We were approached by Leeds BID to support their third ‘Jurassic Trail’ in Leeds city centre during the 2022 summer holidays.
Our client’s initial enquiry was to create a Dinosaur Trail across the city centre from the 30th of July to the 4th of September 2022. Leeds BID wanted to position animatronic dinosaurs across the city, guiding visitors into areas they may not usually see and encouraging footfall. They wanted the Dinosaur Themed Trail to include exciting theatrical elements, with special effects and immersive jungle theming across the city! They aimed to increase shoppers’ knowledge of different areas of the city and encourage new visitors to Leeds city centre.
We had many exciting conversations with the client about our numerous dinosaur themed entertainment options! They were enthusiastic about building upon the initial Dinosaur Trail enquiry. We discussed the possibility of including different dinosaur themed activities throughout the summer holidays to encourage repeat visits. We considered different entertainment options such as our Pop-Up Cinema, Mobile Dinosaur Cave and VR Dinosaur Dome, a Hop-on Hop-off Train, a themed Merry-go-Round, and educational Dinosaur and Fossil Handling Workshops.
We needed to consider the size of the area to incorporate into the trail. We also needed to guage how effective the different activities would be in different areas. Due to Health and Safety regulations, there were restrictions on the installation of the Trail animatronics. Our installation team needed to install 14 large animatronic dinosaurs and create a jungle themed canopy across the Briggate shopping area. One of the animatronic installations, a huge Spinosaurus dinosaur, needed to be installed within a canal. This required draining the water from the canal, donning waders, and successfully replenishing the canal following installation. We also needed to choose entertainment that would appeal to a range of age groups, encourage repeat visits, and result in social media activity.
We conducted multiple site visits and zoom meetings to establish clear direction. We could then create method statements, risk assessments, and detailed schedules for the event. Our dedicated installation crew worked during the night in the run-up to the event, adhering to Health and Safety regulations. We wanted to create a T-rexcellent event, and encourage repeat visits throughout the Trail period. We ensured that we chose multiple exciting entertainment options and alternated Dinosaur performances and activities each weekend.
The Jurassic Trail was a resounding success! It increased footfall to the city centre throughout the summer holidays and had massive social media interaction!
Alongside the animatronic Dinosaur Trail, we provided multiple exciting dinosaur themed activities every Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer holidays – including August Bank Holiday Monday. We used teams of professional puppeteers, operators, early learning specialists, and actors who were briefed and rehearsed on every aspect of the event. We performed huge Arena Shows in the city centre featuring a range of Dinosaurs, alternated on different days and weekends. These shows included Zeus – Europe’s largest T-Rex, Emily Brontosaurus, Tank Triceratops, Richie Raptor, Spence Spinosaurus, Rex Junior, and our adorable Baby Dinosaurs – with a Pterodactyl, Ankylosaurus, and Parasaurolophus to name a few!
We hosted a Ranger Training workshop activity where children were able to join a team of Dinosaur Rangers and enlist as a trainee at Ranger Base Camp. They participated in a series of activities to gain skills on how to control a Dinosaur and become a fully-fledged Dinosaur Ranger! Our fantastic Dinosaur Ranger performers also hosted Ranger Tours, guiding families around the Dinosaur Trail.
At The Hatchery, families joined the eccentric Doctor Bones! They could meet adorable, sleepy Dinosaur hatchlings and learn how to care for Dinosaur Eggs. Children could view dinosaur cages to watch the Baby Dinosaurs breathing, sleeping, blinking, and even snoring! Doctor Bones guided children around the Dinosaur cages and insulated eggs, teaching them how to care for dinosaur eggs and babies. We also provided a Baby Dinosaur Story-time activity. Families could get comfortable on beanbags and cushions inside a large department store and listen to a Dinosaur Ranger telling exciting Jurassic stories! Children then had the opportunity to meet a Baby Dinosaur.
All of our dinosaur themed activities ran alongside shop tie-ins, completely bringing the theme, and the city centre, to life!
Leeds BID reported that the Jurassic Trail created record-breaking footfall figures of 509,000 visitors, up 200,000 year-on-year. The average group size was 4, an increase on the previous average of 3: 97% of surveyed visitors said the event was ‘excellent’ or ‘good’. The event had an economic impact of £3.35m and a GVA economic impact of £3.35m.
Leeds BID also chose to keep the Spinosaurus inhabiting Granary Wharf as a monument to the success of the event!
‘Thank you once again for the weekend arena shows and other activities which continue to bring huge success and impact as part of the Leeds Jurassic Trail. It’s all been a massive success so far and Leeds is loving it!
‘The arena shows are proving hugely popular with big crowds and lots of great feedback from our businesses, so well done to the team. I have told the team leader directly as he led a superb bunch of people, and they did a top job! The Big Foot animation is working superbly well, very popular with the crowds. Overall, the whole trail and all its parts are proving a huge success.
‘Thank you again for all your team’s amazing work; we are indebted to both your enthusiasm and ability!
‘The arena shows were another big win for us! The Leeds Jurassic Trail continues to be a big smash!’ – Martin Dickson
‘All good things must come to an end eventually! The Jurassic Trail has been a huge success and we still have one final push this weekend. Thanks again for your help and support in the build up to, and throughout, the trail.’ – James Wilson