Friday, February 1, 2013
Battle of the Titans - Dinosaurs invade the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, ON
It is billed as a Battle of the Titans with Tyrannosaus Rex (T-Rex) facing off against the Triceratops for dinosaur supremacy! For my daughters it was just about really cool dinosaurs at the Royal Botanical Gardens. No matter your age, I think we can all agree there is something about dinosaurs that captures our imagination and intrigues us.
Last year my five-year old was in junior kindergarten and she learned about dinosaurs and since then she has had a keen interest in these prehistoric creatures peppering me with questions about their size, what they ate, how they died…the list goes on and on. My two and a half year old not to be outdone by her big sister also has become a fan of dinos but her questions are much easier to answer. As you can imagine, when we were at the Royal Botanical Gardens over the holidays and the girls heard about the upcoming dinosaur exhibition they were so excited. Flash forward to Wednesday when I told the them we were going to see the dinosaurs at the RBG the next day – the five year old responded with an exasperated “finally!” and the two year old ran around the house yelling “dinosaur” at the top of her lungs.
The Battle of the Titans does not disappoint! We entered the RBG and headed for the action. As we passed the Atrium we noticed to large dinosaur heads peeking out from the foliage and the excitement rose. My two year old ran ahead with her dad and by the time we caught up with them she was already outfitted in a dinosaur costume and roaring up a storm. The five year old opted to read some books (dino themed of course) and we enjoyed some time in the “play area”. Next up was crafting, one of the great things about the events at the RBG is there is always creative opportunities which is ideal for younger (and older kids) when you need some down time. Their activity of choice was colouring and it kept them out of mischief for a while. For a listing of all the daily activities check the website.
The foyer has some cool activities including the digital dig pit. Kids have the opportunity to uncover dinosaur bones under digital dirt (so tidy!) and then sweep them into place to create a skeleton which comes alive and “walks off the table”. I honestly think that my girls would have spent the whole night and much of the next day here. I also had the opportunity to speak to the gentlemen that created this super cool exhibit and they were thrilled to watch it in action. Up to that point they had only tested it themselves and I think they were very pleased with the final result. This is a great activity for kids of all ages – my two year old picked it up in no time.
There are other interesting and education exhibits around the foyer but once my girls got to the dig pit they weren’t keen to do much else. That is until the prehistoric puppet show. This cute puppet show features a T-Rex and Triceratops and manages to be both fun and sneak in some educational facts along the way. Post show the staff came out with the two puppets and let the children “meet” the characters.
We finally managed to get back to the Atrium to take in the main attraction. The diorama of the T. rex and Triceratops locked in battle. The upper level is full of fascinating and interactive displays. From video displays to the dino vision skulls there is plenty to see and do and it covers a wide range of information which means older kids and adults will be engaged and learn but younger kids will still find things they can connect with. As expected the dinosaur “output” display was met with giggles and interest. I guess it’s not just boys that like that stuff.
The actual dinosaur replicas are huge and both girls liked getting up close and checking them out. To quote my two year old “that the biggest dinosaur I ever seen”…her grammar is not perfect yet. The actual creation of this exhibition is very impressive. I asked Nick Kondrat, the Manager of Communications at RBG about the artist and exhibits and he explained, “Paleo-Artist Hall Train and his studio Hall Train Studios has provided world-class exhibit design to many of the most prominent institutions in North America. Those institutions include the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Universal Studios, and the Royal Tyrell Museum in Alberta. His collaboration with leading paleontologists, biochemical engineers, curators and museum designers allows Hall Train studios to create some of the most scientifically authentic re-creations in the world. With Pioneer Energy’s Battle of the Titans, Hall was able to go further into his craft than ever before and tell a unique, multi-layered story about the fine ecological balance that dinosaurs tread so long ago. This is the first time that Battle of the Titans has been presented to the public and there are plans for the exhibit to travel to other institutions after its run at Royal Botanical Gardens.” Lucky us to be the first to see this.
One of the things I like best about the exhibitions at the RBG is that they spend a lot of time creating special events and programming to tie into the main attraction. This year is no different with something for children, youth and adults to enjoy. My two personal favourites are the Dino-snore sleepovers and the Prehistoric Brunch. Check out the entire listing and be sure to sign up early to ensure your space and if you are looking for a unique March break camp they have those too.
If after all your prehistoric adventures you are feeling a bit hungry be sure to stop by the Gardens Café for their special dinosaur themed menu.
We had a great time at the Battle of the Titans and will definitely be visiting again (and again) before it ends on April 7. The Royal Botanical Gardens has so much to do beyond the exhibition. Take some time to enjoy the beautiful Mediterranean Garden and relax by the koi pond (another child favourite) and escape the winter cold or if you are the outdoor type take a hike on the trails, and be sure to bring some sunflower seeds for the birds who like to eat from visitor’s hands.
All in all this was a “roaring” good time!