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Islands of Adventure – Jurassic Park: Discovery Center


Rating: * * +
Type: Interactive displays
Time: Unlimited
Short Take: Best for young dinosaur buffs

This is lifted almost straight from the film and houses a fast food restaurant, a shop and, on the ground floor, a children’s “science center,” which blends fantasy and reality in such a way that you might have to explain the difference to your more trusting kids. Kids will certainly recognize the huge T-Rex skeleton that perches menacingly on a rock outcropping and pokes its head through to the circular railing on the upper level.

A nursery carefully incubates dinosaur eggs. Nearby, kids can handle “real” dino eggs and put them in a scanner to view the developing embryo inside. Periodically an attendant appears and conducts a deadpan scientific show-and-tell as you watch an adorable baby raptor emerge from its shell.

Closer to reality is an actual segment of rock face from the North Sea area containing real fossilized dinosaur bits from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous eras. A series of clever “neutrino data scanners” let kids move along the rock face looking for dinosaurs. When a fragment is found, the scanner analyzes it and then identifies and reconstructs the dinosaur from which it came. In somewhat the same vein is an exhibit of life-sized dinosaurs that supposedly lets you see the world as the dinosaurs saw it by looking through high-tech viewfinders mounted periscope-style into the model dinosaurs’ heads and necks and moving the creatures’ heads around (unfortunately, it rarely seems to work properly).

On the zany side is a DNA sequencing exhibit that explains the cloning premise on which the movie is based and then lets you combine your own DNA with that of a dinosaur to create a saurian you. And completely over the top (but a lot of fun) is a quiz show with the rather naughty name, “You Bet Jurassic.” Here you and two other tourists compete in a game of dinosaur trivia. But don’t get your hopes up; the grand prize is a lifetime supply of Raptor Chow, which is apparently manufactured from losing contestants!

On the back wall of the lower level you’ll find a large mural depicting life in the Jurassic era. If you entered the Discovery Center from the upper level, you might want to take a peek through the massive double doors in the middle of this wall. They open out onto a spacious park-like terrace that descends to the shores of the Great Inland Sea. This is one of the loveliest open spaces in the park and offers a stunning view back to the Port of Entry and the lighthouse that welcomes arriving guests. With its tropical foliage, it’s secluded and romantic at night. Near the dock area once used by boats that ferried guests back and forth from Port of Entry is a bridge leading to the Lost Continent area near Mythos restaurant.

You've read the excerpt,
now buy the book!

Universal Orlando 2011


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