Near Cocoa Beach is a seemingly random roadside attraction known as: The Dinosaur Store – Home of the Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures. From the road, it’s nearly impossible to determine exactly what is inside. The building is decorated with a large dinosaur, but the name and description seem to conflict when you consider that a store and museum are actually very different things.
I drove past this attraction on several occasions before finally deciding to walk inside. When I finally did visit, I was more confused than I had been before. When you enter the building, you are undoubtedly in a store. There are genuine fossils for purchase as more kitschy dinosaur-fare, such as toys and small gifts. During that first visit, I made a loop around the store to search for the museum. I couldn’t find anything that looked like an exhibit entrance. I did, however, find something called the “Adventure Zone” inside a roped off area. Looking past the rope, I could see a few games and maybe a fish tank of some kind. Nothing looked exciting or especially educational, so I quietly wrote off the Dinosaur Store and returned home.
It wasn’t until YEARS later that I realized the Dinosaur Store actually did contain a full museum on the second and third floors. The second floor is full of dinosaurs and related information, while the third floor focuses on the history of people and ancient cultures.
When I returned to the Dinosaur Store & Museum (with kids in tow), I was asked to choose between three ticket options. We could visit the museum, the previously mentioned Adventure Zone, or we could purchase a combination ticket for a slightly discounted price. Remembering my unenthusiastic impression a few years earlier, I opted to just visit the museum.
After purchasing our tickets, the cashier directed us to the elevators and invited us to begin our journey! When we arrived on the second floor, we were immediately greeted by large dinosaur models. I was surprised to see that, given the sheer amount of fossils available for purchase, so much of the museum was model-based instead of real fossils. There were some fossil specimens, however, as well as plenty of written information.
The third floor featured several ancient cultures and wonders, including Egyptian tombs and the Chinese Terracotta Army. Once again, very little of these exhibits contained actual artifacts. However, there was enough detail in the dioramas and accompanying written information to make the visit worthwhile and educational.
Freaky Thoughts: The Dinosaur Store & Museum
What I was able to see of the museum was pretty fascinating and definitely worth a short trip. However, I do want to caution the parents of small children. We were not able to stay at the museum for very long as my four year old son was absolutely terrified. He liked the dinosaurs at first, but he was soon overwhelmed by their size and realistic appearance. I tried to calm him down in the ancient cultures area where there wouldn’t be as many large models, but this did not work. There was a hippo model in this area that scared him as well.
To his credit, my son tried to enjoy the museum and we had a few brief windows to try and enjoy the exhibits. Ultimately, however, we ended up leaving much sooner than I had planned based on his fear and the fact that most of our time was spent trying to calm him down. When I returned to the front desk (about 25 minutes after entering the museum), I decided I would ask for a refund based on our experience. Of course, I realized they had full rights to deny my request, but since so much of our short time was spent consoling my son, I had to ask. I explained the situation and was prepared to be disappointed, but instead of simply denying my request – the cashier printed my receipt and incorrectly calculated my time spent. She told me that I had been in the museum for 45 minutes when I clearly had only been inside for 25 based on the receipt time. I pointed this out to her, but she would not concede that I had actually been inside for less than 30 minutes… Come on. It’s absolutely your right to deny the refund, but don’t lie… and if you’re going to lie, do it better than that.