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Monday, July 15, 2024

A Prehistoric Adventure at Lake George’s Dino Roar Valley

A trip back to the time of the dinosaurs is just off of route 9.

One of my greatest pleasures of summer is bringing the littles on new adventures. Past favorites have included local hikes, visits to museums, and playgrounds. Our latest? Bringing all of my boys’ favorite things together during a visit to the brand‐new Dino Roar Valley.

Our day began with a 45‐minute trip north on the Northway. After a fun pit stop at the new Adirondack Welcome Center, where the boys got out some extra energy on the zip‐line and playground, we got back in the car for the last 10 minutes, getting off at exit 21 and heading south on route 9 for about a mile. Parking was easy, and we paused to gather our things – camera and sunglasses are a must – and slather on some sunscreen and a few spritzes of bug lotion before beginning our adventure.

A Magical Expedition

Dino Roar Valley sits adjacent to its sister park, Magic Forest, which is celebrating its 56th season of nostalgic, accessible fun for children of all ages. The joint box office offers tickets for either park individually or a combined ticket, designated by different colored bracelets worn by guests. Prices are reasonable and allow a family to customize their experience.

On our visit, we wound our way through the Magic Forest, following the bright signs towards the Expedition Basecamp where our Dino adventure began with a short welcome video featuring a local junior paleontologist named Simon. This 10‐year‐old Burnt Hills native gave us some guidelines about what we would be seeing, and the gentle reminder to never feed the dinosaurs…unless our little brother was acting up, of course.

With a group “ROAR!” led by our expedition guide, we were off, down the gentle slope into the valley. The paved path wound through the woods, through which we could see various species of long‐extinct creatures. The bellows and sounds from the dinos harmonized with the glee‐filled hoots from my boys as we arrived at our first dino – the Spinosaurus!

Complete Sensory Experience

The integration of entertainment and education is seamless at Dino Roar Valley. (We have an A‐team of paleontologists, engineers, and developers to thank for that.) The 20 “dinosaurs” that you will meet within the half‐mile loop are true to size, scale, and sound to their prehistoric ancestors. Each is displayed within the landscape, interacting with the trees along the winding brook that cuts through the property. They stir to life as you pass by…bellowing, roaring, opening their impressive mouths, and moving their heads, eyes, and tails. Every species is explained through an accompanying sign in bright, easy‐to‐read language. Every detail, from the average size and weight of the dinosaur, to where they called home and what they ate, is included. Benches dot the path for any needed rests. There are also two water vendor stations, a “grab‐n‐go” food cart, and a restroom along the path. And then there are the Jurassic Park‐worthy photo‐ops. At the base of the initial descent into the valley, there is an adventure area with kid‐sized “dino eggs” and a “nest” climbing apparatus. About three fourths of the way into the loop, there is a switchback that leads up to the “fossil” dig stations. My boys had a blast in this oversized sandbox unearthing “fossils.” The benches along the perimeter of the tented dig area provide a shaded spot for parents to relax while children explore.

“Tiny” the Titanosaurus

Our journey through time led us to the largest of the dinosaurs and a wonderful example of the true scale of these beasts and this project. Walking (literally) in the shadow of the 39‐foot‐tall and 160‐foot‐long Titanosaurus, our guide shared that this is the beginning of what developers hope to be a larger experience. The park’s COO/General Manager, John Collins, explained that the site has more land that they would like to develop to host more dinos. Additions to the Magic Forest are already underway with more projects in the planning stages.

Reaching the end of the dinosaur experience, the boys and I headed up the hill to the Magic Forest to have some lunch at the “Peppermint Lounge” snack bar. We enjoyed cooked‐to‐order burgers, hot dogs, and fries at a picnic table overlooking the magic show. The boys loved watching the show while they ate, and Mom loved the prices. The four of us ate for less than $20. We wrapped up our day by revisiting some of our favorite prehistoric pals and then riding a few of the 23 rides in the Magic Forest. After a great four‐and‐a‐half‐hour visit, I ushered three tired and very happy little boys into the car with promises of a return trip in the near future.

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