Snuggled in the swamplands of Secaucus, NJ you can find Field Station Dinosaurs. It’s a Jurassic Park inspired animatronic children’s theme park. Today, Bizzaro Van Mom (with Big E and Little K in tow), and I (along with Little G) paid the park a little visit, and I’m dishing the details with you now.
Here in Bizzaroland the last minute is the only minute we have. We’d purchased the tickets to the park earlier this summer through a LivingSocial Deal where we scored them for only $12 a pop. Since they expire this Monday, we decided not to lose the money we’d spent. Not to mention we hadn’t seen each other in forever, and neither Little G, nor I, had met Little K yet. (She’s the cutest thing you’ll ever meet, by the way, and her “wow!” pretty much made this trip for me). Amber, one of our favorite bloggers, over at Helpfully.us was also there with her family!
The drive up there wasn’t bad at all. Not even a hint of traffic, although we made sure to leave around 10 AM to make sure of it. My GPS did take me down one very wrong road, but it wasn’t hard to find my way. When I pulled into the parking lot, however, I had to shell out $10 to park. Not to be all nickel and dimey, but that’s a lot of money for such a crummy, gravelly lot. I know it’s all about some kind of park conservation, and to encourage mass transit, but the train station is like 3 miles away, and I didn’t notice any kind of shuttle bus. Anyway, that was the first strike for me.
Luckily for us, I picked the wrong line to stand on, and ended up behind a guy who was buying a season pass, and asking ten trillion questions about whether or not he had to have the same nanny bring his son, or if different nannies could use the season pass he was about to purchase. It was terribly annoying to have to stand there for the 20 minutes it took for the transaction to be completed, but it wasn’t Field Station Dinosaurs fault, so no strikes here. We decided to splurge on the extra $5 per person to check out the 3D movie. Once we had our “passports” in hand, we all felt much better.
Of course, we had to hit the bathrooms, and this was gross. There was a line of lockers, some decently upscale port’o'potties in a trailer, and one regular port’o'potty that smelled like it hadn’t been emptied in month. Gag-arrific! Strike Two- cause potties are important anywhere you have kids.
They tried to herd us through a kiosk/tent…I’m not sure what to call it, but there was a green screen photo-op which we declined to participate in. As we approached the gate an employee explained to us that there were several stations throughout the park, where you could collect a stamp in your passport. Get all six stamps, and you get a sticker on the way out.
It was immediately gratifying to see the first dino. Especially when you heard Little K say, “Wow…look at the big dinosaur!” Little G was a little scared at the roaring noise, but she got over that pretty quickly. It was actually pretty cool the way the dinos moved, and made sounds. The signage was a little weak, but it was there, and informative. What was a little weird was that there were tents in the brush. It would have been cool for there to be some kind of explanation as to what that was about, but it wasn’t a big enough deal to ask.
As we made our way through the park we found the ground hard to negotiate with our strollers, but again, that’s part of the experience, so no strikes.
There were several activity stations, but neither Little G, nor Little K seemed very interested. Both girls were more excited about seeing the dinos, and there were plenty to see. When we ran into Amber she told us that her bigger little was intent on filling up her passport, so it’s definitely one of those things that depends on your kiddo.
The hill up to the Lookout, another section of dinos- just higher up-, was a killer with a stroller, but Bizzaro Van Mom and I powered through, and reached the summit! Up there were some more dinos whose names I can’t pronounce (despite the pronunciation key on the signage…maybe it wasn’t that weak, just not very well placed). The girls really liked the baby dino they got to see. Up in the furthest corner was the T-Rex, roaring in anger at his tiny little hands…okay…just roaring.
Back down the path we went, until we came to the 3D movie tent, where they were also selling $3 sodas, which we willing purchased. They sold apple juice too, and I did buy it, but buyer beware, it’s $3 for an 8oz drink, which is crazysauce. We decided to go see the rest of the park before watching the movie, but when we followed the path and found ourselves back at the beginning…we were all a little shocked. Strike 3…way, way, WAY too small for the regular price of $25 per person.
The movie was interesting, but not exciting enough to capture Little K’s attention for the full thirty minutes (she is only 2, though, so it wasn’t a huge surprise). To my surprise Little G was captured for the entire thing. Totes not her style usually, but I liked it.
The gift shop was extra suckage. There wasn’t a whole lot of selection, and I’d been looking forward to getting some cool dino discovery kit, or something along those lines. It was mostly dollar store junk marked up so high I almost got a nosebleed. Moreover the shop itself was teensie tiny, which, for a park where you’re pretty much required to have a stroller, is just terrible planning.
Overall it was cute. I’m so glad we didn’t pay full price, but even the $12 entry fee was more than I think it’s worth. The movie, at $5 per person, was actually worth it for a 3+ kid. I would have loved some something the kids could really interact with. I mean, one of the activities was a faux lego building area, and there were some cool games Little G could have played, but the tents themselves were so hot, that she didn’t want to be a part of it. A jungle gym would be an awesome addition to the park. Hell– one of those quarter supermarket rides featuring a dinosaur would have been cool. The place was way too small to warrant the ticket price. For all the outdoor space, the gift shop didn’t need to be so crazy small, and they really need to have more educational materials available to the kids.
The one highlight of the trip, other than the company we traveled in, was this little boy- maybe ten?- who loves dinosaurs so much that he walked around to each dino and recorded a short description of each one. It was the coolest thing. I asked the Dad if he was doing this for school, and discovered that dinos were this kid’s passion. He was seriously directing his own video, and telling his Dad how he wanted the shots to be framed. I totally want my kid to be that kind of nerd…they’re the ones who do the best in life.
All things being equal, I wouldn’t go back to that park. I kind of feel a little cheated. If you do go: make sure you load your kids up on whatever allergy med they take (Little G left with a runny, sneezy nose, and watery eyes), bring sunscreen, hats, and bug spray. Oh…and your own drinks.