Five to Try for Feb, #3 Dinosaur World (aka My Own Private Jurassic Park)

Midway through the month already? Heck, that means it’s time for some new exploring. Last month, as part of my Five to Try creative experiment for 2011, I visited an art gallery that was new to me, the Florida Craftsmen Gallery. This time around, I wanted to select something altogether different.

Something based on history, something towering and majestic, something with large inanimate plastic-looking creatures that could eat me, my family and just about everybody else in the park in a single gulp.

Aha, I found the perfect place. Dinosaur World.

Now I could have gone with something obvious in the headline like DINO-MIGHT but you’d expect that right? Like last week’s twin “Derailed” headlines in both the Times and Tribune. I don’t want to be that predictable, people.

For years, I had driven by the T-Rex beckoning me from the side of the road off I-4 but I never stopped. Thanks to a pretty cool deal for our whole extended family of eight from those fabulous folks at Half Off Depot (Salud!), we were able to get the whole family in the door (and two lovable canines-both free!) for a little over $50. (Can I hear a woot woot?)

Best of all, we could pack a picnic lunch and drinks, and eat in one of the covered picnic areas. Of course, no one told us that the entire Tampa Bay area would be celebrating kiddie birthday parties at the park that weekend, so we had to opt for a pair of park benches, but the Subway Veggie and baked Lay’s herb and parmesan tater chiparoonies worked out rather nicely (delicioso and just 3 points for about 15 chips, fellow WW trackers!)

But back to the prehistoric action… overall, I’d give the park a thumbs up. The family seemed to enjoy the lush landscaping that enveloped the menacing creatures, though the creatures themselves may not always have been the most realistic or well-crafted figures. No, it definitely wasn’t Spielberg caliber but what do you want for a general admission price of $12.50 or so?!

We had a good time reading about the various ‘saurs, though I will say I was a bit shocked with how much plastic carnage we came upon – various episodes of dinosaurs tearing apart other dinos. It was a bit like Clive Barker’s Dinosaur World, but definitely not like anything else I’ve ever visited.

My grandson certainly seemed to have fun though after 90 minutes or so of walking and sightseeing, he seemed ready to call it a dino-done day. (But not before hamming it up first…)

We helped do our part in the gift shop with two of our usual buys – an attraction fridge magnet and a Christmas ornament…I didn’t spot any souvenir golf balls. Hmmm. Guess they weren’t exactly hitting the links back then. Too busy pulling apart each others arms, legs, abdomens, etc.

If you haven’t brought the kids to this park yet, it’s fairly inexpensive, close and convenient to the Tampa area, and generally speaking, harmless,…just be prepared for the questions about the carnage (okay, I warned you, didn’t I?) but otherwise, it can be a fun, learning experience – and if the weather’s as beautiful as it was this past Saturday, it’s really a very pleasant place to spend the day.

I’m glad that I can check that local attraction off my list and another one for the month… three down, two to go…hmmm…what’s next?

So if you go, just remember: don’t tick off any of the dinosaurs. You won’t like it when they get really angry.

It’s not pretty.

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