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November 11, 2017

REVIEW: Extreme Dinosaurs: The Exhibition - NEW on I-Drive!


If you've been cruising around I-Drive lately, you may have noticed something new. Frankly, you can't miss it! For those who are familiar with the area, you know that the building isn't new... 7220 International Drive was once home to a real estate office, and briefly it served as a seasonal haunt attraction. Most recently, it contained rotating exhibits such as CSI: The Experience, Our Bodies, Consumed By Art, and Leonardo da Vinci: Man - Artist - Genius (all run by EMS Exhibits). Since the abrupt closure of CSI and Leonardo da Vinci in October of 2015, the building has stood vacant, leaving a tremendously envious space wasted, and sparking great curiosity about what would inevitably take up residence in the building. Speculation led to discovery when Extreme Dinosaurs: The Exhibition opened its doors to the public on October 12 - exactly two years to the day that EMS shut down their exhibits.

Our reviews are always honest, and always a reflection of our personal experiences. In the spirit of consistency, can I just admit that I had very mixed feelings about this one before I even arrived? When I first learned that a new exhibit was opening at 7220, I experienced a startling combination of excitement and nostalgic sadness. If you've been a CSO reader for a while, you may recall that my review of the CSI/ Our Bodies/ Consumed By Art trio of exhibits actually led to me working as the Marketing Coordinator of the location. I spent a good deal of time in that building, and I will confess that it holds a special place in my heart - with lots of great memories to strengthen that bond. Okay - I may be a little possessive... but I was still very eager to see what another company could do with it, as it truly is a magnificent space.


I was impressed before I even turned into the parking lot. The building now stands out, as I always wished it had. In an area of I-Drive that has a lot of businesses clamoring for the spotlight, even a building of this size can get swallowed up by the neighbors. The new color scheme assure that this is no longer a concern. During my time there, we also noticed a lot of people who were confused about what the building actually contained, and if we were open. Hardly anyone had any idea that there was a large, free parking lot in the back of the building either. All of these issues have been resolved in the overhaul. Signs direct guests to the back lot (entry is at the back of the building now as well) and there is talk of a large dinosaur soon to make its way to the roped off front lot - encouraging curious passersby to stop for prehistoric selfies, and hopefully to continue exploring inside.

...And the inside is just as intelligently utilized! Extreme Dinosaurs: The Exhibition sprawls out across more than 9,000 square feet of space, expanding floor-to-ceiling, of course. The nature of the presentation demands an open layout - horizontally and vertically. The immersive exhibit opens an entirely new perspective into the Mesozoic Era, with a combination of traditional knowledge and modern breakthroughs demonstrated in both animatronic and fossil forms. 


Guests come face-to-face with lifelike dinosaurs that roar, move, blink, and snort while observing full-size, reconstructed skeletons of the massive creatures woven throughout the exhibit. Longtime favorites like the Stegosaurus, Triceratops, and Tyrannosaurus rex cohabitate with more "recent" additions to the dino-family tree that will leave some of us feeling like our historical knowledge is a bit outdated. Don't worry - if you need to brush up on some facts, there's an assortment of plaques to fill you in along the way. Surprising data reveals how these extraordinary creatures co-existed, as well as how they measured up in battle. There's also an intriguing look at the evidence of feathered dinosaurs, that may be especially endearing if you (like me) have a parrot-like bird, such as a cockatoo, at home.


Extreme Dinosaurs: The Exhibition is bustling with edutainment opportunities, with additional event and classroom space being a potential feature in the future. Encased items provide detailed, focused insight into dinosaur biology and function, but there are many chances to get hands-on throughout the exhibit as well. Guests can unearth their inner paleontologist in the interactive dig site, learn about dinosaur anatomy with a large magnetic wall puzzle, and compare their weight and height to a dinosaur. Scattered among the dinosaurs, you'll also find touchable fossils and artifacts. Overall, expect to encounter 16 life-sized dinosaurs, six skeletal recreations (including a 60-foot Mamenchisaurus), and a number of miscellaneous fossils. Extreme Dinosaurs: The Exhibition takes you on a journey of discovery through the evolution of dinosaur understanding, in a brilliantly entertaining way. I still feel an attachment to "my" building, and the exhibits that used to inhabit it... but I more than approve of its new direction and its potential for the future.

Presented by Atlanta-based Premier Exhibitions, Extreme Dinosaurs: The Exhibition is scheduled to run through October 12, 2018. Pricing is as follows: $16.95 Adults (16 and older), $14.95 Seniors (65+), $14.95 Students with ID, $11.95 Kids (4-15), 3 and under free. Combo pricing with Premier's neighboring Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition is also available, and a great deal for any educational group or history buffs. For more information, visit  extremedinosaursorlando.com or follow Extreme Dinosaurs on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.