What To Do: Let’s get prehistoric

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

This weekend, there will be a dinosaur showdown featuring two travelling animatronic dinosaur exhibits touching down at different locations – “Dino & Dragon Stroll” in Oaks and “Jurassic Quest” in Philadelphia.

From January 15-17, the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center (Station Avenue, Oaks, 800-677-4677, www.phillyexpocenter.com) will be the site of the “Dino & Dragon Stroll.”.

“Dino & Dragon Stroll” is billed as “the only North American tour that lets visitors walk through and get up close to life-like and life-size dinosaurs and dragons.”

This event features the largest creatures touring the country — much larger than any other event of its kind. The dinosaurs and dragons are huge — some standing more than 25 feet tall reaching a length of 60 feet.

“Dino & Dragon Stroll” also features the newest dinosaurs and dragons produced with advanced animatronic and sound technology that bring the creatures to life.

Participants in the “Dino & Dragon Stroll” will be taken to the Mesozoic Era featuring prehistoric dinosaurs from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods – along with some amazing dragons.

The exhibit’s creatures feature moving heads, necks, tails, wings, eyes blinking, mouths that open and close, breathing movements, synchronized sounds, roars, and other amazing details that make them look real and alive.

When guests stroll through the exhibit, they can get up close to dinosaurs — ranging from babies to life-like and life-size dinosaurs – and experience encounters with a T-Rex, Velociraptor and Stegosaurus. They also will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with a selection of large, serpentine, winged, horned and legendary fire breathing dragons.

Tickets are $17.99.

Jurassic Quest

“Jurassic Quest,” which will be presented at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (1101 Arch Street, Philadelphia, www.jurassicquest.com/events/philadelphia-pa) on January 15-17 and 21-23, is billed as “North America’s largest and most realistic dinosaur event.”

Guests are presented with the opportunity to walk through the Cretaceous, Jurassic and Triassic Periods and experience for themselves what it was like to be among dinosaurs of all kinds.

In collaboration with leading paleontologists, each dinosaur has been painstakingly replicated in every detail. Whether their prehistoric counterpart had skin that was scaly, had feathers or fur, “Jurassic Quest” has gone to extremes to bring the dinosaurs to life.

“Jurassic Quest” exhibits also allow future paleontologists to dig up fossils, ride their favorite life-sized dinosaur, enjoy walking dinosaur and baby dinosaur shows, and enjoy a dinosaur themed play land in addition to face painting, crafts and much more.

Ticket prices are $36 child admission with unlimited rides, $22 general admission (ages 2 and up), $19 senior, and free (under 2).


More dinosaur activity this weekend can be found during “Elmo’s Furry Fun Fest” at Sesame Place (100 Sesame Road, Langhorne, www.sesameplace.com).

On weekends now through March 20, guests are invited to visit the park to enjoy an event series during “Elmo’s Furry Fun Fest,” a festive, family-friendly celebration with everyone’s favorite Sesame Street friends live and in-person at the amusement park in Langhorne.

This weekend’s special attraction is a visit by Jon and Blitz from Dino Ranch on January 15 and 16.

Kids are invited to “saddle up and get ready for a wild adventure” as the Dino Ranchers roll into Sesame Place. Guests will be able to join Jon and his dino best friend Blitz for “meet & greets” and photo opportunities.

Dino Ranch is a Canadian American CGI animated children’s television series that follows the adventures of the Cassidy family as they tackle life on the ranch in a fantastical, “prewestoric” setting where dinosaurs roam. Dino Ranch is operated by the Cassidy family –

Bo and Jane Cassidy and their adopted children, Jon, Min, and Miguel, and dinosaurs.

Every weekend through March, visitors can celebrate everyone’s favorite red monster during “Elmo’s Rockin’ Birthday Bash,” treat little loves to a fun day during the “My Fuzzy Valentine’s Celebration,” let the good times roll during the family-friendly “Mardi Gras Celebration,” experience the park’s “St. Patrick’s Day Celebration,” and wish Big Bird a Happy Birthday during his Birthday Weekend.

Activities include a riding on the Sunny Day Carousel, dancing and grooving during at the “Furry Friends Dance Party,” watching “Elmo the Musical, LIVE!” and having fun at the always popular Mini Parades.

The schedule features “Rubber Duckie’s Birthday” on January 8 and 9, “Ernie’s Birthday Bash” on January 15, 16, 17, 22 and 23, “Elmo’s Rockin’ Birthday Bash” on January 29 and 30 and February 5 and 6, “My Fuzzy Valentine’s Celebration” on February 12 and 13, “Mardi Gras Celebration” on February 19, 20, 26 and 27, “St. Patrick’s Day Celebration” on March 5, 6, 12 and 13, and “Big Bird’s Birthday Pajama Party” on March 19 and 20.

The park will be open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays now through March 20 along with January 17 and February 21.

Ghost Tour of Philadelphia (215-413-1997, www.ghosttour.com), Ghost Tour of Lancaster (717-687-6687, www.ghosttour.com) and Ghost Tour of Strasburg (717-687-6687, www.ghosttour.com) operate throughout the winter and offer an eerily entertaining evening of true ghost stories and real haunted houses.

The Ghost Tour of Philadelphia, which is based on the book, “Ghost Stories of Philadelphia, PA.,” is a candlelight walking tour along the back streets and secret gardens of Independence Park, Society Hill, and Old City, where ghostly spirits, haunted houses, and eerie graveyards abound.

Participants can discover the ghost lore of America’s most historic and most haunted city with stories from the founding of William Penn’s colony to present-day hauntings.

The activity is open year-round – weekends, December-February; every night, March-November. Tickets are $24.

The Ghost Tour of Lancaster and the Ghost Tour of Strasburg are based on the book, “Ghost Stories of Lancaster, PA.”

Participants in the Ghost Tour of Lancaster explore the long-forgotten mysteries of one of America’s oldest cities, with haunting tales of otherworldly vigils, fatal curses, and star-crossed lovers. The tour provides the opportunity to experience 300 years of haunted history from the Red Rose City’s thorny past. Tickets are $18.

The Ghost Tour of Strasburg is a candlelight walking tour of the quaint and historic town of Strasburg in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Visitors will experience an entertaining evening with a costumed tour guide spinning tales of haunted mansions, eerie graveyards, and spirits that roam the night … in a town lost in time. Tickets are $18.

Another event dealing with the deceased be found in Chadds Ford.

Every Saturday in January, the Chaddsford Winery (632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, 610-388-6221, http://www.chaddsford.com) will present “Murder Mystery Nights 2022” from 6:30-9 p.m. each night.

Here is the scenario as posted by the winery – “Following the murky details of her husband’s untimely death, Mrs. de Blanc hosts an intimate vigil for her late husband with several of his nearest and dearest friends.  Are the guests there to pay their respect, or do they have ulterior motives? Is foul play afoot?

Polish up your looking glass and help uncover clues to pinpoint the killer and determine the motive.”

Along with an evening of mystery and suspense, participants will enjoy a full, five-course dinner and some frightfully fabulous Pennsylvania wine. Dinner will be presented as a roving dining experience spread out at stations throughout the building, and each course will be carefully paired with a Chaddsford wine.

This is a roaming scavenger-hunt type event. You will walk to several stations throughout the main Winery searching for clues while enjoying delicious food and wine pairings.

For the health and safety of our visitors and staff, Murder Mystery Nights will be limited to just 60 guests per evening.

Tickets are $135 and reservations are required. All ticket sales are final.  Ticket dates cannot be swapped, changed or refunded.

The “Wine, Cheese & Honey Pairings at Penns Woods” at Penns Wood Winery (124 Beaver Valley Road, Chadds Ford, 610-459-0808, http://www.pennswoodsevents.com) provide a nice way for visitors to enjoy a winter weekend day.

Penns Woods Winery is joining forces with local cheese makers and local honey artisans to present exclusive pairings of wine, cheese and honey. The tastings will feature four premium Penns Woods wines, each paired with various cheeses and honey from local farms.

The mouth-watering tastings will be held every weekend in January at 11 a.m. and 1:30 and 4 p.m.

Tickets cost $28 per person in advance and reservations are required. Cancellations must be made within 72 hours or ticket holders will be charged the full amount of the tasting. Reservations are made and kept on the hour.

Martin Luther King Weekend will be celebrated from January 17 at the Eastern State Penitentiary (2027 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-236-3300, www.easternstate.org).

Eastern State Penitentiary commemorates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail with special readings from the landmark text and opportunities for visitors to respond to its relevance today.

The event examines the following questions — Why did the civil rights leaders of the 1960s choose jail time to demonstrate their plight? How did Dr. King’s letter, written in the margins of a newspaper and smuggled out of Birmingham Jail, create a pivotal moment in the American civil rights movement? If Dr. King were alive today, what issues would his letter address?

Professional actors will read excerpts from King’s letter.

The letter will be read in three acts with a short intermission between each section. During the event, special guests, including returning host STARFIRE, will provide space for reflection and connection as well as music and art inspired by Dr. King’s legacy. People attending in person are also invited to write to someone currently incarcerated in Pennsylvania at a designated letter-writing station.

In-person attendees are encouraged to dress for the weather. The event space will be heated with temporary space heaters, but climate conditions inside the historic penitentiary are not always ideal. In accordance with guidelines issued by the City of Philadelphia, all staff and visitors (ages 2+) are required to wear a mask in indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status. Seating is limited and available on a first come, first served basis.

Admission is $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and $33 for students and children.

Wonderspaces at the Fashion District (27 North 11th Street, Philadelphia, philadelphia.wonderspaces.com) is an experiential, interactive arts venue.

Building on the success of annual pop-up shows in San Diego, and its first permanent location in Scottsdale, Arizona, Wonderspaces opened a 24,000 square foot gallery space in Philly a year ago.

Wonderspaces features 14 art installations that all play with the idea of perspective. The artwork ranges from award-winning virtual reality short film about a dinner party-turned-alien abduction, to a room where visitors digitally paint the walls with the movement of their bodies.

New artworks rotate in every few months, creating an ever-evolving, year-round show.

Tickets are for entry at a specific date and time. Visitors are welcome to stay as long as they please during operating hours. The average time spent experiencing the show is 90 minutes.

A few installations contain flashing lights, images, and patterns that may trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy. All visitors must sign a waiver prior to being admitted into the space. Adult supervision is required for visitors under 16.

The installation is open from noon-10 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Sundays.

Tickets are $24 for adults, $20 for seniors, teachers, healthcare workers, students and active military, and $15 for children (ages 3-12).

Center City Parks District’s Rothman Orthopaedics Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park (1 South 15th Street, Philadelphia, http://ccdparks.org/dilworth-park) is open for the season.

Visitors of all ages can enjoy a dramatic seasonal activity.

Rink and reindeer topiaries take up winter residence on the Greenfield Lawn.

The Rothman Institute Ice Rink at Dilworth Park is an unparalleled entertainment experience on Philadelphia’s center stage in a wonderfully urban and unique setting. Open seven days a week, the rink offers wintery fun for all ages, with a full slate of programs.

The Northern Central Railway (2 West Main Street, New Freedom, www.northerncentralrailway.com)  is running two special excursions – two events that feature a train ride and winter-themed trackside activities.

Northern Central Railway’s “FestivICE” events are scheduled for January 14 at 6 p.m. and January 15 at 11 a.m.

FestivICE is spreading to the towns of the scenic Heritage Rail Trail County Park.

Guests are invited to take part in this special excursion to visit the ice sculptures in Glen Rock, Railroad, and New Freedom.

The trains will be stopping in Railroad and Glen Rock where passengers will have 20-25 minutes to disembark the train and view the ice-cold art on display in each town.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for children (ages 2-12) and $5 for toddlers (in lap).

A warmer way to enjoy railroads this weekend would be to head to an indoor train exhibit.

Founded more than 50 years ago, Choo Choo Barn — Traintown U.S.A. (Route 741 East, 226 Gap Rd, Strasburg, 717-687-7911, www.choochoobarn.com) presents a 1,700-square-foot train layout featuring over 150 hand-built animated figures and vehicles and 22 operating trains. The majority of trains that are running in the display are “O Gauge” trains but there are also some HO Gauge trains as well as one N Gauge train.

Several of the original pieces and animations are still on the display today, including the ski slope, ski lodge and ice skaters, Dutch Haven, the Willows, the two-lane moving highway (in front of Dutch Haven), the farm with the tobacco barn, the Strasburg Fire House, the church beside Dutch Haven and a few other houses.

The layout features a special Christmas display now through January 17. The homes and businesses along the tracks have been decked out with holiday trim. And there are 55 hidden Santas — one for each year the site has been open — located around the display for visitors to find.

Tickets are $8.50 for adults and $5 for children (ages 3 and under) at Choo Choo Barn — Traintown U.S.A.

You can also find Santa still hanging around in Bucks County.

The “Holiday Light Show” at Shady Brook Farm (931 Stony Hill Road, Yardley, www.shadybrookfarm.com) has been extended until the end of the month.

The farm features a three-million-light Holiday Light Show with “Dashin’ Through the … Lights,” a family-friendly two-mile drive-through on Thursday and Friday nights.

The main display allows visitors to drive or (if weather permits) ride in wagons past post-sundown displays including illuminated tunnels.

The 2021-2022 run of the “Holiday Light Show” has been extended through January 30.

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