We’ve driven past Dinosaur World right off of I-4 when heading down to Walt Disney World several times, but we’ve never stopped. We’ve mentioned it when we drove by, said let’s stop sometime, but it isn’t usually on my radar when we’re heading to Florida and I have Disney on the brain!
This summer, since we’re staying at my parent’s house just outside of Tampa, we’ve been coming up with fun things to do with the boys and when my mom sent me something on Dinosaur World, I instantly remembered seeing it so many times & thinking, yes, let’s finally go! Well, we finally went, and there is a lot to share!
First things first, if you’ve heard of this dinosaur theme park before or if this is your first time hearing about it and you’re intrigued, set your expectations and don’t let the “theme park” part of the name fool you. Despite this park lying somewhere on the map between the amazing theme parks of Walt Disney World & Universal in Orlando and Busch Gardens in Tampa, it isn’t that kind of theme park that you’re finding throughout Central Florida. This is a small-scale, themed park… a park with the theme of dinosaurs & a few activities for kids. If your expectations are appropriately set, you can have a blast! If you come thinking you’ll be riding rides, you’ll leave disappointed.
So what is it if not a typical “theme park” that you’re used to? It is a park with over 150 dinosaur sculptures and a few fun activities sprinkled in! Personally, I thought it felt like a zoo, but with no living animals unless you count the fish in the streams.
There are several pros & several cons I’ve found after visiting, and hopefully this list will help you decide if Dinosaur World is worth a visit on your next trip!
Pro: Dinosaur World is extremely reasonably priced compared to many other attractions you could attend within the Central Florida area. I’m talking even cheaper than visiting the zoo. We paid $16.95/adult (age 13+) admission, and I paid the extra $7 on the childs ticket (regular admission was $11.95 for kid’s aged 3-12, free under 3) to upgrade Beckett’s ticket to an “excavation pass” for $18.95 which paid for his admission, a ticket to the fossil dig station, and a ticket for a bag at the gem sluicing station.
Both: There are no restaurants or food carts on site. This is possibly the only theme park type of place I’ve visited that had no onsite, overpriced food spot. This, for me, is both a pro & a con. The pro: they let you bring in your own coolers and have a great, shady picnic area for families to relax & eat lunch! You won’t be overcharged for less than average food, and can dictate your diet easily! The con: you need to plan ahead and either pack lunch or stop and get it beforehand. I personally love the convenience of eating at the park and just buying something there. I happily throw down $10 to get my kid a hot dog if it means I can have the convenience factor of an onsite restaurant and not have to pack a lunch.
* There are a couple of vending machines throughout the park along with drinks and a few packaged candies/snacks inside of the gift shop.
Pro: It is dog-friendly if you keep your well-behaved pup on a leash! It would definitely be a fun spot to walk your dog and enjoy the grounds with your entire family!
Both: It is right beside I-4. Again, kind of a pro & a con. You get off of the exit and you’re basically there, but also while you’re walking through one side of the park, you can loudly hear & see this traffic… Maybe they did this to serve as a reminder to you that you didn’t go back into prehistoric times.
Pro: The activities included in the excavation pass are interactive & fun for your kids to learn while getting souvenirs! The fossil dig was good for young kids, where you use a sifting scoop to scoop up piles of sand and find small “fossils” within the sand. You’re allowed to dig as much as you want to find as many fossils are you can, but you can only take 3 home.
Pro: The mining sluice gem station was without a doubt everyone’s favorite activity. You receive a bag of what looks like tiny rock/sediment and slowly pour it into your sluice pan, shaking it into the water and discovering gems, arrowheads, and more. You get to take everything you uncover home with you! Beckett ended up with a huge bag and several huge minerals & gems. This alone made the extra “excavation pass” ticket cost worth it for us.
Pro: There is a dinosaur themed playground just outside of the picnic table area, so when you’re done with lunch, your kids can go run around & play for awhile!
Con: None of the covered areas, such as the dino dig where they could uncover huge fossils, or the random activities sprinkled into the park like a huge wooden puzzle had fans in them, and the only air conditioned spots are the museum & gift shop right when you walk into the park. Aside from the heat being insane, we enjoyed learning about several dinosaurs, many we hadn’t even heard of before.
If it weren’t a 106° heat index on the day we went, we could’ve stayed for several more hours reading & learning more about all of the dinosaurs, but it started to get unbearable!
Pro: It is a super educational park while still managing to be fun. Every dinosaur and even plants had signs that told what they were and information about them. Any dinosaur enthusiast – young or old – could benefit from the knowledge it provided!
Con: This is a con to parent’s with young kids, but there is a section where dinosaurs are bleeding/being eaten by other dinosaurs, etc. It has a warning before you go that way letting you know what’s ahead, so you can skip it if you think you’ll need to. For what its worth, while “graphic”, they weren’t too scary and Beckett thought that they were super cool. Blake wasn’t even phased! However, some kids might be, so important to note!
Pro: Once we’d circled around all of the statues, we visited the museum before leaving. This is a pro mainly because it is an air conditioned attraction, and man, did we need that! It is super dark and has several walls of small lit boxes with many fossils from several different dinosaurs, and ends with a couple of animatronic dinosaurs. If I’m being honest, none of us really paid attention to all of the exhibits because we were just so grateful to be in a/c.
Pro: On your way out (the same way you come in), there is a huge gift shop with everything from small dinosaur toys to huge, expensive chunks of amethyst! It really has something for everyone, and overall, the prices weren’t terrible for a theme park gift shop!
They had a few other activities that we missed/weren’t in the right place at the right time for when they happened, but they had game shows & a cave tour that we weren’t able to do. I figure we’ll go back on a cooler day and check those out, along with seeing anything else we missed today!
With the pros & the cons, we still thought it was a great day, and thought we’d come back on a cooler day & enjoy it a little bit more! Despite the lack of thrilling rides or even an ice cream cart, it is still a great attraction to visit while visiting central Florida.