Prehistoric World is now in its 39th year of operation and in all those 39 years there has never been a year like this one.
The ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic has had a huge impact on all tourist operations including this one.
The pandemic delayed its 2020 opening. Having only been allowed to open the doors about a month ago Prehistoric World is back to being open 10-4 seven days a week. (Last admission is 3:15 p.m. daily.)
For the most part, how the brothers, who construct and maintain the impressive dinosaur sculptures and surrounding landscape featured throughout the attraction, have operated the business for the last 39 years fits well in the COVID-19 era.
What that means is, if you’ve visited before, it’s just how you remember it.
These days, having the ability to replicate a childhood experience to share with your own children has become very difficult as times have changed.
Last week we travelled with our family bubble to Prehistoric World. (Four adults, an eight year-old child, two two year-olds and a baby in a stroller.)
Admission was cash only at a cost of $10 for adults, $6 for children. (Children under four are free, which was a nice surprise for the moms of the younger children in our group who were left with some cash in their pockets.)
Two of the moms, being born and raised locally, had visited Prehistoric World as children as part of school class trips, so they have their own childhood memories of the destination.
Last week they were both able to take their two year-olds to the park for the leisurely walk around the wide open space and through the wooded area to see the sculptures of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures.
The only pandemic-related change we noticed was the need to wear a mask to enter the park through the admissions building.
It was actually a good opportunity to get the toddlers accustomed to the masking procedure as it was just part of what we all needed to do to enter the park.
Once through the admissions building we were outdoors to enjoy the beautiful landscape featuring dozens of dinosaur and prehistoric creature sculptures. Many have been added since we each visited years ago. (Masks are optional once outdoors.)
The kids could walk, or mostly run, from sculpture to sculpture getting up close to each of them.
By the way, this is a great place for fun photo ops!
We were pushing a baby in a carriage and were able to navigate the walkways with relative ease.
The eight year-old in the group had a great time reading the signs describing the sculptures to the toddlers who were curious about each of the dinosaur’s names. The tricky pronunciations were a great challenge for the young and eager reader in the group.
The scale of the triceratops and tyrannosaurus which revealed themselves in a clearing as you exit the forest was breathtaking. “This is my favourite! This is my favourite!: was the exclamation which spontaneously burst from the little lady who at the beginning of the walk was quietly reticent and hesitant about approaching the sculptures.
This was the perfect ending to our visit which was under two hours.
Pro-tips: to avoid crowds, visit on a weekday, weekends are busiest. Bring your own snacks and drinks as none are available on site. (Picnics are no longer permitted in the park due to the pandemic.) Bug spray! (We visited on a hot afternoon, and had no problem with bugs but on a cooler day they are more of an issue.)
Because of the late start this year, Prehistoric World will not close for the season until Thanksgiving. The season for them usually ends Labour Day.
If your group is looking for more after Prehistoric World there are plenty of choices to make.
If you need a snack the closest options are Beavertails, located just outside the Upper Canada Village entrance, for a sweet treat or Upper Canada Golf Course has a chip wagon if that’s the type of fare you’re after.
Crylser Park beach is also nearby, if you’re looking to cool off. Note: it is only open Saturday and Sunday with limited availability.
More great food and entertainment options are available a short drive west to Morrisburg where there are food options to suit the tastes of everyone in the group (Pizza/Greek/Thai/Mexican/Canadian). Today we opted for take-out: a couple of kids’ meals and milkshakes for the moms to end the day at the splash pad in Earl Baker Park.
But you can choose your own adventure.