Connecticut’s Jurassic Tourism Industry

Just how many mammoth dinosaurs can be found roaming the tiny state of Connecticut this summer?

In New Haven, along the Long Island Sound, the 89 year old Great Hall of Dinosaurs in Yale University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History is swarming with gigantic skeletons and fossils. It’s one of the most visually striking paleontology collections in the world.

About thirty miles north of the Elm City, in Rocky Hill, Dinosaur State Park sports a gigantic slab of jurassic footprints. And ten miles further north, in the heart of the capital city of Hartford, 22 animatronic dinosaur robots are threatening their human hosts at the Connecticut Science Center.

Meanwhile, about forty miles southwest of New Haven, 40 fiberglass dinosaurs are carousing on the sidewalks of Stamford via the Dinosaurs Rule! art exhibit.

I visited the Rocky Hill park and Stamford exhibit last week, and was quite surprised by the breadth of the drawing power of these extinct species. An entire cross-section of humanity, from toddlers to the elderly, and from blue collar workers to university professors, are enjoying the mix of knowledge and entertainment, from the serious to the silly.

Oddly enough, though, I couldn’t find a single promotional reference to the New Haven and Hartford exhibits in Rocky Hill or Stamford. No joint programs, no placards, no coupons … not a single synergistic prompt to encourage visitors to enjoy the other sites. It was a striking oversight, one almost as noticeable as the dinosaurs themselves.

And although a web site called the Connecticut Dino Trail exists online, it makes no mention of Stamford’s Dinosaurs Rule! exhibit. That city, though, represents the very first dinosaur location that is accessible to visitors entering the state from the metro New York region. And Governor Dannel Malloy is himself a resident and a former mayor of Stamford.

Governor Malloy, in fact, has noted that his state’s tourism industry generates $14 billion in annual revenues. Considering Connecticut’s position as one of the four wealthiest states in the nation, and one that can easily draw visitors from the nearby megacities of New York and Boston, these revenues indicate that the tourist sector is clearly doing something right.

Nevertheless, Boston’s Freedom Trail, New York’s Heritage Trails, and Connecticut’s own Wine Trail provide readily available examples of collaborative artistic, commercial, cultural, and historical associations. With these entities so close by, couldn’t Connecticut’s Dino Trail review their successes and learn to cross-promote its own sites a bit more effectively?