Dinosaurs roamed the Kansas plains almost 90 million years ago. And, now, they’ve returned. More than 40 animatronic dinosaurs roar and move their heads and tails at Wichita’s newest attraction.
Opened in late May, Field Station Dinosaurs offers life-size dinosaurs, from a flying Pteranodon to a Tyrannosaurus-rex. A trip through the attraction provides an adventure aimed at children three-11 years old (but likely appeals to any dinosaur aficionado). The park includes dinosaurs discovered around the world, including several found in Midwestern states Kansas, Missouri and South Dakota.
The attraction in Derby (about an 18-minute drive southeast of Wichita) is the second location for Field Station Dinosaurs. The original location in Leonia, NJ, features more than 30 dinosaurs. The company decided a Kansas spot would be a good choice after enjoying six successful seasons.
Some exhibits feature new dinosaurs, discovered within the past 20 years. The Dracorex Hogwartsia – named in honor of Hogwarts – was discovered in 2004 by amateur paleontologists in South Dakota. Scientists dubbed the dinosaur with the Harry Potteresque name because it resembles a mythical dragon. Anzu is an 11-foot tall birdlike two-legged creature that was found 12 years ago in Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming. Its nickname is “Chicken from Hell.”
As visitors explore the 14-acre station, they’ll encounter props and scenes that put them in the middle of a paleontology dig area. From a base camp to dig spots, people encounter prehistoric creatures around curves and corners, including finding carnivorous Compsognathus scavenging through tents.
As we departed the base camp, we toured area’s three regions – Foothills, Valley and the Green. Each features its own collection of two- and four-footed creatures, from a giant brachiosaurus to the saurophaganax, a carnivore discovered in Oklahoma in 1931. I was impressed with the realism used in creating the dinosaurs. Some dinosaur fossils, including the Edmontosaurus, can be found at the World of Treasures museum in Wichita’s Old Town district.
The field station plans to add a maze this summer, which will feature three Velociraptors. So, make sure you take the correct path, or else.
Field Station Dinosaurs offers games and shows for visitors. You can take in a Tyrannosaurus-rex feeding frenzy (featuring a staff-operated T-rex costume) to a limbo dance or play a matching game identifying dig items. Staff members lead visitors with songs during the shows. Children can try their hand at finding fossils at a dig site or run tests in a science lab.
Visitors can also take part in a challenge dome. It features three levels of rope and bridge obstacle courses. A miniature golf course is located near the entrance.
While some people may think there needs to be interactive displays with the dinosaurs, park officials believe children find the dinosaurs themselves worthy of attention. Children have come up to him to talk about what they see, said Lon Smith, general manager. Rather than be a computer game-type attraction, Field Station Dinosaurs tests children’s imaginations.
The attraction is open Tuesday-Sunday Memorial Day through Aug. 14. Then, it will be open weekends through Nov. 25. For admission costs, please visit the website here.
We enjoyed our visit to Field Station Dinosaurs, which has the most animatronic dinosaurs in the country. We recommend visiting the attraction with or without children. Adults will find the dinosaurs interesting.
Disclaimer: Thank you to Field Station Dinosaurs for the complimentary visit. But, like a T-rex’s appetite, all opinions and views are ours.