We spent Thanksgiving week in the Philadelphia area. During that week we toured the Franklin Institute twice. We went early in the week when there were no crowds and so the kids had the opportunity to play with everything minus the lines.
We then visited Saturday after Thanksgiving and the day after their newest exhibition, Jurassic World opened. Every child on the east coast was in the museum that day, but they did an excellent job ensuring the crowds were spaced nice evenly and the only thing that may overwhelm a child would be the monstrous lifelike T-Rex.
In total, I’d highly recommend the exhibit. Our kids were two weeks away from turning five and were much more awed than afraid. To start, you wait in a large darkened room intended to simulate a ferry heading for the mysterious island of Isla Nublar, where they a video explains, due to familiar science breakthroughs, dinosaurs again walk the earth.
Shortly after the doors open the journey begins. Once I saw the stegosaurus mother with cub (not sure if that’s the right word) we were impressed. These were not the robotic animatronics we’ve been accustomed to that used the same technology as the animated Santa on a lawn. With these, the skin looked great, the expressions real and the movement was smooth.
In each room, they not only had a dinosaur to ogle but plenty of displays demonstrating what life was like on earth the first time they roamed. There was even an opportunity to touch dino poop. A highlight for the kids.
While, the stegosaurus was didn’t walk, there was a frighteningly realistic T-Rex who marched to a parked jeep containing the sounds of fearful goats.
While, I believe T-Rex was designed to be the highlight of the exhibition and it was, there was also human puppeted raptor and a room kids can design their own dinos using touch-screen computers that were immediately emailed to you.
The scariest display was actually the one with the dinosaurs mostly hidden from view. It comes at the end and it’s one were you walk through a tunnel in a hollowed out log. What you can’t see are a group of dinosaurs in battle with the park’s keepers.It doesn’t sound like it goes well for the humans. There are small holes kids can peer through to see the dinosaurs. It was the only thing either of our kids noped.
We feared the gift shop.The kids freshly from the emotional high of the wondering if dinosaurs walked amongst them, came down with a case of the gimmies. Eventually, cooler heads prevailed and we made it though.
It’s worthwhile to check out the entire museum. It’s been our favorite since we were kids ourselves. It takes multiple trips to see it all and there is currently a robot exhibit that was equally fascinating.
Two blocks from Franklin Institute is the Museum of Natural History. We visited last year and they have plenty more for your budding paleontologists to browse. It’s worth hitting both on a weekend if you can.