Safari Park or Jurassic Park? Animatronic dinosaurs coming to Ashland attraction

ASHLAND, Neb. (KLKN) – A new limited-time attraction is headed to the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park in Ashland.

It’s been millions of years in the making, but dinosaurs are headed to the park to entertain attendees until Oct. 1.

Chief Operating Officer Dennis Schnurbusch said excitement is already high for the new exhibit.

“We already, as we have been setting up, see cars coming through and stopping and taking photos and the excitement from the children through the windows as the dinosaurs are being put up,” he said.

The creatures were created by “Dino” Don Lessem. Lessem served as a science advisor on the 1993 film “Jurassic Park” and today creates animatronics like these for zoos and parks.

“He’s been anxious to work with our facility because of the reputation of the zoo and Safari Park,” Schnurbusch said. “So we thought this was a great match, so we brought them out for this.”

Park Superintendent Gary Pettit said the new attraction will give visitors an idea of what roamed the state so long ago.

“So I say a lot for the Safari Park, come out and see what Nebraska was like 100 years ago with the bison and the wolves and bears,” he said. “But now I can say, come out and see what Nebraska looked like a million years ago.”

Officials said there are about 14 vignettes placed throughout the park for people to drive by or walk up to.

The models move, make sounds and, unlike “Jurassic Park,” they thankfully won’t eat you.

“We have a fossil that is here for people to see,” Schnurbusch said. “There is a dig pits that they can go through and find their own little fossils in.”

The park, which is owned by the Henry Doorly Zoo, said there is no additional charge for the exhibit when you purchase a ticket.

“If you are a zoo member, it would require you to get an upgrade to include the safari park membership as well,” Schnurbusch said. “Or people may want to purchase the Safari Park membership on its own, but there is no additional upcharge when you get in.”

The exhibit opens Friday and will run until Oct. 1.

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