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No Expense Spared At This Dino Park "Dino & Dragons, New Port Richey"

By Mike Camunas

Life, uh, found a way — to New Port Richey.


The Museum of Archaeology, Paleontology and Science (MAPS) has brought an interactive, educational — not to mention — fun attraction from the past, right into Pasco County.

A velociraptor greets guests at Dino & Dragons, an interactive and educational attraction at Schwettman Education Center, 5520 Grand Blvd., in New Port Richey. The attraction, which runs through Feb. 6, allows visitors to get an up-close experience with nearly 100 life-size thunder lizards. The traveling exhibit was brought to Pasco County by the Museum of Archeology, Paleontology and Science (MAPS), as a fundraising effort. (Mike Camunas)

Dino & Dragons will be on display at the Schwettman Education Center, until Feb. 26. It features nearly 100 life-size dinosaurs and a few dragons.


The creatures move. They roar. They amaze. And, they educate.


This all happens along a trail designed to entertain the entire family.


So, grab your courage, and your Dr. Alan Grant hat, and get ready to go back in time to the Jurassic period that’s absolutely worth the trip.


They’ll show you “Dinosaurs are synonymous with ‘Jurassic Park.’”


Those are the words of Director of MAPS Charles Zinder, who organized having the trail through Dinosaur Land and Mystical World on the old athletic fields at Schwettman.


Although they can’t exactly play up the 1993 blockbuster that spawned five sequels — and a massive amount of merchandise that keeps dinosaurs in pop culture even to this day — Zinder admits it’s hard not to think about walking through that park while exploring the attractions at Dino & Dragons.




Director of MAPS (Museum of Archeology, Paleontology and Science) Charles Zidar, left, helps Carlie Jarosz hold a baby dino in preparation for the opening of the Dino & Dragons exhibit in New Port Richey.

“Dinosaurs are nothing without ‘Jurassic Park,’” Zinder added. “But we played out the reality for educational purposes and we also played out the fantasy aspect of it, with dragons and a fairy and unicorn garden — and we’ll still make that as educational as possible, talking about the stories behind those mythical creatures and more.


“We’re educating people while having fun.”


Zinder expects visitors can spend up to two hours at the exhibit, especially if they spare no expense and grab some of the additional add-ons to the original ticket price.


The “extras” include taking the tour in a replica of the Ford Explorers from ‘Jurassic Park,’ which comes with an embryo to keep. There’s also a Triceratops laying an egg (and keeping the egg), a dinosaur-infested maze where visitors need to find a key card necessary for escape, and exploring the dinosaur nursery with giant eggs.


Hold onto your butts While it may not be the jungles of Costa Rica, Dinosaur Land and Mystical World won’t fail to impress.


The trail is well done, lengthy without spoiling the next station, and interactive, as each dinosaur will move, thanks to sensors. Visitors will gawk at the towering Brachiosaurus that stands three stories high or jump when a Velociraptor appears out of nowhere.


Or they’ll marvel at a mama T-Rex, with its babies, as it moves and roars and delights, behind an “electrified fence” that looks remarkably like a baseball field backstop.


And all the money is going to the MAPS, a nonprofit museum at Wendell Krinn Technical School in New Port Richey.


“We’re trying to show we’re doing big things,” Zinder said. “Hopefully this will become our event site and maybe move into the building here, with our very extensive collections.”


Additionally, MAPS took over the basketball courts at Schwettman, and their visitors, for a little extra, can ride dinosaurs and even explore a “dig site” for bones and fossils.


“I rode the dinosaurs and had a great time, and I’m an adult,” Zinder said. “Kids, they’re going to love it.”


Before extinction Indeed, this international traveling exhibit that has never been east of the Mississippi River, and required 12 semi-trucks to bring in, won’t be around forever.


Just like the dinosaurs, its time is limited, and Zinder expects plenty of visitors to come see a one-of-a-kind attraction, especially with its first appearance in the area.




Don’t sleep on this captured T-Rex at Dino & Dragons, an interactive experience in New Port Richey until Feb. 6. Visitors to the ‘dinosaur park’ will get to see nearly 100 life-size dinosaurs, and a few dragons, and learn what life was like on this planet 65 million years ago, when dinosaurs ruled the earth.

“Daily capacity is limited, but we hope as many visitors we can entertain come out to experience education and have some fun,” he said.


Come to enjoy some prehistoric fun — more than 65 million years in the making.


Dino & Dragons Where: Schwettman Education Center, 5520 Grand Blvd., in New Port Richey When: Exhibit runs through Feb. 26. Open Tuesdays through Sundays, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Cost: Tickets start at $20 each Details: Get up close and personal with nearly 100 life-size dinosaurs, and a few dragons.

This interactive and educational experience gives visitors a chance to walk through a creature-infested maze. Additional experiences can include a dig pit, baby dino nursery experience, even a ride in a Ford Explorer, just like a certain dinosaur movie. The attraction is a fundraising effort by the Museum of Archeology, Paleontology and Science (MAPs), located on the campus of Wendell Krinn Technical School in New Port Richey.

Info: Visit DinoAndDragonsNPR.com. To learn more about MAPs, visit MapsMuseum.org.



Originally Published December 27, 2022 via The Laker/Lutz News

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