It’s hard to describe my feelings in visiting Dinosaur World in Plant City, Florida. When Jurassic Park came out in 1993, it was the summer before I entered junior high. My family and I were visiting friends in Florida, and I was so excited I refused to change my Jurassic Park t-shirt until we saw it. That’s how much I loved dinosaurs. The 12-year-old me would have been in heaven at Dinosaur World.
I’m not sure why kids are so fascinated by dinosaurs, but they absorb so much knowledge about the subject it puts adults to shame. Kids can rattle off complex Latin names with ease. I’ve forgotten half of what I used to know about all the different species and popular theories. For a theme park like this to be successful, it’s got to be able to withstand the inquisitive questioning of an eight year old and ignite his or her imagination.
Dinosaur World does all these things. I couldn’t believe how many different dinosaurs and other prehistoric species they had on display. You could spend hours navigating the park. There are over 150 life-size dinosaur sculptures, created by Swedish businessman Christer Svensson. The sculptures are made from polystyrene foam, fiberglass, and putty.
The paleontology exhibits and presentations are top notch. These interactive programs show kids how dinosaur bones are found, excavated, preserved, and put on display, and what they tell us about these magnificent beasts.
The setting, a former alligator ranch, is perfect. It includes marshes, ferns, and cypress and gum trees. As you stroll the winding path, at times it’s easy to feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
Another highlight are the Woolly Mammoths, which, OK, weren’t alive at the same time as the dinosaurs. But apparently they are compelling enough to have inspired at least one wedding.
Dinosaur World is located at 5145 Harvey Tew Road outside Plant City, Florida, off Interstate 4 at Exit 17. It is open daily 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Basic admission is $16.95 for adults, $14.95 for seniors, and $11.95 for children ages 3-12. The basic ticket does not include a Fossil Dig ticket or Lucky Strike bag at the Dino Gem Excavation.