a day out for dinosaur lovers

Yesterday David and I took the kids to Field Station: Dinosaurs, a truly hands-on afternoon of science in a surprisingly beautiful twenty-acre park in the New Jersey Meadowlands.  Field Station: Dinosaurs lets kids imagine themselves as paleontologists stumbling upon velociraptors and pterodactyls around each bend.

The animatronic dinosaurs are life-sized and incredibly realistic. Maggie (my four-year-old) had to be carried past the first few while I repeatedly reassured her that the dinosaurs’ teeth were 1) rubber and 2) not suitable for biting children. Eventually, she got a bit braver, telling me, “I’m not holding your hand cause I’m scared. I’m holding your hand because their roars are a little bit loud.” (The dinosaurs’ noises are also very realistic.) Still, she loved it, and was quite proud of her bravery by the end.

My seven and nine-year-old boys loved it from beginning to end. I wondered if they’d be a bit old to be truly excited by it, since our dino-obsessed years are long behind us. But they ran from one to the next, shouting to each other the facts posted about each. For them, the best part was that touching was encouraged! When’s the last time you heard that at a museum?

making friends

 

underneath the tail of the 90-feet-long Argentinosaurus

There are many shows and demonstrations offered throughout the day, so you can make a real day of it here with your dino-lover. Our visit was a bit briefer, since we picked a very hot afternoon to visit. But every single staff member I encountered was friendly and cheerful despite the temperature. It was a noticeable change from other zoos and amusement parks that I’ve visited; this staff was so proud of their new park and thrilled to share it with its visitors.

We really had a great time and I’m so grateful to MamaDrama  for giving us the tickets and the opportunity to review. If you’re in the New York City area– or plan to be anytime soon– definitely put Field Station: Dinosaurs on your summer to-do-with-the-kids list!

 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Brenda June 14, 2012 at 4:06 am

Awsome park is another exuse for visite some day new york ! Im from san antonio texas to far ! :/ i woul like go with my son when he grow up a lil bit he’s 18 months

Reply

Jill July 14, 2012 at 4:25 am

I don’t quite know how to say this, but I wish I had not
spent the money to go there, in total I wasted close to $100.00. I wish there
was a refund button at the end of the path as opposed to a gift shop.
So, Thursday, 7/12, my youngest son and I packed the car up and we were on our
way. When I got there today, I was surprised to see that I had to PAY $10.00 to
park my car, The “Environmental Fee”, in a dirt and rock lot.
Ironically, this fee is NOT MENTIONED on your web site. Is that because it
might deter people from coming? I am not understanding this Environmental Fee,
those same fee’s are not charged to park at other places in Secaucus, like
malls, restaurants, etc. I also recently found out that Field Station also
recieves a “cut” of that fee and yet its still not listed on your web
site.
But I had taken the hour long drive down there and had an excited 3 year old in
the car, so turning around was not an option. Needless to say, that did not
start our adventure off very well.
Then, onto the admission prices – At first, I was willing to pay the $48.15 for
my 3 yr old son and I; however, after going through the park and seeing it,
what is it that my admission costs pay for? It was nothing more then dirt mazes
with robotic zoo animals. A corn maze in comparison, not nearly the vision you
are comparing to with Disney. Even a zoo has paved walkways. There were no park
like attractions (i.e.: your “Puppeters” were nowhere, Dino slides,
swings, jungle gym, carnival like rides related to Dinosaurs, Dinosaur Train,
etc) Just a walking park. We would have had more fun at a park considering half
way through our adventure my son didn’t want to walk anymore and wanted to go
home.
At the entrance there are Port-a-Jon’s. For the amount of money I paid to be
there today (around $100 in total), just for 2 people, and there were A LOT of
people there today, there should be RESTROOMS!
When you go towards the entrance you are greeted by staff who ask if you would
like to take a picture. (And there’s only 2 choices- 1 for $20 or 2 for $30.
That’s extremely expensive considering it is practically equal to an admission
fee.) But that’s it, nothing else to entice the kids. You would think, just
like any other amusement/adventure park there could be additional things like
wooden cut outs to put your face in, or Dinosaur statue’s to pose with, etc.
The entire set-up of that park looked “Temporary”, including the
temporary plastic construction fencing around some of the exhibits, only some
of the exhibits had the “rope like zoo effect”.
The amount of dust that myself and my son were covered in upon leaving was
disgusting. There was no order to anything. We tried to join in on the
“activities” like the Fossil Dig Site, and it was a big GIANT hot
mess. There was no order, no direction, just mass confusion with a bunch of
children tossing sand everywhere. There were only a FEW places were the
children could “discover” fossils, leaving the vast majority of kids
disappointed. Like my 3 year old, who tried his hardest to find something but
the bigger kids overpowered the little ones. The park employee that oversaw
that area was so far away, you had no idea she was there, nor did she know what
was happening in the sand pit. It just seemed like a big litter box. This area
and the entrance were the only places offering a cold beverage or Ice Cream
treat. Half of the Ice Cream/Cold Drink carts were closed and it was a 90
degree day today.
The Lego tent was full with people and not enough Lego’s to go around, and no
Park employee there to ask for assistance.
At the end of your adventure you have to leave through the Gift Shop, which I
get, its marketing, but could it have been at least a structure with air
conditioning instead of a huge sweat box. I believe you might make a bigger
profit if the gift shop had air so your customers are comfortable and would be
willing to stay longer, instead of rushing through the stale air. Even my son was
pulling me, while waiting on a long slow-moving line, to get out of there. The
tent was packed and I had to find the desk for the “picture” we took
in the beginning and stood in front of the employee for literally 5 minutes
watching her adjust her area, herself and her phone. It wasn’t till I said
“Can I see my picture?” Did she make eye contact and just nodded. I
showed her my number and I guess she typed it into a computer, I wouldn’t know
because not once did she speak, tell me anything, make eye contact or explain
anything. I stood there waiting staring at a screen, instead of your employee
being appropriately trained in the simple task of communication. Words like
“Hi”, “How can I help you?”, “Sure, what’s your
number?”, “Your picture will come up in one minute, it just takes
some time.”, “There are three different poses, would you like to see
a different one?” – Simple eye contact and communication are key factors
to any successful business. Needless to say, I did not purchase the picture.
Then after waiting and sweating in that line, I now had to go wait in the
register line, still sweating and still have my child trying to pull me out so
he can get fresh air, to ring up : a foam mask that retail stores sell for a
dollar, a dinosaur figure that again, I have purchased similar ones from Target
for less then $2.00, and his favorite stuffed Dinosaur- totaling $35.31 And to
boot, the cashiers ran out of pennies and were asking us, the customers, if we
had any. Total lack of preparation and management.
Granted, yes, my child had fun. I made sure of that regardless of my disdain
for the entire thing. However, I would have hoped in this economy with the
amount of people struggling to make ends meet; the money I spend on something
would have some meaning behind it.
My entire day’s funding was – $94.00 – and I would have had a better time
throwing money out my window down the highway.
As you can tell I don’t like to waste money, especially when its on a one
income household. I spent more time driving to and from your park, then I did
actually in it, and mind you it was not primarily because of the heat, it was
because of the lack of interest from a 3 year old and a fed-up mother.
Unfortunately for Field Station, as I openly share my story with my fellow town
mom’s and my Facebook connections, I am finding that the common reply I get is
– My child found it boring too. It’s a shame, because it had so much potential.

Reply

amywlsn July 15, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Hi Jill- thanks for your comments. I am sorry your experience was so unsatisfactory.

I’ve passed your comments on to Field Station and I hope they respond directly here. (I reviewed our visit there but am not affiliated with them.)
I didn’t buy anything in the gift shops, or the photos on offer, so I didn’t review those aspects… although I will agree the gift shop is as hot as Hades. For me that was a plus, since my kids had no interest in dawdling. The “Environmental Fee” for parking is something that Secaucus has imposed on the park- at least that’s what I’ve read here: http://www.nj.com/jjournal-news/index.ssf/2012/06/secaucus_charging_environmenta.html. I agree it’s annoying to be nickel-and-dimed; in this particular case,though, it seems it’s not Field Station’s fault. I didn’t mention it because I guess I wasn’t surprised that we’d be charged to park, since you are at the Bronx Zoo or DisneyWorld or other places like this. 

Reply

Leave a Comment