Kualoa Ranch in Oahu is one of the most beautiful spots in Hawaii and it’s been home to blockbuster movie after blockbuster movie. They offer several different tours for enjoying the ranch but there is one specific tour that is designed specifically for Jurassic Park fans: the Jurassic Adventure Tour.
In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Jurassic Adventure Tour.
I’ll show you what to expect and give you some pointers on how to get some photographs that line up with scenes from different Jurassic Park movies.
Table of Contents
What is the Jurassic Adventure Tour?
The Jurassic Adventure Tour is a special tour of Kualoa Ranch that takes you to several filming sites for Jurassic World, Jurassic Park, and a host of other blockbuster movies and hit TV shows like Kong and Lost.
The tour is approximately 2.5 hours long and admission for each adult is $139.95 and $69.95 for children (ages 3 to 12). These tours run pretty small so my advice would be to book these as soon as possible to ensure that you get a spot.
This is a must-do attraction for Jurassic Park fans when in Oahu, especially if you are a big fan of Jurassic World and some of the other movies filmed here.
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When you first arrive at Kualoa Ranch, you’ll be in awe of the surrounding backdrop.
Located on the east side of the island about 40 minutes from Waikiki, Honolulu, it’s just a visually stunning place all around and it becomes immediately apparent why so many movies have chosen to film here.
If you are driving in, they have ample parking so finding a parking spot should not be an issue.
For those without a vehicle, you can arrange transportation from Waikiki for about $30 depending on the type of tour you have booked.
Once you’re ready, you head up some stairs and venture through the gift shop/cafe on your way to the ticket center which is just outside the gift shop.
It’s there where you can verify your booking and receive your tickets (although I don’t believe we actually had to show them to board).
The staff was very friendly and helpful and actually helped us consolidate our tours for the day a little bit more efficiently which was greatly appreciated.
From there, you’ll enter the Kualoa Ranch courtyard.
Each tour will have its own little waiting area. In this case you will head towards the Jurassic Adventure Tour waiting area which is a cool little building with benches and a TV.
You can go for a photo op with the dinosaur head on the wall and hopefully your tour vehicle will be arriving soon.
The Jurassic Adventure Tour experience
Kualoa Ranch asks you to arrive 45 minutes prior to your tour which in my opinion is too big of an ask.
Time is precious in Hawaii and while I understand they want people to arrive on time, there’s nothing unique about the tour that requires you to arrive more than 15 minutes early.
I love Kualoa Ranch but the 45 minute requirement feels like more of an excuse to get you to buy food in their restaurant than a way of ensuring everyone gets there on time.
To make matters worse, on our tour they had a mechanical issue (rock in the tire) that they did not decide needed to be fixed until minutes before our tour which meant that we would be starting ~25 minutes late.
I would not have cared that much about waiting but we were doing back to back tours so that put us in a time crunch with lunch.
My issue was: how can you ask customers to arrive so early and eat up precious vacation time when you’re not ensuring your vehicles are ready to go on time?
Again, I absolutely love this place but that’s something that needs to be addressed.
On the bright side, at least they don’t sacrifice customer safety for efficiency?
Anyway, the delay did give me a little bit of time to practice with Google’s augmented reality.
If you want some cool pictures and video, try out the dino augmented reality on Google.
Use the Google Chrome app to search for something like “Tyrannosaurus,” tap “View in 3D,” and then “View in your space.”
You can then portray a dinosaur in a real life setting which is perfect for a tour like this.
Tip: Be sure to check out my augmented reality video at the bottom of the article to see how you can really bring this experience to life.
For the delay, they did give us complimentary chocolates which was a very nice gesture but you can imagine how carrying around chocolates for hours on a sunny day turned out….
Eventually we boarded and we chose to sit in the very back because it would allow us to be the first to explore some of the sites and get photos without people in them which just worked out better for the blog.
Most of the vehicles seat 16 but ours was the one that seated 20 which is why it was such an issue to fix it (I think they only have one 20 person vehicle).
As far as what side of the vehicle is the best, that’s hard to answer. I think both the left and the right side are good in their own ways.
(All of our photos below were taken from the right side.)
On the tour
Although the tour started off a little rocky, we quickly got rolling once the vehicle was ready.
We started off by climbing up the hill and checking out some interesting World War II bunkers that still exist today.
Then we made our way inside one of the bunkers that in addition to some war memorabilia, houses a bunch of memorabilia from different movies and shows that were filmed on Kualoa Ranch.
It’s a really cool experience to see some of the props and promotion materials used for these movies. It’s also insane at how many big-budget movies have been filmed in this location.
To enhance your experience, I would recommend you checking out some of the films before you visit which include:
- 50 First Dates
- Mighty Joe Young
- Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
- Kong: Skull Island
And of course there are shows you need to watch like:
- Hawaii 5-0
It’s also really cool because whenever you get back home you can re-watch these and it’s super easy to recognize a lot of the Kualoa Ranch scenery from your tour.
Jurassic World tour vehicle
When you come out of the bunker, you can get a close look at one of the tour vehicles used in Jurassic World.
This was the vehicle that was heading through the field when the herd of Gallimimus was running through – an homage to the original Jurassic Park.
At this spot, there’s also some really nice views of the ocean and if you’re lucky you might be able to spot whales off in the distance.
Jurassic Park Gallimimus stampede
From there we stopped at one of the first major sites which is the location from Jurassic Park where the Gallimimus stampede took place and Dr. Grant and the two kids hid behind a piece of driftwood.
This is actually the only shot filmed on this island from Jurassic Park as the vast majority of them were done on the island of Kauai.
It’s a great photo opportunity and it’s really cool to stand in that same location.
The buzz kill is that this piece of wood is not the original since dead wood simply can’t last that long outdoors in a climate like this.
Still, the log gives you an opportunity to line up a photograph with a real scene from Jurassic Park.
It’s kind of difficult to do because if you take a photo straight on with the log the background is not the same.
Instead, you need to focus on the background towards the right. If you stand far enough to the left of the log you might be able to incorporate some of those jagged mountain ridges seen in the background of the movie.
You can see those in the wide angle shot I took below. (Unfortunately, I did not notice this until after.)
Whether or not you choose to line up that shot, it’s still a lot of fun to mess around and your tour guide will help you out with getting some spectacularly cheesy photos of a dinosaur wreaking havoc.
Jurassic World entrance gates
Towards the end of Jurassic World, the two boys are driving back to the park in one of the jeeps and a flock of Dimorphodons is flying towards visitor center.
The guides did not point this out, but I believe they used the back of the valley for this scene and then simply modified the landscape to look a little bit more interesting.
You can see the “scrapes” in the hilly ground which further make me think it was shot from around the Lost golf course area which is by the Jurassic Park log.
Other movie sites
On the way to your next Jurassic Park location, you’ll swing by some pretty iconic spots like the golf course from Lost, foot prints from Kong?, the hill used in the four wheeler jump from Mike and Dave, and one of my favorites, the road from 50 First Dates where Adam Sandler resorts to all sorts of roadside shenanigans.
Other scenes include those from Jumanji, Mighty Joe Young, and plenty others.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom bunker
Eventually, you get to view a bunker used in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
This was the bunker at the beginning of Fallen Kingdom that they entered into to track down Blue. Eventually, a dinosaur makes its way inside and lava starts to pour from the roof as the two have to escape via a ladder.
There are actually two separate bunker sets that were used to film these scenes (one is just the roof and the tower while the other one is the entire structure).
Jurassic World Gyrosphere
Next you’ll take a short walk over to where the Jurassic World Gyrosphere scene was filmed.
This is where the kids boarded one of those gnarly looking clear spheres that took them all around the park to admire dinosaurs from close up.
They still have the platform set up which I believe is still used for events these days such as small weddings, parties, etc.
You’ll notice in the still from the movie below that you can’t see the ocean and that’s because they extended the length of the mountains for dramatic effect.
If you want to get a shot that lines up with the movie just head up the hill and you’ll be able to get roughly where the camera was.
The scene where the Indominus Rex attacks the kids in the Gyrosphere is also another site you can see but on our tour we did not go through that.
After that, we turned through the valley and passed through a few more movie scenes including one with skeletons from Kong: Skull Island.
Unlike some other tours we were not able to get out and play with the bones because I think they were getting some touchup work done.
At that point, we ventured out of the valley and started to head to the other section of Kualoa Ranch which is known to be the bumpy side.
While things did get a bit bumpy, I honestly thought it was going to be a lot worse, especially sitting in the back but it wasn’t bad.
(I don’t think they recommend this tour if you have a back issues or are pregnant though).
Jurassic World Helipad
We then made our way to the Jurassic World helipad. The helipad pops up several times throughout the Jurassic World movie. Unfortunately, they have dismantled the helipad structure so there’s nothing really there except for a cleared dirt area.
We did not stop at this location unlike some previous tours but it didn’t really matter because there was so much CGI used on the scene that it would have been basically impossible to match up a scene looking out over the ocean.
Although you don’t get an exact look based on what was in the movie, it’s a really nice view of the Fish Pond from up in this area.
After the helipad, you’re on your way to the signature attraction which is the I-Rex paddock. Before you get there, you’ll pass over a creek which is where one of the most interesting scenes from Jurassic World was filmed.
After the I-Rex got on the loose and crew from the park was after it, they located its tracking device in a wooded creek area.
Then, to their surprise the perfectly camouflaged I-Rex appears and ends up feasting on someone. It’s easily one of the coolest scenes in the movie in my opinion.
The thing is our guide did not point out the scene and I only knew about it from watching prior tours so you may have to be on the lookout for yourself. When you’re going to the I-Rex Paddock, it’s going to be on the right.
The crown jewel of this experience is getting to visit the I-Rex Paddock.
This is where they kept the in Indominus Rex in Jurassic World and where it escaped from before it unleashed fury on a lot of other dinos and humans in the park.
Your first get to go upstairs in the control room which is honestly one of the coolest things I think I’ve ever done related to movie sets.
You’ll have the chance to grab several shots from the movie at this site.
The claw marks on the walls are deeper than in the movie but it’s still pretty cool to stand in the same spot.
It’s interesting to see some of the deterioration of the styrofoam. I’m wondering how long they plan on keeping that and what the expected lifespan of this set is.
If you’ve been putting off seeing this you may not wanna put it off that long….
You can also check out and even walk in some of the dinosaur crates.
This one right here was from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, when Owen tries to get the blood transfusion from the T-Rex.
And remember that augmented reality I was talking about at the beginning of the article?
This paddock is the perfect place to bust it out.
After you’ve spent some time in the paddock, it’s time to head out and you’ll get one last look of the paddock through some overgrown grass which just adds to the appeal of this place.
Aunty Pat’s Cafe
After our tour, we had a little bit of time to get something to eat before our next tour so we tried out the café. This is probably the only real problem I had with the tour.
We paid $14 for two small slices of pizza that looked like this.
This is such a cool tour and experience that I didn’t like to see it watered down with tourist trap food.
If you’re gonna charge seven dollars a slice, at least give us something remotely fresh and maybe not use such an oversized pizza slice box?
Perhaps if I had been able to try the main menu the quality would have been better but we did not have time because our tour had been running so late.
Overall, I really enjoyed this experience and would have to recommend it to Jurassic Park fans, especially those who really like the newer Jurassic World. It’s just such a fun experience to see where so many big movies were filmed and the scenery is simply stunning.
The only things I didn’t care for were that 45 minute time requirement and the low quality food, which both give off tourist trap vibes.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.