Discover the Dinosaurs. Or Don’t.

dinosaur exhibit

We took our kids to the highly-anticipated Discover the Dinosaurs exhibit at the Minneapolis Convention Center Friday night. I’m going to keep this simple and create two lists for you. One I shall intellectually call “Kinda Cool.” The other we shall lovingly name “Major Bummers.” But first, here is some general information about the exhibit:

When: Friday, February 27 – Sunday, March 1, 2015  
Minneapolis Convention Center, Exhibit Hall A
Visit their website here

Adults (13yrs+): $18.00
Children (2-12yrs): $22.00 (includes exhibit, mini golf, inflatables and ride)
Children (2-12yrs): $16.00 (exhibit only)
Seniors (65+): $16.00
Children under 2 are free
Gem & Fossil Mining and Face Painting cost extra.

dinosaur exhibit

Kinda Cool: 

  1. When you first arrive, you hear roaring from outside the exhibit hall. The intrigue of the entrance makes you want to turn every corner.
  2. There is an area called the Dino Den with miniature dinosaur statues that the littlest of kiddos can enjoy. Soft matting and everything “just their size” makes this a hit for tiny toddlers.
  3. The T-Rex is smaller than I expected, but by far the most captivating dinosaur on exhibit. Some dinos have a button so you can control their movement…or so I’ve read online.
  4. Mini golf had no wait. It also had no order, rules or skill requirement. Wait, that part should probably go on my other list.
  5. There were a variety of bouncy houses for different age levels. This was actually very nice.
  6. One of the few smiling staffers helped my daughter down the bounce house slide when she was afraid. Kinda cool.
  7. The lighting was clever for effect (not for photos, but definitely for effect).
  8. Bathrooms were clean. Yes, I’m getting desperate for list items.
  9. While their merchandise was expensive, some of those stuffed dinosaurs were actually pretty cute and tempting. I resisted, but they woulda made good snuggle buddies.
  10. There were coloring tables. I like coloring. So do my kids.

dinosaur exhibit

Major Bummers:

  1. Face painting and mining cost additional. And by “additional” I mean “an obscene amount on top of what you already obscenely paid for admission.” $12 for face painting. Did your jaw drop too?
  2. The robotic dinosaurs are very small scale and run-down looking. Their arms and heads moved…sort of. Staffers were hard to locate and not all that friendly. I felt a little like I was in a Jack Handy skit. Except no one was laughing.
  3. Concessions were expensive. Wait, I should capitalize that. Concessions were EXPENSIVE. Two sodas, nachos and a bag of M&Ms set us back $16.
  4. The “Ride a Dinosaur” line was crazy long. Only three of the five were working. And by the time we got to the front, the (rude) worker told my son the rules changed and he could not longer select which dino he wanted to ride, so my tall and patient five-year old rode the baby Triceratops that barely moved an inch. You can imagine how well that went over (with him and me).
  5. The green screen photo they shoot when you enter makes it look like your family is being eaten by a dinosaur. Cool, right? Yes. $15 cool.
  6. There are only about a dozen robotic dinosaurs on display and two small fossil tables. But don’t worry…you then enter the world’s largest merchandise mart! Tiny stuffed dinosaurs selling for $20 takes up 1/4 of the exhibit hall.
  7. Mini golf was tiny and generic. Even my son, who LOVES mini golf, was bored. That’s really saying something.
  8. You WILL pay for parking. This is $5-10 you may not have planned for.
  9. The “realistic backdrops” in the exhibit area were clearly made from stretched cotton balls and materials that any old regular fabric store shopper could pick out from a neutral-toned lineup.
  10. From the mouth of my husband: “For an expensive dinosaur exhibit, there sure weren’t a lot of…dinosaurs.”

dinosaur exhibit

Don’t get me wrong…we didn’t come to Discover the Dinosaurs expecting Jurassic Park. But we aren’t that hard to please either. As we were about to leave, my son was already begging us to come back again. So, there’s that. Kids don’t know the difference. To them, a bounce house is a bounce house…and it’s awesome! As parents, we see dollar signs and quality fails and a very severe lack of care and customer concern. Yes, the dinosaurs were nice to look at for awhile. Yes, it was amazing to see my kids’ faces light up (this really was the best part). Yes, they bounced so hard that they fell asleep in literal seconds. Yes, the nachos were edible and the venue was clean and there was plenty of space for kids to run and play and barrel into each other. But when I hear “museum-quality” dinosaur exhibit, I don’t envision five minutes of admiring sub-par dino replicas and then walking into a Rhianna-pumpin’ speaker box lined with disappointed parents and inflatables that just happen to be dinosaur themed.

My takeaway: Not for the money. Never for that amount of money.

Disclaimer: I received 4 family passes to the Discover the Dinosaurs exhibit in exchange for my time sharing this post. All thoughts are my own.

dinosaur exhibit

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  • Robin
    02/28/2015 at 3:01 am

    thank you for the truly honest review. Most times when bloggers are comp’d they still post a fakey sub honest review. I have not problem with bloggers getting free Merch as long they do a truthful review and not the review that the company wants. Thanks for maintaining a creditable review brand and site!!

  • NellieBellie
    02/28/2015 at 7:40 am

    That’s too bad! It really stinks when you make all the effort to go somewhere, expecting a ton of fun, and it doesn’t live up to your expectations. But we do have to say…we are actually kinda glad to see a negative review from you. It makes all your positive reviews feels even more authentic!

  • Emily
    02/28/2015 at 8:16 am

    My 3 yr. old and I checked it out and were horribly disappointed. We spent 95% of the time at the bounce houses- which were a ton of fun for him. There were two instances in which a child went missing and the employees didn’t seem properly trained on how to handle the situation. I was also disappointed that for a children’s exhibit there weren’t any healthy options for snacks to purchase. I definitely would not go again.
    Great post!

  • Nadalie
    02/28/2015 at 9:48 am

    Thank you for an honest review. Like the other poster said, it’s refreshing to know that you’ll be honest, even when comp’d tickets. You just saved me a bunch of money.