Dinosaurs are completely flavour of the month it seems with children from zero to ten at least. The prehistoric giants capture the imagination with little effort – my two year old can recognise most of the common ones from triceratops to brontosaurus or is it brachiosaurus these days?

There are lifelike models, cuddly dinosaurs, roaring and walking dinosaurs – you name it. So when we heard the ‘Walking with Dinosaurs’ Arena Spectacular was spreading its gin-ormous tail across the country it was a bit of a must see.

 

 

Based on the BBC ‘Walking With Dinosaurs’ TV series where lifelike dinosaurs came to life using CGI techniques in a nature programme style on our screen, this tour uses a combination of animatronics and puppetry to create its own prehistoric world live on stage.

The idea is this. A real life dinosaur expert, a David Attenborough meets Indiana Jones kind of character, is live on a stage that is tranformed to the time of the dinosaurs. Starting from the earliest incarnations of the creatures, he narrates us through the different periods introducing the real stars of the show, the dinosaurs themselves. There are around 26 lifesize dinosaurs taking to the stage in the hour and half long show, with a rough storyline based on the periods and the personalities of each of the creatures.

And the dinosaurs are truly impressive. The young Brachiosaurus is immense, booming around the stage trying to avoid the vicious predator dinosaur. That is until the fully grown brachiosaurus enters the arena – and it is ENORMOUS! And both look so real as their long necks lean out over the audience, and move around the auditorium. The kids are thrilled and wide eyed depending on their ages. Other highlights include a Stegosaurus, a pair of duelling Totosaurus (that look a lot like triceratops to the untrained eye!), the rampaging Utahraptors and of course the Tyrannosaurus Rex and its baby T-Rex. I’m no expert, but they really do look real! And yes, if you look closely you can see the bases on the larger monsters that allow them to balance when they walk and the legs of the puppeteers in the smaller creatures – but your attention is taken away from these details by the magnificence of the modelling. And to be honest it’s a good job you can sometimes see those giveaways, as it gives you something to point out to the kids if they’re getting a bit too puzzled by it all.

This is quite an expensive show to go see especially if you have more than one child, but when you look at what must have gone into creating the dinosaurs you can see why and I think it is reasonable value. It’s well over a week ago since we saw the Manchester show, and the kids are still talking about it and stomping around like dinosaurs. The fluxlings are two and six, and both got a lot out of it in totally different ways, although I did have to handle some moments of terror from my two year old little boy when the more snappy species roared at full throttle. He soon calmed down each time though, and when I asked if he wanted to go out was met with a resounding ‘NO!’.

‘Walking With Dinosaurs’ The Arena Spectacular continues its tour of the UK with dates in Glasgow and Newcastle coming up in April, and then London, Nottingham and Liverpool in May. For tickets and information see www.dinosaurlive.com.