Last night there was a giant dinosaur in the Rose Garden. The children were screaming. Enter Walking With Dinosaurs: The Live Experience, an educational, theatrical show with giant animatronic dinosaurs, currently ripping up the floors of the Blazers’ home arena on an extended tour of North America.
Last night there was a giant dinosaur in the Rose Garden. The children were screaming.
Enter Walking With Dinosaurs: The Live Experience, an educational, theatrical show with giant animatronic dinosaurs, currently ripping up the floors of the Blazers’ home arena on an extended tour of North America.
The theatrical show, based on a British Broadcasting Channel program of the same name, crams 15 dinosaurs into an hour and a half of theatrical fun, education and relative terror (hence the screaming). The show opens at the beginning of time (as far as the dinos are concerned) and moves through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Most of the requisite creatures from each period make an appearance, as the earth evolves from the giant landmass Pangea to more or less the continent structure we know today.
The show’s narrator appears on the stage to guide the audience through the different time periods that span the dinosaurs’ reign, presenting, interacting and occasionally almost being eaten by the lizards. The show’s script provides plenty of information that you may already have known (Ankylosaurus’ armor is used for defense) and some you might not (Stegosaurus’ plates can apparently pulse with blood to act as a warning to other animals).
Simultaneously, the dinos get their life on, feeding and fighting on stage in front of the audience. There’s even dino shit and some would-be gore–now that’s high-quality entertainment.
And the show wouldn’t be called Walking With Dinosaurs if these prehistoric monsters weren’t the stars. All your favorites are here, from Tyrannosaurus to raptors (Utah, not Veloci). There’s even a flying dinosaur, Ornithoceirus, that’s pretty swell.
The animatronics, which were made by a team of professional puppeteers and movie and television folk, took about a year to make, and boy howdy, does it show. The sheer detail in these creatures is amazing. The folds and crags of the dinos’ skin and the way they bob and move their heads and tails are strikingly lifelike and particularly noteworthy. When the lighting effects kick in and obscure their bases, the dinosaurs look awesome.
And let me tell you, these to-scale dinos are huge (aside from educating, the narrator provides a nice sense of just how big these suckers were). An adult Brachiosaurus’ neck reaching well into the rows of arena seating justly showcased the size of these ancient creatures.
It’s like Jurassic Park, except the dinosaurs move a little slower and aren’t going to kill you. And they’re grounded to giant, moving bases that make their way across a stage, rather than loose in the wild, waiting in the shadows to kill you. Oh, and those raptor and baby T-rex costumes? They’re full of people. So really, it’s not like Jurassic Park at all. Which is fine. Real dinosaurs would probably eat you.
However, if you can look past the puppets’ bases and the people’s legs (which, considering how realistic these things are, is pretty easy), Walking With Dinosaurs delivers a nice bit of “edutainment.” Mostly, the puppets are horrifically lifelike (thanks to a development time of around six years and a hefty budget of $20 million), and despite clearly being skewed for a younger crowd, the show is entertaining … given the absence of undead raptors.
Walking with Dinosaurs plays at the Portland Rose Garden Arena through Jan. 20.
Tickets are $32, $47.50 or $69.50 based on seating.