Jurassic Park Hawaii: Let’s See Those Dinos at Kualoa Ranch on Oahu
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Welcome to…Jurassic Park. Duh duh DUH duh duh, duh duh DUH duh duh…you can practically hear the music, right?
If you’ve grown up watching those dino movies or you’ve seen, well…any movie ever set in a tropical jungle, you know Kualoa Ranch.
This jaw dropping piece of property on Oahu’s windward coast is where Hollywood goes when they need a cinematic paradise. Jurassic Park, Kong, Jumanji, George of the Jungle, Godzilla, Pearl Harbor, Fifty First Dates, Lost, Hawaii 5-0…all filmed at Kualoa Ranch.
But it’s not just a place that movie stars and film crews get to see. Kualoa Ranch is one of the most popular tourist attractions on Oahu.
The ranch is a STUNNING piece of property, and the owners work it hard. They offer soooooo many tours and adventures to give visitors the chance to experience the wild beauty of the jungle and mountains.
Movie set tours! Ziplining! ATVs! Horseback riding! A secret beach! And options for people who are interested in learning more about the island’s flora, fauna, and culture.
Jurassic Park Hawaii
But I think the best tour on the ranch is the one that put them on the map…the Jurassic Adventure Tour.
Let’s face it…no matter how many movies and tv shows they film at the ranch, Jurassic Park and the Jurassic World franchise is their crowning showpiece.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DINOS!
Here’s the deal, there are over a dozen different tour options at Kualoa that cater to different ages, budgets, or interests, but overall, the two I would recommend the most are the Jurassic Adventure Tour and the UTV Raptor Tour.
I’ve done both (more about the UTV/ATV tour later), but if you want the best overall experience at Kualoa Ranch (see the most of the property in a fun way), I would probably pick the Jurassic Adventure tour.
Jurassic Adventure Tour
The 2.5 hour mega tour takes you to more places on Kualoa Ranch than any other tour and you’re riding in a custom open air truck which is pretty comfortable, but also still feels exciting.
The Jurassic Adventure Tour is waaaaay more extensive than the 90 minute Hollywood Movie Sites tour and even though it focuses mostly on the Jurassic Park films, they still talk about and show you so many other movie sites as you drive by.
Even if you’re not a major Jurassic Park fan (I’ve only seen one of the old ones and one of the new ones), this is a GREAT tour.
When you stop at certain locations, your tour guide will show you clips on an ipad so you know what scenes they’re talking about and honestly even if you just kind of know the “idea” of Jurassic Park, you’re going to love this tour. It’s just so BEAUTIFUL.
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Keep reading for photos and an idea of what to expect from the tour:
I booked the 8:20AM Jurassic Adventure Tour and was instructed to check in at the ticket office by 7:30AM. Honestly, that’s a little excessive but you CANNOT be late or they will leave without you.
It’s about a 45 minute drive from Waikiki to Kualoa (without traffic or accidents) and once you arrive it’s a pretty big complex so you’ll have to navigate your way to the specific spot where your tour loads. There are restrooms at the ranch where you load up, but not out in the valleys where the tour is so you’ll want to go before you load up into the truck.
Our tour left almost exactly at 8:20. There were about a dozen people on our tour and the truck was rigged with speakers so we could hear our tour guide from the cab of the truck while we were driving.
After about 10 minutes, we came to our first stop. They’ve converted this old WWII bunker (the military moved onto the ranch after Pearl Harbor was attacked and built some bunkers and lookouts) into a mini movie museum with little exhibits about all of the movies and shows they’ve filmed there.
It’s a little cheesy, but it’s a good overview of everything they’ve filmed at the ranch. Plus history buffs will love getting to go inside an actual WWII bunker. We had about 15 minutes at the bunker.
Don’t miss the view from outside! It’s one of the best views of the ocean you’ll get on the whole tour.
From here we drove deeper into the Ka’a’awa Valley (sometimes called Jurassic Valley) and stopped at the spot where they actually filmed the only scene from the original Jurassic Park movie. Paleontologist Alan Grant and the kids hid behind this log in the iconic “Gallimimus flocking scene.”
It’s also the spot where you’ll get your iconic “the dino is attacking” tour photo taken.
We stayed long enough to watch the movie clips and for everyone to take all of the photos then wanted before we loaded back up in the truck and headed deeper into the valley.
It just keeps getting more and more beautiful!
The next stop was the platform where they filmed the Gyrosphere scene. The structure is still there and our tour guide explained where they laid the coaster track and what was actually built and what was CGI.
It was neat to see the clips from the movie (I had actually seen that movie), but honestly the view was just sublime. And I’ll say it again, the movie part is fun, but this tour is worth it just to see the views.
We left the Gyrosphere platform and drove back down into the valley and past another set from one of the movies. We didn’t stop at this one (it’s one of the stops of the UTV tour and I expect they keep some of the stops separate to encourage repeat visits), but slowed down to take a look as we drove past.
We stopped at a set that honestly looked pretty similar not too far away. A lot of them blended together, but I think they said this set ended up not being used in any scenes in any of the movies (and they always scour the deleted scenes too), but I do think some sort of dinos came running down the slope nearby in another scene.
Anyways, this stop has one of the original Pinzgauer trucks that used to run until Chris Pratt convinced them to let him drive it, and…now it’s just a set prop ; )
At this point we were pretty far back in the valley and started to backtrack towards the front to go back through Kualoa Valley into Hakipu’u Valley.
I was excited about this part, because I hadn’t been on a tour to this part of the ranch yet.
On the way, we saw the sites where they have the “bones” from Kong and the “footprints” from Godzilla. Those are stops on the Hollywood Movie Sites Tour and the UTV Raptor Tour.
The drive up into the Hakipu’u Valley had great views of Mokoli’i Island (Chinaman’s Hat), the fishponds, and down the coast. The fishponds are where they filmed the scene where the Mosasaurus jumps out of the water (with a lot of CGI of course ; )
They save the best stop of the tour for last, y’all! Way back in the Hakipu’u Valley is where the Indominus Rex paddock from the first Jurassic World movie was built, claw marks and all.
It’s a hollow set, but you can walk up and look around the viewing area and there are a couple of raptor cages out front. We spent 20 minutes or so here and watched a couple different clips.
And from there we headed back to the front of the ranch to end our tour. We unloaded at about 10:55 which took us just about 2.5 hours.
Honestly, it never felt like a long tour, but it felt like we got to see a LOT. Even not including all of the stops we made where we got out of the truck, we saw so many things while we were driving.
If you’re going to spend the day going all the way out to the ranch, I don’t think I’d be happy with one of the shorter tours, although I’m sure some people make a day of it and combine things like the movie sites tour with ziplining or horseback riding.
Things to Know about the Jurassic Adventure Tour
Use the restroom before you leave the ranch.
You can take bags, water, etc with you in the truck.
You don’t need to wear a special kind of shoes (I wore sandals), but it was pretty hot even early in the morning and you do spend time in the sun so dress accordingly.
The roads get dusty if it hasn’t rained. It wasn’t too bad since we were only in one vehicle (not too many other vehicles kicking up dust) but I probably wouldn’t wear white clothes.
Take cash to tip your tour guide!
Kualoa Ranch UTV Raptor Tour
The UTV Raptor Tour is the most popular tour they offer on the ranch and it books out pretty far in advance.
I haven’t done the current UTV Raptor Tour, but I did a previous version in 2017. There are a couple of big differences: 1) They now use six seater UTVs instead of single rider ATVs which makes it more accessible for kids, but only one person at a time in your group is going to get to drive. 2) They now only offer the tour as a two hour option. I think they got a lot of feedback about the previous one hour option not being enough time.
So even though the current tour is a little different than the one I did last, here’s a travelogue I wrote about it after my trip (I know the current tour includes stops at the Kong site and at least one Jurassic World set):
A few weeks before my trip, I was lucky enough to snag a spot for two on the one-hour ATV tour so I snapped it up! Our tour was scheduled at 1 PM and it rained off and on all morning but by the time our tour rolled around, we had blue skies.
We checked in for our tour about 15 minutes early, watched a safety briefing, and then loaded up onto our bikes. There were probably about 30 people on the one-hour tour with three separate guides. Our group of about 10 or so followed our guide around a small trail loop so they could make sure everyone was comfortable riding the ATV. They took an action photo of everyone as we rode by and then we were off!
We rode down dirt roads past an old WWII bunker, and saw some incredible ocean views before we rode into the first valley. Since we were on the shorter tour (only one hour), this was our only stop. We climbed to the top of a hill and could see several of Godzilla’s “footprints.” We probably spent 10-15 minutes at this spot and it was the only place we were allowed to take pictures (you can’t take pics while you’re driving the ATVs).
After we left there, we continued on past some movie sites (there were signs posted so you knew what was filmed where as you rode by) and saw a giant Kong skull that was left over from filming Skull Island.
At this point, we started retracing our path and riding back towards the ranch. We did do quite a bit of fun little side trails though and since it had been raining, we had quite a bit of mud to slosh around in.
When we got back to the ranch, we parked the ATVs in a line, returned all of our gear, and we were done. Honestly, the one-hour tour was not nearly long enough! I felt like I was just getting settled and then it was over.
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Things to Know about the Raptor UTV Tour
This is the most popular tour at Kualoa Ranch and it sells out fast so make sure you book in advance.
The Tours go rain or shine, but if it’s raining, they have ponchos for you.
Helmets and glasses are required and provided (but you can wear your sunglasses instead). They also provide shower caps that you can wear under your helmet.
You have to wear closed toe shoes but other than that, shorts and tee shirts are fine.
If it’s been raining, it will be muddy. If it hasn’t been raining, it will be dusty. And you’re riding in a line of vehicles kicking up mud/dust so dress to get dirty. If it is dusty, try to get a spot closer to the front of the line.
You can take a backpack.
This tour (while fun!) is for beginners so don’t worry if you’ve never driven UTVs before. It’s a fun adventure, and you’ll see incredible sites, but if you’re an experienced rider, just know that this is highly organized light trail riding, not super extreme.
You have to be 21 years old to drive, and 5 years old to ride. Each UTV seats six and there’s a minimum of two people to book. If you have a party of 3-6, you will all be put in the same UTV and only one of you can drive. If you have a party with several adults who want to drive, you might want to consider booking your tours separately (for the same tour time) if you want to ride in separate UTVs. But you still have to have at least 2 in a vehicle.
There’s an option to book your tour with a guide. They’ll drive you, which may sound like less fun, but you also get a narrated tour.
The tour is 2 hours, but that includes training and safety instruction.
Where to Book Kualoa Ranch Tours
I get asked this question all of the time…there must be a lot of third party vendors out there, but it’s always best to book directly with the ranch. They have the best prices and if you need to cancel or reschedule, or something happens at the ranch, you’re dealing directly with them.
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