By MARY THURWACHTER
Palms West Monthly
Posted Oct. 29, 2018
WEST PALM BEACH — It’s been three long years since dinosaurs invaded the South Florida Science Center. Now, the life-size animatronic Triceratops, Raptors, Tyrannosaurus Rex and others are back and bigger than ever. Some have more teeth and some even have feathers.
“Dinosaur Invasion” is the largest exhibit the South Florida Science Center has ever hosted and gives visitors an up-close and personal encounter with some of the world’s most unique and recently discovered dinosaurs.
On a recent trip to the science center, one young visitor gave the exhibit two thumbs up. “They are so cool,” said Elizabeth Dunkelmann-Hon, 3, of Palm Beach Gardens. She was there with her mom, Jennifer Dunkelmann-Hon, who said her daughter was quite taken with Tyrannosaurus Rex.
“He’s cool, he roars,” Elizabeth said of the 40-foot-long carnivore. Although the exhibit had been open less than a week, this was already her second visit.
The exhibition runs through April 21 and covers every continent so visitors can discover where dinosaurs lived and how they arrived. Visitors will also have the chance to learn about geological formations, tectonic plates and the latest paleontological research.
“Dinosaurs are always popular,” says Science Center CEO Kate Arrizza, who first saw the exhibit in Jacksonville and thought it would be perfect for the center.
“It’s a very interactive exhibit,” she says, “and the dinosaurs move and roar.”
Unlike previous exhibits at the venue, “Dinosaur Invasion” leads visitors outside to what normally is the employee parking lot. It’s been transformed into a playground for animatronic dinosaurs, a half-dozen prehistoric giant rats and a 33-foot-long crocodile. And what’s more, future paleontologists can perform their own fossil dig in a giant sandpit.
Hudson Winegrad, a curious 2-year-old from Boynton Beach, especially enjoyed the sandbox, where he dug up large dinosaur bones. Hudson, accompanied by his grandparents from Apollo Beach, is a boy of few words. Still, he managed to share his thoughts.
“I love dinosaurs,” the toddler exclaimed as his eyes widened and his grin stretched from ear to ear.
“I like their mouths,” chimed in 4-year-old Lyla Rose Granato of Jupiter. “They’re loud and when they open wide you can get inside with your hands.”
Lyla Rose’s baby sister, Cosette, 2, echoed her sibling’s sentiments. “They have big mouths,” she gasped.
Their mother, Jennifer Granato, writes children’s books and may be prompted to write a new one based on her girls’ experiences at the exhibit. “They are my little inspirations,” she said.
The just-opened show has already been a huge hit according to Melinda Grenz, the science center’s marketing director. “Last weekend, the sandpit was packed,” she said. “Kids are loving it all.”
The traveling exhibit is in line with the science center’s mission to open every mind to science. “People will learn about the history and timeline of the dinosaurs’ reign as well as the geology and geography associated with this period and climatology. They’ll learn about how dinosaurs lived, what they ate and how they died.”
Scientists have determined that dinosaurs are more closely related to the modern chicken than to living reptiles, Grenz added. So it should come as no surprise that some of the creatures on exhibit have feathers.
The exhibit is on loan from Imagine Exhibitions, Inc., which is currently producing more than 35 unique exhibitions globally in museums, science centers, aquariums, integrated resorts and non-traditional venues.
And the animatronic dinosaurs aren’t just limited to the science center’s grounds, Grenz said. Two dinosaurs are positioned in Concourse C of the Palm Beach International Airport to greet inbound passengers.
“Dinosaur Invasion” runs at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, 4801 Dreher Trail North in West Palm Beach, through April 21. Admission is $17.95 for adults, $15.95 for seniors 60 and older and $13.95 for ages 3-12. Members are admitted free.
The Science Center will supplement the exhibit throughout its six-month stay with special events, including the Roar and Snore Family Sleepover that takes place Nov. 2-3.
For more information, go online to sfsciencecenter.org.
Pictured above: Antonio Caycho, left, his sister Francesca Caycho and their grandfather marvel at the life-like Cryolophosaurus currently on exhibit at the South Florida Science Center.