Tuesday 21 August 2018

Walking With Dinosaurs The Arena Spectacular review

When I heard that the Walking With Dinosaurs Arena Spectacular show was stomping to arenas across the UK on a final dinotastic tour I was eager to witness the world renowned show before it becomes extinct.

Like most kids my boys are fascinated by dinosaurs. My youngest loves dinosaur shows such as Dinosaur Train and Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures, adores dinosaur toys and is fanatic about imaginative dinosaur play and dressing up as dinosaurs. Not only does my eldest also share the same dinosaur interests as his little brother but his obsession has progressed to being interested in learning everything and anything scientific about dinosaurs. The beauty of dinosaurs is that there is always more for him to learn as paleontologists discover new dinosaurs and facts all the time plus dinosaurs leave awesome skeletons and fossils.

Simply put dinosaurs are huge, dangerous and extinct which makes them really, really cool!

They’ve been to a few live shows now such as Disney On Ice and Monster Jam which they have loved so I thought another live show featuring one of their interests - dinosaurs - would be a big hit…..and it most definitely was!

Walking With Dinosaurs Arena Spectacular is based on the renowned BBC television series Walking With Dinosaurs. The world-famous show presented by Global Creatures in association with BBC Studios began in Australia in 2007 and has since wowed audiences worldwide.

The show takes audiences on a journey through the Cretaceous, Jurassic and Triassic periods displaying the climate, environments, vegetation and other challenges that the dinosaurs faced. 9 separate species are displayed in the show with 18 dinosaurs - 9 large dinosaurs, 4 suit dinosaurs and 5 baby plateosaurus dinosaurs.

The Manchester Arena was packed out with dinosaur fans big and small for a truly spectacular show. Excited chatter filled the crowd as we all became immersed in the world of the dinosaurs. The smiles and comments I heard from other audience members reflected how much we all enjoyed the show, in fact a young boy sat next to me who had been mesmerised throughout declared at the end that it was “the best show ever!” as he beamed at me with the biggest grin I have ever seen.

Michaela Strachan as Huxley the Paleontologist (for some performances another actor plays Huxley) took us on a wonderful journey through the ages of the dinosaurs. She was superb in her performance and it felt as if she was an expert paleontologist sharing her passion and love of dinosaurs and natural history with us taking us on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure of discovery and delight. Whilst the script was informative it simple for children to understand.

The dinosaurs were breathtaking. They looked, moved, sounded and behaved so lifelike that it was if they were still alive today walking before our very eyes. It felt as if each dinosaur had their own unique character. They were superb masterpieces that showcased the magnificent talents of the team that created them.

I learnt before we watched the show that over the years that Walking With Dinosaurs Arena Spectacular has been touring that the dinosaurs have evolved. To be as scientifically accurate as possible the team have made changes to dinosaurs based on the latest scientific research to display new facts about how the dinosaurs looked and behaved, for example adding feathers to the utahraptors. I think that this is wonderful and really adds to the educational benefits of the show.

It was amazing how the dinosaurs roamed gracefully around the arena. From the gigantic brachiosauruses astonishing the crowd with their sheer size to the allosaurus stalking prey to the spritely utahraptor dancing around the stage to the baby plateosaurus skittering around the arena. It was a mastery of animatronics, voodoo puppeteers and fantastic choreography. Seeing Huxley the narrator walking amongst the dinosaurs magnified the sheer scale of them.

To bring a flighted dinosaur to life the show used the big screen to display a Pterodactyl swooping through the sky showcasing different environments as it flew.

As the show took us on the journey through the different ages of the dinosaurs and the challenges that dinosaurs faced there were moments of tenderness intertwined as we got glimpses of love between parent and baby dinosaurs. The crowd also cooed as some adorable, tiny baby plateosaurus pranced around.

Amongst the action and changing climates were moments of humour. The dramatic tension of the big, bad famous T-Rex about to make an appearance with a menacingly big shadow warning us of his arrival before we were surprised had me chuckling. Baby tyrannosaurus rex’s funny ‘roar’ became a running joke which the kids reenacted for days after the show and still giggle now if it is mentioned. And Huxley rummaging in some steaming dinosaur fecal matter for scientific purposes had the kids laughing out loud.

The music score and sounds of the show was fantastic. The dinosaurs sounded so real and life like making snorts and roars that sounded perfect for each one of them. The music was majestic and beautifully complemented the show. It enhanced the realism of the scenes before our eyes, adding dramatic tension at times and lightening the mood at other times.

The staging, props, use of the big screen and lighting were also superb. Starting off in the Triassic the set was bland and stark with a single mountain in the centre to represent Pangaea. As the story of the dinosaurs progressed the set transformed before our very eyes. As if by magic vegetation began to adorn the stark rocky mountains. Pangaea broke up into different continents. Later on the vegetation flourished with lush ferns and trees sprouting up from nowhere. Colourful, lavish flowers blossomed in the Cretaceous period. 

Coloured lighting, smoke and flames evoked the sight of a volcanic, turbulent land. Smoke and darkness filled the stage as vegetation died and the land was left barren again. The scenery which changed seamlessly as if real brought the different periods to life and showcased the different environments that the dinosaurs faced.

There were also impressive details such as plateosaurus eggs hatching, the horn of a torosaurus snapping during battle and a brachiosaur biting off a leaf from a tree and gulping it down. These little details showcased the dinosaurs interacting with the environment which heightened the realism.

Before and after the show I have had lots of comments and questions of ‘looks amazing but I think it is too real for my little one’, ‘is it scary?’ and ‘what age is it best for?”. Whilst every person and child is different I can comment that the crowd was filled with families with children young and old. When we watched it our youngest had just turned 3 and was captivated by it. He along with our 7 year old loved the show and understood that whilst the dinosaurs looked mind-blowingly real that they were not real and that dinosaurs are extinct. There were NO moments of dinosaurs charging or pouncing at the crowd. Yes there were roars and snorts from the dinosaurs but they added to the realism of the dinosaurs and excited my children rather than scared them. If your child is sensitive to loud noises but loves dinosaurs I think using a pair of children’s ear defenders would be wise (we used them at Monster Jam and they were fantastic). Seeing Huxley the Paleontologist walk amongst the dinosaurs alleviated fear that the dinosaurs would attack people.

A few times the reality of life for dinosaurs was displayed showcasing carnivore life - an allosaurus eating a small dinosaur, a baby plateosaurus newly hatched being snatched from its egg by a predator and 2 utahraptors eating the dead carcass of a dinosaur (with a little guts on show) but there was no shocking blood and gore. Dinosaur life was also displayed with a brachiosaurus being hunted by an allosaurus who was no match for brachiosaurus’ family, an older male ornithocheirus being challenged by a younger male and torosauruses going into battle. There was very little violence and the fighting and stalking of dinosaurs was beautifully choreographed so that it more posturing that physical contact.

In my opinion it is a family friendly show and I would jump at the chance to take my family to see it again. I think children aged 6+ would especially love the show as it a fantastic blend of excitement, realism and humour combined with interesting information about dinosaurs. I also think that children younger than 6 would also love the show especially if they like dinosaurs and understand that they are not real.

We were all captivated by the show, so much so that I was shocked that it went so quickly and I was left longing for more! The show was made up of 2 parts which lasted about 40 minutes each with a 20 minute interval in between which is on par with other shows we have seen but as it was so magnificent I would have sat and watched much longer.

We were sat close to the front but I think due to the sheer size of the dinosaurs any seats would have offered magnificent views. To ensure no-one missed any of the action there were also large screens displaying close-ups of the show.

If you are going to see the show and want to heighten the pre-show excitement or want to keep the dinosaurtastic enjoyment going that little bit longer after seeing the show take a look at the dinosaur live website for fun activities and get up close with the show’s dinosaurs to learn fun facts and see incredible photographs of the dinosaurs.

The show was packed with information and facts that my eldest loved. It was an awesome way for him to gain more natural history and dinosaur knowledge. He has talked non stop about the show ever since and has asked to see it again…...oh I wish it came to Cardiff!

As we loved every minute of the show I highly recommend it. We marvelled at its magnificientness and were engaged, entertained, excited, educated and amused. I wish that there were dvds available to purchase at the venue or on the website to those who have seen it live to be able to reminisce again and again how wonderful it truly was.

The show was a superb blend of natural history, creativity, artistry, technology, music and storytelling all with a little sprinkle of magic. Simply put the show was as the name suggests…..spectacular!!

Walking with Dinosaurs - The Arena Spectacular UK tour, July - December 2018, for tickets and venues www.dinosaurlive.com

Get your tickets now before they become extinct!!

* We were gifted complimentary tickets for the show in return for a review *


  1. My little boy is only 18 months old BUT I would love this haha! Maybe when he’s a bit older I’ll be able to take him to something like this!

  2. Oh now this looks pretty impressive. Dinosaurs are something that is relatively new likening for my daughter. But I’m pretty sure she’d love this. Looks amazing.