My expectations were low, lower than I care to admit. So low that despite all the advertising about the dinosaur exhibit, I could not compel myself to take my six-year old, dinosaur obsessed, aspiring paleontologist to spend the day at Kings Dominion. Believe me, I've had my share of Kings Dominion. Fourteen years of taking 25 college students to spend an entire day at the park was enough to give me plenty of experience. I've never been a huge roller coaster fan but in my attempt to be a good sport I rode the roller coasters (I remember saying a prayer while rocking on the Berserker. I didn't think I would survive that ride.) That was actually in high school or college and I enjoyed the park more at that time but never enough for a season pass. It was a fun way to spend the day but that is all. It wasn't until they launched the dinosaur exhibit that I realized it's been seven years since I've visited Kings Dominion.
Even with the dinosaur exhibit lingering over my head, making me feel guilty every time my son mentioned it, I could not get myself in the mode to take a day and drive to King's Dominion. Eventually, a close friend convinced me that it was nicer, cleaner and more fun than she expected and worth a shot. She in fact was going for the second time in two weeks, and knowing I would have a good group to keep me company gave me the optimism to give it a try with my dinosaur fan. For the past year he has seen posters, dinosaurs at the local mall and heard advertising so he knew that if he went to King's Dominion he could see the dinosaurs. My daughter attended a camp this week and I felt guilty about him being home because I hadn’t thought in advance to find any camp that he would enjoy...now I know, you HAVE to plan all summer camps well in advance...parenting is a learning experience every day right? So when my friend convinced me to join them at the park and when I realized that my daughter would be gone, I thought this would be a good day to try it again.... I left the bills that needed to be paid, clothes that needed to be organized and cake that needed to be baked for the next day. Instead, I took my son for a rare day with just the two of us and headed off to Kings Dominion.
We met our friends there and joined them briefly before breaking off for lunch. I was impressed to see that the park offered many more varieties of food choices then I remember and it was cleaner. A friend told me she thinks the cleanliness is a result of no more smoking at the park and that makes sense. Anyway back to lunch, Rishi chose Chik-fil-A (they make a grilled cheese and fries for the vegetarians) and I opted for a pretzel at Auntie Anne's. I carried a bottle of water but Rishi is not much of a snacker so lunch was enough to carry him through the day. If my daughter had joined us, I would have had to have a different snack for every hour of our day so it was a relief to not have to worry about that.
We finished lunch and embarked upon the Dinosaur adventure. It was wonderful. The exhibit would be boring to children who are not interested in dinosaurs and there is an extra charge for this part of the park, probably because they need to pay for the majestic creations that move, make sounds and look so incredibly realistic. They have a fossil site where the kids can play in the sand pit and unearth the fossil below.
When a park employee asked Rishi if he could identify the fossil, he immediately responded "Allosaurus of course!" It was pure pleasure and well worth the time and the few extra dollars. The area was quiet, people there were interested in the beasts and Rishi was enthralled. The only downside to the dinosaur area is making your way in and out. Both of course are through the gift shop so if you can tackle that without spending a few extra dollars, you're in good shape...and luckier than I am!
We exited the gift store and joined our friends for a carousel ride. The overcast day resulted in a quiet park, which was wonderful, perfect weather and no lines. Rishi rode some rides 5 or 6 times without having to wait. Several rides later, we made our way out of the park, content and pleased with a wonderful day. Next year...season passes? We'll see!