REVIEW - JURASSIC WORLD: THE EXHIBITION
T-rexceptional Event Knocks Rivals out the Jurassic Park
It sometimes feels like London has more dinosaur events than nail bars - and we’ve been to them all. But one, T-rexceptional event knocks the rest out of the Jurassic Park.
Jurassic World: The Exhibition is the only official, live adaptation of one of the biggest blockbuster franchises in movie history. Life finds a way at ExCeL London, as 16 of the film’s most famous, scaly stars take over 20,000 square feet for the immersive event.
The experience begins on a ferry from London to Isla Nubar, near Costa Rica, watching the sea lap against the boat from the windows, and being gently lulled into the false sense of security essential for any action movie.
After a gruelling, two-minute sea expedition, you step off the ferry as John Williams’ famous theme tune booms out and the iconic Jurassic World gates slowly open, to reveal an enormous Brachiosaurus, gracefully nibbling leaves from the trees in the lush jungle surroundings.
Deeper within the jungle, a livestock truck lurches and shakes as a bleary pachycephalosaurus recovers from the effects of a tranquilliser dart and peers out at us - the perfect opportunity for a do-you-think-he-saurus joke, wasted on our children.
The path leads us to the famous Hammond Creation Lab - one of many highlights for our four-year-old and toddler. Here, we saw impossibly cute, baby dinosaurs panting in incubation. The children could tap computer screens to scan various dinosaur eggs, or don enormous rubber gloves to feel different types of pulsating, dinosaur dung. Scientists occasionally popped out with blinking, dino infants for children to gently stroke. And grown-up nerds could check out the famous amber collection and DNA research.
Pleasingly, you are never rushed or moved on, so can take your time in each section - the whole experience averages about 45 minutes to an hour.
When our children had satisfied their dino dung fondling needs, we headed into a pen, where the film’s caged velociraptors Delta, Echo and Charlie angrily tried to shake their heads free from their metal muzzles. I briefly pondered whether this might prove a little too scary for our daughter, who was much more concerned about their wellbeing. One cage was supposed to contain Blue, who was awaiting us in the next room for some ‘raptor training.
A guide - enthusiastically aping Chris Pratt - cautioned us to keep our distance from the pen my son was licking, which was studded with warnings about the 10,000 volts of electricity charging through it. Eventually, a 12 foot velociraptor leapt through the door for a Benny Hill-esque training session, which saw an impressively raptoresque Blue snapping at our game, Chris approximation as he flailed his arms, danced about and yelled commands.
Children then had the opportunity to dig for fossils in giant, archaeological sandpits and check out the dinosaur bones that had already been recovered, including a satisfyingly giant, T-Rex skull.
Next, was one of the biggest showstoppers of the experience - an opportunity to watch feeding time for the fourth film’s deadly, hybrid creature, the Indominus Rex. A giant cow slab is suspended above the trees in the darkly lit jungle, where plants rustle and move, as the giant shadow of a prehistoric creature ominously spreads across the set. The moody suspense is broken by an enormous, uplit dinosaur swaying about, jerking its enormous, muscular head towards the crowd before opening her jaws and devouring the beef.
Alarms then ring and the tour guides inform us that a T-rex has escaped. There is strobe-lit drama and a huge, T-rex rears its head above the canopy and bends a street light as it charges through the jungle and lunges towards us.
Before it has an opportunity to tear us limb from limb, we’re rescued and led through the doors into the gift shop, where we blink at the bright lights and are immediately ordered to buy armfuls of T-rex cuddly toys by our enraptured children, who are totally cool with almost being T-rex supper, mere seconds earlier.
If Jeff Goldblum had been reclining at the end, with a nipple winking at us while we departed, it would have been perfection and is a must for any dino and movie fans.
Jurassic World: The Exhibition Tickets It has now been extended until 15 January 2023 at ExCel London, Royal Victoria Dock, 1 Western Gateway, London E16 1XL. Off-peak tickets from £18.50 per child and £26 per adult.