A trip through time: The Bronx Zoo’s DINOSAUR SAFARI

Dinosaur Safari Green Screen Pic

I think this is hilarious. We’re being chased by a Tyrannosaurus and we look like we’re on a cruise.

I’m going to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, because nothing ruins an adventure like knowing every damn little thing about it beforehand (it’s really not an adventure if that’s the case). However, I’m going to include a couple of my favorite photos and share some details, so if you’re planning on visiting the Bronx Zoo’s Dinosaur Safari this summer and want to stay completely in the dark, I’d advise skipping the rest of this post (except scroll down to “A word on buying tickets.” That stuff you’ll want to know).

Hold my beer! I got this. Nathan and I were very excited to attend the Bronx Zoo's Dinosaur Safari on the premiere weekend (Easter Sunday), despite the giant lines.

Hold my beer! I got this. Nathan and I were very excited to attend the Bronx Zoo’s Dinosaur Safari on the premiere weekend (Easter Sunday), despite the giant lines.

The Safari entrance is located at Fountain Circle, which is at the end of Astor Court (and I think was the zoo’s original entrance way back when it first opened). If you’re on the other side of the park—say down by Asia—the best way to go is hop on the zoo shuttle and get off at the stop near World of Birds and Tiger Mountain. It’s not far to walk from there.

If you’re wondering where this ride actually takes you and you’re a BZ geek like me, it goes back behind the Birds of Prey exhibit over service roads that aren’t open to the public.

 

Be aware that this is a popular attraction, and the lines may be very long. The nearest bathroom to the line is up at Madagascar off Astor Court. It might be worth visiting the restroom beforehand.

Once you’re in line, you’ll be given a souvenir guidebook which catalogs the dinos, shares information about them, and compares them to modern-day creatures you can see elsewhere in the zoo. I thought this was a really neat feature.

Dinosaur Safari tickets and field guide

Dinosaur Safari guests get tickets (great souvenirs; we got to keep ours) as well as a field guide which is packed with information about the dinosaurs you’ll meet on your journey.

There are staff members on hand to entertain small children, teaching them about adaptations and engaging them in a game of “Dino Says.” I don’t know if this is going to be available all the time or only on peak days, but it was a nice touch.

Before you board your vehicle, you can pose before a green-screen to have your photo taken (it will appear with a scary dinosaur backdrop). Your photo will be available to purchase at the end of your trip.

The ride vehicles are wagons pulled behind pick-up trucks. If you’ve done hay rides, then you’ve ridden in one of these before. And yes, there are vehicles that are fully handicap-accessible. If you’re concerned about how bumpy the ride is, don’t be. It’s actually pretty smooth, although there may be a jounce here and there. The vehicles go very slowly.

Our guide’s name was Rob, and he was really enthusiastic (I’m betting he loved dinosaurs as a kid). He cracked a few Jungle Cruise ride style jokes along the way, and it would’ve been fun to hear more.

Dinosaur Safari Guide

Our Dinosaur Safari guide’s name was Rob. He was spirited and a lot of fun.

There is sweeping, Jurassic Park-esque music that plays just before you enter the trail, and it honestly does ramp up the excitement. Good call!

Dinosaur Safari Raptor

Uh-oh. One of the raptors was going to the Dinosaur Hospital. I guess he wasn’t feeling well that day.

The scenes you’ll see depicted are based on actual fossils that were found together. So although all the dinos are from different time periods, the tableaux that contain multiple animals are from the same time period and illustrate, according to the fossil record, scenes that actually happened.

Dinosaur Safari T-Rex battle

Although we don’t know why they battled, paleontologists think that Tyrannosaurus Rex fought each other over territory and mates.

Another great thing about this ride is that we’re clearly beyond the land of the same old T-Rex and stegosaurus. Yes, those fellows make an appearance, but the tour features dinosaurs I’ve never heard of, like the kosmoceratops.

These dinosaurs are cool. They move, they make noise, and your guide sheds light on what you’re looking at. They’re not Disney or Jurassic World: The Exhibition level, but they are certainly not cheap carnival either; far from it. They move pretty naturally and I didn’t see any mechanical jerking around. I could buy that these were real.

The staff has done a wonderful job, also, with the vegetation in each scene: there are palms and exactly what you’d expect to see in that type of environment. If you have an imagination, it’s not a stretch to believe just for a moment that you’re actually looking into the past.

I loved the surreal aspect of this. Some of the dinosaurs’ positions were in areas where apartment buildings from outside the zoo served as a backdrop. It was crazy to see a dinosaur in front of a modern structure in the real world.

Dinosaur Safari Parasaurolophus

Against the backdrop of modern-day apartment buildings, this parasaurolophus looked surreal. Click below to hear this animal’s haunting call.

Another great thing is that they are very close to the vehicle. You really get a sense of how large these animals actually were because of that, and, of course, it’s a great opportunity for video and photos, although honestly, don’t ride this thing and spend the whole time looking through a viewfinder. Really enjoy looking at it live and let yourself believe. It’s worth it.

You exit the ride vehicle at the Field Site. The area has large dinosaur bones, a dig site for kids, a cart with dinosaur-related souvenirs, a photo station (so you can take your photo with a T-Rex), and the counter to purchase the green-screen photo you took before you boarded the ride if you wish to do so.

Your journey lasts approximately ten minutes, give or take. Nathan and I waited in line nearly two hours for this (it was not only a weekend, it was a holiday, and we chose to be stupid and go right after lunch—when we were done at 3 p.m., the wait was down to about an hour), so of course, the ride felt short. I think a good amount of time to wait for this is about 30 to 40 minutes max. More than that, you may want to come back at a different time of day.

Stuffed animals at Dinosaur Safari gift cart

The gift card at the end of the ride was crammed with stuffed dinosaurs. I was tempted, but didn’t get one…I have so many stuffed animals I don’t know what to do with them all as it is!!

All in all, it was really cool, and I highly recommend it, especially for dinosaur freaks. I’ll go back and see it again, for sure!

Dinosaur Safari photo opp

Nathan clowns around with the T-Rex. Is that a smart idea?

A word on buying tickets

If you’re a non-member, the $6 attraction fee is included in the total experience ticket. You can also purchase them separately as an add-on to a base ticket if you know you won’t have time to visit all the plus-price experiences in the zoo that day.

However, if you are a member, this attraction is not included, which means your discounted $4 ticket still needs to be purchased. The member booth to purchase tickets is all the way up near the front of the line, but you can’t access it without waiting in line and getting to that point. The staff will ask you if you’re a member, and then pull your entire party right out of your hard-earned spot so you can purchase your tickets. When you are ushered back in line, several people have gone ahead of you, which is discouraging. This also pisses off several people who were behind you, because now they think you’re cutting the line.

Suggestions for members who want to visit:  A, purchase your $4 ticket online ahead of time. B, if you didn’t purchase online ahead of time and still need to buy tickets, don’t let them yank your entire party out of line. Choose one of you to purchase at the ticket booth; then, that person can catch up with you and you haven’t lost your place.

The Bronx Zoo’s Dinosaur Safari opened April 18 and runs through November 3, 2019. Admission to the attraction is $6 for non-members (although it is included if you purchase a “total attraction” ticket) and $4 for members (as noted above, buy them online ahead of time to avoid the mess of being pulled out of line).

Hope you’ll get a chance to visit!

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About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in countless magazines and anthologies. She has received three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies, served as a co-editor for Read Short Fiction, has judged both writing and grant competitions and co-hosts the Dark Discussions Podcast. Her work Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole is a collection of ghost stories set in Disney Parks; her novel, Bad Apple, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She’s also a member of the New England Horror Writers Association. More info: www.kristipetersenschoonover.com

Posted on June 2, 2019, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff, Events, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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