Turns out, a pandemic can't keep a good dinosaur down.
Jurassic Quest claims it's the "largest exhibition of lifesize, moving, museum-quality dinosaurs in North America," and from the looks of it, it seems to deliver the goods. A family-focused event founded in 2013, JQ is based out of Houston, Texas, but has two full time touring companies that travel the continent and hold events that boast a total of one million attendees every year.
Normally, Jurassic Quest sets up shop inside a convention center where guests walk the space viewing animatronic dinosaurs in their "natural habitat," sometimes being able to touch or even ride on some of the attractions.
Obviously, things had to change with the coming of COVID. CEO Robert Hardy said in a letter to customers that "the safety and well-being of our guests and crew is our top priority." After shutting down for a couple of months, the company had to shift gears and worked with venues to reschedule postponed dates within 2020.
"If you purchased tickets to one of the postponed events they will be valid for the new date. As an appreciation of your loyalty and commitment to Jurassic Quest...all guests who have purchased tickets to one of the postponed events will receive a special gift from us for attending our rescheduled show (limit 1 per child)... If we cannot reschedule an event within this year (2020), we will cancel the show and automatically issue full refunds."
It was soon decided to set up their displays in the convention centers' parking lots. Think of it like a dinosaur safari. Families pay per vehicle and drive slowly around a marked course through the Cretaceous, Jurassic, and Triassic periods to view the dinosaurs in all their glory. They move and roar, and the guests are treated to an audio tour that can play through their cell phone's speaker or the car speakers if they are equipped to do so. JQ simply texts the customer a link before their time slot, but it's also available on their website.
There are over 70 dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes that come on the tour bus, and there's a new exhibit, too—"Ancient Oceans," featuring a 50-foot long megalodon and other deep-sea oddities from the past.
There are designated areas to pull off the course and get out of the car to use the restrooms (masks are required at all times outside of the vehicles) but other than that, families must stay in the car at all times. The drive-thru takes about an hour, and groups are greeted by dinosaur trainers wearing masks, as well as baby dinosaurs! Tickets must be purchased in advance for the experience, but the "Quest Bundles"—a unique combination of toys and souvenirs—are available both online and at each drive-thru location (JQ warns that the shops on site will have a limited quantity of goods).
The new Jurassic Quest drive-thru has already been to Dallas, Detroit, Atlanta, Rhode Island, and Cincinnati with much success, and the tour is scheduled to keep on going now that new dates have been set for many of their slated showings. They can currently be found in New York and New Jersey, and at the end of October, they will be making their way to the Richmond Raceway Complex.
Tickets are $49 plus a fee of $5.50 per vehicle, which at first sounds a little steep, but if you are a family of four in one car that's only a little over $10 a head (though that's not including the "Quest Bundle," mind you). You are also welcome to bring your pets, assuming they won't freak out about the moving dinosaurs outside the windows. If you are bringing a van or a bus that seats 9-15, you can purchase a special large vehicle ticket for $80. In that case, the vehicle must be less than 25 feet long and less than 10 feet tall.
WHERE: Richmond Raceway Complex | 900 E laburnum Ave. Richmond, VA 23222
WHEN: October 30–November 8 (time slots from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
TICKETS: Get your tickets here!
Everybody loves dinosaurs! What's your favorite? Will you be going to the event? Have you been to see JQ at another location? Let us know!