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What Happens When A Small-Town Family Visits The "World's Largest"... Whatever!

Dinosaur World, Plant City, FL: World’s Largest Dinosaur Attraction

Dinosaur World

Dinosaur World, Plant City, Florida

In the summer “Pro” column: school’s out, so we can take fun trips to BIG places. In the “Con” column: school’s out, and having two kids at home leaves little time to blog about it!

We’re just back from almost three weeks in central Florida, and we made tracks across that state, let me tell you. We’ll be sharing the details in future posts, but our trip included visits to: the world’s largest manmade penguin colony; the world’s largest LEGOLAND; the world’s largest Hard Rock Café; the world’s largest collection of personal astronaut mementos and historic spacecraft; and the world’s largest accredited sanctuary for big cats!

But our first stop was to Dinosaur World, the world’s largest dinosaur attraction. I’ve seen the giant T-Rex menacingly stalking the I-4 highway many times on the drive between Tampa and Orlando, and have always wanted to stop in.

I could not have picked a hotter day to visit. It was 173 degrees in the shade. This is what I looked — and felt — like:


The friendly Dilophosaurus, best known for appearing in the movie “Jurassic Park.”

Actually, this is just one of more than 150 life-sized dinosaurs you’ll see as you take the paved – and gloriously shaded – “Dinosaur Walk” through a forest setting. Fact-filled signs near each creature provide paleontology lessons along the way. The dinosaur models, up to eighty feet long, are made of fiberglass, steel, and concrete.


These Brachiosaurus can also be seen from the I-4 highway. Which could be startling at night if you’re not expecting them!

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The BIG Times, May 2013

A round-up of BIG news highlights across the globe, and other BIG finds we want to share!


I got to do something last week that I’ve wanted to do ever since moving to the Hudson Valley: tour Bannerman’s Castle on Pollopel Island in the middle of the Hudson River. In the early 1900’s, Frank Bannerman was the world’s largest buyer of surplus military equipment, and he built this castle to store it in! Public tours have started for the season. You can take a boat to the island, walk the trails, and enjoy amazing views of the castle, Bannerman residence, and the river.

Bannerman Castle

Bannerman Castle, on Pollopel Island in the Hudson River


News which caught our attention over the past month:

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BIG Finds at the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, PA

Franklin InstituteDinosaurs are becoming a “thing” for us. Makes sense…they’re BIG after all! Last year, we went to the American Museum of Natural History in NYC for its temporary exhibit, “The World’s Largest Dinosaurs.” This spring, the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia is presenting a similar program, “Giant Mysterious Dinosaurs,” through April 15.

I now know more about the Jurassic era than I ever thought I would. Or ever really wanted to…

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

Visiting Philly earlier this month, we were drawn to The Franklin Institute for this dinosaur exhibit, as well as the giant walk-through heart. In the end, another unexpected BIG thing turned out to be the highlight of our visit.

Okay, what was so cool about it?

We would have loved this place more if we had: A) less whiny children; and B) a few more hours to cover all three floors of science and technology exhibits. We missed out on the planetarium, IMAX theater and 4D flight simulator.

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PHOTO FRIDAY – Dino Trio, Pittsburgh, PA

“Dino Trio.” Sounds like a smooth crooner group from the ‘50’s. “Singing live tonight at the Starlight Lounge…it’s the Dino Trio!”

Last week, on our post about the Jurassic dinosaur collection at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, I mentioned DinoMite Days, a 2004 public art project which resulted in 100 uniquely decorated dinosaurs, made of fiberglass and weighing 200 lbs each. They were temporarily installed throughout the city, but most have since been sold to private collectors.

However, several can still be found on public display. We found these BIG beauties in front the “Wintergarden” building at PPG Place!

DinoMite Days Pittsburgh

They are, from left to right:

Philiposaurus. Artist: Gary Mesa Gaido

Ketchupsaurus. Artist: Kristina Martinez

Mr. Dig. Artist: Glennis McClellan

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Carnegie Museum of Natural History: World’s Largest Collection of Jurassic Dinosaurs


Measuring up to 90 feet, the Diplodocus was one of the longest animals ever to walk the earth.

Dinos rule. The Girl knows this. She likes her animals fierce.  She also appreciates a take-no-prisoners approach in plant life — her favorite is the Venus Flytrap.  I’m not worried.

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

As we found out on our recent road trip, Pittsburgh is dinosaur country. In 2004, a public art project called DinoMite Days commissioned artists to create 100 uniquely decorated fiberglass dinosaurs, which were installed throughout the city. We discovered several which remain on public display.

WHY did you go there, exactly?

For the real dinosaur deal however, we knew we had to go to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, home to the world’s largest collection of Jurassic dinosaurs.

Okay, what was so cool about it?

Walking through the “Dinosaurs in Their Time” hall gave us quite an education. Now I know that the Jurassic period was the middle of the three stages in the Mesozoic era (and the others are the Triassic and Cretaceous periods. Look at me how smart.)

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BIGGISH – Wally the Stegosaurus, Pittsfield, MA

Look who we ran into this weekend! This BIG stegosaurus sits in front of the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA. We were in the Berkshires for a reunion for the PR company where Matt and I both worked – and met – way back in the Jurassic Period.


Speaking of the Jurassic Period…this is Wally the Stegosaurus, so named because this creature’s brain was the size of a walnut. A life-size replica, he’s 26 feet long, 12 feet tall, and 7 feet wide.  Since he’s made of fiberglass, he only weighs 1,200 lbs, versus a real Stegosaurus weight of 6,000 lbs.

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World’s Largest Dinosaurs Exhibit, New York, NY

MuseumWhere we went, and who was coerced into going:

We were invited to attend a bloggers’ “social” last month at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Specifically, to visit the new exhibit, The World’s Largest Dinosaurs. Because we love all “world’s largest” things, even extinct ones!

WHY did you go there, exactly?

The exhibit is only open through January 2012. We wanted to get there as soon as possible, share it with you, and convince you to visit! And because The Girl is going through a dinosaur phase. She’s been playing with The Boy’s old plastic dinos, setting up social “meet and greets” with her Strawberry Shortcakes figurines.

Okay, what was so cool about it?

We found this to be one of the most hands-on of all exhibits at the AMNH. The lesson here is how dinosaurs actually lived, by revealing their biology. This exhibit focuses on the largest group of dinosaurs which ever lived, the long-necked and long-tailed sauropods, which ranged in length from 15 to 150 feet.

In the middle of the exhibit space is one type of sauropod, the Mamenchisaurus, which was 13 tons and 60 feet long. Thirty of those feet made up the length of her neck. Nearly life-size, this creature doubles as a projection screen. When you sit on the semi-circular bleachers facing her side, you can watch the video presentation displayed on her body, which describes how their bones, muscles, and internal organs worked. You can feel the vibrations of the show through the seats, which added a fun, dimensional experience.

world's largest dinosaurs

One of the topics covered is their digestive system. You’ll see her neck light up as you follow the trail of the plant life she would eat. Sauropods would have to eat 10,000 calories a day. We learned that, despite their long necks, they would prefer to eat low-lying foliage, because raising their long necks would put a strain on their hearts and make it hard work to reach for higher branches.

In fact, one exhibit involved pumping levers simulating the heartbeats of different sized animals to compare the strain.

American Museum of Natural History

But The Girl’s favorite was the fossil dig in a giant sand box. Mainly because she got to wear the pink goggles.


This exhibit leads into the Museum’s series of fossil halls. The Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of vertebrate fossils, totaling nearly one million specimens. More than 600 are on view, and most of them are real specimens, not casts.

The fossils are displayed according to evolutionary relationships rather than chronology. You’ll see a giant, illustrated tree of life, where animals are grouped on branches according to their shared physical characteristics. This is where we learned that humans fall in the category “placentals.” Of course, Matt and I were then compelled to inject the phrase into the conversation as much as possible. “Where are our placentals?” “They’re over there by the stegasouraus.”

I’m not always diligent in reading the exhibit signage, but on this visit, I paid attention. Lo and behold, I learned a few new things about dinosaurs:

  • Dinosaurs’ life spans increased with size. Sauropods would live to about 60, while in comparison, a tiny shrew lives only one to three years. While most creatures have roughly the same number of heartbeats over the course of their life – 1.5 billion – small creatures have faster heartbeats, and they use them up faster!
  • We don’t really know what color the sauropods actually were. They’re depicted as green and brown, but all we know for sure is that they had scales. A fun view-finder exhibit showed them with different colors and patterns.

Museum of Natural History

  • The largest sauropod, the Argentinosaurus, weighed nine tons — ten times more than any known land mammal. These giants rank among Earth’s great success stories, roaming the planet for 140 million years.

A little background info about the place:

This video on the AMNH site goes behind the scenes with The World’s Largest Dinosaurs curators, as they explain the science behind the exhibition.

On the other end of the intelligence spectrum, we made this video of the kids — outrunning a dinosaur in a taxi — at a kiosk in the Fossil Hall. Hams, my family is full of hams.

[flv:http://gobigorgohomeblog.com/content/AMNH-TaxiCab.flv 375 300]


How it rated on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = snoozefest, 10 = add to your bucket list): [rating=9]

9. Such a great exhibit…such a fantastic museum!

Dinosaur fossils

Hey you! Go BIG!:

American Museum of Natural History

Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY, 10024-5192

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