With all due credit to the world’s 10-year-olds, JUICEBOXdotcom never really grew out of its dinosaur obsession. So when we got the press release for something called WALKING WITH DINOSAURS at the Air Canada Centre, we lost our collective shit. How had we never heard of this until now? Apparently it’s a critically acclaimed $20 million traveling show, six years in the making (more like 200 million years, amirite?). I guess it’s just sad to realize that the world travels of 36-foot animatronic dinosaurs aren’t really your scene.

When we inquired about passes to this utopia, we were sure our press request — wherein we cite a “a distinct lack of dinosaurs on our site that we should probably solve” — would be turned down. Fast forward to us watching Triceratops’ smash each other’s faces along with 20,000 grade schoolers! 36-foot dinosaurs! I saw them! Moving! I don’t know how to review this other than for you to agree to understand that it’s as awesome as it sounds. Seriously, peep this:

Children were booking it for the exits.

Now without the words for a review, I decided to interview one of the show’s real, live dinosaurs instead. Meet David Waddleton. He plays a raptor in the show (oh yeah… sorry to break it to you, humans play the parts of the dinosaurs). He’s also been an extra on Degrassi and on the cover of a Harlequin romance novel. Suffice to say, now that he has DINOSAUR on his resume, he more or less has the most solid career of anyone ever. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Waddleton:

So level with me, was raptor your first choice of dinosaur? Because mine would be T-REX.
When you join the tour, you’re trained at the simplest level: raptor. It takes you about six months of training before you can even get inside the baby T. You’re in that suit for about 12 minutes, so it’s tough.

Were there many other physical requirements?
I think you have to be a minimum of 5’10 and max of around 6’2 and you have to fit in the suit even if you pass the test. Oh, and you can’t be claustrophobic or have any injuries.

What are the internal mechanisms of the costumes like?
That’s level 4 security information, I cant tell you… Okay, someone dresses you. You climb into the raptor, which is held on a stand, strap a backpack-like harness over you and then a tight Velcro belt. Then the dresser puts your feet into the side of the raptor legs, all the while you’re fiddling around with your walkie talkie in the dark. There’s a hinged handlebar in front of you with a brake-like lever that you squeeze to close the mouth and another button further up the bar that opens and closes the eyes. Buttons on the left and right activate different sounds.

Is it hard to move around?
The first time I got in, I almost fell over. I didn’t know how to operate the handles and couldn’t see where I was going. You cant see in front of you, only a bit through the sides. Plus I was supposed to run in a deep lunge stride. I was out of breath and exhausted after three minutes.

Are any of your acting friends jealous that you get to be a dinosaur while they do cereal commercials?
I wouldn’t knock a national cereal commercial in the USA. That’s pretty good money! If they were jealous, I’d have to say it’s because I’m working.

What’s been the most awesome part about being a dinosaur?
The best part is you never know what’s going to happen. You might step on a a tail, run into Pangea, miss a cue. It’s fun and teaches you how to fix things on the fly and remain calm while running virtually blind.

Are there any downsides to being a dinosaur? (Other than extinction)
Sometimes we have bad catering. It’s a tough life. I’d say injuries are the only thing that’s rough. The body takes such a beating.

With all those dinosaur suits and props around, I’d be doing backflips off of Brachiosaurus and shit. Any good stories from rehearsal?
I’m going to refrain from saying anything in fear that it might come back to me somehow.

Aw. Okay, are there ever blunders during the performances? I’d like to see a dinosaur fall down.
Once every blue moon a raptor will fall over and that’s really funny, as long as nobody gets hurt. Remember, the raptors weigh over 100 pounds. There are some raptor bloopers on Youtube, I think. [Ed.’s note: Hahaha.]

Anything else you want to tell us that’ll impress folks who haven’t seen the show yet?
Watch “Making of the Dinosaurs”

And as a burgeoning young dinosaur/actor, are there any any other projects you’re working on that you’d like to pimp?
Before this tour, I just finished shooting an independent called Come Clean. And I’m in the current New Balance print campaign. I’m fairly new in the industry, so I’ll let you know when I have something big.


Posted on July 2, 2008 by | Articles, Features | 3 Comments »| Tags: ,

3 Responses »

  1. Jealousy.

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