Jurassic World: The Exhibition has finally had its grand opening in Melbourne, Australia! It looks every bit as beautiful and well-put-together as we had dreamed it would be. Since this is the fist day it’s open, not many pictures are available; I’ll add photos as they come in. In the meantime, Thomas Schmitz on Facebook was so kind as to take a few photos of the highlights. Let’s take a look!
The gate itself looks great, but the mountain scenery behind it looks even better. If I walked through this, I think I’d start crying instantly, but then again that’s true for basically everything in the exhibition.
This doesn’t look like any specific room from the Hammond Creation Lab in the movie– it appears to be a DNA extraction room crossed with a hatchery area– so it isn’t 100% movie-accurate, but regardless, it looks great. The aesthetic they have going with the wall of amber looks great; it reminds me of the wall of dire wolf skulls at the La Brea Tar Pits. There seems to be some kind of educational video on the amber extraction process playing, as well as something starring Henry Wu or at least some other geneticist in a black turtleneck. If these are exhibit-exclusive and not just reruns of the promotional videos that were released through RaptorPass, it would be great if someone could videotape them. I doubt they’d give too many mind-blowing insights, but they’re still a part of canon.
And the QR code eggs, which so kindly blessed us with the cover of God Creates Dinosaurs, are there as well! It looks like you can toggle with the settings on the incubator or, more likely, look at the vital signs of the tiny dinosaurs within. I don’t know if it’s possible to take X-rays and thermal scans of the eggs in order to determine their inhabitants (like you can at the Discovery Center in the JP Orlando theme park) but since this is appears to be a video screen, it seems like it could be and I hope it is.
I’m typing this after a 20-minute break, during which I curled up in the corner, clutched my pillow to my chest and screeched several variations of “LOOK AT THEIR SLEEPY LITTLE FACES! PRECIOUS LITTLE MUFFINS” into it until I could type coherent sentences again. But I’m not the only one who thinks this is the cutest thing ever, right? Look at their chubby little cheeks, and the happy little smiles on their faces, and their teeny-tiny noses… ahem, sorry, got carried away there. I don’t know if these are animatronics; they probably aren’t, and I should probably be glad for that fact because if one of them yawned or started moving around in their sleep, I would instantly drop dead on the spot. If any of you happens to go to the exhibition, if you send me a picture of these little guys, I will love you forever and always.
This looks more like an informational room than anything else, and it probably doesn’t tell us anything that the website doesn’t already. Regardless, someone should probably photograph the placards on the walls anyway, just in case. (Shoutout to the Jurassic Park Legacy encyclopedia staff, by the way. Those guys really have their documenting cut out for them with this thing.)
But nobody goes to a Jurassic World experience just to read facts about mosasaurs and look at probably-fake dinosaur leg bones. Let’s see some animatronics!
We’ve seen this Rexy animatronic before, but in her environment and with that creepy red lighting, she looks a million times better. Her face also appears to have been adjusted a bit since she was shown off at the announcement of the exhibit, so now she looks a lot more accurate. The idea of this area is that you’re in the T. Rex Kingdom (as you can see by the backdrop) watching her eat her afternoon meal. From this angle, at least, it really feels like you’re watching an actual T. rex make a kill.
I haven’t seen enough of it to know for sure, but the I. rex looks almost as good as the T. rex, at least in this picture. I think it’s something about the texture of her face, but she just looks a little more… I don’t know, fake. It’s also a huge missed opportunity that they put her in the middle of a generic jungle (unless they’re recreating the ACU scene, which again, I have no way of knowing) instead of in a recreation of her pen. For what it is, though, this doesn’t look bad at all. Stan Winston and his team obviously put a huge amount of work into this, and it shows. Nothing we’ve seen so far has been shabby; “not so good” here translates to “slightly less than perfect”.
This pachyrhinosaurus, on the other hand, looks absolutely fantastic. I don’t know what the context for this is (by the mountains in the background, I’m guessing they’re in the Restricted Zone, although it could easily be the Gentle Giants Petting Zoo) but it stands so well on its own that it would look just fine even against a bare wall. The skin texture is gorgeous, the eyes make it look like it’s really alive, I want nothing more in this world than to snuggle the baby (who, by the way, looks like Patchi from Walking with Dinosaurs: The Movie Mistake)– I could go on all day about what a good job this is. I absolutely can’t wait to see these two moving. Also, I feel this is relevant:
I know it’s just the angle of the picture, but the face on this apatosaur looks like a grinning zombie and it’s legitimately scaring me. I’m not kidding, it looks like something from one of those Five Nights at Freddy’s games and I’m uncomfortable looking at it for too long.
But disregarding the scary face, the rest of it looks great. The foliage under this guy really makes it feel like you’re in the tree scene from the first movie; if the animatronic sneezes every once in a while, it’ll be perfect. If it ducks its head down to look at visitors on the ground and/or grabs leaves in its mouth, then all the better. If it weren’t for the horrifying expression, this would be downright magical.
Finally, in presumably the same jungle set as the I. rex, we have a red parasaurolophus who looks downright pissed that we dared to wander onto its turf.
The skin also looks great on this one, as well as the design; it’s not what we saw in JW, but in a good way, since brown dinosaur after brown dinosaur was bound to get boring after a while. I don’t know if this is just an animatronic head or if the rest of its body is visible as well, but I hope it’s the latter, because this looks amazing.
That’s all we have for now, but more and more people will be visiting the exhibition in the coming days, so I’ll have lots more pictures to show you and screech over. Stay tuned!
Update: Here’s a video of the I. rex animatronic. I was wrong about this one– she looks fantastic! It amazes me how realistic her skin and movements are, and how she has such a full range of motion (it’s incredibly cool how she can rear up like that and swing around; I haven’t seen many animatronics that could do that realistically). If there’s one thing I don’t like about it, I’d say it’s the stiff arms, but given how well-done the rest of her is, it’s not worth complaining over.
An amazing person named Andrew Miller posted a video showing the entirety of the exhibition! You really should watch it, because screenshots can’t do the works of art that are these animatronics justice, and this is something that really needs to be seen as a full experience, even if it’s just secondhand. But I can definitely do my best to capture the highlights.
You enter after a short video simulating a boat ride to Nublar, which includes an informational video about the park’s dinosaurs and the full JurassicWorld.com experience on the sidebar there. I gotta admit, this is a pretty clever idea; if I had designed the exhibition, I’d probably just have started with the JW gate.
I’m disappointed in the fact that the informational sidebar doesn’t show how big the island is. Like, how many pounds.
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After a few more minutes of video, an attendant opens a door and you’re ushered through the gates of Jurassic World, immediately to see this:
Awesome! I was hoping it would eat leaves like a real apatosaur! This is just one of the little touches that I like the most about this exhibition– the artists behind it took the time to make us feel like we’re looking at actual animals in their environments, not just monsters standing around waiting to roar at us; the latter is a problem that theme park animatronics (unfortunately, this includes the JP ride) and the other dinosaur animatronic exhibition out right now have. With things like showing the animals eating and ignoring us, it feels like we’re actually among living creatures, and that makes it all the more magical.
So that picture earlier was just a bad angle on a good puppet, right? The apatosaur (which looks much more like a JP mamenchisaur, if you ask me) can’t be that freaky-looking in real– ohhhh boy.
Huh. Who ever thought that, out of a gallery of predatory dinosaurs, the herbivore would be the one that worried me the most. I mean, its movements and construction are great, but that face is terrifying. And that’s not even to mention that there’s no semblance of a body attached to this. It’s a giant neck protruding from the floor.
Let’s… let’s just move on.
Next is something genuinely adorable and sweet– the parasaur is close enough to interact with people, blinking its eyes, sniffing curiously at them, and tilting its head like a big scaly pug. (I should note that all the dinosaurs have these abilities and realistic facial expressions– this one just puts them to the best use.) It really looks like you’re standing in front of a gentle, curious animal. No wonder the little kid in this video is so happy.
Next is the Pachyrhinosaur family, situated in the Gentle Giants Petting Zoo! I’m not entirely sure what that plastic sheet behind them is supposed to be for, but I stand by my assertion that they’d look good next to anything.
The mother growl-honks, rears her head and generally makes it known that visitors aren’t welcome near her baby–
–and then leans her head in to nuzzle it. You know what, this is too precious for me to gawk at. You go, little pachyrhinosaur family. Your mother-daughter love is too pure for this world.
After our videographer takes a couple of minutes to watch his friends pose in front of the gates and to capture the ambience of a room full of people on their smartphones, a sign in front of the pachys invites us to “touch the dino dung”…
…and then we’re on to the Creation Lab!
There’s a security camera display showing a couple of famous locales from the movie (the jungle trail that the ACU drove down, the gate that the boys drove through in the old Jeep) but those aren’t particularly exciting. Especially not when there’s a real amber extractor!
It doesn’t appear to do anything, but it’s still pretty awesome to see. Also, I was wrong– the video next to it doesn’t star Wu. It just shows a woman in a blue scarf, who Lord Kristine will probably have an entire backstory and 3-story anthology for by the end of the week.
There’s no part of the hatchery that needs to be shown that we haven’t already seen in previous photos, so there’s really no need to screencap it. All that needs to be said is that there’s still no way to tell exactly what it is that the video screens in front of the incubators do; hopefully someone who visits in the coming weeks will be able to tell us.
I promise I’m gonna be okay in a little while but the one in the middle lifts up its little head and yawns in its sleep and this is just a really important moment for me and it’s a little hard to take all of this in at once so give me a moment please thank you so much.
We see the entrance to Wu’s lab (the door doesn’t open) and then an area where you can make your own dinosaur. Encouraging people to take perfectly good dinosaur designs and slap Day-Glo colors and patterns on them– there are subtler ways to get people to do your job for you, Hasbro.
After this, you’re crowded into a room where you’re shown an informational video of facts about Tyrannosaurus Rex (starring the same woman in the blue scarf) after which an awesome door folds up and you enter the T. Rex Kingdom. Lightning flashes, and when you causally glance to your side through the fence:
Regardless of the extremely awesome setting and context, this animatronic isn’t as good as it could have been. I can see how it looks sort of like Rexy, and it’s not a bad tyrannosaur on its own at all, but something happened behind the scenes that made this look way differently than it was probably intended to.
But then I see it from different angles and begin to think differently. This could be a Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride-style piece of crap, and I’d still be excited to be there to see it, because the surrounding area really feels like you’re right there with the queen of Isla Nublar.
Next, Rexy does something that I have to say I was 100% not expecting– there’s a car on one end of her pen, and she walks right over to it, as casually and film-accurately as can be. In case you don’t know much about animatronics, ones that can walk on their own are a huge deal and they aren’t easy to make in any capacity. Lucky the Dinosaur, the first-ever free-roaming animatronic, was only built a few years ago and he’s pretty much alone in his field. If the wizards at this exhibition managed to make a free-roaming, enormous T. rex robot, then I’m completely, thoroughly in awe of them. (And also very, very terrified.) If she isn’t free-roaming, then I don’t want to know how she moves because the way she walks over to her visitors adds a dimension of magic that a stationary robot could never provide. If you ask me, this is the best part of the exhibit by far.
She’s not too happy about the intruder, and I don’t blame her. I can understand that handlers would need to drive jeeps into her pen in order to do routine maintenance and feed her, but if you’re dumb enough to leave your car in a T. rex pen, you deserve all the punctured tires and increased car insurance deductibles you get.
I should note that there was some kind of plot going on with the video that they showed before this scene, so there’s probably a story behind why that car is there. However, I was dumb enough to leave my headphones at home today, so I can’t tell you what that plot is. I’ll update and talk about it later.
For a couple of minutes, Rexy pokes at the car with her snout, roars angrily about it and repeats the process. It would’ve been nice to see her rip the thing apart– it could’ve disassembled and reassembled in a way similar to the special effects at Universal’s Earthquake ride– but that probably couldn’t have been done without damaging the animatronic, so I understand why it couldn’t happen. After letting us know just how pissed she is, she backs up (which is another engineering miracle if she’s free-roaming) and hangs out in her previous spot for a little while. She looks over the railing in a moment that would make me simultaneously pee in fear and squeal in joy:
And then… she walks forward and basically does exactly the same thing she just did, inspecting the truck and voicing her displeasure once again. If there’s not some kind of plot line going on here, I’m seriously scratching my head as to why they didn’t just have her poke at the truck for twice as long instead of making her walk back and forth like that. Being in captivity for that long must’ve made her really oddly repetitive.
I have to admit, though, it is pretty hilarious to watch her try her hardest to menace that truck. She just gives it a teeny little poke with her snout, then rears up, roars loudly and looks around as if to say, “Did you idiots see that?” She’s trying to show us that she’s not to be messed with, but all I see is an old lady trying to assert dominance by spraying the kids who play on her lawn with a pressure hose. I know I’m supposed to be scared, and maybe if I were actually there I would be, but this is just too adorable.
That’s the end of Rexy’s part, and all in all, it’s the best part in my opinion and should’ve been saved for the end. The animatronic was so unbelievably realistic and the setting was so perfect that it could’ve been an attraction at Universal on its own. The only thing I’d have changed would be making her face a bit more movie-accurate, but they’re already 85% of the way there on that, so no complaints from me.
Next we go to the Gyrosphere Valley to meet a stego!
The gyropshere looks pretty cool (I can’t help but think it’s a missed opportunity not to let visitors take pictures in it) and the stego is pretty nice. Its grazing is very realistic and it looks like a real animal in still shots, don’t get me wrong, but something about it bothers me. Maybe it’s how the body looks unreasonably chubby even by JW’s standards, especially the legs, or how the tail only has a robotic back-and-forth motion and the rest of its body doesn’t appear to move much at all. It’s basically the same quality as a high-end theme park animatronic, which wouldn’t even be worth mentioning– and would even be a good thing– if visitors hadn’t just come from something as spectacular as the Rexy section. In other words, they didn’t drop the ball here, but they didn’t slam dunk it either.
So the animal just kind of stegos around for a little while, and then a bunch of red alerts go off and our blue-scarf lady shows up on the video monitors to tell us something. The stego starts panicking, but what does she see that we– oh holy crap.
What a clever reveal and, since I’m the type of person who’d be really freaked out to know that there’s been a giant dinosaur behind me for the entire time I’ve been in a room, a really creepy one too! The thing that strikes me the most is how fast this I. rex animatronic moves. Never in my life have I seen any robot, let alone a gigantic one, that ducks and dodges anywhere near as fast as this one does. It really makes you feel like there’s an actual killing machine dinosaur right in front of you. So what do you do when you see a murderous carnivore? You walk right towards it, of course!
When you get closer, it’s still really, really cool and scary, but the effect is dampened a little by the fact that I. rex’s arms are stuck out in front of her and stiff as boards. You would think just a little effort could’ve gone into that department, but considering how much work was obviously put into this one– she looks just as accurate as the animatronics used in the movie– I’m going to assume it was for some technical reason that the arms had to stay like that.
I seriously can’t overstate (and you’ll have to watch the video to see) how astoundingly fast she moves. She whips her head around and roars at a pace that, if I were there, would genuinely make me afraid that she was about to lean down and snap someone up in her jaws, or at the very least brush someone by accident. (At times, if you turn off the sound, it looks like she’s swaying her head to some fast-paced classical music.) Since she’s a hyperintelligent weapon of an animal, this was a really good choice to use that speed-up effect on.
She basically does the same thing Rexy did– finds a pattern and goes with it. She’ll duck her head down and lower her body, almost as if she’s falling asleep, and then she’ll rear up and go back into her spastic roaring like nothing just happened. This happens a good three or four times.
I should probably also note how close she gets to visitors. Like, this close:
If you go to the exhibition, touching the animatronics probably isn’t a good thing to be doing in general, since you’ll definitely be close enough to do so. However, you’re reading a blog written by someone who’s ran her fingers over a triceratops skull and brachiosaur tail bones in a museum when no one was looking, just for the experience. So, you know. You gotta do what you gotta do.
Lights flash and our heroine continues roaring and flailing– and that’s the end. I assume she just continues her tantrum for a little bit and then it’s onward to the gift shop. All things considered, I’m frankly blown away by how extraordinary this exhibition looks. The animatronics and set recreations are fantastic, the sets are well-done and immersive, and altogether it looks like the product of tons upon tons of hard work. I don’t know if or when this will go on a world tour, but if it comes anywhere near me, I’ll be the first to buy a ticket. I only have one word to summarize: Wow.