As far as my two Jurassic Park fanatics are concerned, dinosaurs are a current fact. It’s just a matter of time until Coby, 6, pulls his own lab together to create his own raptor. Sam, 3, pleads for him to stick to ”plant eaters.”
So from the kid point of view, seeing 15 life-size dinosaurs fill New York City’s Madison Square Garden wasn’t very different from watching the New York Knicks come running out of the locker room. It was Mom whose breath was taken away by Walking With Dinosaurs: The Live Experience , a show that began touring the United States this past spring and is slated to travel throughout North America for the rest of 2009.
Billed as the world’s largest puppet show, Walking With Dinosaurs is an electrical and mechanical engineering marvel. True, some of the smaller dinosaurs are powered by a puppeteer wearing his creature’s suit, and an Ornithocheirus with a wingspan of 12 meters flies overhead. But two brachiosaurs, an adult Tyrannosaurus rex , and seven other enormous creatures, as heavy as 1400 kilograms, are driven by car-size sleds. An essential sense of scale—the sole reminder of just how massive these creatures are (excuse me, were)—is provided by a lone human actor playing a paleontologist master of ceremonies.
A team of humans--some onstage, some off--control the largest dinosaurs. An engineer drives each sled and is also responsible for watching all dino systems, including a tangle of hydraulics run on 10- and 12-volt dc engines powered by up to 12 truck batteries. Once the dinosaurs are onstage, their legs are controlled by microprocessors that run preset walking sequences and also control how the dinosaurs bob up and down as they walk. Facial expressions and smaller movements are controlled remotely by puppeteers radio-linked to their characters from a platform set up in the audience. Unbeknownst to the audience, these dinosaurs, framed in steel and covered in latex, are also inflated by continuously running fans.