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Dinosaurs (Almost) Come to Life at New Science Exhibit

May 27, 2014

(Photo: Field Station: Dinosaurs)

The allure was unmistakable: Come to a dinosaur park in New Jersey! Get a private tour before it opens for the season! How could I refuse? I never saw “Jurassic Park,” I am no fan of theme parks, and New Jersey?  It speaks for itself.

But I took a seven-minute train ride from Penn Station to Secaucus, walked half a mile from the station, and found myself at Field Station: Dinosaurs with three friendly adults and Ella, a 5-year-old child escort, who had been to the park once before. 

The backstory is perfect. Guy Gsell, a veteran of children’s theater and those heavily promoted sciencey-exhibits that had a home in Discovery Times Square (King Tut! Bodies!), was a dinosaur-loving kid who grew up making  spectacles with an educational twist. He spent 18 months developing an outdoor exhibit park on 16 acres of an abandoned New Jersey quarry (once known as Snake Hill) and traveled the world commissioning bespoke animatronic dinosaurs, and ta da! He is the president and chief executive producer.


(Photo: Field Station: Dinosaurs)

What’s nice about Field Station: Dinosaurs is that it appears to be a place where scientists would work – you see their tents and notebooks – if humans and dinosaurs coexisted not in a Creationist way, but in a Michael Crichtony way. A big sand pit is home to a lot of million-year-old fossils, and visitors are invited to dig for them. If they find one of these prizes, it is theirs to keep.  (Guy admits he’s one of the fossil sellers’ larger customers.) 

Gsell’s big idea is to promote science to kids, and it’s effective. The team behind the park includes real paleontologists, Jason Schein and David Parris, who’ve made a lot of key decisions in the renderings of the animals – there’s a reason the T-Rex sounds the way it does and the Apatasaurus (formerly known as brontosaurus) sounds the way it does. 

The park is affiliated with the New Jersey State Museum and Planetarium; between their staff paleontologists and an adherence to the “New Jersey’s Core Curriculum Standards in Science Practices, Life Science and Earth Systems Science,” one gets the feeling that the science here is solid.


(Photo: Field Station: Dinosaurs)

As you wind your way along the paths and hear and see the dinosaurs in what looks like a natural setting, there are little games and questions posed to make kids engage with the animals. What color would this be? Why do you think his hands are so small? Do you think this dinosaur eats vegetables or meat?  In tents, yurts, and shacks, interactive games and audience participation shows happen several times a day to make the experience less than passive.

There are no rides at Field Station: Dinosaurs. The ADA-approved landscaping allows for good walking, photographing, listening, school and camp trips, and you can eat your lunch or buy your lunch as well. It’s a good half day or more for a parent and some kids or a family on a weekend. But some kids (perhaps those under 5) might be a little scared at first. They do kind of sneak up on you.

(Photo: Field Station: Dinosaurs)

I didn’t see “Dinosaurs Alive!” the 3D movie that’s shown 11 times a day, nor did I sign up for “Dozin’ With Dinos,” the twice-a-summer sleepover, but I had a thoroughly fun time watching a grown man’s passion come to life.

Field Station: Dinosaurs 
One Dinosaur Way, Secaucus, N.J.
Season:  May 24 -  November 2
Ticket information here