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Every Step of Jurassic Quest, aka "Discover the Dinosaurs"

intro and map, attractions, agilisaurus, albertosaurus, allosaurus, ankylosaurus, apatosaurus, baryonyx, ceratosaurus, cleolephysis, deinonychus, dilophosaurus, dromaeosaurus, edmontosaurus, herrerasaurus, kosmoceratops, olorotitan, ouranosaurus, pachycephalosaur, parasaurolophus, spinosaurus, stegosaurus, theocondontosaurus, triceratops, troodon, tyrannosaurus, velociraptor,

Update! Jurassic Quest has been renamed for 2015 and is now called "Discover the Dinosaurs".

I had to know more about Jurassic Quest.

Jurassic Quest, also known as "Return of the Dinosaurs" is a travelling show of big, animatronic (moving) dinosaur models. Who doesn't love dinosaurs? Imagine walking amongst huge animals like the monsters in Jurassic Park.

A history of disappointment in travelling shows has ingrained in me a deep skepticism. My girlfriend Suzi had already bought tickets for herself and her son. Social circle inertia was pulling me towards the event, but I hate feeling ripped off, so I scoured the web looking for black clouds and warnings about this gypsy event.

The JQ website had a handful of photos of their dinosaur models, advertising them as realistic, life size and animated. The website also quoted ticket prices and promised "more than 50 realistic dinosaurs". Yelp reviews were split 50/50 between "good" and "rip-off".

Tickets were $14 for kids, $18 for adults. These prices were higher than the price for the California State Fair, a huge event at this venue, so my expectations were high.

No, no they weren't. My expectations were that the event would be utterly underwhelming.

I took a closer look at the avenues for complaints.
1. The street address in Spring, Texas led to a post office box.
2. information@jurassicquest.com bounced. The email address wasn't configured.
3. Phone calls went directly to voicemail.

This was concerning, but to be honest, I was intregued by the prospect of executing an appropriate reaction to getting ripped off by a travelling dino show. I could always write a bad review, and I accepted that this would be good enough.

The day before the show, I was still undecided about attending. I had a plan: Exit interviews. I'd swing by Cal Expo to catch families as they left the dinosaur show, and ask for their opinions.


I arrived about 30 minutes before 5pm, and was met by dozens of families streaming out of the exits. It was awesome.

Here are all of the responses:

The negative reviews are much more eye-catching, aren't they? Don't let that completely obscure the generous field of "good" reviews.

Wearing jeans and a polo shirt, I realized I probably appeared to be an employee of the exhibit, conducting a little opinion poll at the exit. This may have tempered people's responses. The most critical responses came from people who had a moment to consider their response. Often I'd approach two parents, get a "good!" review from the first respondant, and get a "terrible, rip off" response from the second parent.

It was fascinating. I loved being there, collecting all of this raw data which was streaming out of the exits.

And yet, despite all the signs, all the warnings, I went anyway, and dragged, literally dragged my six and eight year old kids along for the adventure.

Kids (and everyone else) would have noted my skepticism about the event, which probably would have influenced them and soured their experience. I was determined to keep a good attitude about the show, or at least to keep the impression of a good attitude about the show.

On Sunday morning, we bought tickets and walked right in. There were two types of tickets for chidren, $14 tickets and $23 "VIP" tickets, which alllowed unlimited access to the dinosaur rides, the bounce houses and the archelogical dig exhibit. Kids without a VIP wristband would need to buy a $5 ticket to experience a ride or to visit one of the bounce houses.

The exhibition was in and around two buildings at Cal Expo in Sacramento. The C building and in a very large plastic hangar building.

Here's a map of the main exhibition, the dinosaurs. I probably went overboard on the map above, but I was really trying to completely encapsulate the feeling of visiting the show. This is what you are going to see. Click on the thumbnails on the map above to see individual dinosaur animatons.

They were big, you could get quite close to them, close enough that they needed "do not touch" signs. They were arranged in an interesting way, along a branching path, to handle the crowds.

After seeing three dinosaurs, it was all pretty much the same thing over and over again. There were no "gotcha" theatrics.

There was not enough lighting. The darkness helped preserve the illusion that these were real animals, but made it very difficult to get an essential photo: Your kids posing in front of a dinosaur. If the kids were in the foreground, the flash would explode off of their faces and leave the dinosaur dark in the background.

The dinosaur environments were pretty bad. A typical example would be a pile of brown bark concealing electrical lines and supports. The backgrounds were hanging plastic banners, printed to resemble a jungle.

There were a lot more dinosaurs than I expected. Dinosaur after dinosaur, and most of them were animated. It was pretty cool. It would have been better if they had been scattered throughout a four-acre space, like Disneyland's Jungle Cruise.

I guess if it was Jungle Cruise, you'd get off the boat at the end wondering "was that ride really worth $15?" (the average Disneyland ride is $4.70)

Maybe an open park would be better, with twisty paths and trees to explore, more like a zoo than a car showroom.

After exploring the dinosaur building for 20 minutes, we headed outside, to check out the bounce houses and face-painting. There were two or three face painters set up, with long lines for each.

The face painting was $5 or $10. There were two bounce houses outside. These were $5 for a turn. Most of the kids seemed to have the VIP wristbands.



Please Read Part Two of Every Step of Jurassic Quest: Attractions >


intro and map, attractions, agilisaurus, albertosaurus, allosaurus, ankylosaurus, apatosaurus, baryonyx, ceratosaurus, cleolephysis, deinonychus, dilophosaurus, dromaeosaurus, edmontosaurus, herrerasaurus, kosmoceratops, olorotitan, ouranosaurus, pachycephalosaur, parasaurolophus, spinosaurus, stegosaurus, theocondontosaurus, triceratops, troodon, tyrannosaurus, velociraptor,

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