It has been more than 65 million years since dinosaurs ruled the planet. And while the only things we know about these intriguing creatures is information gleaned from fossil evidence and scientific conjecture, one thing is certain: people of all ages are fascinated by these ancient beasts.
In 1999, a BBC documentary series called Walking with Dinosaurs was aired, using animatronic models and CGI to re-create the land of the dinos and give audiences a realistic vision of what the world was like when these massive reptiles were alive.
The programme was such a huge success that it was adapted into a live performance, called the Walking with Dinosaurs Arena Spectacular. It made its first world tour in 2007 and was seen by some seven million people. And now the show is back on for a second round – this time featuring more beasts and even more amazing sets.
While many people may be inclined to dismiss the show as silly robotic dinosaurs, it’s important to realise that the creatures that you’ll see on stage are nothing like the animatronic beasts you may have seen at an amusement park.
Instead, the stars of the show are operated with a combination of animatronic technology and puppetry. They can move freely around the stage, growling, hissing and roaring – they fight and interact with each other and even care for their young. It will be easy to suspend your belief and imagine that you’re watching real creatures prowling around on stage.
The show, which opened in September in Belfast, has been widely praised. CultureNorthernIreland.org called it a ‘masterfully put-together production’, and explained that while 170 million years is a long period of time to cover in an hour-and-a-half long show, it works well overall.
“The narrative moves swiftly from the Triassic period to the Jurassic, climaxing with the dinos’ demise in the late Cretaceous and adding a coda describing how descendants of the dinosaurs are still with us today in the shape of birds,” the website explains.
If you’re planning a stay at luxury hotels in London and want to do a bit of time travel during your visit, the Walking with Dinosaurs Arena Spectacular is on from December 26th to January 6th at the O2 arena, then returns at the beginning of May for another showing at Wembley.