Dinos are back in a big way
This is the year for dino lovers, with Brookfield Zoo and Field Museum both offering up-close experiences with the gentle—and not-so-gentle—giants.
Field Museum, of course, has always been the best place in the world to see real dinosaur fossils (i.e. Sue the T.rex), but this month, it ups its dino game. Jurassic World: The Exhibition brings the movies to life on the museum’s front lawn and gives people the chance to imagine what it would have been like to walk among the dinosaurs, some of whom are more than 24 feet tall.
The exhibit features the closest simulation of dinosaurs ever created, experts say. “From the beginning of this project, our mission has been to transport people to Jurassic World,” says Tom Zaller, president& CEO of Imagine Exhibitions, which helped create the exhibition.
Once inside Jurassic World, families experience the Gentle Giants Petting Zoo, go inside the Raptor Training Paddock and see the top-secret creation of the Indominus rex.
9 a.m.-9 p.m. seven days a week May 26-Labor Day. $10 kids, $15 adults for daytime entry plus general museum admission; $20 kids, $25 adults for evening entry (after 5 p.m.). The exhibit runs through Jan. 7.
For the first time in its history, Brookfield Zoo will host a 6-foot Komodo Dragon, plus close looks at a variety of other dragons and lizards, at its new Dinos& Dragons exhibit.
Outside, 17 animatronic dinos come to life as families walk by. Along the dino trail, they will encounter games, such as Dinopardy and Dino Feud, and even a dino dissection lab where staff will help kids dissect dino body parts.
This new exhibit is all about interaction, from dig boxes of dino artifacts to putting on a puppet show in front of a castle to kid-friendly stations.
Tip: Don’t miss the animatronic Dracorex hogwartsia mom (named for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry) and her three newly hatched offspring at the Roosevelt Fountain.
May 6-Sept. 17. Admission to Dinos& Dragons is $3 kids 3-11, $5 for adults; general zoo admission $14.50 for kids 3-11, $19.85 for adults.
Reaching new heights
If you haven’t been to Santa’s Village Azoosment Park in a while (or ever), this is the summer to head to East Dundee for a family outing or three.
This month, the park is unveiling a new $1 million, nearly four-story-tall rollercoaster, the Super Cyclone. The park’s fastest ride yet, it sends riders spinning in circles, mimicking a cyclone in the ocean, says Robert Kramer, director of marketing and sales at the park.
While it marks the biggest investment in the park over the last five years, the Azoosment Park has been busy growing and has become even more of a family-friendly thrill park for toddlers to teens, Kramer says. It now has 23 rides—as many as the park has ever had—and most recently got the original Snowball ride, created just for Santa’s Village, back.
Other dates to note for summer: all kids 12 and under are free on July 4, while on June 24, Corey Fogelmanis from Disney’s “Girl Meets World” stops in and on July 22, Brec Bassinger from Nick’s “Bella and the Bulldogs” visits.
Super Cyclone is slated to open on Mother’s Day, a day the park is free for all moms. To ride the Super Cyclone, kids must be 48 inches with parent, 52 inches to ride on their own.
$24.25 per person for an all-day experience
The Museum of Science and Industry is bringing back its amazing robots. Robot Revolution, which premiered in 2015 and has been on a national tour, is returning, this time with some new friends.
New robots include RoboThespian, a life-sized humanoid robot that greets guests, The Cube Solver, which has a lightning-fast ability to solve a Rubik’s cube, and Adept Lynx, a self-navigating industrial robot used in shipping factories.
“We hope that the opportunity to interact with such a wide range of robots will help people understand how robots become an integral part in helping to improve our world and inspire the next generation of innovators,” says David Mosena, president and CEO of MSI.
Some of the returning faves are PARO, the furry baby seal therapy robot, competing soccer ‘bots and tic-tac-toe with Baxter, but expect plenty of hands-on activities and videos throughout the exhibit.
May 11-Feb. 4. Robot Revolution is not included in museum admission and is a timed-entry ticket, $9 kids, $12 adults.
Fun goes virtual at Six Flags Great America, taking on people’s fear of heights and spiders, with its new Drop of Doom VR.
In the experience, people strap on a Samsung Gear VR powered by Oculus, take a high-speed ride up the 100 stories of Six Flag’s Giant Drop, battle virtual giant mutant spiders that crawl all over them and then feel what it likes to freefall 100 stories down before a final showdown with an attacking spider the size of a van.
Riders must be 13 and at least 48 inches tall. Drop of Doom is free with park admission ($58.99 online, parking $25) and available through Memorial Day.