Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Jurassic Jersey: A Review of Field Station Dinosaurs

Looking for an honest review of Field Station Dinosaurs? Well, you've come to the right place! I've visited Field Station Dinosaurs in both of their locations- when they first opened in Secaucus, and now their new location in Leonia, New Jersey (they relocated from Secaucus). Let me tell you what to expect, and if it's worth the trip! You know my Jersey Momma reviews are always totally honest, right?


Disclosure: Field Station Dinosaurs provided me with free entry tickets in exchange for a review post, but this in no way influenced my opinion. Trust me, people, I tell it like it is! 

This post is chock full o' info, as usual, but it's designed for easy reading, so feel free to scroll through and find what you're looking for using my bold headings. Be sure to read my JERSEY MOMMA TIPS at the bottom of the page if you want to ensure the best trip possible!! Also, you can Pin the image below for future reference. 



Where is Field Station Dinosaurs?

Field Station Dinosaurs used to be located in Secaucus, New Jersey (there is also another location in Kansas), but they moved to Leonia. People who visited the original location will often tell you that they liked it better. I agree. Secaucus was different and had a lot more perks, but we have to let it go now. Leonia is the spot we're talking about and we can no longer compare it to Secaucus because what's done is done, people! There's no turning back to Secaucus.


As stated, Field Station Dinosaurs is located in Leonia, and I must say, they do a great job of taking you back in time. The staff we encountered were courteous, enthusiastic, and friendly.


How Much is Parking at Field Station Dinosaurs?

Parking is free at Field Station Dinosaurs, but just a word of warning- they do have a relatively small lot, so if you arrive mid-afternoon you might have to park in the overflow lot. That would require a little bit of walking to the entrance, so just be aware. This is not a big deal for the most part, especially if you have a stroller. But if it's hot/cold or the weather is bad, it's something to take note of. My recommendation is to get there early or when it first opens. Handicapped parking is available in the closest lot and there seemed to be plenty of it.

You can have your photo taken against a green screen before you enter the park! 

How Much Does it Cost to Visit Field Station Dinosaurs?

Ticket prices vary depending upon what experience you want to buy. Check their ticketing page for prices and packages, but prices start at $15.50 (children under 2 are free) for general admission. Be on the lookout for Groupons or sign up for the Field Station emails for deals and coupons (follow them on Facebook or Instagram, too). Parking is free.


Season Passes and group rates are also available! The park is open seasonally, so check their website for accurate hours of operation.

Here is my number one piece of advice about purchasing tickets...are you ready? Buy them in advance. I know, I know, then you have to pay a few bucks for an online fee, right? Well, just know that if you don't purchase online in advance, you run the risk of having to wait in a huge line for tickets at the window. I don't know if this is the case all the time, but we visited on a weekday in the summer and it certainly held true. Look! This was around 10:45 on a Tuesday morning in August (the park opens at 10):


The line moved fast but still, ugh, that was the last thing I wanted to see after an hour drive. So do yourself a favor and plan ahead!

Shows with Added Fees

I was provided with basic entry tickets to Field Station Dinosaurs so I can't tell you anything about the shows/activities that required an extra cost. There was a 'Paleontologist's Laboratory' fossil dig for an extra $10 (you got to take home what you unearthed) and there was a blacklight puppet show in a tent that we did not see. If anyone has experienced these activities and you can tell us if they were worth it, please chime in by the comments section or on my social media channels and let us know!


I, personally, think venues need to rethink these tickets with added costs. Just charge us one general fee to get in, right?  Unless you're offering a show in a theater, I think everything should be included with your ticket, but maybe that's just me.

What Will I See at Field Station Dinosaurs?

It really feels like you are on an expedition of sorts. There are tents set up all over, and they make you feel like you are an explorer on part of the journey.  Each child is given 'credentials' that they are supposed to present at tents and shows to receive a stamp. We abandoned this after a while, especially since we wanted the freedom to roam and not worry too much about the shows. Also, some of the shows are extra fees and we did not have a ticket that enabled us to see them (hence, no stamp for those activities). It's all about personal preference. I can see some kids really getting into this and wanting to gather as many stamps as they can. Every kid is different!


But what will you see at Field Station Dinosaurs?  I mean, what is it?  People ask me that all the time. Is it a museum?  Is it a park?  Well, it's kind of like an open-air museum, and kind of like a park.  You walk around and there are life-sized dinosaurs all over. Some make noise, and most (all?) of them moved in some way. Some of them even looked like they were breathing!  There are facts posted near each dinosaur so you can learn about them (although we were dismayed that the signs did not list estimated size and weight- we wondered if there was a reason for that?). Soooo many fun photo opps- if you are a social media person, this is all you.



There is a map you can follow to each section of the experience, with show times and activities listed.

Dinosaurs

Are the dinosaurs scary? Not really. Even the T-Rex feeding show was friendly. You could see the puppeteer's feet and the T-Rex had a friendly expression on his face (but if you have nervous kids, sit in the back or skip the show all together).  The animatronic dinosaurs don't jump out at you and they do not move around the park (just stationary movements).



I'm not going to show you all of the dinosaurs because that would be a total spoiler, right? ;)

Shows, Games and Other Attractions

There are shows and hands-on experiences for visitors at Field Station, too.  Along the paths you will come upon tents where you can watch movies, play family games, and participate in workshops.  I have to admit that we did not do many of these.  My boy wanted to explore rather than sit for a 20 minute game, but again every kid is different. We did play a memory game in the Family Tent (boy, my memory is bad! I think I picked card #4 over and over again without realizing it).


My kiddo also loved the raptor maze. It was easy for them but they ran through a few times. The entire park is fenced in, so we felt comfortable just letting them run free through the maze and meeting them at the end of it.



Another favorite was the expedition site, which is basically just a giant sandbox. Kids could use small sand tools (provided) to unearth 'fossils' of different dinosaurs. It was a nice place to let kids play safely and parents could sit in the shade and watch.



Each event has a posted time and location, and they also make announcements throughout the park when a game or event is starting. It's up to you if you want to join in. Some kids also seemed to really enjoy the scavenger hunt that was offered at the park. This gave you something to look for and some of the kids were really getting into it. The T-Rex show filled up quickly. Get there a few minutes before it starts for the best seats. We arrived right as it started and there was no place to sit. There was music and volunteers chosen from the audience, too.



Parents, can I offer some advice? This show is really for the kids. If you see kids without a place to sit, get up and give them your seat! Or scoot over to give them the better seat. Move your strollers out of the way so you don't block the entire aisle or viewing area for kids who cannot see. Maybe others feel differently about this, but look below and you might agree- a kid just can't see beyond all that, AND it's unsafe. Let's be smart about this, people.


What Can I Eat There?

There was a food concession stand in the park offering burgers, hot dogs, dino-shaped chicken nuggets, fries etc. There were also various ice cream bars and drinks available for purchase. But the concession stand is small, so be sure to get there early to avoid a rush (I recommend anything before 12 and after 1). Prices were not cheap, but they were similar to most venues and theme parks. One or two suggestions I have for the people who run Field Station Dinosaurs: consider adding some vending machines or sell your drinks/snacks in a separate window (maybe this is the case on the weekend, but when we visited on a weekday in the summer you would still have to wait on the regular food line even if you just wanted a soda). Sodas were also only available in cans- bottles are much easier to transport! Just a thought.

Concession stand (before 12 on a weekday):


Concession stand after 12:00 on a weekday in the summer:


Menu (click to see larger view of choices and prices, and keep in mind that this was what was available at the publication date of this entry):


Laugh if you will, but I took this photo of a stranger's food across the way. Her burgers looked really good, right? My friend also had the burger. She said she didn't care for the bun and the wait was really long for us, but you've got to make that call for yourself. I noticed a boy across from me enjoying the dino nuggets, too, but I thought it would be super weird if I asked to photograph his food.


They also allow you to bring in a small, personal sized cooler, which is what we did. We had a mini lunch packed in there and we purchased some drinks, which suited us just fine. There were plenty of benches and picnic tables in shaded areas to sit at and eat.

Restrooms at Field Station Dinosaurs

I'm sorry, but I have to mention this. Restrooms at the park are located in a trailer (since this is an outdoor venue). That means they are essentially dressed up outhouses. Although the restroom itself was clean and visually pleasing on the inside, the toilets stunk to high heaven. Maybe we were there at a moment when the septic tanks needed to be emptied, I don't know, but the stench around the restroom trailers was definitely noticeable (and that's an understatement). At times it was even wafting over to the food concession area. There is a family restroom (a large, port-o-potty family restroom) available too, with changing area if necessary).


Birthday Parties and Other Events

There is a 'yurt,' (like a little hut) available for birthdays and events, and it really did look cool! I mean, this is the ultimate in dinosaur themed parties, for sure!! The hut is sponsored by IKEA so I noticed some fun IKEA furniture around and it and inside (I peeked in when someone opened the door).


Field Station Dinosaurs also hosts special events like Dinosaurs After Dark, Scout Days and others, so check their social media channels or website for more details.


Gift Shop at Field Station Dinosaurs

The gift shop was small and kind of hot/stuffy when we visited in the summer, but I liked their variety of items. From colored rocks to plush dinos, there was something for everyone. They also had t-shirts, books, fossils and other items for your little paleontologists.



Is it Worth the Trip?

My son really enjoyed Field Station Dinosaurs, and at the moment, he's 10 (afterward he kept saying to me, 'that place was really cool mommy.' Isn't that all that matters?)  I think it's perfect for ages 5-9. Kids younger than 5 would still enjoy seeing the dinosaurs and playing in the sandy areas, but if you want them to get the most out of it and remember their trip, consider waiting till they are within a good age range (if your kiddos are HUGE dinosaur fans, though, it's a must, no matter what the age. This is a dinosaur lovers dream!).


Remember, if you have dinosaur fans at home, you need to bring them. It's a must-see! I can imagine how exciting this would be for kids who just absolutely love dinosaurs, since the animatronics are so life-like.  Just walking through the gates and seeing them at full height is pretty breathtaking, even for an adult.


Jersey Momma Tips:

*although Field Station Dinosaurs is fairly small, it's still outdoors, and it's open rain or shine (although subject to close in severe weather). That means you need to dress for the weather, and expect some muddy conditions if you happen to visit after rainy weather. There are shaded areas throughout the park but if you're visiting on a particularly hot and sunny day, remember sunscreen and hats!

*we didn't have any issues with bugs but you might want to consider bringing along some bug spray just in case

*purchase tickets in advance to save you from having to wait in line. Groupon offers great deals but know that once you get there, you still have to wait in line to exchange your Groupon for a physical ticket.

*strollers are permitted but this is an outdoor venue with many unpaved paths and grassy surfaces. If you're going to bring a stroller just make sure it's one that can handle the outdoor terrain.

*personal sized coolers are permitted so you can bring along snacks or a small lunch if you wish

*if you're going to purchase lunch within the park, I recommend doing so before or after the "lunch hour rush." 11:30 was a good time or probably any time after 1:00.

*I totally recommend getting to the park when they first open. This will get you the best parking spots and help you avoid crowds. I noticed on a Tuesday afternoon in the summer that it started to get crowded after lunch. I don't know if this is the case all the time but it's worth mentioning!

* consider bringing a change of shoes or clothes (to leave in the car) if you have little ones in tow. There are some muddy and sandy areas and a change of clothes might come in handy.

*the T-Rex show filled up fast so get there at least ten minutes early for a good seat or a seat in the shade. Park your strollers away from the aisles and entryways so all kids can see!

Field Station Dinosaurs
40 Fort Lee Rd.
Leonia, NJ 07605

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4 comments:

  1. Pretty lady! Even in the blurry picture, you shine. Loved the review and wish I could be there. Fun place!

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    1. Aw, you are too kind, Rebecca!! Thank you!!

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  2. WORST day of the summer AVOID this shoddy unbelievably unprofessional place at all costs. Dinosaurs barely move at all and make almost no sound. Advertising is deceptive, glossy brochures make it look far, far better than the pathetic reality I regrettably encountered. AVOID, AVOID, AVOID this place or you will regret it as long as you remember the waste of the day. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! With no exxageration this was the worst thing I did in a decade of summers. I took my 13 year old and my 8 year old and they both were quite unhappy at me for taking them. My 6 year old liked it, but for $20 ? I wish I stayed home and watched squirrels run around my yard. I wish I could give it less than one star. They claim 40 live activities ? pshaw.Non entertaining abd non educational. Better programming on TV. Feeding frenzy featuring mighty T Rex ? What a joke! crummiest robots I've ever seen! Lifeless and non realistic. Pathetic.Credentials are useless. Trail map ? Don't need a map to navigate the one sad dusty square where these junk robots are stored. Expedition schedule ? This park invests too much on their brochures and maps to glorify this sad, sad exhibit. Don't be fooled like I was!

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    1. I'm sorry to hear that you had such a negative experience at Field Station Dinosaurs. It's important to note that my article was written about their location in Secaucus, which is now closed. I have NOT visited their new location in Leonia yet, so I can't attest to what they offer or what it's like there. For those planning to visit their new location, be sure to check out their website and Facebook page to read more reviews and see if this is the right destination for you. I appreciate you commenting and telling others about your experience there. Did you talk to anyone at the park to let them know how unhappy you were with your visit?

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