Opening on Friday in Lourinhã, an hour’s drive from Lisbon, is Dino Park, “one of Europe’s largest dinosaur theme parks”, expected to attract at least 200,000 people in its first year.
Says director general Luís Rocha, the park is certain to put Lourinhã on the touristic map.
It already has over 12,000 followers on Facebook and “around 15,000 reservations” from schools, he added.
Projections for the year ahead put 80% of visitors as nationals, with around 3000-4000 expected every day during the summer, and roughly 2,000 a day in the spring and autumn.
“People have been waiting for this project for 20 years”, he told reporters this week – stressing he is quite sure the attraction will bring new investment to the area and create “even more jobs” than the 30 or so currently in place.
Lourinhã was considered the best spot for this initiative as it is in this area in which paleontologists have discovered the most impressive dinosaur fossils, including the largest dinosaur nest with “the oldest embryos ever found”.
The park includes a garden “considered to be the largest outdoor museum in Portugal” and containing 120 life size models of dinosaurs from various periods.
The largest is a Lourinhasaurus – a 5-ton long-tailed, long-necked dino 23 metres tall – followed by a diplodocus (herbivore), more than 20-metres tall from the Higher Jurassic period, 150 million years ago.
Tickets to the park, opening just in time for Carnival holidays, will cost €12.50 for adults, €9.50 for children.