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Review: Tunbridge Wells Dino Live at Royal Victoria Place through the summer holidays

By Angela Cole

Dinosaurs may have died out long ago but their appeal lives on – and on.

Generations of children have been fascinated by dinosaurs and even the most geared-up young gadget geek still loves them.

So the sight of an animatronic T-Rex opening its tooth-laden jaws and giving a deafening roar is a sure-fire winner for the summer holidays.

The T-Rex
The T-Rex

Dino Live, at the Royal Victoria Place in Tunbridge Wells, has three free displays of the huge prehistoric animals, which all move, breathe and make noises, over two floors of its shopping centre.

Shoppers can stop and marvel at them on their way to and from the shops, with youngsters gathering to giggle and gasp over their sounds and movements.

It took some fairly epic preparations to bring the dinosaurs to Kent from Barcelona for their only appearance in England, but they are well and truly at home in the centre for the summer.

A baby Tyrannosaurs
A baby Tyrannosaurs

Visitors can meet the kentrosaurus – not a made-up creature, but an actual species unearthed in East Africa in the early 20th century – a herbivore which fed on dried plants and had a huge stomach to digest them. Fittingly, the kentrosaurus at the shopping centre makes a gentle gurgling noise, similar to a stomach digesting its contents.

Also on show is the fearsome-looking dilophosaurus – which means “two crested lizard” – a predator which is thought to have hunted in packs.

There’s a winged pteranodon, which makes a shrill, piercing noise and alongside, the allosaurus, which could measure up to 12 metres, and weighed in a 2 tonnes.

The main event is on the Upper Mall, three ferocious-looking and sounding prehistoric creatures: the ceratosaurus, the “horned lizard” which is said to be one of the wildest among the carnivorous dinosaurs, an iguanodon, a massive herbivore and – the star of the show – the tyrannosaurus rex, the biggest and baddest of them all, with a bellow to match.

The Dilophosaurus at Royal Victoria Place in Tunbridge Wells
The Dilophosaurus at Royal Victoria Place in Tunbridge Wells

In a side area is a dinosaur egg and a baby T-rex. Children can have a selfie snapped with them, and at weekends there is also an area for related crafts, where visitors can learn more about the prehistoric visitors.

Marc Burchett, marketing manager, said: “Everyone is fascinated by dinosaurs. After the success of our award-winning Titanic in Photographs last year, we wanted to bring something really fun to the centre for the summer holidays. The feedback we had in just the first two days was brilliant, and it is great to see the retailers joining in with related events and promotions.”

The Pterodon at Dino Live Picture: Andy Payton
The Pterodon at Dino Live Picture: Andy Payton

Tunbridge Wells town centre manager Karen Pengelly said: “It is a fantastic event for the school holidays and is pulling people into Tunbridge Wells over the summer months. The children are loving it!”

And they really are – come rain or shine outside, you’ll find dozens of small dinosaur fans gathered, admiring them – and, for parents, the best appeal is that they can do so free, and for as long as they want.

It may be some time since dinosaurs ruled the Earth but when it comes to the summer holidays this year, they are ruling Tunbridge Wells.


Dino Live will be at Royal Victoria Place in Tunbridge Wells until Bank Holiday Monday, August 28.

Admission is free and the displays will be open during centre trading hours daily.
It is open from 9am to 6pm Monday to Saturday, 10.30am to 4.30pm on Sundays and 10am to 5pm on Bank Holiday Monday.

Dino Draw workshops run from 10am to 5pm on Saturdays and 11am and 4pm on Sundays, where children can get creative and learn more about the creatures.
Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Discover more at royalvictoriaplace.com

Greg Bettles, the Tyrannosaurs whisperer Picture: Andy Payton
Greg Bettles, the Tyrannosaurs whisperer Picture: Andy Payton
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