Walking with dinosaurs

Take a journey back more than 200 million years when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. Walking With Dinosaurs—The Live Experience will hit Chicago this month on its North American tour.

“The adults love it from a historical and educational standpoint,” says Scott Ellis, the company manager for the show."And the kids—when they see a 2 1/2-story dinosaur, what’s not to love?”

Fifteen dinosaurs representing 10 species will roam the United Center, 1901 W. Madison St., Chicago, with performances Aug. 7-17. Based on the BBC television series Walking with Dinosaurs, a team of 50 people, including technicians and artists, spent a year building the live show. Different types of dinosaurs are represented from across their 200 million-year reign, with built-in history lessons that ultimately lead up to extinction.

The bigger dinosaurs require three people to operate them—one driver who controls the forward and backward movements, one operator who controls the up and down and side to side movements and a third operator who controls sounds and smaller movements, like blinking, opening and closing the mouth and roaring, Ellis says.

While Ellis recommends the shows for all ages, some of the larger-than-life elements can be frightening for small children."She’s got a pretty ferocious roar,” he says of the mama Tyrannosaurus Rex."Depending on the child, that’s either really exciting or really scary.”

And even the less-expensive seats can be thrilling (tickets range from $24.50-$74.50), as the tallest dinosaur, the Brachiosaurus, stands 36 feet tall, or 56 feet from nose to tail. Ellis says one way he tries to describe the magnitude of the dinosaurs is by showing people a picture of his foot next to that of the baby Brachiosaurus."I wear a size 12,” he says,"and it probably takes 30 of my feet to equal one of his.”

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