Walking with Dinosaurs
I love dinosaurs – always have, always will. There’s something about the thought that creatures could be so large which has always fascinated me. So with an eight-year-old son who loves them too, what could be more natural than a trip to Walking With Dinosaurs: the Arena Spectacular when it roared into Allphones Arena in Sydney.
After months of anticipation (I bought the tickets as soon as they went on sale last year) we headed off to the show on March 21.
For me, the pull was to see, up close, exactly how big these creatures were. You can read in books that Brachiosaurs were as long as five buses and T-Rex was six metres tall, but how do you put that into perspective?
We got to the show an hour early, which gave us plenty of time to look around the foyer, take pics in front of posters and walk straight up to the souvenir stand. This was the start of a great experience. The souvenirs were all priced to enable families to buy something to take away without breaking the bank. Nothing was more than $35 (including a selection of tee shirts to suit all ages) and there were items for as little as $5 (cute little key rings).
Then we headed inside.
I’d paid for A reserve tickets, but to be honest there wasn’t a bad seat in the house. It was my first time at Allphones Arena, and I was surprised that the seats were tiered so that our view couldn’t be blocked (unless a dinosaur sat in front of us).
Dinosaurs might have been fearsome creatures, but the passage of 260 million years seems to have given them a friendly persona that infected everyone in the place. Around us, complete strangers were striking up conversations, offering to take pictures of other families on their phones (no selfie sticks required!) and comparing notes on their love of dinosaurs.
The huge stage resembled cracked stone and featured an enormous mountain of “rock”, which we later learned represented the single land mass called Pangaea that existed before it broke apart to create the continents we know today.
As the show started we met “Huxley the Palaeontologist”, played by Andrew Blackman, who invited us to travel back in time with him to the age of the dinosaurs.
Thunderbolts and lightning
From the moment the first dinosaur ran onto the stage, a Liliensternus, I was captivated. It was so cute – until it ate a baby Plateosaurus. “Huxley” explained the various creatures that ran or lumbered onto the stage, as the set changed to illustrate the changes on the earth that enabled the dinosaurs to evolve. Giant trees, then flowers, grew and bloomed, lightning flashed and thunder rumbled. This is not a quiet show! (Note, do not take babies. The roaring and explosions of light and sounds will terrify them – not to mention ruin it for everyone around you.)
The great thing for me (apart from watching my son smile shyly and wave at a passing Stegosaurus) was to see “Huxley” standing near these life-sized creatures, dwarfed by their immense height, length and bulk.
Of course the climax of the show was the appearance of everyone’s favourite monster – T-Rex! First a baby Rex appeared and rather foolishly took on an Ankylosaurus and Torosaurus. Then “mum” roared into the arena to defend her youngster. It was a moment to remember.
All too soon, a comet hurtled towards the earth and we realised these mighty and magnificent creatures were about to exit the stage, just as they exited the planet 65 million years ago. It had been 80 minutes of drama, laughter and sheer exhilaration.
Next time the dinosaurs return to Sydney, I’ll be there, with my mum and dad in tow, because this isn’t just a show for kids – it’s the experience of a lifetime for everyone.
Walking with Dinosaurs opens in Melbourne on March 25, although most shows are already sold out. It then goes to Brisbane from April 4 to 5, Newcastle on April 11 and 12, Perth from April 17 to 19 and Adelaide from April 25 to 26.