Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Jurassic Parque @ La Marquesa Forest Park

Parque Forestal La Marquesa in GuaynaboOK, so they have not managed to clone any real dinosaurs and you won’t find Sam Neilson, Laura Dern or Jeff Goldblum there, but you will find around 30 dinosaur replicas at the La Marquesa Autoberium.

The La Marquesa Autoberium Dinosaur exhibit is part of the newest phase to open at the Parque Forestal La Marquesa in Guaynabo.

We had previously been to the Parque Forestal and enjoyed the play areas, trail and lookout tower and made a return visitor recently to take a look at the new areas

Along with the Dinosaur exhibit, the park now offers Puerto Rico’s very first Cable Car (funicular), Butterfly House and Aviary

La Marquesa Autoberium Dinosaur Exhibit

Parque Forestal La Marquesa in GuaynaboThe Dinosaur Exhibit is located down the road from the upper cable car station. There are around 30 different dinosaurs at various locations along a forest trail. The dinosaurs are all relatively large and are soft to the touch making them feel quite realistic; which kids will love.

I believe that they are also supposed to move using animatronics but none of them were working during our visit and employees who we asked could not confirm that they would be working any time soon.

One thing that I must emphasize is that the initial section of the trail is EXTREMELY STEEP. It is well paved with tarmac but the incline makes it unsuitable for wheelchairs or people with walking difficulties. Once you have scaled the incline the rest of the trail is fairly flat, though it is not paved, so likely to be muddy if it has rained recently.

We enjoyed the hike along trail but were surprised at the lack of information about the various dinosaurs. Having spent the time to import and set up the dinosaur exhibit the lack of even a simple dinosaur name seems to be a huge oversight on the part of the management team at the park

Cable Cars – Funicular

Parque Forestal La Marquesa in GuaynaboNote: I am sure this cable car is a really cool ride to take; but unfortunately we have still not managed to ride it as it has been closed for maintenance during our recent visits.

The cable car system is located right across from the admissions counter and will take you on an aerial trip up to the recently opened Butterfly and Bird enclosures and Dinosaur Exhibit.

The ride takes several minutes and takes you up over the trees giving you great views of Guaynabo and the surrounding areas as well as views of San Juan.

Once at the upper level station you can check out the views and visit the Butterfly and Bird enclosure as well as the Dinosaur trail.

The upper level station is large and looks to be ‘a work in progress’ as some areas were still empty. And signage to the areas nearby was lacking.

To return to the park entrance you can take a cable car, the train or if you are feeling energetic walk the trail back.

Butterly House and Aviary

Parque Forestal La Marquesa in GuaynaboThe Butterfly House and Aviary are located at the upper level cable car station. Access into the area is controlled so you may have to wait before entering depending on how many people are taking the tour.

The first part is a 9 minute film about butterflies; unfortunately the sound track is in Spanish with no subtitles and audio and video quality of the film leaves a lot to be desired.

Once the film has ended your group can then enter the Butterfly area, where you will see a section with Pupa (Chrysalis) at various stages of growth. For small children there is a small raised area that they can walk on to see the chrysalis.

The path then takes you to a small landscaped area where (if you are lucky) you will see butterflies. We managed to see TWO butterflies; which was a little disappointing.

The next area is the Aviary, where you will walk along a raised platform so check out for birds above and below you.

The birds in the aviary are all free to fly around; which I found to be very cool. But if you have small children, it is probably a good idea to let them know this as some of the birds are pretty friendly and fly past really close. The majority of the birds are Macaws and parrots, but we also saw some Peacocks and a few other birds.

The Macaws and parrots are really colorful and allow you to get really close (if you want to). Just remember that they are wild and can bite…

Other Areas of the Park

Along with these new attractions the park also has several small play areas, a road going train and the lookout tower that provides awesome views of the surrounding areas and San Juan.

You can also access the Original Canopy Tour (zip lines) from the park

Some thoughts on Parque Forestal La Marquesa

  • We’ve visited the park several times and have enjoyed it. The addition of the cable car, Butterfly House, Aviary and Dinosaur trail means that you can easily spend a few hours here.
  • The park still feels like a work in progress
  • The new areas are lacking useful informational signs; both Spanish and English
  • The only option for food and drink purchases is vending machines; the park could really do with a small café area.
  • The park is closed on Mondays & Tuesdays; even when it is a Public Holiday
  • The park really should have its own official website or at the very least an official Facebook page.

Hopefully the next time we visit, the cable cars will be running…

Have you been to Parque Forestal in Guaynabo; what did you think?

What: La Marquesa Forest Park
Where: Guaynabo
When: Wednesday to Sunday 9am – 5pm
Cost: $5 for adults, $3 for children under 12 and senior citizens. Cars $1

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