Review: Walking with Dinosaurs – The Arena Spectacular

| September 11, 2014 | 4 Comments

Our Tour Guide. Photo by I Tell Stories

Our Tour Guide. Photo by I Tell Stories

“Spectacular” is the right word to describe this unforgettable experience. Mary and I were joined for this fun night out by her friend Liam and his mother, as well as friends and brothers, Emile and Antoine, and their parents. Though the kids ranged in age from almost 3 to almost 6 years old, they all enjoyed the show. Antoine and Mary were the two youngest in the group, and though we were concerned about whether they would find it frightening, our worries were unfounded. No crying at the show, no nightmares that night, and they both spoke about it for days afterward. As I looked around me, I saw that there were toddlers, teenagers and adults in attendance. Truly a show for all ages.

Huge.  Photo by I Tell Stories.

Amazing. Photo by I Tell Stories.

Walking with Dinosaurs – The Arena Spectacular, is a “spin-off” of the original BBC TV series “Walking with Dinosaurs” that was first broadcast in 1999. The idea came in 1996, a few years after the massive success of the film Jurassic Park. The BBC was looking for a series about paleontology.  A huge amount of work went into the planning of the series including film crews travelling to get the perfect landscape shots of ancient plants and trees that still survive on earth. Animators then worked on the dinosaurs, with paleontologists acting as important consultants. The series was seen by a worldwide audience of 700 million.

According to the website, for the arena show, internationally renowned designers worked with scientists to create the 20 life-size dinosaurs, and the attention to detail is remarkable. There was never anything like this available when I was a kid!

The scenes were set to correspond to the dinosaurs natural habitat. Photo by I Tell Stories

The scenes were set to reflect the dinosaur’s natural habitat. Photo by I Tell Stories

Here are some fun facts about the arena show:

  • The show has conducted 1,746 performances in 206 cities across the globe
  • Over 7.3 million people have seen the show since it started
  • It takes a team of 3 people to operate 1 dinosaur
  • Each large dinosaur weighs approximately 1.6 tons
  • 27 trucks (each 73 feet in length) are needed to move the production
Recreating a common scene from the time. Photo by I Tell Stories.

Recreating a common scene from the time. Photo by I Tell Stories.

The Arena Spectacular was not just a visual masterpiece, with huge and realistic dinosaurs (some reaching as high as the second level of the Canadian Tire Centre) and settings, but it was also an educational and informative experience. At the start, we are introduced to a “guide” who takes us through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods, introducing the dinosaurs associated with each period and describing the scene to the audience. It was truly wonderful to hear the young children squeal with delight at their first glimpse and call out the names of their favourite dinosaurs. The settings were all true to the period and the dinosaurs made use of them, by, for example, munching on tree leaves or grabbing at babies in a nest.

A favourite of Mary's. Photo by I Tell Stories.

A favourite of Mary’s. Photo by I Tell Stories.

What I really loved about the show was that though the dinosaurs acted out a variety of scenes, they also walked slowly around the arena and “looked” at the audience. The eyes on the dinosaurs were so realistic, that as the dinosaurs turned toward you, you could see them blink. It was almost as though they could really see you. The magic of Walking with Dinosaurs is that you almost forget at times that you aren’t watching living beings. Although I obviously knew about dinosaurs before the show and had seen the exhibits at the Museum of Nature, I was, for the first time, truly in awe as I was watching, by the fact that these creatures once walked on earth. They were so life-like and believable, that I actually truly “saw” them for the first time.

Notice the level of detail... Photo by I Tell Stories

Notice the level of detail… Photo by I Tell Stories

Mary, who is an avid dinosaur fan, sat on the edge of her seat for the whole performance and had no trouble with the noise level, which was quite loud (my only complaint). The show seemed to last a perfect amount of time, keeping everyone’s attention and ending on a high note, with the popular T-Rex.

Showing his teeth! Photo by I Tell Stories

Showing his teeth! Photo by I Tell Stories

We had such a great time that even walking home in the rain didn’t put a damper on anyone’s mood.  I would recommend this experience to anyone with an interest in dinosaurs!

Be sure to visit their website, where they have a history of the show, a free downloadable education pack, as well as fun free stuff such as downloadable T-Rex masks to wear to the show.

Also check out their Facebook page and Twitter for more information and to keep up-to-date on upcoming shows.

Have any of you attended Walking with Dinosaurs before?

What did you think?

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Category: Arts/Entertainment, Entertainment, Family, Kids, Living, Reviews

About the Author ()

Samantha lives in Stittsville with her husband, Jon, and their daughter, Mary. Samantha works full-time for the federal government and also enjoys writing part-time, including as a writer for Ottawa Parenting Times Magazine. Feel free to check out her website – and follow her on Twitter @I_Tell_Stories

Comments (4)

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  1. Valérie says:

    Thanks again Samantha! It was so much fun!!!!

  2. Judy Cowan says:

    Sounds like an amazing show! I will have to check it out and see if they are going to be doing it anywhere close to me.

  3. Victoria Ess says:

    Oh wow, this looks like a great show to see!

  4. kathy downey says:

    I would love to beable to take my grandson to a show like this

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