Have you ever wondered what a dinosaur would sound like? Me neither. My thoughts regarding dinosaurs have always basically been twofold: Could I outrun a dinosaur? and Would I have been able to ride a Brontosaurus like the Flintstones? Limited in my knowledge, yet fascinated like the rest of us, I recently traveled to Field Station Dinosaurs in Secaucus, NJ to become much more enlightened on the subject.
Located in a marsh-like former quarry area just yards from the Secaucus train station, Field Station Dinosaur enables you to walk through the forest and encounter true-to-size animatronic dinosaurs going about their business. My love and I strolled hand-in-hand down the trampled dirt paths, stopping along the way to gawk at the dinosaurs eating in clearings in the woods, perched up high on rocky outcroppings, and poised to attack in the marshland with Empire State building looming in the distance.
At each dinosaur clearing there is a posted display that educates you about the species. Fun and informative, we enjoyed seeing the original geographic location of each dinosaur (Montana, The Gobi Desert, and yes, even New Jersey, were all represented). There are also pronunciations listed, fun facts, and other statistics provided.
Much of Field Station Dinosaurs is geared towards young children. At the back of the park is an area where children can chip away at plaster blogs to excavate dinosaur bones in a complete laboratory. Just beyond this area is a sand pit where your little Paleontologist can brush away the sands of time and reveal bones in situ. An incredible number of shows and activities led by park staff are offered in an outdoor theatre just near the concessions stand, to be enjoyed by children. Topics include: Field Station Challenge, Mesozoic Concentration, Fossil’s Up Close, Dinosaur Dance Party, Avian Dinosaurs and more (if you have a kinesthetic learner this is the place to be). The Commander’s Tent at the top of the park offered air conditioning and a singalong with “baby” dinosaurs when we were there. Incidentally, none of the children we saw seemed scared of the giant moving dinosaurs in front of them. That includes the two-year olds in their strollers and the babies in their mothers’ arms. Which is more than I can say for some of the adults.
Should you get hungry, Field Station offers a small concessions area selling “Dino Dogs” and “Bronto Burgers”, chips, candy, soda and Italian ices. There is a nice, large, covered seating area with picnic tables provided.
The park also offers a small, but stocked gift shop with Field Station memorabilia and dinosaur trinkets. This is also the place where you can purchase the “dinosaur about to eat us in front of a green screen” photo that taken of your group when you enter the park.
So back to what dinosaurs sound like. This was my absolute favorite thing about our visit. Not only do the dinosaurs move, but you can hear the audio of what paleontologists believe was the natural sound of each dinosaur. It really brought the animals to life and made us even more interested to learn about the characteristics of each dinosaur. There was something also rather time-transporting about hearing the calls of the dinosaurs echoing through the forest. When you visit, look, take selfies, read the info…but make sure to listen carefully to them calling out to you.
We really enjoyed our visit to this very unusual attraction. I expect (hope) that following the release of the summer movie “Jurassic World” there will be a surge in attendance at this park just across the river from Manhattan. Actually, that would probably make for an exceptional day! Jurassic World and a day at Field Station Dinosaurs.
Unfortunately, days are numbered for the current Field Station Dinosaurs. The park will close in the fall of 2015. The site will be new location for the High Tech High School. Until a new site is found elsewhere in NJ to house the massive dinosaurs, enjoy it while you can get it!
Wear comfortable walking shoes…you will be walking on unpaved terrain.
Sunscreen and a hat is also useful, particularly in the marshy areas. Bug spray was not ultimately necessary, but would be nice to keep the black flies away in the marshy section.
There are many benches located throughout all of Field Station Dinosaurs. We were pleased to see this, as it is beneficial to older visitors bringing grand children and jet-lagged tourists.
Bring water with you, you will get thirsty! There are also drink vending machines available and a sheltered area to picnic with hot dog and hamburger stands.
Parking for the day is $5 in the lot to the right of the front gate. Just follow the dinosaur signs to the park.
Park Website: http://fieldstationdinosaurs.com