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Watertown dinosaur exhibit deemed too pricey

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WATERTOWN — For three days only, the roar of the tyrannosaurus rex haunted the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds Municipal Arena.

But there were no dinosaur clones or ghosts; just animatronic models that swished a tail, bobbed a head or moved an arm.

The “Discover the Dinosaurs” exhibit was in Watertown from Friday to Sunday, and while the model dinosaurs and various prehistoric-themed activities were of interest to children, some adults found the whole event overpriced.

“We were really disappointed,” said Peggy Roberts, who brought her grandchildren. “The lines for the rides were long and it was $22 (per person) to get in ... I spent over $80 in half an hour.”

At the door, families had two options for children: the exhibit only, which was $16 for children, or the Exhibit Plus, which was $22. Adult admission for anyone 13 or older was $18, and infants were admitted for free. Both options included the exhibit with animatronic models; a question and answer scavenger hunt that earns children a spin on the prize wheel, and the Dino Dig, a sandbox where children could uncover fossils like a paleontologist. The Exhibit Plus option also included unlimited rides and admission to mini golf or the inflatable bounce house and slide.

On top of that, there were charges for anyone who wanted to have his or her face painted or to participate in the gem and fossil mining. A gift shop also was on site.

Ms. Roberts visited the attraction Sunday afternoon with grandchildren Kaelyn M. and Dominic G. Cean of Adams. She had been warned by a co-worker against attending, but she said Dominic loved dinosaurs and she was willing to give it a try.

“I thought the dinosaurs were pretty good,” the 9-year-old said of the exhibit. “(I was) a little disappointed ... (I) thought there would be more rides.”

Holly Bailey of Evans Mills brought 4-year-old son Noah M. While Noah was especially thrilled about the bounce house and mini golf, Mrs. Bailey was disappointed with the cost.

“I don’t think it’s worth the money, especially when you pay so much to get in and then you come in and have to pay extra for other things,” she said.

Show manager Jake Karan said the number of attendees was down compared with the usual number of patrons.

“It’s tough to say, but I think over 500 or more ... we get about a couple thousand on an average weekend. It’s a little small,” Mr. Karan said.

The traveling exhibit is based out of Minnesota and was started by Blue Star Productions, which hosts trade and golf shows. This was the group’s first visit to Watertown. Despite the low turnout, Mr. Karan said it is always possible it could return. The exhibit’s next stop is the Bayfront Convention Center in Erie, Pa.

To learn more, visit www.discoverthedinosaurs.com.

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