If you’ve ever driven down Florida Interstate 4 near Plant City, you probably couldn’t help but notice Dinosaur world. The boring views of asphalt, cars and trees is suddenly transformed to extraordinary as you pass by several prehistoric creatures towering over buildings amongst the trees.
Whenever I happened to be traveling that way I would point it out to whomever I was with and suggest we stop to check it out. Unfortunately, no one ever seemed as intrigued by the place as I was. “Oh, that place is for kids” was what I most often was told. I figured they knew what they were talking about with me being more of a newcomer to Florida then they were, but I couldn’t help but think of a childhood movie favorite: “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure”, where Pee-wee and his friend Dottie climbed up inside a giant dinosaur in a park and watched the sunrise from behind the dinosaur’s teeth. I figured this could be my chance to finally experience seeing the world from inside the mouth of a dinosaur!
Fast forward to six years after the first time I learned of its existence – my boyfriend and I were trying to come up with something interesting to do that weekend. We decided to finally check out Dinosaur World. He too had never been (despite living in the Tampa Bay area for most of his life) but had always been curious about it. With our plans agreed upon, we hopped into the car and headed off to Dinosaur World – for once as a destination and not just a drive-by curiosity.
I’ll let you know right off the bat that they did NOT have a dinosaur which you could climb up and sit in, but it was still an awesome place to visit – even without bringing kids. The best way I can describe it is that it is basically a botanical garden… but with DINOSAURS.
Near the beginning of your walk through the grounds you will find yourself face-to-face with a family of mammoths.
There are plenty of photo opportunities with these prehistoric elephants, the perfect chance for you to get that unique Facebook or Instagram picture that will make all your friends wonder, “Where the heck are they now?”
There was something so enchanting about walking through these beautiful gardens which were decorated with giant depictions of the (extreme) past. So what if science now says many dinosaurs actually had feathers? These were the dinosaurs I had grown up with! And they were HUGE!
I was really impressed with how the whole place was set up. They put a lot of attention into every detail and the entire park was incredibly clean and well-maintained, which is exactly what you would expect from a botanical dinosaur garden.
Even the trash receptacles had a dinosaur theme. I do have to admit that it took me a second or three to figure out what this brightly colored dinosaur baby with a hole in it’s chest was, but once I figured it out I was amused enough to take a picture of a trash can.
The day we decided to visit the park was not overly crowded, so we didn’t have to wait around to get a good look or a good picture of the cooler dinosaurs. I’m not certain how busy Dinosaur World normally gets, it was quite a hot day which could have kept some people away, but it’s also possible that there are many other people like me who notice it on their way to somewhere else and think that they would like to visit one day but it falls to the back of their mind.
We saw more dinosaurs that day than I could possibly identify. There were many old favorites, but also quite a few that I had never heard of before. They even had baby dinosaurs for that necessary “awww” factor.
There were also dinosaurs in the process of hatching…
…with an empty egg perfect for climbing in (though not so easy to get out of as an adult!)
Everywhere you went there was something interesting to see.
There were even dinosaur feeding stations – though I preferred to feed my dinosaur the old fashioned way.
Ok, so many of the activities were obviously geared towards kids. They had a place where you could do a fossil dig and a gem excavation, which we didn’t attempt to do, but they also had a place they called “The Bone Yard” where you could pretend to be a paleontologist and dust sand off bones. It was empty when we walked by so we took the opportunity to sweep up some dirt and take some pictures!
And of course the Bone Yard also had a section where you could see the fully dug up and put together skeletons of the dinosaurs.
There was one unexpected section of the park that had a warning of graphic violence – young children and the faint of heart should not enter. It was within that area where you could see the violent nature of dinosaurs. This part of the park showed dinosaurs eating dinosaurs, some who were missing eyeballs and limbs. It was fascinating and disturbing all at once, but they did have it clearly sectioned off with warning signs of what was contained within so those with young sensitive kids could easily avoid it. This was one of the milder scenes – the predator has caught one of the smaller dinosaurs while it’s buddy escapes.
You’ll have to visit for yourself if you want to see the more violent parts!
Here are two dinosaurs who obviously liked to roam, as they had to put up a rope fence to contain them.
However, upon closer inspection of the fence, it looked like an escape was a distinct possibility in the near future!
This little guy just happened to be at the scene, which lead me to believe that it was his attempt to organize a jailbreak for the big guys. Why else would he possibly be there?
This odd-looking dinosaur caught my eye right away. Not because of it’s huge horns or it’s big red beak-like nose…
…but because of it’s incredibly sad-looking eyes. What could be causing a dinosaur this much emotional pain?
This was another weird-looking dinosaur that got my attention. Doesn’t it look like it’s belting out a love ballad a la Frank Sinatra?
At the end of our park visit (but before the gift shop!) there was a building that housed mechanical dinosaurs which moved and roared semi-realistically. It was quite dark in the room so I wasn’t able to get any pictures or video that was worth posting here, but it was interesting (and a tiny bit spooky) to walk through.
I left the park satisfied that I could finally say I had visited Dinosaur World. Would I visit again? It’s possible, though that would be much more likely if I were bringing kids or another curious adult who had always wanted to see it but never found anyone willing to go with them. Of course, if they added a 50-foot dinosaur with seating in the skull, I don’t think you could get me to leave!
Instagram pictures for this adventure: