“Movie magic” is an old term that’s not used a lot these days, but that doesn’t mean the magic is gone from cinema. One of the most magical elements of the movies is that they transport us to worlds that we wish to live in; worlds that don’t exist either through the passage of time or the boundaries of reality. They give us worlds where a man can fly, laser-swords are common, planets can be visited as quickly as a trip to a gas station, and building walls usually means keeping out giant apes. Film gives us the impossible universe, and we are all more than happy to visit, even for a short while.
One of the most popular make-believe worlds generated by film has been the one of dinosaurs and modern man co-existing. Thanks to Steven Spielberg’s 1993 smash-hit JURASSIC PARK and its three sequels, our fascination with dinosaurs extended past children’s playthings and into our culture. Thanks to The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, that world of make-believe was recently brought to life, and this Blogger and this Blogger’s Girlfriend were more than excited to take the tour.
This traveling show, which is heavily inspired by the film series (most especially the 2015 sequel JURASSIC WORLD), mixes the feel of a theme park with good old fashioned science and learning. Staged like a movie adventure, the early goings have us travelling to the park via ship, where a virtual tour-guide via flatscreens welcomes us and lets us know what’s coming next. The doors to the ship open, and we disembark and right into a tropical setting, with the iconic gates right before us.
The first stop on the tour was right out of that great scene in JURASSIC PARK when the tour sees dinosaurs for the first time. With John Williams’ magnificent score playing overhead, we were faced with a 24-foot tall animatronic (or auto-erotic) Brachiosaurus, which curiously looked over the crowd…grunting and swinging its neck. If putting us into the movie was the goal of the tour, mission accomplished right away.
From there, we encountered other species such as a Triceratops and her baby (along with their big pile of dung we were invited to stick our hands into, and yes, we washed before we ate), a Stegosaurus, and a full-motion horrifying Velociraptor brought to life by an impressive body-suit. Each stop on the tour was accompanied by educational material, keeping the spectacle from overcoming the science and fact of the tour. Even more learning was to be had when we were given a break from the tropics and brought into the lab, where we learned about the process of bringing dinosaurs to life.
And of course, this was a JURASSIC PARK experience, which means things have to wrong every time man and dinos get together. Alarms go off, flatscreens go on the fritz, and the next thing we knew were face-to-face with an angry Tyrannosaurus; roaring away and nearly flipping over a truck. The effects were outstanding, as one who wouldn’t know any better (such as the many little kids present), would truly believe this world and its creatures were real.
This Blogger and this Blogger’s girlfriend escaped the chaos of the island in one piece, and the final stop on the tour was a hands-on learning room with many graphs and dino-bones to manipulate and learn from. From there it was a visit to the dino-heavy gift shop… and a wrap to a thrilling experience. This was an exhibit which fully captured the fun, interest, and fascination that JURASSIC PARK first brought to us almost 25 years ago, and spared no expense in resurrecting a lost world.
Find out about The Franklin Institute’s upcoming events HERE