Continues in Victoria, BC at the
Save-on-Foods Memorial Center
till September 21
Just like evolution, so must the Walking with Dinosaurs Arena Spectacular change with the times. With a good meal packed into my belly at a new Chinese diner simply called The Cozy Place, my appetite for crustacean was aptly satisfied with some excellently made garlic shrimp rolls before I would head back in time to the Cretaceous period.
When this show first started in 2007 and it came to Victoria around 2009/10, I missed the opportunity to see it then due to evening classes at Camosun College. I’m glad it returned. To see what I missed, I had to browse YouTube and I found the technology more thrilling to see in how the dinosaurs came to life.
Flash forward to now, I’ve noticed that a fair number of beasts look different. To keep their appearances current — based on recent discoveries of how they should really look — helps keep this show fresh. With the feathers on the Utahraptor and baby Tyrannosaurus Rex, the team behind making these fantastic beasts come to life are definitely dedicated to being as accurate as possible.
This way, people who have seen these early shows have something new to compare against. For me, it’s actually very wonderful to see the updates the production team made. It awoke the kaiju (giant monster) fan in me, and I could not help but wonder how this show would look with different actors, costumes, or what not over the animatronics. With no surprise, the harnesses, frames and endo-skeletons were used for the How to Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular! (HTTYDAS) since the company, Global Creatures, was involved in that production and King Kong: The Musical. I was told 20 trucks are used to transport these monsters around to various arenas.
As dragons or dinosaurs, I was certainly very excited to go see this show. Sure, there are little quibbles to make over how the beasts are not always making physical contact when fighting. But in this update, when the Torosauruses clash, horns will break! Depending on the vantage point, the illusion of them hitting each other looks real. Suspension of belief is required to appreciate how these reptiles would interact, since part of the armatures limit how well each creature can circle each other in the heat of battle.
To truly realize the scale of what these monsters are like really requires one to witness them up close and personal.
And children still aspiring to be paleontologists (who remember the past show) can attend this 2014 tour to see how these dinos now look and gawk at them from afar. For spelunking geologists, a lesson in how this planet’s shifting continental plates made a difference in evolution can be gleaned. But for budding anthropologists. did early hominids walk with the dinosaurs? If they did, more performers would have been on stage and hiding in the trees! (I learned about that when I took Anthropology 101) But for curious archaeologists, they got the worst job of them all: they have to carve through dung to figure out what these creatures ate (anthropology is really about digging through garbage).
Not everything from this list was covered, but in what was, to see Huxley, the palaeontologist delight in poking his hand into a Torosaurus’ fecal matter is certainly chuckle worthy. There are moments in this show where the performance given by this only human in the show conjures the enthusiasm of what Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter had for his love of the animal kingdom.
As for Huxley has travelled back in time to tell audiences what once roamed the earth, that’s a question that does not need answering.
But if audiences blink or pay attention to the wrong side of the arena where some of the action can take place, they may miss the pterosaur.
Back in the early days of this show, it would appear by floating down from above the rafters to glide against a screen of motion graphics to give the illusion of flight. The same effect was used in the How to Train Your Dragon Spectacular, only with more projected images to complete the illusion.
It would have been spectacular to see him glide down a dolly from one part of the stage to another, but to execute that is dangerous. There are safety issues to consider. The production team probably removed this creature from this 2014 show to keep all the action in the stage than off it. To have the Brachiosaurus actually crane its neck close to the audience seating area really makes up for what the Ornithocheirus can not do.
Overall, this 80 minute show is very entertaining. It can benefit from being longer and having a plot based narrative, but for the circus type atmosphere this show creates, that’s all that’s really needed to catch the attention of dinosaur fans. After all, to create a true Jurassic Park moment will scare kids more than allowing them to marvel at the beasts. To present a gentler show with a bit of alpha beast drama is certainly more appealing.
Also, most of the beasts certainly have a personality about them as they move about the stage. That’s due to the seven years of experience by the puppeteers, actors and animatronics masters who have to operate these huge gargantuans. The longer they keep this show going, the better they are going to get!
And this arena spectacular is certainly very colourful in its presentation. It is not meant to be 100% accurate in what the world was like back then. Its lavish, cartoon coloured, jungle set design is a delight to young kids coming to see this show and it maintains that circus show illusion that I really liked. For me especially, going to see this show was like a step backwards in time. I recall when my love for these massive beasts meant playing Godzilla in the park, stomping on ants and destroying sand castles.
For further information and where this show will visit the States, please visit the Walking with Dinosaurs Tour Dates guide here.