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Largo Central Park is getting some new dinosaur residents

Jurassic Encounter will be set up in the shady park.
Dinosaurs are set to invade Largo Oct. 14-23 in the Jurassic Encounter. The walk-thru dinosaur experience, shown here at a recent display in Virginia.
Dinosaurs are set to invade Largo Oct. 14-23 in the Jurassic Encounter. The walk-thru dinosaur experience, shown here at a recent display in Virginia. [ Jurassic Encounter ]
Published Oct. 6|Updated Oct. 7

Update: This event has been postponed. Stay tuned for further details.

LARGO — Dinosaurs are ready to return from extinction and invade Largo Central Park for 10 days starting Oct. 14, when the Jurassic Encounter walk-through experience stomps into the shady park in central Pinellas County.

The event is the first of its kind at the park, bringing close to 70 animatronic and static dinosaurs for up-close encounters and adjacent activities such as a dino dig, bouncy houses and games.

Cheri Garr, co-owner and scene designer for the Virginia-based company, said she was especially enamored with Largo Central Park’s many moss-draped trees and swaying palms in the space set up behind the public library, “because you’re going to really feel like you are in Jurassic Park.”

Garr and her husband started Dinosaur Encounter four years ago, and like many entertainment operations, faced losing everything when the pandemic hit. They pivoted to a touchless encounter and some drive-thru events that made use of an app as a guide. Since it was outside, it still drew crowds, she said.

“It was great for people to still get out and interact with something. That’s how we developed our mobile app,” Garr said.

Now that they are back to doing a walk-through interactive encounter, one of the bonuses from their pandemic adjustments is that they kept an audio tour for the encounter’s app. Users of the app will also find a scavenger hunt and can earn bonus points for prizes. The app also has a geolocator to find the dozens of dinosaurs scattered throughout the park.

Digging for dinosaur bones is one activities at the Jurassic Encounter set to invade Largo Oct. 14-23.
Digging for dinosaur bones is one activities at the Jurassic Encounter set to invade Largo Oct. 14-23. [ Jurassic Encounter ]

The event will include a dig for dinosaur bones, free bouncy houses, photo opportunities and shopping at the Dino Village. Tickets are $19 for ages 2 and up. There are upgrades and family packs available at feeltheroar.com.

The cast of dinos are a mix of puppets, 18 animatronic dinosaurs and others that are posed in position in the trees and around the park. The largest is the carnotaurus, a huge meat-eating dinosaur that lived in South America. The animatronic version is 40 feet long and 25 feet tall. There’s also a baby T. rex puppet and an adolescent T. rex operated by a person inside a 14-foot-long ensemble.

Not wanting to startle small children, Garr said the scene is set with the quiet dinosaur displays in front to slowly ease visitors into the scene, where they can choose their own adventure to pick a display to visit and even interact with a fossil come to life.

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