By Marisa Edmonds
Jurassic World: The Exhibition in Denver Colorado was truly an experience I will not soon forget. From the engaging, life-sized animatronics to the interactive experiences it was a great way to spend an otherwise mundane Sunday morning.
Entering the exhibition center with children in their favorite Jurassic World t-shirts, parents with lines of strollers fighting to get a good parking spot, and hordes of small children excitedly telling their parents about how much they love Bumpy, truly gave me a sense of nostalgia for simpler times.
We entered the exhibit through a room much like the pods that take people across the ocean to get to Isla Nublar. When the door shuts, a short video begins, welcoming us to the park and urging us to take care to stay on the designated path and not stray too far away for fear of disrupting the inhabitants of their natural activities.
When you exit the raft/pod onto the island a large animatronic Brachiosaurus is casually grazing just past the Jurassic World sign, there to welcome you to Isla Nublar. The mounted binoculars allow you to look out over the valley and get a firsthand look at the exhibits from far away.
Just past the Brontosaurus, a group of park employees is taking care of young Bumpy, the young Ankylosaurus born during Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous. The crew member holding the small dinosaur was definitely a hero to the kids eagerly waiting to pet Bumpy. They were instructed to use only their index and middle fingers to gently rub Bumpy’s head.
Walking through the exhibit we stumbled across young Stiggy the Stygimoloch being transported across the park away from the erupting volcano during Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. The animatronic dinosaur was able to peak its head out from inside the truck and appeared to be calling out to the dinosaurs left behind.
Just past Stiggy is the entrance to the Hammond Creation lab. This is where the original dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park trilogy were created and where the new transgenic dinosaurs in Jurassic World have been formulated.
The lab houses several interesting recreations from the movie franchise. There are two walls of amber encased mosquitos, for not only the dinosaurs in the movies but also for different areas that the samples were taken from and specific people who were instrumental in creating the books, movies, and TV show spinoffs.
Some baby Parasaurolophus’ rest peacefully inside an incubator when you first walk into the lab.
Upon further inspection I noticed that the babies were actually animatronic and moved around and short honking sounds that are not too dissimilar to the more musical honking sounds we know adult Parasasaurolophus use to communicate. The kids really had a fun time watching the little dinosaurs slowly wake up from their naps. In addition to the incubators with baby dinosaurs there were also some incubators with different dinosaur eggs such as Brachiosaurus, Velociraptor, Ankylosaurus, Parasapholus and more. Each incubator had a set of monitors showing the vital signs for each of the eggs.
Moving past the Creation lab we walked into a hallway with the entire Velociraptor Pack harnessed and waiting to be trained.
The pack was created in the first Jurassic World movie after Blue’s original pack died—they were trained by Owen Grady in the movies.
There were places for Echo, Delta, Charlie, and Blue. Blue was noticeably absent but the other three were restless and resisting their harnesses.
At the end of the hallway there were big reinforced doors with large caution signs around them warning us that training was underway. Once we moved through the doors, we entered a room with a large enclosure with a reinforced iron fence with high voltage electricity running through it. After everyone was inside the room and the reinforced doors were closed, the trainer inside the enclosure opened another set of doors and Blue ran out.
The trainer used the clicker technique to bring Blue’s focus to him and then let her through a few trainer exercises. He had Blue mirror his movements, using both verbal commands and the clicker to indicate she should move to the right when he moved left and vice versa. When he was finished taking Blue through the exercises, he rewarded her with a treat and she ran back into her private enclosure.
After getting to visit with Blue, we walked into a larger room with a second gated enclosure. Inside the enclosure there was a large piece of meat hanging from the ceiling above a foliage heavy area.
Once everyone was inside the room and the reinforced doors had been closed, the crew member gathered everyone in front of the enclosure and informed us we would be viewing the Indominus rex’s feeding time. Indominus rex is the hybrid dinosaur created by Dr. Henry Wu in Jurassic World. The Indominus was created by combining Tyrannosaurus rex DNA with that of several other theropods to make a more formidable antagonist and attract more people to Isla Nublar.
The ground shook as the Indominus slowly drew closer to the meat hanging from the ceiling. We could not see Indominus as she drew closer, but a low rumbling growl could be heard echoing around the room. She slowly moved towards the fence, inspecting the crowd and continuing to growl deep in her throat before ripping the chunk of meat down from the ceiling. She quickly inhaled the chunk before roaring several times directly at us.
After Indominus was finished with her lunch, the primary crew member instructed us to continue through another set of doors into a larger room. Within this room we got to see some of the props from the first Jurassic World movie. One such prop was the Gyrosphere that Zach and Gray ride in to take a tour of the park.
While we were looking at the props another crew member ran in claiming that a Tyrannosaurus rex had escaped from its enclosure and was coming towards us. We were ushered through another set of reinforced doors into a much larger room with tall electric fences that had red warning lights on them.
We were instructed not to panic and to stay away from the electric fence separating us from the T. rex. The crew members made several joking comments about not using children as a shield, and to “try not to look too delicious” and we would make it out safely.
Rexy walked slowly out into the enclosure, roaring as it inspected the crowd behind the fence. It gave the crowd several menacing looks in-between roars, moving increasingly closer to the crowd before we finally exited the exhibit.
After giving us a few minutes to watch Rexy we were ushered passed another set of fences and gates, through another reinforced door out of the exhibit.
And that concludes the tour of the Jurassic World: The Exhibition! If you enjoyed this post and want to learn more about dinosaurs check out I Know Dino, available on all your favorite podcast sites.
Marisa Edmonds is a current graduate student studying clinical neuroscience at University College London. She is an avid reader and loves to expand her knowledge of other scientific disciplines. Marisa has interned for Sabrina and Garret and written a few articles for I Know Dino. You can follow her on Instagram @the_neuro_enthusiast.