If you love dinosaurs, then Jurassic Quest is a must-see attraction. If you don't love dinosaurs, well...what's wrong with you?
Currently at the Pomona Fairplex, Jurassic Quest offers an hour-long drive through a herd of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures: pterosaurs, plesiosaurs, and even a ferocious fish or two. Though the location is lacking in atmosphere, the animatronic animals are amazing.
The experience is not quite "Jurassic Park brought to life," but it is well worth the price of admission.
Jurassic Quest Review: Dinosaurs and More Dinosaurs
The appeal of Jurassic Quest can be summed up in one phrase: Dinosaurs and More Dinosaurs. Not only are the all-stars of the dino-kingdom represented (T-Rex, Apatosaurus, Triceratops, Velociraptor, etc); also on display are co-stars, recent discoveries, and also-rans. The variety is so incredible that, unless you are an aspiring paleontologist, you are likely to encounter several species with which you are unfamiliar.
In addition to terrestrial dinosaurs, prehistoric reptiles from the sky and the ocean are on view. Pterosaurs are represented by Quetzalcoatlus, the world's largest flying creature. Plesiosaurs are represented by Elasmosaurus; other ancient aquatic reptiles to be seen are Tylosaurus (which somewhat resembled malicious dolphins) and Archelon (a giant sea turtle). And just for good measure, the tour ends with a prehistoric fish: the giant shark Megalodon answers the question "Can you top this?" by providing an example of a creature with an even bigger bite than Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Jurassic Quest Review: Audio Tour
Lest you fear that the profusion of prehistoric fauna will leave you unable to distinguish one bidedal predator from another, Jurassic Quest offers audio commentary explaining the differences between Gigantosaurs, Albertosaurs, and Tyrannosaurus, among others. You will learn that the Velociraptors seen in JURASSIC PARK are oversized, more resembling a Deinonychus. Also, Oviraptor (meaning "egg punderer") is misnamed: the first petrified remains were found among eggshells, but it turns out the creature was guarding its own nest, not eating the eggs of another dinosaur.
The commentary (available to stream live or download to your mobile device) pulls off the neat trick of being loaded with informative details without ever getting bogged down. The audio file runs a little over a half-hour but includes numerous places where you are instructed to pause before reaching the next group of dinosaurs; the actual drive through the parking lot runs closer to an hour, allowing time for the cars in front of you to move on so that you can get your turn to pause and take photographs of each tableau.
Jurassic Quest Review: Jurassic Parking Lot
Ah, yes - the parking lot. Thanks to the Covid-19 epidemic, Jurassic Quest has transplanted its presentation from indoors to outdoors, turning it into a drive-through experience, with the now-standard restrictions in place: stay inside the car, and always keep the windows rolled up unless you're wearing a mask.
The pacing of the tour is fine, and placing these oversized animatronics outdoors certainly makes more sense than cramming them into a hall in a convention center. But still...it's a parking lot. Despite a smoldering volcano and some greenery around the various displays, the asphalt undermines any attempt to simulate a Jurassic Park-type jungle environment.
Also, there is no visual suggestion of being inside a zoo, which undermines the one comic conceit of the audio tour, which features the voices of nervous guides worried that the T-rexes have escaped their enclosures, a running gag that reaches a grizzly climax when an adult and a juvenile are seen feasting on an unfortunate Triceratops. No matter how willing you are to suspend your disbelief, it is impossible to play along with the joke when none of the dinosaurs are penned up.
Jurassic Quest Review: Conclusion
The life-sized dinosaurs of Jurassic Quest are incredibly detailed and up-to-date, their appearances conforming to current scientific theory rather than to cinematic depictions. The animatronics, accompanied by sound effects, bring them to life with blinking eyes, craning necks, snapping jaws, and moving limbs, but you're not going to see anything actually walking around (not that we were led to expect that).
Really, the only downside to the presentation is the lackluster location. A great painting deserves a great frame; a great statues deserves a pedestal, and these wonderful dino-recreations deserve a setting worthy of them, one that immerses the viewer in a Jurassic World.
Even without that pedestal, Jurassic Quest provides more than enough prehistoric wonder to dazzle the eye and excite the mind. It's educational and amazing - a treat for young and old alike. Adults will be entertained, and children will be entranced.
Jurassic Quest Rating
The life-sized animatronic dinosaurs and the informative audio tour create a must-see attraction for viewers of all ages. Only the parking lot setting fails to deliver the immersive experience that would have earned Jurassic Quest a five-star rating.
Jurassic Quest continues at the Pomona Fairplex through Feburary 28. The address is 1101 W Mckinley Ave, Pomona, CA 91768. Merchandise is available for sale at the end of the tour. Prices start at $49 per vehicle. For tickets and hours, visit the official website: www.jurassicquest.com.