REVIEW: Dinosaur Encounter is an exciting and educational day out


RHEGED has been overrun with prehistoric beasts this summer, and our Family Fun columnist Cat Park took her kids along to the Penrith attraction for a unique Dinosaur Encounter

HAVING already put the dinosaurs at Rheged on my survival Guide for Summer ( HERE ) it was high on my list of things to do.

With almost seven years age gap between my daughter and son, trying to find things to do that will maintain the level of interest of both can sometimes be a challenge but being a Natural History Museum exhibition, I had high hopes.

The installation at Rheged has been well thought through and the moving dinosaurs, with all of their noises, are on such a scale that they can't fail to impress.

The exhibition lures you in with the giant T-Rex in the main hall. There were some great faces being pulled by Roman, who's two, and was a little scared at first before coming to terms with the fact it wasn't going to eat him.

Coco, eight, was impressed with the scale and how life-like the T-Rex was, plus she had plenty of questions from the off about how it ate with its little hands and also how it brushed its teeth - a valid point! She also had the job of hunting for the various dinosaur posters dotted around the centre which gave clues to reveal a mystery word, which if completed, could win them a prize.

The exhibition itself is upstairs in the gallery. It is relatively small and if you don't take in all of the literature and information that is displayed on the walls, chances are you'll be through the exhibition in five or 10 minutes and left feeling disappointed.

Obviously for a two-year-old, the sights of the dinosaurs were the key thing and he wouldn't have entertained me talking about the evolution of the planet, however for an eight-year-old, it was ideal. The information really helped to make this a longer and educational experience for us all and it's written in an accessible way, which helps to put perspective on the time scales and changes of the world all of those million years ago. You can also find various questions under lift up flaps that put your knowledge and guesswork to the test, so we had a great time getting involved with trying to work out the answers.

Rheged runs set timings for entering the exhibition, which include a short film shown in the cinema area. I'd advise you to take it in as it goes further to enhancing your understanding of the giant creatures and also the way in which scientists have learnt so much about them before putting them on display for us all to see.

As you move round from the cinema experience there are then a number of fossils exhibited, again with lots of information to take in. There is an activity area for kids too where you can complete fossil rubbings or build your own Lego dinosaur, which kept my two entertained before Roman decided chucking the Lego around was even more fun! On that note, we moved towards the exit.

All in all the Dinosaur Encounter is fantastic. Yes, it is relatively small so be prepared to make the most of what is on offer to get your money's worth and make it a longer and more exciting experience. The exhibition is a great taste of the Natural History Museum and it's fascinating to see how they have created a mini tour exhibition from their wider collection.

I'd personally give this a 7/10 as the variation and information worked well for the age of my children but if I were just taking my toddler to see the dinosaurs, we may well have got through a lot quicker and I'm not sure I'd have felt the value as much.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017 at 3:47PM
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