One of my favorite places in New York is the American Museum of Natural History, and that is, largely but not solely, because of its dinosaur exhibit. There, the enormity of the span of these extinct monsters is undeniably, fantastically, and safely upon us.
Field Station: Dinosaurs is also a great place if you are interested in dinosaurs, and it is unique–where else can you get very close to moving, growling, shrieking animals that you’d never, ever want to be near in real life?
Located in the jungle of Secaucus, New Jersey, the anthropological-site-turned-dinosaur-hold-station is easily reached by public transportation (about a 9-minute ride on New Jersey Transit). Our car trip was a bit long on the way there, and shorter on the way back (about 1-hour total traveling time to and from Manhattan).
The team behind Field Station is impressive: Guy Gsell, the president and chief executive producer has been on Jeopardy!, for one thing. The group comprises artists, musicians and actors–all bringing their imagination and Dilophosaurus-sized knowledge to the park.
Last week, my kids watched the park’s pretty cool video with eyes as big as moons. Thinking they were fully prepared, we headed out the next day. (Having experienced the terror of Disney World with them just a few months ago, I should have been the one prepared.) We were not out of the parking lot when Ellie and Molly started screaming to go home. Ellie curled into the stroller: “I AM NOT LOOKING!”
Henry–the explorer–exclaimed “That’s my favorite dinosaur!” at every “saurus” we encountered.
He was as eager to capture mama a hair’s breadth from the jaws of the monster.
The park has recently opened and certainly has not reached its potential. But hey, they are working with 135 million years of material, folks. Two areas I look forward to seeing improved: signage around the park, as it was sufficient but not necessarily obvious to fools like me who don’t know what a “fire pit” or “home base” actually are (food area and entrance apparently)–and the bathrooms. I don’t like porta-potties; there is not much further I can go here.
Our family had its big favorites: eating–and the Lego Dino station. Even Ellie came out of hiding for the Legos. The kids were having a great time at the little Lego tables until an adult nervously informed everyone that the area is bordered on one side by “OHMYGOD POISON IVY.” I have never seen my husband so anxious and liberal with the hand sanitizer. I cannot confirm the plants are the dreaded ivy. I live in the city, remember? I advise a closer look before getting comfortable on the rocks, however.
The park has live shows/demonstrations that my girls attended with their father as Henry and I scouted more squawking gigantic bird-like creatures on the mountain tops and below.
Beginning with clay replicas in first grade, I have never lost my fascination with dinosaurs. Field Station: Dinosaurs delivers on that mystery. It is a great family-friendly outing that brings together history, science and fun. You can easily walk the park without getting tired or hungry. If you have small and/or nervous children, be wary that you may find yourself heading for the exit sooner than anticipated.
I received tickets for my family to spend the day at Field Station: Dinosaurs through my friends at MamaDramaNY. The park is open weekends only until June 21, when they will be open seven days a week. Opinions are, as always, my own.