The Münchehagen Dinosaur Park is a must-see for any German dinosaur lover. It is a great park, with life-sized models of all of your favourite dinosaurs and plenty of opportunities to play or develop their paleontological skills. However, Münchehagen Dinosaur Park has a secret weapon, something that the other Parks cannot compete with: real dinosaur tracks.
The long and the short of: Münchehagen Dinosaur Park
- Official name: Freilichtmuseum Münchehagen (Open Air Museum Münchehagen (Dino Park))
- Website: https://www.dinopark.de
- Location: Alte Zollstraße 5, 31547 Rehburg-Loccum (near Hannover)
- Opening times: From mid-March until the end of October, from 9 am to 6 pm daily
- Cost: Adults EUR 13.50; children (4 to 12) EUR 11.50. Children 3 and under: FREE.
- Corona: Face masks are required in shops and other points of sale. There may be some delays at the entrance due to social distancing requirements.
- What you need to know: It is Germany’s largest scientific amusement park and theme park
Overview and first impressions
The Münchehagen Dinosaur Park, near Hannover, boasts a 2.5 km trail through history, from the Paleozoic to the Cenozoic. Along the trail are around 200 life-like models of prehistoric animals and dinosaurs, the biggest of which is the 45 metre long and 9 metre high Seismosaurus.
The trail passes through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, with some of the most famous dinosaurs from each period, such as the Coelophysis, Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, Diplodocus, and of course the Tyrannosaurus Rex. It also looks at some of the first creatures from the Permian Period and the first mammals of the Ice Age.
While they are not strictly dinosaurs, the park also showcases some Pterosaurs, including a hatchery (closed due to COVID-19 restrictions during our visit), and some of the best-known prehistoric sea creatures.
The initial impression is positive for many little dinosaur lovers: A life-sized Tyrannosaurus Rex serves as the welcoming committee.
Also on display are a number of fossils. The park has more than 2,500 fossils from 10 different creatures from the Ice Age. This is one of the most complete collections of Ice Age finds in Europe.
The park also has some dinosaur fossils. These include the Europasaurus, a dwarf dinosaur, the fossils of which have so far only been found once (in a quarry about 140 km from the park). The fossils are stored at the park and visitors to the park can watch the fossils being removed from the stone, prepared and mounted.
The absolute highlight of Münchehagen Dinosaur Park: the best dinosaur tracks in Germany
The real reason for visiting the Münchehagen Dinosaur Park is to see the dinosaur footprints. In fact, they are the reason the park is where it is!
In 1980, a training exercise for local fire fighters uncovered the tracks. Now, more than 300 individual footprints have been uncovered. You can see these tracks in a special section in the centre of the Dino Park.
Experts think the dinosaurs left their footprints in the mud of a shallow tropical lagoon 139 million years ago.
Three different dinosaur species have been identified. The first is a large sauropod with elephant-like footprints, such as Diplodocus. The second dinosaur is a smaller herbivore, most likely an Iguanodon as fossils have also been found not too far away. The third is a carnivorous theropod similar to an Allosaurus, thought to be a Neovenator, with its three-toed footprints.
In 2006, the tracks were declared National Geotope in Germany.
Lots of opportunities to play and learn
The park is designed for kids and there is lots for them to do.
Climbing equipment and a flying fox are interspersed amount the dinosaur specimens – just in case your little ones need some distraction while touring the park.
Near the end is a large dinosaur-themed playground. Unfortunately, on the day we were there it rained. By the time we got to this end of the park, the rain was rather heavy and not conducive to a long play on the playground. There was also a fun T-Rex fossil to uncover.
The park also has numerous activities, similar to those performed by real palaeontologists, that your little dinosaur lover can do (for a small fee).
- Carefully uncover a dinosaur skeleton in stone using a wooden chisel and brush (cost: EUR 4)
- Even more carefully reveal a real fossil from a rock – we found fossilised coral.
- Go fossicking for treasure including semi-precious stones and shark teeth; free for visitors!
- Older visitors can prepare a fossil under expert guidance. Split a 50 million year old stone slab to reveal the fossil and help prepare it (costs depend on size).
- Split a geode to reveal the crystal inside. (Cost vary depending on size)
- Pan for gold (EUR 4 per person; you can exchange any gold you find for other treasures).
- Paint a dinosaur. What colour were they? Though science is now able to show us the actual colour of some feathered dinosaurs, there is no reason you can’t use your imagination (cost; EUR 1,50 per dino),
- In the stone age workshop you can make some stone-age hunter’s jewelry, such as a pendant from a piece of deer antler, build a stone knife or make a leather pouch for the things you’ve discovered. Peter and I had been to the park previously with a large group and the 15 and 16 year olds loved making their own knives. (costs depend on activity).
- Practice your archery to see if you have what it takes to live in the stone age.
Fair prices at the shop
We’d had quite a few snacks in the car on the way to the park and had dinner plans for that evening, so we didn’t check out what food options were available. We therefore can’t provide any review even of what is available. Given the very reasonable prices for entry, extra activities and the shop, I assume any food and drinks would also be very reasonably priced.
We did check out the shop though.
Compared to other museums and parks (and we have been to many), the Münchehagen Dinosaur Park shop has quite a good range and very fair prices. We saw their own branded goods (mostly clothing and stuffed toys) as well as other toys, games and jewelry. They even had some dinosaur fossils, which is unusual. They have a number of mixed bags with a mixture of toys, books, craft dinosaurs, cookie cutters… it all depends on the bag, but if you are interested in three things in the bag, it is a great deal for you.
The park even sold a dinosaur “vet kit” that I have not found elsewhere, not even on amazon.
We came home with a mixed bag that included a stuffed toy and a huge dinosaur cookie cutter, as well as a Spinosaurus tooth (with certification) and the fossils and Brachiosaurus toy fossil our LDA carefully removed from the fossil eggs.
What else should you see in the area?
The local council developed a 30km long bike loop – Dino Tour – taking in some of the best local sites. They have also set up dinosaur-themed information boxes and things to see at some of the stops. If you plan to stay in the area and have bikes, it might be a nice trip.
There are also some fossils (Plateosaurus) and an old Iguanodon reconstruction (now part of an presentation about the changing reconstruction of species over time) that can be found at the State Museum in Hannover.
LDA: “It was great. I wanted to stay there forever. Some of the dinosaurs were so scary and they have real footprints! And I liked finding the fossil in the stone.“
Mamasaurus: The Münchehagen Dinosaur Park is one of the best places to see dinosaur tracks in Germany. The variety of dinosaurs, exhibit types and activities make it a great day out for any dinosaur lover, whatever the age.