I went Dinosaur spotting at Jurassic Kingdom – the UK’s fab new animatronic outdoor experience – with my fellow explorers aged 3, 7 & 9 at Birmingham’s beautiful Botanical Gardens, before the family friendly attraction moves on to Manchester, Blackpool, Glasgow, Newcastle, and Leeds.
“I’m a Dino-saur, I’m a Dino-saur, I’m a Dinosaur, a Dino-saaaaaur”
They should be the words to the Jurassic Park theme tune. Try it for yourself and you’ll agree. I’m a Dino-saur, I’m a Dino-saur... They should, shouldn’t they? That’s how I always recognise that piece of music and can be called upon in a split second should I find myself in a pub quiz music round situation.
It’s also where my knowledge of dinosaurs begins and ends. I don’t know my Paleolithic from my Triassic – and a Velociraptor might as well be a feminine hair removal device because I am absolutely clueless when it comes to all things prehistoric.
But what I lack in knowledge I make up for in enthusiasm, so when I got the chance to take a gang of kids (from my family – not strangers) to Jurassic Kingdom which is currently touring the UK, I knew it would make me the Best Aunty/Mummy in The World – at least for the day.
Location, Location, Location
The location was great – the carefully curated landscape of Birmingham Botanical Gardens made the journey of discovery exciting. Everything that I loved as a child, the kids loved too: hidden steps, meandering paths, and winding slopes.
The Botanical Gardens is an absolute sensory treat – there’s heaps of shady spots for picnics, a wonderful array of textures in the trees, plants and stones, and colours galore from the flowers and shrubs. It’s also a lovely venue for some of the open air theatre events that they have planned throughout the summer, if you are in the market for an evening picnic and a spot of Austen or Bronte.
Sense & Suitability
As you can imagine (for anyone who needs to take volume levels into account) it was full of excited children, a few school groups (we visited during term time), and some of the dinosaurs roared quite loudly if you stood close by them. My 3 year old wasn’t at all scared, but I did see a primary school child in the queue refuse to go in because he was so frightened of the life size T Rex in the entrance. (Shout out to Abunassir – you do you, kid). I didn’t see any upset children while I was in there, and there were many kids much younger than mine so I would say by and large it is suitable for all ages.
There is one dinosaur which is depicted as being attacked/bitten by two smaller dinosaurs so if you think that might be upsetting for a very small child then that’s just about the only thing I can think of – and even that is stationary and doesn’t make a noise I don’t think.
For the older children, the hunt for the next dinosaur and trying to guess its name before reaching the sign kept my clever niece and nephew occupied. Entry to the attraction also allows you as much time as you like to stay in the grounds, so all of our kids enjoyed the play area and the new, smaller, tree tops playground. There was face painting available (for a small fee) but on such a hot day I was glad when none of the children were interested.There was also the beautiful glasshouses with tropical plants and flowers inside, which for some reason my son is absolutely mad about but which was a bit uncomfortable to stroll round in very warm weather.
My Top Tips
Normal parking in the Botanical Gardens is suspended during the Jurassic Kingdom event, and is open to Blue Badge holders only. Parking on nearby streets is for maximum 2 hours so if you’re planning a day of it then you might have to be prepared to move the car (which is what I did and left the kids safely with the other adults), really research a good parking spot, or get public transport to the Botanical Gardens.
|“Told you we should’ve borrowed yer Nan’s Blue Badge”|
Take a picnic. There’s loads of good spots in the shade to keep kids comfy while you eat and I took the buggy to cart round all our picnic rugs and cool boxes. There’s outlets for ice cream, food stalls, and refreshments if you want something extra.
The toilets by the gift shop/exit are much bigger and better than the smaller ones at the end of the glasshouses. But, it means running the gauntlet through the gift shop so be prepared for requests for expensive toys and personalised pencil sharpeners.
|When you offer the kids a Mini Milk and they tell you they want a Magnum|
Photo opps. Most of the dinosaurs are cordoned off and can’t be touched let alone climbed on. But there’s some great photo opps dotted around the place – see if you can find the dino head to poke your head through, one of the dinosaur benches, or a prehistoric egg to climb into.