When we normally cover an event in Atlantic City, it requires us to first obtain babysitting. But last Friday evening, we were invited to a media event that encouraged us to “bring the family”-the preview of Dinoshore at Showboat in Atlantic City. No, not Dinah Shore, DINO-SHORE. Get it? It’s not everyday we see one of the major casinos doing something highly cultural and kid-friendly (not to mention our son is nuts about dinosaurs), so off we went to check this out.
It turns out this show was the real thing- real dinosaur bones, that is. The displays feature full-size robotic dinosaurs, molds of prehistoric skeletons, and bones that are up to 250-million years old . The most impressive was the GIANT animatronic Tyrrannosaurus-Rex roaring loudly over his injured prey (which is breathing). We almost had to turn tail and run: Julian, our 8-year-old, covered his ears and Lizzie, our 2-year-old, let out a meek, “NO!” We quickly whisked them to the back of the exhibit, where they could acclimate themselves a little better (eventually they warmed up to the T-Rex, but wouldn’t get too close). After that, the kids had a ball. They had free reign to check out all the displays, and they even had some fossilized bones you could touch! I think their favorites were the sea turtle that was as big as a Volkswagon, and the jaw of a Megalodon, a giant swimming predator that was ten times the size of a great white shark. My favorite were the displays of “feathered” dinosaurs (in the title picture), known as the Deinonychus and Pterorhynchus. I think it’s just so cool that scientists think that, perhaps, that cute little robin outside your window may have evolved from one of these goliaths.
Toward the rear of the exhibit room are a few hands-on activities for kids:the Fossil Dig, where kids can brush off “sand” and discover dinosaur fossils underneath, and tables where they can make crayon-rub dino images from metal plates.
I’m sorry to say that the price of regular admission doesn’t include any food, but since it was a media event the night we went, we were treated to some “Flintstonesque” eats. Keep in mind you might encounter a few of these things on the casino’s menus, so we are happy to be of service by offering up our experiences here. Though they sound big, the “Brontosaurus Burgers” were mini Kobe beef burgers with arugula and roasted pepper ketchup. The meat was excellent , cooked medium rare (what else would you do with Kobe beef?), and Lizzie starting grazing on them after I told her they were “meatballs”. One thing I didn’t get- why would they spoil the effect with a stale bun? There was nothing bad to say about the “Tyrannosaurus Wings”, however-basically a simple breaded, fried chicken wing, but with a marinated salty-sweetness to them. Julian literally tore into them, and felt obligated to demonstrate just how the meat-eaters dispatched a fresh kill. Gruesome. But if you ever, ever, evah get a chance somewhere at Showboat, grab an Alligator Taco. A fried shell housed juicy chunks of lightly breaded and fried alligator meat, lettuce, tomato, and a chipotle sauce to die for. I spoke briefly with one of the chefs on hand, and was surprised to learn that the alligator meat was flown up fresh from Florida, not frozen. He commented on how much fun it was to work with, as it reminded him of a cross between chicken and pork tenderloin. Even Julian ate a few bites, proud that he “ate the alligator before it ate me.” And don’t forget the dino cupcakes: chocolate, vanilla and red velvet. They were moist, the way a good cupcake ought to be, but with a little too much buttercream frosting for me… but these were for the kids!
Although the main focus of any casino is still its gaming, it’s interesting to see what ways they are trying to make themselves more of a destination resort. If you’re interested in taking the kiddies to see this one (or just to marvel for yourself), here’s the info you need: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily through Labor Day, $15.50 adults, $10.50 seniors and kids younger than 12; $7.50 for groups of 10 or more. Family packs for $42.