Saturday, April 8, 2017

Climb into the Mouth of the World's Largest Dinosaur


Spring is in the air here in central Alberta, so that means the fam-jam and I are slowly exiting hibernation mode and venturing out into the world. I've been clearing out my gardens, raking up old leaves, and have a mini-greenhouse in my basement filled with little green seedlings that will soon turn my brown flowerbeds into a vibrant sea of color. The kids have been learning to bike, bouncing in their inflatable bouncy castle, and jumping in 'muddy puddles' a la Peppa Pig. It has been a good few weeks.

On top of all the domestic activities, we also managed to do a little local tourism. We visited my parents at their farm near the town of Drumheller, and spent a day introducing the kids to some of Drumheller's famous dinosaurs. The kids enjoyed exploring the Royal Tyrell Museum (which I will write about shortly), but even more so, they loved climbing up the World's Largest Dinosaur.

Drumheller's World's Largest Dinosaur in all of its glory

What is this World's Largest Dinosaur, you ask? Located in Drumheller, Alberta, which is considered the "Dinosaur Capital of the World", this 86 foot tall Tyrannosaurus Rex is about 4.5 times taller than a real T-Rex. She stands towering over the Red Deer River, the Drumheller Aquaplex, and a free splash park (this is an extremely fun place in the summer).

Not only can you wander around the base of the dinosaur, marvelling at the size and span of her construction, but you can also climb to the top via several sets of stairs deep inside her belly. 106 stairs to be exact. They are divided into several flights, separated by flat landings that sometimes contain benches to rest on, so even though the climb is a little strenuous, it isn't impossible by any means. My three-year-old completed the stairs in record time, and I climbed them with a 30 pound toddler in my arms - a great workout!

The stairway going up inside the belly of the beast

Along the route up the stairs, the walls have been decorated with colourful murals of Jurassic forests, dinosaurs in various scenes, and even with replica fossils embedded in the plaster. There is a lot to see as you make your way to the top.

My daughter enjoying the colourful artwork inside the dinosaur

One word of wisdom I want to share with my readers is to bring a jacket or sweater with you if you are planning on climbing to the top. The temperature within the dinosaur distinctly shifted colder the higher we got, and at the top, there was a chilly wind to deal with. And this was on a day when it was so hot on the ground that the kids left their coats in the car. So that's my advice: take it or leave it!

The view from inside the dinosaur's mouth

Once you arrive at the top, there are a set of doors with sunlight filtering through the mottled glass. One last obstacle before the big reveal! Through the doors, you are met with a stunning view of the Red Deer River and Drumheller valley, sparkling sunlight, and a massive set of sharp Tyrannosaurus teeth. The website says there is room for 12 in the mouth of the dinosaur, but I would say 5 or 6 people would fit comfortably while still being able to see the view from all angles.

Another side note: if you are a little afraid of heights, just be aware that the dinosaur mouth does sway a little when there's even a slight breeze. The sway was barely perceptible when we visited, as there wasn't much wind that day, but my mom felt it and was a little nervous! All was well, but I wanted to put that out there for anyone feeling any trepidation about being 86 feet up in the air.

My little troupe and I atop the giant dinosaur

There were people already in the mouth of the dinosaur when we first arrived, so we waited patiently until they were done, then stepped forward for our chance to experience the mouth properly. We squished as far into the front as we could get, my kids excitedly trying to extradite the money people had left behind for wishes or donations.

My son really wanted all that shiny money!

About five minutes at the top was plenty for us. We came, we saw, we left. Back down the stairs, which should have been easier except that I had to carry the same 30 pound toddler again.

The only set of stairs my son climbed, and even then, Gamma had to help

At the bottom, we shopped a little in the gift shop as my kids suddenly had a newly-kindled obsession with dinosaurs thanks to our tourism that day. The Drumheller Tourist Information desk is also located in the gift shop, for anyone interested. Outside, the kids had a great time being 'toe-jam', squeezing themselves between the T-Rex's toes and climbing all over her feet and ankles. We were with Gamma (my mom), and so we also got some lovely family photos while posing on the dinosaur's feet.

Climbing the World's Largest Dinosaur's feet is free

There is a cost associated with climbing the giant dinosaur: $3 per person (which gives you a full day pass, if you care to climb the dinosaur multiple times), with kids 5 and under free. They have a family pass as well for $10. I am not 100% certain about summer hours, but I know when we visited this spring the dinosaur was closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays (we originally tried visiting on a Wednesday). All other days it was open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

A fun family adventure with Gamma!

Just visiting the dinosaur alone probably wouldn't make for the greatest excursion, but when you combine the World's Largest Dinosaur experience with all of the other adventures Drumheller has to offer, it becomes a great part of a fun-filled day. For more ideas on what to do in Drumheller, check out my post on the Dinosaur Trail and the Hoodoos and Suspension Bridge post.

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