Dinosaurs draw throngs of families to convention center

Five year-old Koby Hittman and his father, Mike Hittman  of Powell check out attractions during the 'Discover the Dinosaurs' event at the Knoxville Convention Center on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012. The attraction features over 60 replicas of dinosaurs, including animatronics, games and rides. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, ©KNS/2012 // Buy this photo

Five year-old Koby Hittman and his father, Mike Hittman of Powell check out attractions during the "Discover the Dinosaurs" event at the Knoxville Convention Center on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012. The attraction features over 60 replicas of dinosaurs, including animatronics, games and rides. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Over 65 million years after the last dinosaur roared, they can still be heard snarling this weekend for the enjoyment and wonder of children and parents alike at the Knoxville Convention Center.

"She thinks that this one is real. She's positive," said Jennifer Friedman of Knoxville as her daughter, Sammy, looked on at a moving, grunting Stegosaurus replica.

Families streamed through a "Jurassic Park" style archway Saturday afternoon to the "Discover the Dinosaurs" event, which will be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today.

Jennifer Peach of Maryville brought her 3-year-old son Edward, who liked the fossil displays and the animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex even though he said, "The ones that were mean were scary" — referring to the many replicas of menacing carnivorous dinos like Spinosaurus and Allosaurus.

"My dad used to work at a museum, so we know a lot about dinosaurs. It's fitting that my son likes dinosaurs now," said Peach

The traveling attraction is described by owners Blue Star Productions as both an educational and fun event that features over 60 dinosaur replicas, some of which are animatronic, and fossil displays as well as a host of other dino-related activities like rides, face painting and playgrounds.

Children can touch many of the non-moving models and fossils and clamber in and out of T-rex mouths, giving them a fun learning experience. Parents, meanwhile, will have plenty to photograph.

Ashley and Bill Spurling of Vonore said they wanted to come to the event after they learned the Dinosaur Walk Museum in Pigeon Forge had closed last year.

They purchased tickets for themselves and their three children in advance because they expected the crowd.

"We bought our tickets online. There's an hourlong line out there to get in," said Ashley Spurling.

Blue Star Production and convention center staff stayed busy throughout the early afternoon directing eventgoers into admission ticket lines that stretched out of the building.

Jennifer Thompson arrived early to the event with her four young boys and 3-week-old daughter.

"We got here at 10 a.m. and we're leaving now. I just can't do it with this many kids," said Thompson, laughing Saturday at around 12:30 p.m.

General admission today is $14 for anyone age 12 and older, $9 for children ages 2 to 11, with the same price applying to seniors. Children under 2 are admitted free.

The price includes the main exhibit; the Dino Dig, where children can help excavate a model fossilized skeleton; the Dino Theater, where dinosaur films are shown; the Dino Den, where small children can play on models suited to their size; and the Dino Coloring Area, where dinosaur coloring books are provided.

Additional tickets can be purchased inside for playing miniature golf, face painting, panning for gems and fossils, and access to the dinosaur inflatables.

After today the attraction moves to Louisville, Ky. for its March 2-4 dates.

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Comments » 2

Woknroll writes:

Dino show was a major rip off. Period

Grafix writes:

in response to Woknroll:

Dino show was a major rip off. Period

I wouldn't say that. Experiences cost money. This looks like a pretty expensive show to set up and maintain. Animatronics aren't cheap. That level of artistry isn't cheap.

It's a cool and fun show, in my opinion. It appears a lot of people agree with me on that, looking at their Facebook page.

So, my thoughts are if you're willing to spend some money on a cool experience to create memories for your family, have some great photo opps, and see some little faces light up, this is totally worth it.

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