Dinosaurs have been extinct for a long time. You know what else is a long time? The lines at Jurassic Quest. But, don't let that keep you from experiencing something unique. Before you leave your house, however, ensure a good start by purchasing your tickets online. We arrived just after lunch and the line to get tickets was super long and everyone was standing out in the sun. So, my kids were immediately pleased that we passed right on by in the "Online" line to get our wristbands for VIP and hands stamped.
The air-conditioned building is a very pleasant and welcome change from the outdoors, and you're immediately immersed in a world of dinosaurs. The lights are dim and it feels a bit eerie (to some kids). Keep up with that youngin', though! If he's anything like my impatient 6-year-old (or maybe he scares easily), he'll be speed walking through the crowds around the exhibit because there are quite a few to see. Nearly every single one of them move with dinosaur sounds coming at you from all sides. The setup forms a figure eight and there's no clear cut direction of which way to go, so, watch your step to avoid bumping into people. While the space is sized OK for strollers, we noticed that with the crowd, they didn't do as well — especially those double ones (one lady pushing one knocked down an entire row of metal line boundary stands).
Once you get through the initial exhibit, you enter another area where the lines are long and slow going. You should go ahead and get the VIP experience if you plan to do anything else as the activities are $5 extra each, but the VIP ticket is just $29 and you get to do unlimited activities (however, even with the VIP, the green screen photos and the face painting are extra). The Dinosaur Babies "show" is 30 minutes long and takes place at certain times throughout the day. We walked up 15 minutes before the next time to get a seat. There is only one row of chairs in the front around the half circle, so watch for all the adults to take those — sorry kids, fend for yourselves! We found a section were there were no chairs and my kids stood by the rail and I backed up. We waited and waited, then the show started. BUT, the two baby dinosaurs that the show consists of come out at the same time and start on the same side! The kicker? We were on the OTHER side. Another 30 minute wait and still didn't get close enough. The side they start on is not set, it changes and there's no set alternating sides. Kids were getting impatient and bored within minutes once the "show" started and they couldn't see a thing! We ended up walking away ... to try to ride the dinosaurs. Sounds like fun! However, anticipate another long line there because the ride is very slow. Note: it's geared toward small children; it can be boring for kids older than 6. Pretty neat if you get the chance to actually do it, though.
The best bang for your long wait is the Dino Science Stations. The kids get to crack open a block of dirt to find fossils using tools they get to keep, and then they make their own fossils out of clay and plaster. Jurassic Quest needs better crowd control in this area as you'll find lots of parents sitting in the chairs around the table (the chairs are for the kids doing the activities), thus making the line longer than it would be otherwise. That station is messy and pretty cool — a big hands-on hit with my kids! There's also an arts-and-crafts station where kids can glue collages together. It was also in this area that we found shorter lines to "ride" larger dinosaurs that really only moved up and down. My 10-year-old liked this. Of course, to sit on the T-Rex, the line is longer. She was super happy to ride the one she chose.
The really big dinosaur exhibits are outside. You don't get the same feel as inside, especially with the race track in operation. All we heard was the sound of the cars going 'round and 'round. Also outside, you'll find several inflatables to jump on under big tents, and there are toddler bounces, too (REMEMBER SOCKS or you can't bounce). There are also sno-cone and food vendors. Be ready to pay $3 for bottled water or any 20 oz. bottled soft drink for $3, and hotdogs are $4. There are giant fans randomly placed around outside to get some relief from the heat, too.
The setting is at The Fairgrounds Nashville, so for admission priced as though you're going to a museum, you might expect a little more decor or background covering, but kids don't really pay attention to that. Most of the VIP ticket activities aren't geared toward very small children, so keep that in mind if you're opting to spend the extra $9.
While it appeared that most of the parents didn't enjoy the long waits and anxious kids they brought with them, most of the kids we talked to or saw (including our own) were having fun ... once they got through the lines.
The Fairgrounds Nashville
625 Smith Ave., Nashville
Saturday, Aug. 6 from 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 7 from 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
$25 ages 13 - 64, $20 kids ages 2 - 12 regular admission, $29 kids ages 2 - 12 VIP, free ages 1 and younger