“ Address: Culver Parade / Sandown / Isle of Wight / PO36 8QA / Tel: +44 0 1983 404344 „
Mixed views for Dinosaur Isle. Located in Sandown on the Isle of Wight we visited Dinsosaur Isle on a wet weekday in August - and so did everyone else! This little museum was absolutely packed and after queing to get in we then shuffled awkwardly round the displays trying to get a glimpse of the exhibits.
Our children are 7 and 5 and dinosuar mad - they really enjoyed themselves but this opinion was reached through a couple of key activities rather than the museum as a whole. The best bits for the children was seeing the large dinosaur models and holding a real dinasaur bone (the man in this part of the exhibition was absoultey brilliant - very informative/ patient and even got out a tigers skull for them to touch which had major wow factor).
What was disapointing was the interactive element to the museum for which they had to wait a long time to have a go on anything and also the fact that they couldnt have a go at 'finding' bones and fossils in the sand displays as there were too many mums parked up allowing toddlers to use the sand boxes as play areas.
I am unable to comment too much on the content of the written info posted around the displays as the sheer number of people at the venue made it almost impossible to look at anything in too much detail.
The toilets at the venue were very nice, clean and easy to find at the beginning of the exhibit.
The museum shop looked good, however very uncomfortable again due to the sheer volume of people. Unfortunately there is no cafe/ eating facilities which would have been nice.
Dinosaur Isle is easy to find and the car park is close to the venue - parking is £4 but you can get the money back for this if you enter the museum.
So mixed opinions on Dinosaur Isle - could have been good but they had allowed too many people to enter for the small size of the venue.
Dinosaur Isle is a relatively new attraction on the Isle of Wight, compared to most, having been built back in 2001. Some of the artefacts that are used in Dinosaur Isle were previously in a small museum above the library in Sandown but as the collections grew new space was needed and the new museum was built a little further along the seafront situated half way between Sandown and Yaverland.
In appearance the museum is far more modern than other other building on the Isle of Wight and it is shaped like a pterodactyl so is not only fitting to the contents but also somehow fitting with the sloping hills of the surrounding area.
Again unlike a lot of attractions on the island the dinosaur museum is open all year round which makes it a perfect attraction for holiday makers during the winter months or indeed those wet summer days Britain is so used to. The prices of entry are reasonable at £5 per adult and £3 for children aged 3 and over. There are discount prices available for family tickets and of course for groups. There is also a yearly pass which for an adult is £15 and for a child is £9. This we are really considering at the moment as Jack seems very taken with dinosaurs and it doesn't seem to be a short phase.
There is an opportunity to book a guided tour with one of the museums experts which is something that would be good if Jack was a little older and included in this is a fossil handling session which for £16 maybe worth doing once.
The museum itself is well set out with the entrance being inside the shop and the path leads you all the way round the building and back out into the gift shop for end of visit purchases. The first section that you arrive in after paying is the windowed area where viewing of different kinds of fossils and bones of all shapes and sizes. There are a lot of information posters explaining what each of the artefacts are inside the windows and this gives heaps of background about the pieces and they are very interesting to read but unfortunately with Jack not even being three years old he is not too keen on anything that doesn't actually resemble a dinosaur so was keen to move on to the larger displays.
The main room of the museum is very large and holds many different sized dinosaur skeletons. Some of which are real bones and others are representations of how the dinosaurs would have looked. There again is a host of information posters with plenty to read and lots of information to take in. There is also a lot of things to do such as fossil rubbing's where crayons and paper are provided so rubbing can easily be done. There is a large sandpit where fossil type bones are hidden underneath and with the use of a supplied paintbrush the children can get in and dust back the sand such like a real palaeontologist would.
Jack loved the sandpit dusting area but his favourite would have to have been the smell area where there are several lidded pots set into a large desk like area when the lids can be flipped back to let out some terrible smells of what the museum think that the dinosaurs would have smelt like or some of the smells that they would have smelt would have been like. Some of these really turned my stomach and perhaps it was the green tinge that had taken over my face that Jack loved the most!
The are many dinosaur replicas that are motorised so when certain buttons are pressed the robot would move or roar in a certain type of way. At first Jack wasn't really to sure about these but after a few presses he just wouldn't leave the things alone.
There is also an area where you can see some of the professionals working on cleaning up some of the recent fossils that have been found or indeed working on some of the imitation items that are soon to be put out on to display.
There are a lot of smaller sections around the building and you could really spent a good few hours looking around. I would say that like most island attractions that because they are not large compared to mainland standards that it is not really a whole days activity. Perhaps when Jack gets even older he would like to stand and read every bit of information and take everything in a hundred times over and because you have paid for admission for the day you can stay as long or as short a time as you wish.
The Dinosaur Isle shop will of course make your stay a little longer as they seemed to have crammed in so much dinosaur paraphernalia that there is just so much to look at and it took as a while to drag Jack away. Some of the items are priced highly but there really is something for everyone's budget.
The whole trip to the Dinosaur Isle was a good one and another good factor of our visit last time was that we happened to go on the one day that the museum is FREE! I don't know how we managed it but we trotted down there all willing to fork out whatever was necessary and it turned out we had stumbled in on the best day of the year. This also made it slightly more busy than it would perhaps of been on a regular priced day but it still was not too busy that we couldn't get to see everything that we wanted to and there was not so many people that we were all crammed in.
The parking facilities are good as there is a large car park to the rear of the building that does cost a few pounds to stay for a couple of hours and is charged all year round. The whole area from car park to the entrance of the building is fine for wheelchair access as is the whole museum itself as it is all on one level with not one step in sight.
All in all I have to say that this is another good attraction that can now be found on the Isle of Wight. It has both education and fun rolled into one and I am sure people of all ages will learn something with a trip there. The price is affordable for what you actually get and the range in the gift shop is good. There are adequate toilet facilities and the staff all seem eager to help.
There are a lot of finds on the island of fossils and the like and when we were walking along the beach recently I found an item that looked the bent shape of a fan tooth. It was hollow inside and had these small indentations all the way down one side. I was positive I had found the tooth of a venomous dinosaur and tried looking it up on the internet to no avail and in my excitement decided that when I was at work the following day I would get Himself to pop into the museum with Jack and show my find to one of the experts. Himself was reluctant at first, not generally being an overly confident person. To please me however off he trotted only to get told by one of the white coated gentleman that his find was not the dinosaur tooth that I was so sure of but inside the smaller pincer of a crab! As you can image Himself turned a wonderful shade of red and made a quick exit and has cursed me for making him look like such a plonker! Jack found it highly amusing!
I can say that the Dinosaur Isle is well worth a visit when on the island and for those that perhaps live here but are yet to visit then most certainly pop down there are you will be set to have a reasonably good day. There is a little bit for everyone even if dinosaurs are not your thing just to learn some interesting facts about the world makes it a place to go.
Many thanks for taking the time to read my review
I do hope that this has been of some help/interest you to.
I visited Dinosaur Isle a couple of years ago. Located on the sea front in Sandown, the Dinosaur Isle is very easy to find. It is situated next to a large lake. The surroundings were crawling (quite literally) with rats when we were there, not very nice.
We had high hopes for this attraction, having seen the numerous adverts and leaflets for it around the island. Entry was around £5 each, so pretty reasonable compared to other attractions.
However, we were very disappointed with the size of the attraction. We only spent around 30 minutes in there, which isn't good value. We didn't particularly rush through either, we read most of the information on display and saw everything there was to see, but there was simply nothing else to do.
The exhibits and information (what there was of it) was neatly arranged and the place was well presented, but there was no hiding of the fact that you couldn't spend very long here.
Like many children I used to have a bit of a dinosaur fascination, and owned a large collection of fossils, rocks, and minerals as a boy (ok, perhaps I was a bit sad...). Unfortunately, the local dinosaur museum on the Isle of Wight was a bit of a stuffy and formal venue, situated above a dusty old public library. Whilst the fossils themselves were impressive, the displays weren't all that inspiring, and there wasn't enough room to show off much of the collection. That all changed in 2001 when a 2.7 million pound, purpose built dinosaur museum named 'Dinosaur Isle' opened on Sandown Esplanade. Designed by architects Rainey Petrie Johns, the building itself is quite futuristic looking and is supposed to resemble a pterodactyl - it is certainly a bold design, and probably the nicest looking structure on Culver Parade where the museum is located.
What Will I Find in the Museum?
I would describe Dinosaur Isle as an interactive place to visit, which will no doubt keep younger kids entertained. As well as displaying over a thousand fossils (many of which have been put together to form large dinosaur skeletons), there are full size animatronic dinosaurs which utilise subtle movement and sounds. These giant beasts are probably the best thing about the place from a child's perspective, and help demonstrate to kids how massive dinosaurs really were. Although they look impressive, a few of the models were in need of minor repairs on my last trip, as their skin was slightly torn in some places, and quite crudely patched up.
A few months ago I visited with my three-year-old nephew, and he seemed to be thoroughly entertained - however, if fossils don't interest the younger ones, there are jigsaw puzzles, a reading area, and a place where you can take crayon rubbings of dinosaur pictures. There's even a dinosaur smell box, which allows you to take a whiff of all manner of dinosaur related aromas (some of the smells were particularly nasty, but ultimately very kid-friendly). My nephew seemed to be most interested with the sandpit areas where children can take brushes and uncover casts of dinosaur bones which are buried underneath the sand - to be honest, I wanted a go myself, but it would have looked a little odd if I had!
The small reading area has a number of dinosaur books - although many of these were a bit tatty on my last visit (understandable really, considering the amount of children that probably pass through the place), and could have done with replacing. Similarly, a few pieces were missing from the wooden and foam jigsaw puzzles, which we found a bit annoying considering the fact that both were in prominent positions and formed part of a display.
Ambient dinosaur sounds add extra atmosphere when walking around the museum, and the general layout is really good. An excellent interactive electronic microscope is one of the first gadgets you'll come across, and it is surprisingly good fun operating the amazing zoom with an easy to use interactive panel. Although the building is really big from the outside, there isn't quite as much inside as you would perhaps expect. That's not to say that what's in there isn't interesting, it's just that it won't take you too long to see everything. I think in terms of value for money the £5 adult entry fee is just about right - any more and it would perhaps be too pricey.
Like many museums and attractions, Dinosaur Isle features a gift shop containing loads (and I means loads) of dinosaur related gifts. As you would expect, a good percentage of the stuff which the shop sells is quite tacky, but there are actually some fossil-based items of interest to be found, and a range of professional geology books to choose from.
Where Did the Fossils Come From?
Most of the fossils at the museum are the finds of mid-19th century naturalists (no, not naturists... that would be an altogether different experience...), many of which have been taken from the cliffs in the local area. Although there are around 1,000 fossils in the museum, the entire collection consists of over 30,000 geological specimens, which goes to show the importance of the Isle of Wight as a fossil-hunters paradise. Apart from the specimens displayed in Dinosaur Isle, reserve geological collections are stored in the Museum Service central store at Cothey Bottom, Ryde, and are available for study by appointment.
Parking, Opening Hours & Disabled Access
Dinosaur Isle has a small car park located just outside (sixteen car spaces and three designated disabled bays), and if this fills up, there is a much larger one close by. Parking charges operate from 1st April to 31st October (including bank holidays), seven days a week from 10am to 6pm - although if you have a low emissions vehicle you're eligible for up to 8 hours free parking. In terms of the disabled access, there are ramps leading up to the building, and all the internal floors are flat. This makes pushing either a wheelchair or a pushchair around the premises very easy, and there are disabled toilets with baby changing facilities.
Dinosaur Isle is an interesting and accessible museum which kids will undoubtedly enjoy. Adults will perhaps be less impressed, as although there are interesting areas, the whole experience seems to be geared more to younger visitors. That said, the majority of the displays are well put together, and the animatronic technology helps create a cool ambience - therefore I would certainly recommend giving the place a visit - besides, if you don't enjoy your outing you can always take a trip to the beach which is only a few metres away.
The museum is open at the following times:
April - September: 10am - 6pm
October: 10am - 5pm
November - March: 10am - 4 pm
Child (aged 3 to 15): £3.00
Child (Under 3): Free
Family Group: (Two Adults and Two Children): £14.50
Student / Pensioner: £4.00