In “Jurassic Park,” Jeff Goldblum joked, “Are there dinosaurs on your dinosaur tour?”
The answer is yes with the drive-thru “Jurassic Wonder” at the Frederick Fairgrounds in Maryland this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as the following weekend, Feb. 5 to Feb. 7.
“It’s surprising how popular it’s been in the Baltimore-Washington area,” owner Ted Hill told WTOP. “In normal circumstances, we put on stage shows and circuses. One of the shows was this dinosaur show, which we normally put on indoors. … We decided in August, let’s take our dinosaurs and do a drive-thru set up at parks and fairgrounds.”
Hill operates Theodore Productions out of Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
“I thought of this about 20 years ago, putting on dinosaur shows, but at the time, the technology was not there,” Hill said. “I visited museums and thought, ‘God, how am I going to get these big skeletons to small towns?’ Times have changed and now these animatronic dinosaurs look so real, make the sounds and move around.”
How does the technology actually work?
“Each dinosaur is a metal or stainless steel frame and inside are motors and operational equipment that makes them move,” Hill said. “When someone pulls up to the dinosaurs, there’s an infrared light that triggers the movement of the dinosaurs. It roars, makes sounds, the eyes move, so to a lot of little kids, it’s the real deal.”
The life-like creatures elicit priceless reactions from imaginative kids.
“Kids are crazy about dinosaurs, especially the kids between the Santa Claus age, typically between 2 years and 12 years,” Hill said. “They just absolutely go crazy over these things. I hear them screaming and yelling at their parents, ‘Look Mom, a t-rex! A triceratops! Oh my gosh!’ They stick their heads out and talk to them and yell at them.”
Hill recalls a family dog cowering in fear inside the car window.
“The first two dinosaurs that the little dog passed were vegetarians, they don’t have teeth, they have beaks, they gnaw on plants, they aren’t too scary and the dog was barking at them, acting all big and bad,” Hill said. “When they got to the t-rex, the t-rex opened his mouth. I watched that dog duck back in so fast. I couldn’t help laughing.”
All your favorite dinosaurs are there: tyrannosaurus rex, triceratops, stegosaurus, pteranodon, iguanodon, velociraptor and even baby t-rexes emerging from eggs.
“Typically, it takes about 10 to 15 minutes [to complete],” Hill said. “We have an audio tour that guides people along. They can hit a button on their cell-phone and it describes the dinosaur in detail if they want to get an educational value out of it.”
Tickets cost $10 per car with unlimited people per car.
“It’s priced where almost any family can afford it,” Hill said. “They can bring as many people as they can fit in their car. … It’s an unbelievable price for entertainment value.”