There are no doubt many 30-somethings and 40-somethings wandering out in the world who first became fascinated with dinosaurs by sitting in a multiplex in 1993 and watching “Jurassic Park” and its parade of indoraptors, triceratops, stegoceratops and dimorphodons.
Marty Hoffman admits his fascination goes back even further – to the cheesy, mid-1970s Saturday morning TV series “Land of the Lost.” Airing on NBC-TV, it had a family stumbling into a dinosaur-packed world thanks to an unfortunately-placed time warp.
“Land of the Lost” looks primitive and more than a little goofy in a world that now takes computer-generated special effects for granted, but it was enough to ignite Hoffman’s interest in all those toothy, large and leathery critters who died out 65 million years before humans came on the scene.
He’s never received a paleontology degree, but Hoffman explained, “I was a dinosaurs nerd from a very young age and have kept learning. It’s amazing what you can learn if you read a lot. There’s just so much information out there on dinosaurs.”
Hoffman immerses himself in dinosaurs thanks to his role as Park Ranger Marty in “Jurassic Quest Drive-Thru.” Featuring a herd of 100 or so lifelike animatronic dinosaurs that roar and roam, it will be at the Pavilion at Star Lake outside Burgettstown through June 13.
The “drive-thru” aspect of “Jurassic Quest” is a concession to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Jurassic Quest” had been an indoor experience until the coronavirus arrived. With most indoor venues restricting capacity over the last year, moving “Jurassic Quest” outside became a necessity.
Once they resolved what “Jurassic Quest” exhibits could be used outside, Hoffman explained over the phone last week from Huntsville, Ala., they went forward. It happens rain or shine, except if severe weather is bearing down. “Jurassic Quest Drive-Thru” has been a godsend to venues like Star Lake, whose schedules were wiped out by the pandemic last year, and don’t have many events booked until later in the summer.
When it comes to the animatronic dinosaurs, “We get them as accurate as possible,” Hoffman said.
Tickets to “Jurassic Quest Drive-Thru” are sold on a per-vehicle basis. An audio tour comes with each purchase. No golf carts are allowed, and neither are people who want to walk through the exhibit, trailers or riders in truck beds.
It will be closed Monday and Tuesday. For more information about hours and purchasing tickets, visit www.jurassicquest.com.