Back in 1993, Stephen Speilberg revolutionized cinema when he brought to life the most realistic cinematic dinosaurs ever known.
He brushed away with stop motion dinosaurs and introduced animatronics and CGI technology. Even today, the Jurassic Park series has barely aged thanks to this incredible revelation in cinematography, and around the world, the films are still revered and loved.
Many people know about the fantastic development of the cinema industry thanks to Speilberg’s efforts in Jurassic Park, but do we even really know where the beloved dinosaur franchise was filmed?
Where each scene was shot and what corners of the world were used to make the animatronic dino’s feel more at home?
We will give you a sneak peek into the way our real-world was captured to make this fantastical dinosaur world, even more, invigorating on the big screen.
We will also tell you about how you can even visit some of these places and make a child-like moment of imagination to pretend you’re a character from the beloved film franchise.
Run with us as we take you into a world made for dinosaurs.
The most obvious of the filming locations is Hollywood’s renowned Universal Studios. With 30 soundstages ranging in size from 6,800 to 36,000 square feet, this studio was made to house dinosaurs.
The movie used up a total of 6 of these 30 soundstages; Stage 12 played the visitor center interior, Stage 16, Stage 23 which played the park maintenance shed which you’ll remember from the ending of the film where the power goes out, Stage 24 which plays the part of the visitor center kitchen, the scene in which the raptors attack with the memorable shot of Lex’s reflection causing a raptor to headbutt a metal door.
Stage 27 played the scene in the dinosaur enclosure during the shots in which the Ford Explorer falls from the trees when the cast wake up to find a Brachiosaurus feeding beside them in the morning and also the infamous death scene of our villain Nedry, who faces off with a vicious and venomous Dilophosaurus.
And, finally, stage 28 which took its role as the control room where all the dramatic decisions happened as the park when into a lockdown and the power was lost.
Many of these sound stages returned to similar roles in the sequel Jurassic Park films after the original movie. If you take a trip down to Universal Studios today, you can even pass some of these infamous soundstages on the tour and get to see many of the props, including the T-rex cage from the second film and the beat-up Ford Explorer from the first.
If you’re lucky you might even get a glance at one of the animatronic raptors that have been used in the sequel series of Jurassic World.
The only other mainland US site used for filming is the Mojave Desert. A section of Red Rock Canyon State Park near Ridgecrest in California was used at the beginning of the film.
Though not for a scene as exciting as some of the soundstages in Universal Studio, this park of the Mojave Desert was used as the Palaeontogological dig site at the beginning of the movie, when they discover the raptor fossils and are approached by John Hammond, as he requests they join him to Isla Nublar to see his work.
This landscape is only accessible via four-wheel-drive vehicles due to its rough terrain, though you may find some beautiful sights here, you won’t find any dinosaur fossils, no matter how convincing the movie may be.
If you are a fan of Spielberg’s work, you may know that he is wildly familiar with Kauai and Hawaii in general, having previously filmed ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ there he has an eye for Hawaii’s landscapes.
And so, when they needed realistic dinosaur territory and an Island that would act well as the fictional Isla Nublar, he turned his eye to Kauai.
You will know this location from the very start of the film during which a member of the Jurassic Parks staff is attacked and falls prey to a mysterious and dangerous creature in one of the containers. The opening scene that gripped everyone immediately.
This site was filmed in Hanalei, at Limahuli Garden, which has since 1976 been a property that compromises part of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. Should you make a trip to Kauai, you can visit here and see the area in which this enticing opening scene was shot.
This beautiful location is the home of one of the other beginning scenes that starts to draw us into this outstanding piece of cinema.
It represents the supposed Dominican Republic, in which the lawyer Gennaro decides that approval is needed from a paleontologist for the park to be successful and legally able to open.
This scene was filmed in Hoopii falls at the Kapaa stream in Kapaa in Kauai. A beautiful location that takes on an important scene in this cinematic masterpiece. And also shows us just how clever filmmakers can be when choosing a location.
Na Pali Coast
The Na Pali Coast gives us our very first view of the fictional Isla Nublar when we are introduced to the dinosaur housing island, as the characters fly over the seas and land by helicopter.
This location, should you want to go there is inaccessible via transport but can make for an interesting hike if you enjoy hiking, making for an 11-mile trek. It is also notable that these very same cliffs were used in 1976’s ‘King Kong’, a great trip for the adventurous film buff.
The helicopter’s continued flight takes us through a valley and lands on its helipad.
This shot is filmed over the Hanapepe Valley, just east of the Hanapepe town and if you were to take a helicopter tour of this location it would take you over the Manawaipuna Falls where the helicopter lands in the movie, making for that extra Jurassic Park feel.
Jurassic Kahili Ranch
In the Jurassic Kahili Ranch by Puu Ka Ele Reservoir, we first meet a dinosaur, this is the scene that had every first-time watcher either crying and screaming with excitement. The first sight of the brachiosaurus by the lagoon.
This ranch is a working cattle ranch that taking up 2,500 acres.
Though the visitor center interior is filmed in Universal Studios, the exterior was filmed here, at Valley House Plantation Estate in Kealia in North Kapaa, this is also the area in which the scenes with the no-show Dilophosaur and the sick Triceratops were filmed.
Notably, should you visit scenes from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ and ‘Tropic Thunder’ were filmed here too.
Near Impossible to visit is the gates of Jurassic Park, at the center of Kauai at the very mase of the mountain Wai’ale’ale.
Though the gates were removed after filming, two poles still stand there. Should you attempt to travel there be prepared for an 8-mile hike or some vigorous off-roading.
Next, we have Blue Hole, a water-filled canyon next to where the T-rex paddock was built, this is a very hard location to get to, so we would recommend getting a tour guide.
Though this location is a fantastic opportunity filled with the nostalgia of the incredible scenes that filled us all with excitement and anticipation.
In Koloa, Dr.Grant stumbles across a raptor nest and realizes that the dinosaurs can reproduce.
This area is also a part of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens and is also the location for the exterior scenes with the maintenance shed. A great and beautiful location to visit.
Our final stop in Kauai is at the electric fence. When Dr.Grant and the kids have to climb over before Elle restores the 10,000Volt fence and nearly kills poor Timmy.
This location is a few miles away from Waimea, and the fence was built here for the shots.
On another Hawaiian Island, we see one more amazing location, filled with the best photo opportunities.
Oahu is the most populated and developed of the islands and also played part in Jurassic Park, for the scene in which Dr.Grant and the kids hide behind a fallen tree to escape the herd of Gallamimus fleeing from the rogue and hungry T-rex.
This is a great place to visit as a location for Jurassic Park nostalgia but also for ‘Godzilla’ (1998) and the TV series ‘Lost’ which was also filmed here.
We all love Jurassic Park and with these locations, it’s no wonder it stole our hearts.