Dinosaurs have arrived at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds! And you can see them in a safe drive-thru adventure called “Dinosaur Adventure Drive Thru.” It’s happening the weekends of July 31 – August 2 and August 7-9.
Tickets are $40 for a regular car, truck or minivan that seats up to 7 people. We bought a ticket for opening day for the 6-8pm timeslot.
This is what our confirmation email said:
So we arrived at 6:20pm and the line was starting to go out past the main entrance off Snelling Avenue to the street. I figured it wouldn’t be long once we got in.
However, the line of cars actually wound around the fairgrounds and the attraction was on the other side, so we literally sat in our car until 8:20pm – for 2 hours! – before we got to the entrance of the Dinosaur Adventure Drive Thru!
There were just so many people, and it was so backed up. So I wanted to share our experience to help anyone still planning to come out and visit!
All I can say is, go to the bathroom before you arrive, and don’t drink a whole lot of liquid or caffeine before coming. The good thing is that there are porta-potties at the entrance of the attraction if you need them, but there aren’t any along the long path through the fairgrounds.
Thankfully our family was fine waiting in the car, including our kids, but it was a LONG wait! Every time we turned a corner I thought we would see the attraction, but it was just another turn closer, nothing more.
However, it was kind of fun seeing the fairgrounds and all the signs – some of which were making us hungry! We talked about how it would have been nice if Sweet Martha’s Cookies or any of the other food vendors were here selling their food car-to-car! They would have made a FORTUNE!
Along the roads through the fairgrounds, many families with little kids got out of their cars to walk around, just to keep their kids from going nuts! They seemed ok (we didn’t see any unhappy kids) but I can’t imagine all the unhappy families we didn’t see.
We finally were able to see the entrance to the attraction at around 8:00pm, and got there about 8:20pm. When we arrived we were asked if we added on any adventure packs, which were backpacks filled with dinosaur goodies for about $30 each, but we didn’t. They scanned our ticket (you’ll have plenty of time to get it ready), gave us maps for our kids, and then we started our audio tour on my phone, which was sent to us by email beforehand.
The audio tour begins with some sound effects and music, and then it’s an educational tour of the whole drive thru experience. You’ll learn about a variety of dinosaurs and the time periods they lived in, as you see them pose and growl and move.
The whole Dinosaur Adventure Drive Thru was kind of in a back lot of the fairgrounds, where trolleys, dumpsters and other not so visually exciting things were stored. So if you can ignore them, you’ll enjoy the whole adventure more.
Toward the beginning there are puppeteers showing a baby dinosaur and a walking dinosaur that growls, though don’t worry, they won’t touch you or your car. It’s interactive fun mostly for the younger kids.
The cars moved slowly through the drive thru, as families watched dinosaurs occasionally come to life (sometimes they were still when we drove past, sometimes they moved and growled). Some of the movement was pretty realistic. But clearly these dinosaurs were more designed for the indoor convention center events that have taken place each year.
The T-Rex was pretty cool and big.
Watch out for the velociraptors on the dumpster!
There were a variety of dinosaurs to see and they were all very close to our car. Even baby dinosaurs!
The whole drive thru took about 30 minutes to get through, which is how long the audio tour is.
When we drove out, there was still a long line of cars going in, and it was getting dark out. I noticed the dinosaurs weren’t lit up, so I hoped the last people arriving were able to see them ok.
Overall, I’m not sure how we felt about it. My kids goofed off in the backseat and enjoyed being silly and talking about the fair, so it was ok for us. They didn’t listen to the audio tour, but the audio tour was good to have to make it an educational experience.
I think the event had good intentions – families are looking for COVID-friendly things like this to do together (clearly, as the traffic showed), so it definitely sought to filled that need.
But if I had known we’d be waiting in our car 2 hours to get in, I wouldn’t have gotten the $40 ticket. And I think it’s better for young kids, as they won’t be disappointed in any of it. If you have older kids, it’s probably not worth it.
If you haven’t gotten a ticket yet, I suggest you don’t. The price isn’t horrible, but it was clearly not well-planned. If there was a limit on tickets they sure set it high! Overall, it was not worth the wait.
If you already bought a ticket or still decide to go though, I’d recommend getting a time slot earlier in the day as it clearly gets backed up, and they seem to have overbooked it so much that you likely won’t get in until after your time slot ends, like ours did.
Dinosaur Adventure posted on Facebook that they added some dates to reduce wait time. See their post for info:
If you do still go and have a long wait, here are some things my kids and I thought of that you can do!
25 Things to Do in Your Car While Waiting 2 Hours for Dinosaur Adventure Drive Thru
These are things for families and kids to do!
- Read a book or magazine. Bring one or more for each passenger!
- Play a game – a travel game, or a game on a mobile device.
- Think of new games to play as a family, or make one up!
- Watch a movie on a portable DVD player.
- Have a picnic in your car.
- Sing a song together or listen to favorite CDs (bring music you all can enjoy!).
- Draw a picture of things you see while waiting.
- Come up with recipes. Try thinking of some inspired by the food places at the fair.
- Plan what state fair foods you’ll be buying at food trucks in the Twin Cities! See my list here!
- Learn a language on CD or a device.
- Have a conversation.
- Get out of the car and walk around (well, this is not in the car but it’s close to it!).
- Do voice impressions.
- Tell funny jokes or stories. Plan some to share in advance!
- Listen to the whole dinosaur audio tour so you know what to expect.
- Do activity pages (find free ones to print in advance here!).
- Play “I spy” and point out things around you like signs and shapes at the fairgrounds.
- Talk about your favorite memories at the state fair.
- Talk about what free things each of you wants to still do this summer. Check out my guide to Free Summer Fun in the Twin Cities for ideas!
- Play virtual hide and seek. Imagine you are hiding somewhere in the state fairgrounds, or at home. Others take turns asking questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no” until someone guesses correctly.
- Blow bubbles outside your car window! This will entertain others around you!
- Using a mobile device, take a tour of a museum or a place in Minnesota. Use this guide!
- Play a Disney game where someone says lines from a movie and others guess which movie it’s from. Here’s one you can print for free!
- Pack a bag of toys and puzzles for the kids to do.
- Play 20 questions. One person thinks of something – maybe an animal (like a dinosaur!), or a food. The others take turns asking yes-or-no questions. Once 20 questions have been asked, each person has a chance to guess!
What other activities can you think of to do in the car while waiting?
Did you go? What did you think?
For more info about this Dinosaur Adventure Drive-Thru, visit their website.