Thursday, December 18, 2014

Is Walking with Dinosaurs Scary? Educational? Scientifically Accurate?



Last night our family was invited to see the Seattle-area opening night of Walking with Dinosaurs.   We are a group of cynics, and I expected seven year old Kitty to be the only one truly impressed with the show.  Fourteen year old Nate was mad that we were dragging him away from the house to see the animatronic/puppet dinos, and he was very vocal about his displeasure.  It didn't help that we got caught in hellacious traffic, and the normally 45 minute ride from our home in North Seattle to the Tacoma Dome took two hours (I had planned an extra 45 minutes into our time to account for traffic, but still missed a special behind-the-scenes tour, which was a bummer.  When are we supposed to get those robot cars, again?).

I am pleased to report that everyone left the show with a smile on their face.  Walking with Dinosaurs is a huge spectacle; from the giant teeth surrounding the stage to the whimsy of the inflatable, changing foliage, there is a lot going on on the arena floor.  No where can you see the bulk of this show's $20 Million budget better than on the dinosaurs themselves, though.

The combo animatronic/remote control/human powered puppets were really where we thought they'd lose us.  We were expecting some clunky four wheelers with paper mache dino bodies smacked on top. We were pleasantly surprised to experience very real looking dinosaurs. These are beautifully crafted, expertly puppeteered creatures.  Even after realizing that this was indeed a first-class show, Super-Dad and I joked when they brought out a baby brachiosaurus, explaining that the adults actually grew to the height of a three storey house. "Makes sense, they'd show us a juvenile" I said to SD "how the heck would they make a three storey tall dinosaur puppet?" Guess what walked on stage just then?  A giant, life-sized, adult brachiosaur. It was HUGE, you guys.  SD's jaw dropped, I gasped, both kids had huge smiles on their faces, it was great!

Is Walking with Dinosaurs scary?
I've already have had a few people on Twitter ask if it was too scary for little kids.  I'd say that it was suspenseful, but not really scary.  There are some very loud T-Rex roars, and a sort of scary "comet strike" near the end, but those were the scariest moments. The show has a theatrical score, which was beautiful, but just like in the movies it really punched up the more suspenseful scenes.

Is Walking with Dinosaurs violent?
Well, it's about dinosaurs, who we don't normally think of as warm and cuddly.  The most upsetting part of the show for my 7 year old happened in the first few minutes when a baby dinosaur was snapped up by a predator.  It wasn't scary, and it happened in a quick and matter-of-fact way, but Kit was definitely distraught.  There is also a fight where a Torosaurus loses a horn, and is rammed in the side by another Torosaurus, though (like the few other fights depicted in the show) there is no blood or wounds shown.

Is Walking with Dinosaurs scientifically accurate?
The shows producers insist it is.  And while I'm no Paleontologist, I am a proponent of presenting audiences, especially young audiences, with the most scientifically accurate info.  Everything presented seemed to jive with what *I* understand to be the most up to date scientific information.

Is Walking with Dinosaurs educational?
The show is presented by an actor playing a Paleontologist, who guides us through the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, introducing us to the geography, flora, and climate of the time, and then bringing out a few dinosaurs for dramatic vignettes.  If your child is dino-obssesed, there may not be a whole lot here they didn't know.  Then again, if your child is dino-obssesed just seeing a life sized Tyrannosaurus Rex  will probably be pretty exciting.

How long is Walking with Dinosaurs?
I've seen a few reviews online where bloggers complain about the short length of the show .  It was two 35 minute acts with a 20 minute intermission in between.  We found it to be the perfect amount of time for our family.  The 35 minute acts were jam-packed and no one got bored or looked at their watch.  The 20 minute intermission allowed us all to have a bathroom break and grab a beverage.

Walking with Dinosaurs plays the Tacoma Dome through December 21, 2014.  Discount codes for select shows can be found here.

For more information and to see when Walking with Dinosaurs is playing in your area visit www.dinosaurlive.com


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