your life, including a maze and a playground. My favorite piece of playground equipment was a large skull of a ceratopsian kids could play on or inside. Me, I’d put lights in it and stick it out on my front lawn if I could!
The dinosaurs featured here were all very realistic and what really made them “pop” were the eyes. I also appreciated the fact that you could walk right up and pose with many of them as they made for neat photo ops (and Facebook profile photos too which, if you’re FB friends with me, you’ll know what I mean).
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the best dinosaur attractions utilize their natural environment to enhance the presence of a dinosaur. In that respect, The Dinosaur Place in Connecticut succeeds with flying colors. The grounds are so lush, you can easily imagine yourself in a Cretaceous forest (albeit with all different plant life) and even if you chose to ignore the dinosaurs (an obvious character flaw) the trail still makes for one helluva nature hike.
I think what I loved most about The Dinosaur Place was that they spotlighted lesser known dinosaurs along with the familiar favorites. These included Therizinosaurs, Ceratosaurus, Stygimoloch, and Amargosaurus.
After finishing the trail we paid another visit to Mr. Caudipteryx, and then made a beeline to the hallowed gift shop next door! It was definitely worth the wait and had everything from models to high-grade fossils. The only odd omission, absolutely NO adult shirts. What? You don’t think there are enough of us adult fans out there who want to proudly sport our love of prehistoric animals?
Well, I discussed what I love about the place so I guess I can’t put things off anymore and need to deal with the ugly subject of admission. Folks, it isn’t cheap and could make for one very expensive couple of hours if you show up with a family. In season rates (May 13-June 16 & September 5 – 30) are $19.99 ages 2-59 and then “peak” season (in between those dates) is $23.99. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed this attraction but for this price, I should get a gondola ride next to a Mosasaurus!
Then again, who am I kidding? You just can’t put a price tag on escaping the modern world in favor of a more peaceful prehistoric one. Even if it is filled with sharp claws and teeth.