Do you remember the first time you heard the deafening roar of the T-Rex in Jurassic Park?
In the film, things are just beginning to go south when the monster rears its gargantuan nostrils. After toying with the terrified children and flipping their jeep, it releases a sound so foreign, it can only be described as guttural. That bellow reverberates throughout the theme park and launches one of cinema’s most memorable sci-fi stories of human survival.
Off screen, the result was equally seismic: a Jurassic following was born.
Photo: Jurassic World/Facebook
Twenty two years and two follow-up films later, the much-hyped fourth installment of the series, Jurassic World, is ready to make its own earth-shaking footprint when the live-action adventure debuts on June 12. Nostalgia for the Steven Spielberg-original combined with the lure of special effects and star power (Chris Pratt leads the chase) are already steering this redo towards box-office success.
Whether you’re a part of the resurgence or a member of the new generation being bit by the dino bug this summer, here are real-life attractions to satisfy your JP fix once the credits stop rolling. From hokey theme parks and man-made habitats to must-see museums and tours through today’s wildest lands, these worldly destinations are for fans and explorers alike.
Jurassic Land, Istanbul, Turkey
Photo: Jurassic Land/Instagram
Like its on-screen inspiration, the journey through Jurassic Land begins with a story: Mysterious bones were discovered during the construction of Forum Istanbul, which attracted experts and researchers who uncovered a new world in the depths of Marmara Sea. Awaiting visitors at Europe’s largest, one-ticket-for-all dinosaur theme park is a guided tour of 70 reanimated creatures who are brought back to life in its museum, 4D theater, excavation workshops, laboratory, roaming garden, and even through games of dinosaur-laser tag.
Cocos Island, Costa Rica
it’s not hard to see how the unspoiled wilderness of Cocos Island inspired the setting of Jurassic Park. (Photo: WaterFrame / Alamy)
The setting of the original Jurassic Park, both on-screen and in Michael Crichton’s novels, was the fictional Isla Nublar near Costa Rica (Jurassic World will return to the island for the first time in the franchise). Spielberg ended up shooting the film on Hawaii’s Kauai Island and in Hollywood studio lots, but the director used Costa Rica as his inspiration for good reason. Cocos Island ( “the most beautiful island in the world,” according to Jacques Cousteau) is said to be the inspiration for Nublar — Cocos Island is an uninhabited National Park with a thriving eco-system untouched by humans that tourists can only visit with permission from island rangers.
The Serengeti, Tanzania, Africa
If you squint, they totally look like wooly mammoths. (Photo: iStock)
You can’t see a Tyrannosaurus Rex in the Serengeti, but you can see the modern-day Big Five in this animal kingdom. The lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and buffalo are all on display in their natural habitats at Serengeti National Park, which is why hoards of tourists flock to this Jurassic Park of all safaris. Located in north Tanzania, the Serengeti is as massive and wondrous as it is popular. One of Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, it hosts one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world and is famous for its annual wildebeest migration.
American Museum of Natural History, New York, N.Y.
View a real T-Rex skeleton at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. (Photo: Atlantide Phototravel/Corbis)
Velociraptors won’t be on-hand to chase you through the life-size maze of skeletons, but if you make your way to the museum’s dinosaur wings, you can witness their remains — as well as the four-foot-long jaw and six-inch sharp teeth of the T-Rex — in all of their reconstructed glory. There are over 100 models on display, the majority of which are fossils, that represent only a small fraction of the museum’s massive collection.
Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada
Roam where the dinosaurs once roamed in the badlands of Dinosaur Provincial Park. (Photo: Peter Carroll/First Light/Corbis)
You can experience the type of dinosaur dig Jurassic Park’s Dr. Alan Grant would lead at Dinosaur Provincial park, where about 35 species of dinosaurs dating back 75 million years have been discovered. One of the richest sources of dinosaur fossils in the world, the UNESCO World Heritage Site located at the heart of the Alberta’s badlands offers one-, two-, or three-day excavations where palaeontological technicians serve as guides. Any new fossil finds could end up at the Royal Tyrrell Museum.
Jurassic Park: The Ride at Universal Studios, Los Angeles, Calif. and Orlando, Fla.
Ride a raft past animatronic dinos on Jurassic Park: The Ride. (Photo: Louie Psihoyos/Corbis)
Fandom and adventure collide when you board the all-too-realistic river raft rides at Universal Studios in Hollywood and Orlando. Keeping in theme with the film, the thrill begins with a scenic tour as you glide past the calm Ultrasaurus Lagoon and adorable Stegosaurus Springs of roaming plant-eaters in animatronic form. It’s once you get bumped off course that the stomach-dropping fun begins — only an 85-foot water plunge can save you from Jurassic perils. (Hint: you get soaked!)
Manawaiopuna Falls, Kauai, HI
The beautiful Jurassic falls. (Photo: Cyril Fluck/Flickr)
Costa Rica might have been the fictional backdrop for Isla Nublar, but it was on Kauai where the majority of the franchise’s exotic shots actually took place. There are more than enough sites featured in the films to create an ultimate fan tour around the island — Jurassic World will show the famed Fern Grotto and Nawiliwili Harbor — but it’s the cascading Manawaiopuna Falls that most conjure JP to mind. You can experience the movie’s breathtaking helicopter ride for yourself with a Jurassic Falls Tour, which flies you to the base of the 400-foot falls for a private adventure around the remote and majestic area.
The Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, MT
Some of the T. Rex collection on display at The Museum of the Rockies. (Photo: Museum of the Rockies/Facebook)
You can meet and learn from the real-life inspiration for Dr. Grant at this Rocky Mountains museum. The franchise’s original protagonist (played by Sam Neill) was based on paleontologist Jack Horner, who is decorated for discovering evidence that adult dinosaurs cared for their young. Horner, who is a technical advisor on all Jurassic movies, now works as a curator of paleontology at the Montana museum, which has the largest T-Rex collection in the world.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
See some of nature’s most incredible creatures in the wild at Kruger National Park. (Photo: Dirk-Jan van Unen/ Buiten-beeld/Minden Pictures/Corbis)
One of the most famous places in the world to see wildlife in action, the self-drive park provides the immersive wildlife experience Jurassic Park’s Dr. Ian Malcolm envisioned for his movie visitors. Tourists can navigate the park roads in their own vehicle (you need a permit for open-air) to catch views of the Big Five, the Little Five (buffalo weaver, elephant shrew, leopard tortoise, ant lion, and rhino beetle), and the all-around impressive number of species: 147 mammals, 507 birds, 34 amphibians, 49 fish, and 114 reptiles.
Dinofest 2015, Hampshire, England
Visit with animatronic dinosaurs and check out the prehistoric artifacts at Dinofest 2015. (Photo: Dinofest 2015)
Just in time for Jurassic World, dinosaurs are getting a festival. A yearlong celebration of the extinct species kicked off last month and will continue to stomp through southeast England through 2016. Fossils, animatronic recreations, and prehistoric objects on loan from the Oxford University Museum, Natural History Museum, and more will be displayed throughout Hampshire with a line-up of six exhibitions focusing on geology, archeology, art, and events.
Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Orlando, Fla.
Hop in a Jeep and get up close and personal with the animals. (Photo: Disney)
Jurassic Park was designed to transport visitors to a different world, and Disney World aims to do the same with its man-made African savanna in Orlando. From inside an open-air jeep, the theme-park tour gets you up-close-and-personal to 34 different species of exotic African wildlife as they roam free across 110 acres.
Garden of Eden and Botanical Arboretum, Maui, Hawaii
The Garden of Eden is in Hawaii. (Photo: Garden of Eden and Botanical Arboretum/Facebook)
No setting could be more perfect for Dr. Ian Malcolm’s new world than the real-life Garden of Eden, which is why you should recognize these botanical gardens from the opening sequence of Jurassic Park. Twenty six acres of tropical greens, exotic plant species, hidden waterfalls, and the recognizable Keopuka Rock make up Maui’s picture-perfect paradise. Located along the famous Hana Highway between Kailua and Kaenae, the serene destination is an easy stop for tourists who are passing through.
Field Station: Dinosaurs, Secaucus, N.J.
Make some prehistoric pals at this animatronic dino park. (Photo: Field Station Dinosaurs)
Located minutes from Manhattan and just off the New Jersey Turnpike lies a mini animatronic adventure. During the summer months, 32 life-size creatures breathe, roar, and roam the Meadowlands in this man-made dinosaur park. With the help of scientists from the New Jersey State Museum, the exhibition aims to educate and entertain with its impressively realistic replicas, including a 90-foot-long Argentinosaurus.