The roar explodes from the small forest.
It’s angry, laced with frustration and it definitely belongs to a T-rex — a T-rex that can’t seem to find you beneath the tree canopy of Prehistoric Park.
So, how is roar so clearly detectable? Well, anyone who has seen any of the “Jurassic Park” films in the last 30 years will recognize it. And it’s probably safe to say that most everyone has seen at least one of these movies placing visitors at a park filled with dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs that eventually break loose and wreak havoc, sending visitors running for their lives.
As exciting that this may seem in a macabre sort of way, this won’t happen at Prehistoric Park. The T-rex may roar, but he doesn’t move from his position at the end of the trail around the bend of Margaritaville RV Resort in Breaux Bridge.
The park operates separately, it is a subsidiary of the resort, as is the indoor Cajun Fast Track next door, offering go-kart racing, an arcade and laser tag.
Prehistoric Park may not be as flashy as the race track, but it offers a brand of fun that jump-starts the imagination of dinosaurs existing in Louisiana.
If the “Jurassic” films were true, could the dinosaurs thrive in Louisiana? Why not? The brachiosauruses certainly would have plenty of greenery to satisfy their hunger, and the meat-eating T-rexes and velociraptors would have an endless supply of fish and wildlife.
Well, that and people walking along the trail.
“Jurassic Park” is only a movie, right?
OK, so don’t panic. As is the case with the aforementioned T-rex, all of the dinosaurs are static in this 12-acre forest enclosed in a wire fence marked “High Voltage,” which is as much as prop as the dinosaurs.
Remember, the only thing that could keep dinosaurs in check in all of the “Jurassic” movies were high-voltage enclosures, so Prehistoric Park wouldn’t be complete without this detail.
As for the roar of the T-rex, followed by velociraptors’ calls to action, these sound effects have been on a loop since the park’s opening in 2014.
That’s when Lee Venable opened the RV resort under the name of Cajun Palms. The resort and its attractions eventually were sold to Northgate Resorts, which operated the destination until the Margaritaville franchise purchased it earlier this year.
Along with the park and indoor race track, The resort offers camping, cabins, a water playground and splashpads, a supersized hot tub and fishing. Its location also gives it easy access to restaurants to Henderson, Lafayette and Breaux Bridge, where antique shopping and a visit to Lake Martin are only minutes away.
You’ll find live alligators at Lake Martin, but Prehistoric Park is the only place where you’ll see dinosaurs.
“Mr. Lee, the original owner, went on a trip and saw a pop-up dinosaur exhibit,” said Brianna McGee, assistant manager of the resort and its attractions. “That was when these pop-up exhibits were everywhere. So, he came back and said, ‘I’m going to build a dinosaur park.’ And we said, ‘OK, we’re here for it.'”
Venable mapped out 12 acres and filled it with 28 lifelike, fiberglass dinosaurs, all created in scale and fronted by signs telling about each variety. Some bear their teeth, some passively stare and the velociraptors are constantly on the hunt.
Fans of the later “Jurassic World” movies will immediately recognize Chris Pratt’s character’s trained velociraptor, Blue, at the start of the trail, which is completely shaded.
Sometimes, though, the source of that shade can pose hazards for the prehistoric creatures.
“We have to constantly trim the tree limbs, because they can fall on on the dinosaurs,” said Luke Jones, the resort’s landscaper. “But it is a fun trail. I’ve talked to campers in the resort whose kids loved it, and my favorite dinosaurs are the brachiosaurus, whose neck stretches above the trees, and the T-rex, which is hovering right over the trail, bearing his teeth as you turn the corner toward the end.”
Well, actually, the T-rex is a she, because she’s protecting the set of giant eggs behind her. One has already hatched, so there has to be a baby nearby.
So, it’s only natural for her to roar.
But her roar doesn’t bother teachers and kids who book field trips here nor does it faze groups who rent the park for birthday parties. It’s just part of the fun.
Speaking of fun, the Prehistoric Park also is planning its third annual Christmas Trail during the first week in December.
“So, basically, the whole trail will be lit up with Christmas lights and different Christmas scenes,” McGee said. “It’s kind of a big deal now for everyone around here.”
Now, for those looking for a little more action, the trail ends at a set of double glass doors, which eventually leads into the park’s gift shop. “Eventually” is the key word here, because visitors must first walk through an enclosure filled with animatronic dinosaurs, which move and roar.
Once inside the gift shop, visitors are invited to take photos in a large dinosaur mouth flanked by a “Prehistoric Park” sign, uncover fossils using archaeologists’ tools in the Fossil Pit or purchase a bag of rocks to mine for gems in the water chute near the entrance.
While you mine for gems, the T-rex continues to roar in the background, alerting everyone nearby that Prehistoric Park is her territory.
So enter only if you dare.