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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Review: Dinosaur World and Kentucky Down Under By:Stephanie

This weekend, I ventured with my kids, a friend and her kids down I-65 about 1 hr and 45 minutes to visit Dinosaur World and Kentucky Down Under.  We got our tickets from www.LouisvilleBestDeals.com
It was a very easy drive since both attractions are only minutes apart and right off of the highway in the Cave City area.

We started at Dinosaur World, exit 53 off of I-65.  You can get ticket information on their site but I highly recommend checking out www.LouisvilleBestDeals.com for discounted tickets!  We got there right before it opened and we were one of the first ones in.  You enter through a gift shop and get your wristbands.  On the other side, you can choose what to do first.  We chose to follow the shaded, paved trail to see all of the dinosaur creatures in the woods! The kids were fascinated but their size and different colors.  And, even on a hot day, it was mostly shaded so it remained relatively cool.  We followed all of the paths to see the dinosaurs and the wooly mammoths.  There are plaques to tell you about each of the creatures and many photo opportunities!

The path leads back to the gift shop.  The kids wanted to play a bit on the playground and we had a small snack. There are covered picnic tables in this area. You can bring in snacks and take breaks here.  The playground is not shaded.  The restrooms are located near the playground as well as vending machines.

After playing, we took the kids to the big sand box where they can dig and brush like paleontologists.  There are seats for parents to look on and this area is covered and good for resting and cooling off a bit. The kids dig and brush and uncover large fossils.

After digging, we had a few minutes to wait for one of the schedule fossil dig times.  We played with the large dinosaur puzzle and went through the indoor museum that displayed many interesting fossils and a recreations of a paleontologist research area.

The last activity we did was the fossil dig. They only hold these are scheduled times, so check the posting for the times.  All times are central time!  The kids come in and use little sifters to find small fossils. They are given a small cup and can scoop as many as they want and then choose their 3 favorites to take home.  The employee tells each child about what they have chosen and places the fossils in a small baggie for them to take home.  My kids loved this part and my son is still carrying around his fossils days later.

We left Dinosaur World and headed north to get to Kentucky Down Under at exit 58.  We entered the small gift shop and got our admission maps.  You can get ticket information on their site, but again, I recommend checking to see if http://www.LouisvilleBestDeals.com has tickets available for purchase for some savings!    The staff in the office will give you a map and tell you the times of different education shows.  It is very useful information and they were quite friendly.  We brought a wagon for pulling some of the kids and our stuff and it was very helpful since there is a big hill that you have to walk up before you get to the exhibits!

About halfway up the hill, there is an aviary.  We went in and saw a few lizards and snakes on display and we left our wagon in that area.  The staff member gave us little cups of bird seed and we entered the caged area with the birds.  These smaller birds did not flock to us immediately but as we got closer, they came over and landed on our cups and hands to eat the food. It was so much fun and there were lots of giggles!

Then, we continued up the hill.  At the top, there is an area for mining for gems and a gift shop.  This is also where you can catch your cave tour if you choose to do that. You have to schedule a time when you first enter and get tickets.  We did not choose to do the cave tour simply because we were outnumbered by our children and we thought we would just do that some other time!

Over the hill, there are exhibits of other birds and animals.  We really liked the laughing Kookaburra. The staff told us that if we rolled out tongues, the bird would throw it's head back and laugh, and it did!  That was a huge hit with the kids!

We went to the next aviary full of larger birds called Rainbow Lorakeets. The staff member gave us small cups of liquid food and gave us instructions on what to expect and what to do.  When you enter, the bird immediately come to you and land on your arms, shoulders, hands or head. It was such a crazy and fun experience.  The staff took some pictures for us and then when we wanted the birds off, he helped my son use a net to momentarily scare them away so we could walk out. It was awesome!

We took a break in the cafe area right near these birds. It is covered and has clean restrooms. They serve food, but we brought our lunch and at at the picnic tables.  Then, it was time for a sheep herding show that was very interested to watch.  The trainer and other staff took us into the barn for a show and to answer some questions.  They were very knowledgeable and friendly.  Kids got to feed the lambs and try to get a sheep into shearing position. It was all very well organize and well done.

Last, we went to the outback walkabout to visit the kangaroos and wallabies.  The guide gave us instructions when we entered and introduced us to the animals.  She let us know when it was appropriate to pet them and was so patient with everyone.  The animals were friendly and hopping around. It was such a unique experience and my children were so enthralled by these animals. 

I recommend that you leave early and make a day of it! You can visit both of these place in one day, which is cost effective for gas.  They both open early in the day, so especially when it's hot, you can get their right when they open and enjoy yourself before it is the hottest part of the day. 

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