This post was published in 2013 when Dinosaur Safari debuted. The ride is back for 2014 with new dinos and other attractions.
Throughout the year, the Bronx Zoo offers awesome and enriching live animal exhibits and activities for families. But this summer, the zoo is doing something it has never done before: Shining a spotlight on extinct creatures. Of course when you go on the Bronx Zoo's new Dinosaur Safari adventure, you may start to believe that these prehistoric giants are once again roaming the earth. That's because you come face-to-face with more than 20 different dinos that move and roar—quite realistically!
Dinosaur Safari manages to be very educational as well as great fun, especially if you have a dino-obsessed child like my son. (Even at eight he's still seriously into them.) Families hop on a wagon where a "paleontologist" (a.k.a. a knowledgeable tour guide) takes you through a hidden gate that supposedly leads back in time. Once there, you travel through a lush prehistoric forest filled with realistic-looking dinos that look you right in the eye as if sizing up their next meal. But don't be alarmed: The dinos are state-of-the-art animatronic models and they're not programmed to bite—although they may spit water you.
My son and I recently went and really enjoyed it. I also noticed that the other adults in our group seemed to have just as much fun as their kids. Dinosaur Safari was definitely the highlight of our day at the zoo and he's been begging to go back ever since. Read on to learn more about our Dinosaur Safari experience including important tips to help you get the most out of your visit.
The zoo made this really cute video that encourages viewers to follow the dino tail to the Dinosaur Safari. Watching it before you go can help get kids psyched for their visit.
Your Dinosaur Safari journey begins just inside the Bronx Zoo's Fordham Road entrance. While you wait to board the open-air wagon, kids can bone up on their dino knowledge by reading informative placards and flipping through their Dinosaur Safari Field Guide, a free take-home booklet with factoids about the creatures you encounter on the tour. The two-acre prehistoric forest is organized chronologically, from the Permian period, which started approximately 300 million years ago, to the comparatively recent Cretaceous period, which ended about 65 million years ago. Along the way you meet more than 20 species of dinosaur, including the fierce 40-foot Tyrannosaurus rex, the long-necked herbivore Brachiosaurus, the thick-headed Pachycephalosaurus and the Coelophysis, one of the earliest dinos. Most of the creatures move, blink and roar, and a few even squirt water at you, which is kind of nice on a muggy NYC day, no matter what time period it is.
Dinosaur Safari is also quite educational. During the ride, a well-versed tour guide shares easy-to-digest facts about the extinct creatures and even ties them back into the zoo's live animal exhibits by pointing out similar physical and behavioral adaptations in modern-day wildlife. Once the ride finishes, kids can hit a variety of dino-themed activity stations like a fossil dig, a paleontologists' tent with fossils on display and a partially deconstructed animatronic Stegosaurus, so you can see how the models work. There's also a fun photo op with a giant T. rex that kids can sit on.
Throughout the summer, the zoo will host a slew of special events in conjunction with Dinosaur Safari, including performances of Adaptations! A Dinosaur Musical, TV character meet and greets, craft and fossil programs, and more. You can find the complete schedule on the website.
Things to Know Before You Go
Even if your preschooler is a dino fan, Dinosaur Safari might frighten sensitive young ones. At times the creatures are very close, so keep that in mind if your child scares easily. (That said, there were preschoolers on our tour and not a one cried.)
Although we didn't encounter a line when we visited, I have heard that the wait can get long. Arrive early in the day to try to avoid the crowds. Going on a weekday or when the weather isn't great should help, too.
The photo op with the giant T. rex at the end is fun but costs extra. I just thought of it as a donation to an amazing conservation organization.
The Dinosaur Safari ride lasts about 15 minutes and with a Total Experience Ticket you can go on as often as you'd like.
Dinosaur Safari is at the Bronx Zoo Saturday, April 12 through Sunday, November 2. The attraction is included in the Total Experience Ticket: $33.95 for adults, $23.95 for children ages 3-12.
This post is sponsored by the Bronx Zoo’s Dinosaur Safari.