Our lush green foliage must lure in plant-eating prehistoric animals because Seattle sure seems to attract its fair share of dinosaur-themed attractions. A couple of summers ago we had Woodland Park Zoo’s Dinosaur Discovery exhibit, and last summer we saw the return of the Pacific Science Center’s dinosaurs. For families with dino-loving kids there’s even more dinosaur action. In it’s last weeks in Seattle, Dinos Alive will close its doors on April 16!
This new indoor dinosaur exhibit in Seattle opened April 2022 and is scheduled to run through mid-spring 2023 and features 80 life-size dinosaurs and interactive activities for the whole family. My kids and I raced down to SODO to see how it would compare to our previous dinosaur experiences.
The warehouse space is nondescript from the outside, but entering the exhibition from the street really feels like you’re stepping back in time. Prehistoric-looking plants cover the walls and a digital waterfall cascades over the entrance to the main hall. Fog machines and dramatically colorful lights may not be historically accurate (did the dinosaurs host raves?), but they do add to the “wow” factor.
What to expect
My kids, who always want to see what’s next, were eager to move along the one-way path while I wanted to linger over the impressive layout a bit longer. You’ll find informative signs at the base of each life-size dinosaur, but the most fun observations are the ones kids will make themselves. My six-year-old was able to guess each dino’s diet from the shape of their teeth, while my three-year-old was blown away by the fact that the T-Rex’s foot was taller than him.
Life under water
Venture through unmarked white curtains about halfway through the path for my favorite room — the virtual aquarium. Projected prehistoric sea creatures float across the walls and floor as if you were really swimming along with them. There were no instructions for the balls lying on the floor, so we just kicked them around a bit. Later, I saw someone toss a ball at the wall and the fish actually swam away, so make sure you join in on the fun!
Technology amplifies the Jurassic Age in the interactive space
Make sure you save some time for the all-ages interactive space at this immersive exhibit. Climb into a saddle atop a dinosaur’s back for a short ride, play peekaboo from inside a dinosaur egg or use a QR code to watch your dinosaur drawing come to life on the big screen.
My little paleontologists loved the sensory bins where they could dig for fossils and compare them to photos on the wall, but their favorite activity was the dinosaur dash. Choose a speed (Amateur, Olympic Training or Gold Medalist) and a lane before racing a dinosaur down the track. Don’t worry, you won’t get eaten even if you lose.
A Virtual Reality experience (available as part of the VIP bundle or for $5 per person a la carte) allows you to play with the dinosaurs – velociraptor fetch, anyone? The headsets are a bit tricky to fit on young kids, so you’ll likely need to provide heavy assistance if your little one wants to join in.
Is the experience worth it?
Dinos Alive is a production of FeverUp, the company that caught some flak last year for delays and customer service issues at the start of their Van Gogh experience
At $20 per person, tickets are about four times the cost of last year’s zoo dino experience, but you do get four times the number of dinosaurs, plus opportunities to interact within the space. They’re also heavy on app usage, so you have to access your tickets in the Fever app and they recommend downloading a separate Dinos Alive App to scan QR codes throughout the exhibition (we didn’t use the app and still had a good time).
Visit this dinosaur exhibit in Seattle, at least once, if you have a kid who really loves dinosaurs. Both of my kids recommended it to their friends at school (we spent 90 minutes there!), but I’m not sure that very young toddlers would enjoy a visit as much without an enthusiastic older sibling to hype it up.
Know before you go
- Book tickets strategically. The SODO location means the neighborhood gets crowded on evenings with games or concerts, so check local calendars when booking your tickets.
- Hold little hands tightly at this dinosaur exhibit in Seattle. The dim lighting, realistic dinosaurs and fog machines may make some kids feel nervous or more likely to get lost.
- Make a digital plan. Download apps in advance to save time. The VR area is quite large and very tempting (and followed by the ultimate ploy: the gift shop), so you’ll want to employ distraction techniques if it’s not in your family budget or preference.
- Consider alternate transportation, especially on game nights. Parking is limited and pricey. Multiple buses serve the area and the SODO and Stadium Light rail stations are just under a mile from the venue, so public transit is a good access option.
Dates: April 7, 2022 – April 16, 2023. The exhibit is open Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: Tickets start at $20 per person (children 2 and under are free), with a VIP ticket priced at $28. A Family Bundle of 4 or more tickets starts at $17 per person.
Parking and facilities: Parking in the adjacent lot currently costs $10 per vehicle. Restrooms are available inside. There are stairs to the main entrance, but the exhibit itself is on one level and has wide pathways for strollers and wheelchairs.
Originally published April 7, 2022 and updated for April 2023