VIDEO: New dinosaur experience at Skegness Aquarium already a roaring success
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Excitement has been growing since giant dinosaur models were spotted being crane lifted into the former Model Village site on Wednesday.
The attraction, which is an extension to Skegness Aquarium on Tower Esplanade, welcomed its first visitors on Friday for a sneak preview ahead of the final finishing touches.
"Even in the first few days we have had more children here than in the past two years," said Charlton Cooper, director of Teen Spirit Ltd who own the aquarium.
"We realise there was nostalgia associated to the model village but it had had its day and we saw a decline in visitors in spite of some renovation work two years ago.
"Already we are seeing that updating the site with dinosaurs has been the right decision."
Plans for the attraction were revealed to the Skegness Standard in May after the giant models were spotted being stored at a former supermarket used for storage by Teen Spirit Ltd, who have owned the Model Village for six years.
Generations had visited the Model Village since it opened in the 1960s - and it was made famous in Brian Sadler's book, Big Joy of Small Villages.
But Teen Spirit Ltd explained nostalgia doesn't pay for its upkeep and they had been forced to make a tough decision about its future.
The new dinosaur experience running alongside the aquarium creates a natural progression for visitors interested in evolution. It also creates a greater offer for the schools' curriculum.
The beautiful Model Village gardens and waterfall have been renovated creating a dinosaur world where people can easily spend an hour before exploring the rest of the aquarium.
Some of the models move and roar and the resident dinosaur ranger who is there to guide visitors interacts with visitors with Baby Dino Rex.
There is also a fossil dig with a five-meter-long, full size skeleton of a Triceratops dinosaur and crocodile models linked to the Jurassic age.
A trail with a quiz has lots of information about dinosaurs and jokes to add to the fun and there is even a nursery where children can see dinosaurs hatching.
Charlton said he grew up watching Jurassic Park movies and the attraction is already a hit with his own two-year-old.
"She spend some time in the dig and loves it - it's a great playground," he said.
"The aquarium was always a big attraction for mums and with young children because of the play area in the cafe, but we are seeing more families visiting already.
"We would have liked to expand the aquarium and even include turtles but we didn't have the space. By opening up into the model village site and adding dinosaurs it makes a natural progression through evolution and expands the overall experience.
"Some people have asked why it isn't separate with the original entrance off South Parade, but now the car park entrance has moved and the bowling green and other attractions down there have closed there is no reason for any one to walk along there and see it any more.
"We are really pleased with how it's going so far."
The Hart family from Orby were amongst the many visitors have a look at the new attraction when the Standard visited on Sunday.
Mum Wendy said they had been really impressed. "We've been to the aquarium before but this is really good. It makes it a much better experience."