a peek inside the fishbowl

27 Aug, 2009

A surprise walk with the dinosaurs

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Ottawa for kids|Easy ways to make kids happy

It was Mark’s idea not to tell the girls we had free tickets to see Walking with the Dinosaurs.

After dinner we changed our clothes and packed the girls up in the car, all the while sporting glum faces and mumbling things about “something we have to do for work.”

The girls asked a lot of questions, but we gave them the same answer every time: we’ll explain when we get there. I think they eventually ran out of questions because they soon got pretty quiet.

We drove down the Queensway towards the Scotiabank Place and turned into the road and then into parking lot #1 (which was also free – yay for free parking!) and scooted across the road. There were no signs, nothing, indicating where we are.

“No, they don’t show movies here, sorry.”

Emma and Sarah’s eyes were as wide as saucers as they looked around for clues. We made our way though the line to show our tickets.  The lady who showed up in instructed us to “enjoy the show.” We told the girls there was NOTHING enjoyable about this show. So don’t get too excited.


They were puzzled.

We quickly found our seats after having made a quick beeline past a table which sold dino-related toys. I’m not sure if they saw those. 

They scrutinized the arena in front of us. 

“Those are big teeth,” said Emma, pointing to some giant pointy dental work surrounding a projection screen which took up one side of the staging area.

Mark tried to persuade her that they were stalactites, which would fit a geologically-themed show. I’m not sure if they bought that, but they sat quietly, occasionally whispering to themselves as they looked around.

The people near us were mightily amused when we told them the girls had no clue what was about to unfold. A nearby mom told her seven year old son, I could see the amazement written on his face. HOW COULD THEY NOT KNOW???

He came over as if to gloat a bit, but then thought better of it and went back to his seat.

I think the prehistoric-birdlike thing peeking out of the rafters finally gave it away.

And then the show began.

“WELCOME TO WALKING WITH THE DINOSAURS!” said a big voice over the loudspeaker. (The girls looked back at us and smirked.)

And then it began.

If you haven’t heard of the show I can summarize it in this way: A real-life host (acting as a paleontologist) takes the audience through the different ages and introduces 15 life-size dinosaurs along the way.

It was a hoot, a truly an awe-inspiring production. It was actually fun AND educational. (Edutainment! A lecture, but with puppets! Why couldn’t my university lectures be this fun?)

I was amazed at what they could convey with light, sound, and a fog machine: water, fire, jungle, comets crashing. Wow.

This is some very sophisticated puppetry. In a day and age where computer graphics prevail, it’s clear that someone had to spend the cash and rev it up a notch to make it attractive to the X-Box generation.

“IT LOOKS SOOOO REAL,” whispered Emma, and Sarah, and then Sarah and then Emma. They couldn’t believe their eyes. Or their ears (which they sometimes covered when the dinos got a bit too vocal.)

The dinosaurs are big. How big is hard to fathom (I read the tallest is 72 ft from tip to tail) and from where we were sitting, one guy’s head was at the same level as ours or maybe even higher. The eyes, the skin, and the movement all look creepily realistic. Walking, roaring, hiding, fighting – the dinosaurs all have personalities and are able to convey emotion.

I would have loved to see them up close and get the scoop on how they work. (Apparently there are three people working the each of the larger dinos.)

I know a lot of you are probably wondering whether this show is too scary to bring little children. It’s hard to answer this question because kids are all different. Our girls are a bit more shall we say sensitive, especially Sarah, who is sometimes affected by dramatic music. But they were fine. And the 7 and 3.5-year old boys near us did okay too. 

There is a funny ending (that is, after most of life on earth gets wiped out by a comet) so don’t rush off.

If you’re looking for some family entertainment that is a little bit different, this might be it. It might be a nice way for your family to celebrate the end of summer.

(By the way Emma just declared it was the best show she’s ever seen. She’s 10. Take her word for it.)

Here’s the official website if you’d like to learn more (and check out some videos too).

8 Responses to "A surprise walk with the dinosaurs"

1 | DaniGirl

August 27th, 2009 at 9:55 am


Oh fun! My folks are taking the boys on the weekend — too bad they already know, because I love the idea of how you surprised the girls! Did you see that CBC is looking for kid-reviewers for All in a Day on Friday? Let me know if you want me to add the girls to a list of possible reviewers!

2 | christa

August 27th, 2009 at 11:10 am


My girls and I saw this show a couple of weeks. I had told them beforehand that we were going. They had the same reaction as your girls. They could not believe they looked so real.

My youngest (age6.5) was scared at couple of times, but overall enjoyed the show.

3 | Ginger

August 27th, 2009 at 3:23 pm


Holy Cow that looks so cool! I have seen the TV series on the Discovery Channel and seeing the live show would be awesome. Some how I have to convince my husband that we need to move to Canada. You have so many cool things to see and do! Not that Dallas is completely boring…but still…I would love to see that show!

4 | andrea

August 27th, 2009 at 3:44 pm


Ginger: I just looked at the tour website. They’ll be coming your way in October. :)

5 | jennP

August 27th, 2009 at 7:08 pm


i wanted to go with my daughter… but it is SO expensive! it looks truly amazing!!

6 | porter

August 27th, 2009 at 8:18 pm


sounds awesome…how lucky for you that you got free tickets!

7 | Sharon

August 28th, 2009 at 7:35 am


OMG Nathan would LOVE that…I wonder if there are any tickets left. What a way to end the summer!

8 | Rebecca

August 31st, 2009 at 7:05 pm


First, you guys are the best for being able to keep it a secret. How fun!

I really wanted to go, but I just wasn’t sure that my son would do okay, he’s kinda freaked by loud noises (in stadiums etc) but would have LOVED the dino part. I hope it tours again when he’s older!

sounds like you had a great time.

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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