Move over Bruce and Bono, there’s a different kind of arena show rolling across North America, and next month the 26-semi-truck entourage roars into MetraPark’s Rimrock Auto Arena.
In a media blitz like no other in recent memory, MetraPark hosted 30 local Cub Scouts and 60 media representatives and community leaders Thursday to announce “Walking with Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular” shows running March 31 through April 3. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday and cost between $22.50 to $55 each, depending on the show and the seat. Buy them at MetraPark’s box office, by phone at 256-2422, online at www.metrapark.com or at the usual outlets.
Participants Thursday dined on allosaurus sliders and braised tyrannosaurs brisket, concocted for the occasion by Beyond Basil Catering. But the real attraction was a baby T-rex, standing 7 feet tall, who ran through the crowd roaring and snapping its huge jaws.
The scouts who sat up front got the rare opportunity Thursday of sticking their hands in the dinosaur’s mouth.
“It felt kind of rough,” said 10-year-old Tyler Foster.
His twin, Jase, figured the man inside the 100-pound dino suit was using a stick to control the movement of the dinosaur’s torso.
“I know three things about dinosaurs. They are either a herbivore, omnivore or a carnivore and the T-rex was a carnivore,” Jase said.
“Walking With Dinosaurs” spokesman Matthew Rimmer said that since the tour launched in North America in July 2007, it has become one of the highest-grossing shows on the road because it is a hit with kids and adults alike. Since 2007, the production has generated $136 million in ticket sales and has been viewed by more than 3.1 million people in North America.
“We’ll bring you 17 life-size dinosaurs in a show that will time-warp you back millions of years,” Rimmer said. “They roar and snarl and you’ll get to see them in a lifelike environment. It took six years and $20 million to create this show.”
During a 10-minute video preview of the 100-minute show, one of the show’s directors described it as part documentary, part musical, part theatrical production.
MetraPark will convert the arena into a three-quarters-house configuration to accommodate the huge creatures, one of which, a mother brachiosaurus, is 36 feet tall and 56 feet long. That will provide 4,600 seats at each of the seven shows. The 10 large dinosaurs require a team of three people to operate. The touring company includes 65 performers and operators.
Community leaders, including Yellowstone County Commissioner Bill Kennedy, hailed “Walking with Dinosaurs” as exciting family entertainment.
“Can’t you see every teacher in the area teaching a dinosaur unit to get ready for this show?” Kennedy said.
The Billings stop is the only Montana city on the tour. Expectations are high that families will come from across the area to see this show, and the Billings Area Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for visitors. John Brewer, chamber president, said each visitor to the city spends an average of $188 per day.