🦖Life-sized dinosaurs take over Orlando attraction for summer exhibit

Dinosaurs go extinct at Leu Gardens at end of July

ORLANDO, Fla. – It’s an attraction of prehistoric proportions: Dinosaurs have taken over Leu Gardens in Orlando. The exhibit encourages visitors to learn about the creatures who walked the earth hundreds of millions of years ago.

Lucas Encarnacion, 3, is obsessed with dinosaurs.

“From morning until the nighttime, it is all about dinosaurs. Lucas even has a dinosaur room. It’s everything,” Nicole Encarnacion said.

Lucas and his mom, Nicole, visited the life-sized dinosaur replicas at Leu Gardens.

The more than 20 structures are spread throughout the 50 acres of outdoor gardens with everything from the sharp teeth to textured bodies, round eyes and fossils on display.

“The keyword, ‘outdoors.’ Getting him outside to see something he really likes. I brought the stroller. He hasn’t asked me to get in the stroller once. So it’s a great way for me to get him to go outside and be active around something that he loves,” Nicole Encarnacion said.

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Summer was the perfect time to feature this prehistoric exhibit, according to executive director Jennifer D’hollander.

“One of the reasons why we wanted to have the dinosaur exhibit during this time is so that we can really capture those families that want to come during the summer. They want to find something fun to do. The kids can run around. There’s amazing blooming plants everywhere. We have prehistoric plants to go with the dinosaur exhibit,” D’hollander said.

The creator, Guy Darrough, is a well-respected, accomplished fossil expert and collector who has worked in the paleontology field for over 45 years. He meticulously crafted each dinosaur for authenticity creating one of the most prominent dinosaur exhibits in the U.S.

“The dinosaurs you see are actually what he would have looked like. All of them in the gardens are life-size and they’re hand-painted,” D’hollander said.

A plaque sits by each dinosaur exhibit with the name, facts about the animal and the time period that dinosaur walked the earth.

Visitors can pick up a map to navigate the gardens and find each dinosaur. It’s something Nicole said turns the trip into an adventure.

“For me, to kind of see it through his eyes and get so excited to look through the map and find all the dinosaurs, going from reading a book to coming into real life and getting him to kind of see this through his imagination and go wild makes me happy as a mom,” Nicole Encarnacion said.

Kids and adults will spot everything from the 12-foot-tall Daspletosaur to the small flying Sordes.

“You walk and you turn the corner and you see another one. And it’s just so exciting because we see these on TV and we see them in museums, but it’s not often that you’re going to actually see them out in nature,” D’hollander said.

Dinosaurs at Leu Gardens will go extinct on July 30. A general admission ticket to Leu Gardens will give you access to the dinosaurs exhibits. Leu Gardens is located at 1920 N Forest Avenue in Orlando.

Adult tickets are $15, teens and children cost $10, while kids 3 years old and younger are free.

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About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a morning news anchor who joined the News 6 team in 2020.