Remember that BBC TV show from 1999 called Walking With Dinosaurs?
THEY MADE A LIVE SHOW!!!
OK, so they originally made it in 2007, but it's back. And I went to see it today!
A lovely Aussie YouTuber I follow on Twitter happened to post a couple of photos from the show in Sydney a while back, but at that point I didn't give it much thought. Then, whilst wandering through Melbourne, I happened to spot a billboard which rung bells about the tweets, and sparked an interest.
A quick bit of Googling last week yielded further information about Walking With Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular and I discovered that it was showing up until today (March 29th) in Melbourne during it's Australian tour. And you know who's in Melbourne at the moment? Of course you do. I am.
For the past couple of days I've been faffing, trying to figure out the best day to see the show, and eventually this morning I decided on the very last show. Mainly because it was the only one left. And to treat myself to a good view I booked a Premium ticket for just shy of 110 bucks.
I donned my dinosaur socks (yes I have dinosaur socks) because they seemed highly appropriate, and after lunch, set out to find Melbourne's Hisense Arena. It wasn't very hard to find to be honest, I took a bus and then followed the crowds of families to the venue.
Shortly after finding the appropriate entrance door for my seat (Door 6 if you're interested) I discovered that my decision to purchase a Premium ticket yielded a front row seat. Score.
I sat and waited for a few minutes, surveying the arena. It's a big place, the stage space came all the way out into the centre of the building with seats around three sides. My seat (F 361 for the seating nerds) gave me a side view of the performance.
Soon, the lights began to dim and a voice over the PA system announced that the show was about to start:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls," it began. "The performance of Walking With Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular is about to start. In the consideration of other patrons, flash photography is strictly prohibited. Also, the dinosaurs in the show are quite sensitive; the bright lights can startle and disorientate them, the consequences would not be good..."
"We would also like to ask you to switch all mobile phones off. We are taking a trip 200 million years into the past so you won't be able to get any signal during the performance."
I like humorous announcements. Especially those that get the whole stadium chuckling. I feel a little bad for not actually turning my phone off, I only put it on airplane mode so I could snap a few shots, flash free ones of course (unlike some patrons).
It's at this point that I would like to point out that I didn't take my lovely little Fuji X100T with me to the show. I figured photography probably wasn't meant to be undertaken during the performance so I left the camera at home. In order to bring you the photos shown below I used my phone (I know I shouldn't have), so the quality is sub par. The Nexus 4 is not built for low light, flash free photography and the result is some longer than ideal shutter speeds that cause blur. I know you won't mind, but I have to say this for my own sanity because in general I cannot stand those who upload photos that have the visual quality of a potato.
The set is a pretty impressive arrangement. Lots of brightly coloured inflatable plants, movable rock segments, a projected display, and lighting help to illustrate how the land and surroundings change between time periods.
This brought us to the interval. During this time I bought a bottle of Coke, several million years passed, and I realised that I could get away with taking a few more pictures.
The time that passed during the interval brought along the Cretaceous era. Land masses had moved further apart, creating oceans that only certain dinosaurs were capable of crossing in order to switch continents.
These gigantic beasts milled around for a while, munching the vegetation around the stage whilst the narrator told us about how their armour was good for protecting them against most dinosaurs. But there is of course one dinosaur, the ultimate predator, that could best the armour.
A great shadow appeared on the projected back drop, accompanied by great roars, and the inevitable appearance of a Tyranosaurus Rex, and a hungry one at that. Here he is having a crack at the Ankylosaurus.
Smaller than you'd expect right? That's because this one's only a baby, and in all honesty, it didn't stand much chance against the two giant herbivores.
Then Mummy came out to protect her child.
That's more like the size you'd expect, and it came with a roar to match. Big Momma Rex quickly scared away the Torosaurus and the Ankylosaurus by being very aggressive. I'm sure she would have eaten them in real life, but it's a family show after all.
This left the stage open for the mother and child pairing of Tyranosaurus Rexes to strut around the stage, getting up close and personal with some members of the audience, generally being very loud and showing off. Quite a spectacle.
It was fantastic.
The show is entirely narrated by one man, playing a palaeontologist. He explains all the different time periods, what happens with the land and why, as well as teaching all about the dinosaurs that are a part of the show. The narration is both fun and educational, for kids and adults.
The main part of the show however, is of course the dinosaurs. They're magnificent creations. The smaller, bipedal dinos are costumes, worn by a single person. The legs are attached in such a way that as the human actor walks/runs, they move in an accurate manner. The larger dinosaurs are mounted on some sort of long, flat vehicle that is driven around the stage by a person inside. The legs of these dinos are attached to the base of the vehicle with cams and levers and things that also make the legs move in an accurate fashion as the vehicle moves around. The vehicles are difficult to describe, but they're barely noticeable when you're looking at such monstrous creatures.
In addition to the movement around the stage, all the dinosaurs have animatronic heads, necks, and tails. They've all been designed and created with such attention to detail, they're constantly moving around, surveying the scene, rearing up, eating, breathing, blinking. It's mesmerising watching them.
Overall, the show is as it's title suggests, spectacular. This latest tour seems to have been around the US, Canada, and New Zealand already, and has a few more cities around Australia lined up, unfortunately though I can't seem to find any info on whether it will be coming to the UK or any other countries in Europe. I would assume that it will be in the coming months, and when it does I would highly recommend going to see it, whether you're young or old.