A perfect day for dino and dragon obsessed kids at Brookfield Zoo

This is the year for dragons thanks to the ever-popular Harry Potter series, Game of Thrones and Pokemon, and Brookfield Zoo is giving visitors an even better way to uncover the mysteries of the creatures at its new Dinos& Dragons extravaganza opening Saturday.

Not only will you come nose to nose with a fascinating tongue-flicking 6-foot Komodo Dragon, a first-timer at the zoo, but Brookfield has placed uber-knowledgeable interpreters throughout a temperature-controlled tent to let you touch and really get to know smaller dragons and lizards. Kids will especially love digging for dino bones or trying their skill at tiny catapults, but everyone will walk out of the tent learning something.

Outside, 17 animatronic dinos (and a few dragons) come to life, with roars and even a little smoke. Again, like the inside exhibit, the dino trail is all about interaction, with its Game of Bones spinoff fun of Dinopardy, Dino Feud and Are You Smarter Than A Paleontologist. Even if you’ve visited Brookfield Zoo’s other dinosaur exhibits before, this year’s is all new and includes giant dragons, such as the Wyvern and the Chinese dragon that looks like an oversized Mu-Shu from Disney’s “Mulan.”

“This year we wanted people to understand the link between science and mythology. We also wanted people to understand the importance of imagination on science and scientific discovery. This is why we decided to pair dinosaurs and real-life dragons,” says Andre Copeland, the zoo’s interpretive programs manager. “What we want people to walk away with is that science is a continuous quest for the truth.”

Copeland says the exhibit is a nod to the huge role dinos and dragons have on our culture.

“You can start to see how these mythical creatures play an important role in our entertainment, our literature and our art. Dinosaurs are the same way,” he says. “These larger-than-life creatures connect us to our past.”

Parents should be aware that two scenes along the dino trail might be upsetting to young kids since both depict the realities of dino survival – hunt or die. The little we had along with us didn’t seem to notice the tiny dino the T.rex killed. The exhibit is intended for those 6 and up, but there are still plenty of things to do for younger kids.

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