Drive-thru Jurassic tour brings the prehistoric back to Pomona

By Elizabeth Casillas, Feb. 9, 2021

Jurassic Quest Drive-Thru is coming to Fairplex in Pomona from Feb. 19 to 28 with more than 70 life-like dinosaurs and family-friendly attractions. This COVID-friendly event invites students to interact with various dinosaur animatronics, offering a close-up learning experience amid remote instruction.

The event features life-sized dinosaur animatronics created with the help of leading paleontologists to ensure accuracy and realism. In addition to the bigger animatronics, dinosaur trainers will be roaming around with smaller dinosaurs for students to meet from their cars.

“They have the dinosaur models and guests are just kind of driving around,” said Fairplex Office Assistant Hugo Alvarado. “I think it is very educational for young kids.”

The Jurassic drive-thru event allows guests to revisit the prehistoric in a COVID-friendly manner, requiring masks and social distancing. (Courtesy of Jurassic Quest)

The event includes a guided audio tour that features five characters and baby dinosaurs, providing information on the Mesozoic Era and common dinosaur habits. The audio tour also incorporates a trivia game on different dinosaur species as a way to offer educational information in an entertaining manner.

Jurassic Quest Public Relations Specialist Dustin Baker, who is also the voice actor for one of the audio characters, believes this is a strong aspect of the drive-thru experience.

“The educational part of the audio tour is just so good,” said Baker. “I would recommend this for anyone interested in dinosaurs. We’ve had a lot of cars filled with just adults who are just dino enthusiasts.”

At the end of the tour, guests receive a safari-style photo of their vehicles against a dinosaur-themed backdrop.

According to Alvarado, dinosaur trainers and the staff have been briefed on what to expect and how to maintain Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines throughout the new Jurassic Quest Drive-Thru event. Guests are required to wear masks any time their vehicle windows are rolled down and are prohibited from stepping out of their vehicles.

Sanitation areas will be stationed throughout the location as well as signs reminding guests of social distancing guidelines. Baby dinosaur animatronics are also disinfected before approaching the guests, and the staff workstations are sanitized throughout the event.

The idea to develop this immersive experience started with the Arnold family, the founders of Jurassic Quest, who wanted to showcase dinosaurs as more than just fossils in 2013.

During the pre-pandemic era, Jurassic Quest was an in-person event hosted in various cities around the nation, touring through 34 states and parts of Canada. Guests were admitted into an indoor event stadium where more than 100 dinosaurs were displayed, and they also had the opportunity to participate in face-painting and fossil collecting activities.

Jurassic Quest Drive-Thru features 70 life-sized dinosaur animatronics. (Courtesy of Jurassic Quest)

As North America’s largest and most realistic dinosaur event, the staff did not want to stop touring amid the pandemic. Jurassic Quest organizers engineered a new method of bringing the dinosaur experience to their guests in a safe way. Given that some of the dinosaurs did not fit inside the building when hosted indoors — along with COVID-19 safety guidelines prohibiting large indoor gatherings — the staff decided to transform the event into an outdoor experience.

“It took us a few months to get it together, but it’s been very successful,” said Baker. “It’s been a learning experience, but we believe we have developed a well-oiled machine.”

The hour-long event charges $49 for vehicles with eight or below passengers and $80 for vehicles with nine to 15 passengers. Tickets and packages must be purchased online through the Jurassic Quest website before attending the event.

A 20% discount is offered to Cal Poly Pomona students to attend the Fairplex event from Feb. 19 through 28 using the code “DINOCPP” on the Jurassic Quest website.

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