By Steve Provizer
Will attendees of Jurassic Quest “have a dino-mite time!”? Who knows? But the event will look mighty attractive to parents who have been stuck in the house with kids who are driving them to distraction.
The pandemic means that yesterday’s great ideas are on hold. Hologram concerts resurrecting Michael Jackson and Roy Orbison are indefinitely postponed. Those eager to leap, like human pop tarts, out of The Price is Right audience will have to wait. And, until we get a vaccine, no more all-you-can-eat nights at the local Pto Mein Palace.
Instead, we turn to the Great Online Gods to fill the lonely hours, where we are free to partake of oboe lessons, watch pas de deux in kitchens, and listen to arias boomed from Italian balconies. I sympathize with Arts Administrators around the globe who are trying to figure out how to sell the idea of paying for virtual performances.
At this point, the question any entrepreneur worth his or her salt needs to ask is: What would P.T. Barnum do? At least one group of go-getters has come up with an answer: JURASSIC QUEST DRIVE-THRU EXPERIENCE.
According to the press release, this is America’s first drive-through dinosaur experience. (I’ll have to take them at their word — that they pre-date DINOSAUR WORLD LIVE). For $49 per vehicle (9 people or less), the Jurassic people crow that you will experience “over 70 moving and life-like dinosaurs, as well as our 50 foot-long Megalodon!” I hope that bugger understands the concept of social distancing! Since Jurassic Quest “worked in collaboration with leading paleontologists,” I imagine it (he? she?) does.
The tour is coming to the parking lot at Gillette Stadium, “home of the 6-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots” (September 4 through 13). Instead of the heady aroma of frying bangers and stale beer wafting from tailgate parties, the more prosaic smells of tuna sandwiches, Kool Aid Jammers, and jelly donuts will pervade the atmosphere. Safety concerns will be pre-eminent. A mask is mandatory if you want to go to “allowed areas,” including the “complimentary restrooms.” Glad for that. I’d hate to have to fish for change with a Stegosaurus breathing down my neck.
Will attendees of Jurassic Quest “have a dino-mite time!”? Who knows? But the event will look attractive to parents who are stuck in the house with kids who are driving them to distraction. I’m glad a bunch of designers and builders are being employed; even a few paleontologists, who probably don’t see much heavy bread coming their way on abandoned campuses. A spin through the Dino Store (another “allowed area”) to pick up souvenirs will probably cost you another chunk of change. But, even at $100, it’s not that bad; nothing like what it would cost to go to a Patriots game. To question the capitalist premise and scale of JURASSIC QUEST DRIVE-THRU EXPERIENCE is to challenge truth, justice, and the American animatronic way.
But that I will dare to do. This is essentially “if you can’t go to Disney, we’ll bring Disney to you.” So, while the upside tempts me to shelve my usual dismissive response to such bunkum, I can’t quite get there.
This time of enforced isolation could be a time for us to re-think a lot of things — you know what I’m talking about — and that re-evaluation should bring us back to square one, scrutinizing corporate behavior. I’m not a “When I was a kid, all we had to play with were some sticks and a piece of string” kind of a guy. I (somewhat grudgingly) bought my daughter a lot of useless crap. But I can’t see how a trip to a parking lot in Foxboro will be more than a temporary stress reducer — if it even does that. Yes, I’m over-thinking the cunningly superficial — but I am the voice in the wilderness, skeptical of the consumption of “entertainment” that satisfies you for the moment, but leaves you (and the kids and spouse) hungry for another distraction five minutes later. I know, I know — give the people what they want.Just make sure you have the publicity budget to convince them of it.
Steve Provizer writes on a range of subjects, most often the arts. He is a musician and blogs about jazz here