Last week we posted about the world’s worst theme park, right here on Beijing’s Olympic Green. Just across the street from that nightmare is the Dino Dino Dream Park, which has been heavily advertised on the subway. While the park is a little corny, it’s definitely better than the hole up the street (and) is a decent place to take your kids if you’re running out of things to do during the endless summer vacation – but only if you’re willing to pay the hefty RMB 90 entrance fee.
We were surprised by the electronic dance music blasting from the interior as we approached, which seemed a little odd for a dinosaur theme park – although it was counterbalanced by endless roaring in the background.
A giant robotic T-Rex invited us in, spitting an occasional stream of water. To the right was the “Young Darwin’s Club” tent, but surprisingly (or maybe not) there wasn’t anything inside except walls painted with dinosaurs. Not a great start to our Dino Dino Dream Park experience.
The robotic exhibit featured life-like dinosaurs from various regions around the world, attached to motion sensors that trigger movements in the models. Probably not too interesting for the older crowd, but the kids seemed to enjoy them. Plaques with descriptions of each dinosaur in Chinese and English also accompanied the displays.
The path through the robots led into the exhibit for the Ice Age creatures, featuring full scale fossils. Apparently the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology temporarily donated some real fossils, but whether this means all the fossils on display are real is unclear, since they are left out in the open. Surprisingly, some of the signs in this section did not feature English translations, even though all in the robotic exhibits did. Unfortunately this patchiness was to be a continuing theme throughout the park.
The next exhibit featured model skeletons of dinosaurs from all over China, including Xinjiang and Sichuan. Again, English signage was sparse. We even saw some signs that asked a question in English and had the answer only in Chinese. Perhaps the one most startling thing we saw was a huge sign at the end of the last exhibit, titled with big red letters reading: “Conclusion.” The sign informed us that the fact we were supposed to take away from the showroom was that there were no T-Rexes in China.
The park also provides other activities for kids, some of which don’t seem to have any connection with dinosaurs: a bumper boat ride, a moon bounce, a mini-train ride, and a sand box – all for RMB 10.
There are some carnival-type games in the middle of the park (also the source of the electronic music). The only one of the six booths that was open during our visit was selling four balls to throw into a vase for RMB 10. If you get two of the balls in you get a finger-sized dinosaur. Three or four balls gets you a slightly larger stuffed dinosaur. Visitors can also buy various toys ranging from RMB 60 to over RMB 300, or watch a 3D movie relating to dinosaurs for RMB 35.
Food is available at marked up prices in a food court. We didn’t try any of it so we can’t comment on the quality, but we doubt you’ll be spending enough time at the park to warrant (or risk) dining.
If you’re older and genuinely interested in dinosaurs, this is probably not the best place to go, but the park can definitely be a fun place for younger kids.
Dino Dino Dream Theme Park; Olympic Green just north of the Bird’s Nest National Stadium; daily, 9am-8pm, until August 31. RMB 90/60 (children under one metre and seniors over 65 years).