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Dinosaur State Park Offers New Interactive Exhibits

Indoor and Outdoor Activities Offered During School Winter Break


(HARTFORD, CT) – Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill is open during upcoming school vacations and encourages families to come visit new indoor and outdoor exhibits. The new outdoor StoryWalk® along with two new indoor exhibits that offer high-tech augmented graphics complement the visitor center’s 200-million-year-old fossil trackway containing over 750 dinosaur tracks, hands-on exhibits, local geological history, displays, animal encounters and more.  

Families are encouraged to bundle up during the December school break to enjoy the newly installed, outdoor StoryWalk®, a great activity that connects reading, walking, learning, and fun! Visitors step back in time to read about dinosaurs along the sidewalk and stone dust path as they weave among the trees. A StoryWalk® places pages from children’s story books in displays along a walkable path for an engaging journey that builds interest in reading and physical movement. The first of four to be installed in Connecticut State Parks, this installation is done in collaboration with the Connecticut State Library and supported by a generous grant from EBSCO Information Services to the Connecticut Heritage Foundation. The nationwide StoryWalk® project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont, and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg Hubbard Library.

After completing the StoryWalk® at Dinosaur State Park, families can come inside to enjoy the warmth of the visitor center, view actual dinosaur footprints, and interact with the new exhibits. Through the generous financial support of the Friends of Dinosaur Park and Arboretum, as well as the State of Connecticut, the visitor center has installed two new, exciting exhibits, just in time for those planning to visit during winter school break. These exhibits combine innovative technology with vibrant augmented graphics and are intended for users of all ages.

The new Animated Sandbox is filled with therapy play sand and uses a ceiling-mounted projector to cast colorful images onto the sand below, which, combined with dynamic motion sensors, picks up movements and changes in the sand’s depth. Various scenes project down onto the sand:

  • Fossils: visitors can dig with their hands to discover fossils;

  • Dinos: visitors can build volcanos, dig lakes, and watch some of their favorite dinosaurs move across the changing landscapes;

  • Bugs: visitors can view realistic butterflies and beetles and manipulate the sand to uncover hidden ant colonies;

  • Ocean and Safari themes. 


The sandbox itself, which is wheelchair accessible, was constructed with oak sourced from Connecticut State Park and Forest lands, processed at the DEEP Sawmill, and built on site by the park maintenance staff.  

Visitors can also experience the new Dynamic Floor, which uses a ceiling-mounted projector and an advanced sensor to capture movement and gestures of visitors below, bringing the floor to life beneath their feet.  A variety of interactive, educational games are offered, such as Clean the River, where visitors must step on items to catch and recycle them, as they float (interactively) down a projected river. In addition to games, the display also rotates through a variety of Atmospheres, where visitors can view themselves walking in a Jurassic world, and see their footprints translate into dinosaur tracks, or the soothing Beach Footprints atmosphere, where footprints appear in the sand and are washed away with animated waves.  

In addition to general public offerings, Dinosaur State Park welcomes school and group field trips, and students and educators will have opportunities to try out the new exhibits, make observations, and ask questions throughout various 90-minute programs that are offered by park interpretive staff. Please visit Field Trips for school programs for all ages and registration information.

Visitors to Dinosaur State Park can enjoy interesting and hands-on activities and programs throughout the year. The park grounds offer an array of trails ready for visitors to explore and enjoy year-round. Fossil shows, mineral explorations, and live animal programs are sure to educate and interest visitors of all ages. Visit the Events Calendar for activity updates.

Established in 1913, the mission of the Connecticut State Park System is to provide natural resource-based public recreational and educational opportunities through a system of state park and forest recreation areas, environmental centers, and nature centers that provide an understanding of, access to, and enjoyment of, the state’s historic, cultural and natural resources.

For more info on Connecticut State Parks visit:

The Animated Sandbox at the Dinosaur State Park Visitor Center offers visitors the ability to manipulate sand to change the vibrant moving landscapes, which are projected onto the surface of the sand and equipped with sensors to detect motion and sand depth. Photo credit: CT DEEP State Parks staff