Here’s a fun random fact that y’all may not know about me: I absolutely love dinosaurs. Don’t ask me why…I just think they’re so cool! It started when I was a kid: my childhood best friend and I would binge-watch The Land Before Time, and one of my favourite field trip activities was digging up fake dinosaur bones at the ROM. And even though most of my peers outgrew their childhood dino-obsession, it stayed with me into adulthood. I’ve seen all the Jurassic Park movies, played dinosaur mini golf in Niagara, and made a special trip to Mississauga’s Celebration Square when they put out animatronic dinosaurs for Family Day weekend. Tania even got me a dinosaur-themed Valentine’s Day card this year (what can I say, she knows me well!) So as I’m sure you can imagine, when Jurassic World: The Exhibition announced they were coming to Canada, I was one of the first in line for tickets!
Jurassic World: The Exhibition bills themselves as “the closest you’ll ever come to living dinosaurs”. The immersive, interactive experience takes visitors through various scenes inspired by the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies, and is a must-see for fans of the films. The exhibition is located at 199 Rathburn Road West in Mississauga, right across from Square One Shopping Centre. This is an extremely popular event: we booked our tickets back in early March to secure our spot for May, since they were selling out fast! (If you want to visit but haven’t bought tickets yet, don’t worry: they’re here until at least September and while availability this month is limited, their ticketing website reports good availability from June through September.)
Ticket prices vary depending on your preferred date and time, and as expected, prices are highest on the weekends. We went on a Monday evening, both to save money and avoid crowds, and while admission was still expensive – we paid $79 for two standard admission adult tickets – we definitely felt it was worth the splurge. The experience was larger than life and (pardon the pun) dino-mite!
Once we arrived and showed our tickets, we were promptly ushered aboard the first ride, the “ferry” to Isla Nublar. Of course, when doing any themed ride or experience such as this, a healthy suspension of disbelief is important. As far as I was concerned, for that one hour we spent inside the exhibit, the ferry was a real ferry, the park rangers were employees of Jurassic World, and all of the dinosaurs were 100% real. Trust me on this one – just use your imagination and believe in the magic, and it’ll make your experience 1000 times better. And honestly, all of the animatronics were so well-done and realistic-looking that pretending they were real wasn’t that difficult!
As we exited the ferry, we walked through the iconic Jurassic World gates and were greeted by a towering and magnificent Brachiosaurus, as John Williams’ iconic Jurassic Park theme played in the background. It was just like the famous scene from the first film where the Brachiosaurus first appears (fans will remember that this is the first dinosaur that appears on screen, to the awe and amazement of Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler.) We were in awe too! The ‘gentle giant’ Brachiosaurus is my favourite dinosaur, and seeing her made me so emotional that I almost started tearing up. (I know that sounds silly, but it really was such an incredible moment!)
Next, we headed into the Hammond Creation Lab, where we learned all about the “science” behind bringing dinosaurs back to life. This was easily the cutest part of the experience, because we got to meet baby dinos! There were three tiny ones snoozing away in an incubator, and one of the “scientists” even brought out a bigger baby dinosaur for visitors to pet. I know I’ve said it before, but they really did such an amazing job with the animatronics and this is a perfect example of it: as I scratched the nose of the dinosaur, her eyes closed and she nodded her head as if she was enjoying the pets. For a few moments, I genuinely forgot that I wasn’t petting a real animal!
Next up was the raptor show! A park ranger educated the group on the anatomy of Velociraptors while we waited to watch the training session with the park’s most famous raptor, Blue. The training session was very fun and engaging to watch, and closely mirrored this scene from the first Jurassic World movie. Unfortunately, between the dark lighting and the fast speeds at which both Blue and her handler were moving, I didn’t get any photos that weren’t blurry, but you’ll just have to take my word for it!
While you won’t be assigned to a specific tour group per se, the timed-entry nature of the exhibition means that you’ll naturally fall in with a group of people who entered the exhibition around the same time as you. The staff do their best to stagger the groups so that each experience isn’t too crowded to enjoy, and while you can expect some waiting between experiences, they’ve done a great job at providing some fun things to amuse you while you wait. For example, between the raptor show and the next dinosaur encounter, there was a fossil-filled sandbox that kids (and some of the adults) were digging through. This reminded me so much of the kids’ “dino dig” at the ROM, which was one of my favourite places to visit as a kid! We also got to meet Bumpy, a baby Ankylosaurus.
Then, we moved onto the next attraction: an enclosure inhabited by the fearsome Indominus Rex. If this dinosaur doesn’t sound familiar to you, there’s a good reason: it never existed in real life! The Indominus Rex was one of the characters in the Jurassic World movie: a hybrid, genetically engineered dinosaur created specifically for the park. (Spoiler alert: it didn’t go so well.)
You may recall that we’d previously gotten to meet a baby Ankylosaurus named Bumpy. Well, in the next room, we got to see a fully grown Ankylosaurus, and she was nothing short of spectacular. Her giant tail kept swooshing back and forth, and she was nodding her head and making noises at all the visitors. I think this dinosaur was the most realistic one of all! While we waited for the next experience, the park rangers took photos of everyone with the Ankylosaurus.
The exhibition saved the best experience for last, and it was what everyone had been anxiously awaiting: the Tyrannosaurus Rex, of course! For the last hurrah, we were treated to a dramatic face-off between the T-Rex and the horned Carnotaurus, all while a terrified park ranger yelled at everyone to remain calm and not look the dinosaurs in the eyes. (I have to commend all of the actors; they did such a great job!)
The last stop is a gift shop where you can purchase memorabilia, from Jurassic Park t-shirts to some seriously adorable dinosaur plushies. Tania and I aren’t huge souvenir people but we do collect postcards of places we’ve visited, so we picked up a fun vintage-style T-Rex postcard to take home for our bulletin board.
All in all, I thought the Jurassic World exhibition was such a fun experience! Whether you have kids or are a kid at heart, are a fan of the films or just (like myself) think dinosaurs are the coolest, then I highly recommend checking it out while you can. The exhibit will be here through September 2023, and tickets can be reserved here. You can also check out my Instagram reel of our experience here.
Are you a fan of the Jurassic Park franchise? Which film is your favourite?
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