In my three plus decades on this earth, my 15 years as a mom and my 10 plus years working in education, I’ve yet to meet a child who wasn’t fascinated by dinosaurs. There is just something about them that appeals to kids – and many adults too!
Maybe it’s because of their seemingly impossible size, or maybe we’re all just mystified by the idea of something that walked the Earth millions of years ago. Whatever the reason, we love dinosaurs.
There are generally three types of children when it comes to watching dinosaur movies.
- The first group of kids loves dinosaurs because they’re big, giant monsters. (Seriously, though, who doesn’t love that?!)
- The second group of kids is actually a little afraid of dinosaurs but wants to watch them anyway because fear, in small doses, can be pretty fun in settings where nobody can actually get hurt.
- The third group of kids is endlessly fascinated by dinosaurs and wants to know everything about them. This last group doesn’t just watch dinosaur movies for entertainment. They watch dinosaur movies because they want to learn all the coolest facts about the giant reptiles they love. These types of kids are just as happy watching a documentary about dinosaurs as they are watching something “fun.”
Here, we’ve compiled a list of the best dinosaur movies for kids of all ages, so no matter which type of kid you have at home, you should find something on this list to please him or her.
Best Dinosaur Movies for Preschoolers (Ages 2-4)
Dinosaur Train: Dinosaur Big City (2011)
Dinosaur Train is sheer genius, it takes of the things that preschoolers love most, Trains and Dinosaurs and combines them in a fun animated series from the world-renowned Jim Henson Company.
If you have a little guy or gal who just loves brightly colored dinosaurs and a lot of surprisingly catchy singing, the Dinosaur Train mini series will be a huge hit.
Like most show for preschoolers, it’s not likely to entertain you, the parent, so much, but your little ones will love this movie about a group of dinosaur friends taking the train to the big city.
Barney’s Great Adventure: The Movie (1998)
I’ve never been a Barney fan myself, and he always kind of scared my son when he was little, but we seem to be in the minority.
If your kids are some of the million who seem to love this big purple dinosaur, they’ll go crazy for this movie/musical.
In it, Barney, along with three human companions, finds a magical egg known as a “dream maker” and must get it back to safety before it hatches.
There are some amusing moments and some catchy songs, but it’s not really for adults.
Danny and the Dinosaur (2005)
This is actually a collection of five different short films for preschool aged children, two of which feature – you guessed it! – dinosaurs! The cartoons are based off of scholastic books by the same names.
There’s “Danny and the Dinosaur” and “Stanley and the Dinosaurs.” Both of these are simple cartoons with easy-to-follow plots, bright, exciting graphics that almost look like books that have come to life and some cheerful, lighthearted music.
You can also watch Danny and the Dinosaur by itself on Amazon Prime.
Bob The Builder: Big Dino Dig Movie (2011)
Of all the popular preschool cartoons, Bob the Builder is probably my favorite. I love his sweet, high-pitched voice, and overall, I feel like he sends strong, positive messages to young children.
In this spin-off movie, Bob and his pals are trying to build a new amusement park, but they uncover a huge cache of dinosaur bones in the process.
It’s a sweet movie about doing the right thing. Plus, it has dinosaur bones! What’s not to love?
Wonder Pets: Save the Dinosaur! (2008)
This is more of a television episode than a movie, clocking in at only about 23 minutes long.
Considering the attention spans of most toddlers, though, it might as well be a movie, and it’s cute enough that it deserves a spot on our list. If you’ve never seen the Wonder Pets on Nickelodeon, go check them out.
They’re super lovable, and if you have little children, they’ll go nuts for them. In this episode, the Wonder Pets travel to the Mesozoic Era to save a baby triceratops.
Go, Diego! Go! The Great Dinosaur Rescue (2008)
Again, this isn’t a true movie. Instead, it’s a two-part episode of the Go, Diego! Go! show on Nickelodeon. Because it’s two episodes, though, it’s about as long as most children’s movies.
It starts with Diego and the gang visiting a dinosaur museum, but it turns into an elaborate storytelling episode that finds Dora, Diego and Alicia riding on the back of an endearing baby dinosaur.
It’s a really sweet story, and the dinosaurs are almost as lovable as the ones from The Land Before Time. You can find it in season 5 of Go, Diego, Go!
You can also get this as a video game on several different platforms including Nintendo Wii, DS and Playstation2.
Best Dinosaur Movies for Little Kids (Ages 5-7)
The Land Before Time (1988)
I can’t really have a list about dinosaur movies for kids without including this one. If you were a child of the late-80’s/early-90’s, you probably already know how amazing this animated feature about dinosaurs is.
If your child hasn’t been introduced to it yet, what are you waiting for?! If I live to be 100 years old, I will still sob like a baby at the scene with Littlefoot and his mother. (You know the one.)
This movie has everything a person could want in a dinosaur cartoon, and it was way ahead of its time, so much so that I still love it 30 years later.
If you’re looking for a dinosaur movie you can watch with your children and be just as entertained as them, this is the one. It’s also a timeless classic that never gets old, and your kids will still be showing it to their kids in another few decades.
We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story (1992)
As a child of the 90’s, I’m not sure how I missed this movie in my own childhood, but I was happy to discover it when my son went through his dinosaur phase a few decades later.
It’s a very strange but likable animated movie about a mad scientist – oddly named Captain Neweyes – who brings a group of dinosaurs into the 20th century via time travel.
The premise behind it is entirely wacky, but somehow, it works. Listen closely, and you’ll hear a lot of voices you know, including John Goodman, Martin Short, Jay Leno and even Julia Child.
Disney’s Dinosaur (2000)
This is actually Disney’s 39th full-length, animated feature film, but somehow, most people – myself included – seem to have missed it when it first premiered.
It tells the story of an absolutely lovable Iguanodon named Aladar who loses his family and is adopted by a family of lemurs – yes, lemurs.
When the “bad dinosaurs” continue to attack, Aladar must lead his new family and the other peaceful dinosaurs on a long migration to somewhere safe.
I love this movie because it features a lot of different dinosaurs that aren’t commonly known, like the Iguanodon and the Carnotaurus.
If your child is one of those kids who wants to learn every possible fact about dinosaurs but isn’t quite ready for a documentary, this is a great fictional movie for him/her to watch.
The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (2007)
Technically this movie is about the mysterious animal that later becomes known as the Loch Ness Monster, but the Loch Ness Monster has always been more dinosaur than dragon to me, so I had to add this in as one of my favorite dinosaur movies.
A lonely boy finds a strange egg and takes it home to hatch it, only to find that a “water horse” – dinosaur/dragon – is inside.
It’s a great movie that’ll bring you and your kids a lot of joy and a few tears, but you’ll definitely enjoy it. Also, the baby water horse is absolutely the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, and my son and I are still on the lookout for an egg every time we’re near a body of water.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009)
The Ice Age movies are just so much fun! My whole family, including my 57-year-old mother, loves these movies because of how hilariously fun and ridiculous they are.
This one is no exception. In it, Sid steals “adopts” three dinosaur eggs, only to find out they have a mom after all, and Mom isn’t very happy when she finds out her eggs have been taken.
In typical Ice Age fashion, this movie has a lot of lightly crass humor and groan-worthy jokes, but neither you nor your children will be disappointed in it.
Scooby-Doo! Legend of the Phantosaur (2011)
This movie is representative of all the Scooby Doo cartoons. It has the same slightly cheesy humor and the same goofy cast of characters.
If your kid likes Scooby Doo, s/he’ll love this movie about Scoob and the gang investigating the true source of the haunting of the ancient (and fictional) Phantosaur.
Walking with Dinosaurs: The Movie (2013)
Computer animated dinosaurs put in a live action setting and voiced by the likes of John Leguizamo and Justin Long? Where do I sign up?
This movie is the fictional counterpart to the documentary of the same name, and while it features the same great, realistic visuals, it has a lot more humor in it.
Some of the jokes and humor are a little childish and on the nose, so parents may roll their eyes more than anything else, but kids will love the amazing visual effects and the cheesy humor.
The Good Dinosaur (2015)
I debated over where exactly to put this movie on the list. It has a few scary parts, so I went with kids aged five to seven, but when my niece was about three years old, this was her all-time favorite movie.
If you have younger children who don’t scare easily, this one is probably suitable for them as well.
A baby dinosaur gets washed down the river away from his family and is befriended by a young Neanderthal boy who tries to help him get back to his home and his parents.
It’s a sweet story of friendship and love that crosses all divides, and it sends a lot of great messages to young children.
Dinotopia: Quest for the Ruby Sunstone (2005)
I think I was predisposed to loving this movie so much because 26, the young dinosaur voiced by Alyssa Milano, looks so much like Cera from my favorite dinosaur movie The Land Before Time.
Having a dinosaur voiced by the smooth, deep voice of Michael Clarke Duncan was another point in this movie’s favor.
The movie, which is based off the series and series of books by the same name, features a young orphan who escapes from an orphanage and ends up in Dinotopia. There he teams up with the dinosaurs to stop an evil man from destroying their home.
For some reason this is really hard to find. The only way I found to watch it is to buy the DVD at Amazon.
Adventures in Dinosaur City (1991)
This is not one of my favorite dinosaur movies, but kids seem to love it. It’s about three kids who get magically transported inside their favorite television show about dinosaurs.
The plot’s a little thin and the early-90’s visual effects aren’t winning any awards. Still, kids, especially little kids, find something to love about this movie.
Best Dinosaur Movies for Big Kids (Ages 8-9)
Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008)
Starring late-90’s and early-00’s superstar Brendan Fraser, filmed in 3D and based off the novel by Jules Verne, this movie was expected to be a huge hit, and in some respects, it was. It earned a ton of revenue, but critical reviews of the film were mixed.
Love it or hate it, though, it’s a great movie for kids in this age range because it’s pretty clean, the plot is pretty easy to follow, and it has a ton of action and great special effects.
A professor and his team get trapped in a cave, where they go deeper and deeper and see more and more cool and crazy stuff – including dinosaurs – until an impending volcanic eruption cuts their time short, and they have to find a way out.
Back to the Jurassic (2015)
Originally released in South Korea under the name Dino Time, this animated comedy is a cute movie about three kids who stumble onto a time machine and travel back in time to when dinosaurs walked the Earth.
There, they’re “adopted” by a dinosaur family, but back in their own time, their real families are desperate to get them back.
It’s cute, clean fun and features the voices of a ton of great people like Jane Lynch, two different Baldwins, Rob Schneider and Melanie Griffith.
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec (2010)
This movie is more about a woman’s great adventures while looking for a cure for death than it is about dinosaurs, but a large part of the plot concerns her quest to tame a Pterodactyl that’s released into the world, so I think it counts.
I love this movie because it features a strong, smart female lead who’s a great role model for young girls. It also showcases a lot of cool historical stuff that gets kids interested in history and learning about the past.
Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend (1985)
This movie was filmed in the 80’s, so the dinosaurs aren’t very realistic.
Even so, the plot of this movie, along with its action scenes, should be enough to get your kids to forget about the sub-par visual effects.
A paleontologist and her husband find a baby Brontosaurus and try to protect and raise it while on the run from the African military.
It’s a very sweet story, and if you can get past the visual effects, it’s really quite good.
There are actually three Prehysteria! movies, but the first one is the only one I can stomach, although my son liked all three when he was younger.
The movies are about an average family of kids who find and hatch five dinosaur eggs. They name the baby dinosaurs after pop stars (Madonna, Elvis, Paula, Jagger and Hammer) and try to raise them while also keeping them a secret.
Honestly, these movies aren’t for me – or most adults – but kids love the cute baby dinosaurs and have a blast watching all the trouble caused when the scientist who accidentally lost the eggs hires two robbers to try to get them back. It’s a little like Home Alone, only with dinosaurs.
Dinosaur Island (2015)
This is another movie about a kid who finds his way to a magical island where somehow, dinosaurs still exist. There’s a little more to it than that, but in a nutshell, that covers the plot.
The cool thing about this movie isn’t the plot, though; it’s the cool way the dinosaurs are depicted. This is actually the first dinosaur movie to feature a T-Rex that has feathers, and honestly, it doesn’t look wrong.
Your kid will enjoy this movie for the amazing visual effects, the interesting way the dinosaurs look and the movie’s numerous action scenes.
The Valley of Gwangi (1969)
It’s Cowboys Vs Dinosaurs in this classic 1969 Ray Harryhausen fantasy film. I absolutely LOVED this movie as a kid and probably watched it 20 times.
The plot revolves around a cowboy named Tuck Kirby who runs a failing Wild West Show. When he hears about an ancient valley where dinosaurs still roam free he sees it as his big break.
He gathers his cowboy friends and heads off to the Forbidden Valley of to seek fame and fortune by capturing an Allosaurus to use in his show. Of course things don’t exactly go as planned.
The plot is alot of fun, but the stop motion animation effects, though ground-breaking in their time, may not go over too well with kids weaned on Transformers movies and their slick digital effects.
Best Dinosaur Movies for Tweens (Ages 10-12)
Godzilla: King of the Monsters! (1956)
A movie that really needs no description, the original Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a classic. In the first couple of minutes, your kids may complain about the old-school special effects and the fact that the film is done in black and white, but they’ll soon forget all about their grievances when the action begins.
Jurassic Park (1993)
Have you ever seen a “Best Dinosaur Movies” list that didn’t have Jurassic Park on it? Of course you haven’t! It’s the best of the best – the dinosaur movie to which all other dinosaur movies are compared, and it really needs no description. It’s only natural that you’ll want to share it with your children, but don’t make the mistake of showing them too soon.
Adults tend to look back on Jurassic Park with a sense of nostalgia and romanticism, but if you take a second to think about the first time you saw it, you’ll probably remember that parts of it are absolutely terrifying.
Around age 12 is a good time to break out this classic, perhaps a little earlier if you have a brave kid who doesn’t scare easily. Just be sure you’re willing to wake up in the middle of the night if your little ones can’t sleep for a few nights afterwards.
The Flintstones (1994)
Although it didn’t do nearly as well as expected and still gets some bad reviews, kids seem to really enjoy the live action version of The Flintstones from the early-90’s.
Whether it’s the hilarious cast of John Goodman, Rick Moranis and Rosie O’Donnell or all the adorable, but unrealistic, dinosaurs in the movie, this seems to be a fan favorite of older children.
It takes all the clean, slightly goofy humor of The Flintstones cartoon and gives it new life.
Theodore Rex (1995)
Most people haven’t heard of this dinosaur movie, and of the few who have, most found it too cheesy to be enjoyable. I happen to believe it’s just cheesy enough.
Tweens will go nuts for this absolutely silly movie starring Whoopi Goldberg alongside a talking dinosaur as two detectives – yes, the dinosaur is a detective too – out to stop a billionaire who hopes to destroy the world by creating a new ice age.
Night at the Museum (2006)
Although the only dinosaur in this movie is the magically awakened skeleton of a T-Rex, the large amount of screen time given to this dinosaur skeleton coupled with how much kids seem to absolutely love him makes it a dinosaur movie in my book.
Ben Stiller does a great job portraying the night watchman at a museum where all the exhibits come alive after the sun goes down.
The movie was a huge hit, especially in the children’s demographic, and it’s a great dinosaur movie for family movie night because it’s one the whole family can enjoy.
Fair warning for those who haven’t seen it: You might go around quoting a giant Easter Island statue’s “Hey Dum Dum, you give me gum gum” line ad nauseam after watching this movie.
Best Dinosaur Movies for Teens (Ages 13+)
Jurassic World (2015)
This continuation of the well-known classic from the 90’s is better suited to teens than tweens. This is largely because it has a little more sexual innuendo and a lot more violence and blood than the original.
It’s still a great flick though. It stars Chris Pratt, who’s always hilarious, as a Velociraptor trainer and Bryce Dallas Howard as an overworked executive of the world’s newest and most popular attraction – Jurassic World.
When her nephews come to visit and the dinosaurs break loose, though, the movie quickly turns much darker.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
This sequel to the 2015 hit again stars both Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard.
This time, the two of them go back to the island where Jurassic World stood to try to rescue the dinosaurs before a volcanic eruption takes them out for good.
It has even more action, more violence and more hardcore dinosaur mayhem than the first.
My son and I both enjoyed this one nearly as much as we did the first one, but not as much as we both loved the original 1993 Jurassic Park.
When it comes to dinosaurs, Dinotopia just pops up everywhere. This is another version of the popular book series, this time for older kids. It’s actually a four-hour long miniseries as opposed to a movie, but it 100% deserves a spot on our list.
Two half-brothers – one played by a super young, super cute Wentworth Miller – survive a plane crash and find out they’ve landed on a lost island full of dinosaurs.
There are a few mild instances of profanity and some drinking, but overall, this is a really clean, interesting movie for teens.
King Kong (2005)
While I happen to love the original King Kong movie from the 30’s, I’ve never been able to get any of the kids in my life (son, students, niece) into it even a little bit. The 2005 remake by Peter Jackson is another story though.
In this remake, a filming crew flies to Skull Island to film a movie, but while there, they run into King Kong himself. Kong, of course, steals away the beautiful actress, and the crew has to get her back.
They soon find out that Kong is the least of their worries, though, when they find out the island is actually home to much more terrifying beasts – dinosaurs.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
If your kids can’t get into the original Godzilla or if they loved it and want more, you might want to let them watch the new 2019 remake as well.
It’s a little darker and a little more violent than the original, so you might want to wait until they hit their teenage years.
It’s got a great cast, including Millie Bobby Brown and Vera Farmiga, and the graphics and special effects are absolutely amazing. Just know it’s a little scary in places.
Okay, I promise, no more Godzilla after this one, but seriously, what movie list about dinosaurs is complete without the Godzilla movies?! This one falls somewhere between the 1956 and 2019 versions in just about every possible way.
Made in 2014, it’s less violent and scary than the 2019 version, but it has much better graphics and special effects than the 1956 version. The story is okay, but kids mostly love this flick for the wide-scale destruction of literally everything in Godzilla’s path.
Land of the Lost (2009)
Any movie that features Will Ferrell and Danny McBride being sucked into a space-time vortex is bound to be absolutely insane, and that about sums up Land of the Lost.
Most parents find this movie either uproariously hilarious or unwatchably stupid. Teenagers, on the other hand, just love it.
Whether it’s the dinosaurs, Danny McBride as a redneck survivalist or Will Ferrell’s comedic timing, I’ve never met a teenager who doesn’t like this movie.
Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)
Before you say I promised no more Godzilla, realize that this is Mechagodzilla – a totally different dinosaur! (This movie does have Godzilla in it too, though.)
This flick from the 70’s is rated G, so there’s nothing in it that’s too violent or objectionable.
This time around, Godzilla is the good guy. He helps save the world when an alien race sends Mechagodzilla – a robot Godzilla – to Earth to destroy it.
Best Documentaries About Dinosaurs
Prehistoric Park (2006)
This one isn’t exactly a documentary. It’s actually termed a “docufiction” instead. It’s a six-part series, and the information about and the depiction of the dinosaurs is actually pretty accurate and factual.
However, the story behind the docufiction is most certainly not real. It follows a zoologist named Nigel Marven as he tries to rescue the dinosaurs and save them from extinction.
Although it isn’t a true documentary, it’s a great show for your kids to watch to get real, accurate information about their favorite giant reptiles.
Bizarre Dinosaurs (2009)
I love the National Geographic channel and most of its original content. This kid-friendly documentary is no exception. This is a dinosaur documentary like no other.
Being giant reptiles, dinosaurs are already pretty strange, but this documentary showcases the strangest of the already strange dinosaurs.
The paleontologists in the documentary also explain why some dinosaurs developed these unusually odd characteristics and how they passed them on to their offspring.
It’s a great documentary for kids of all ages, but you should know there are a few scenes of dinosaurs trying to attract a mate and even actually mating, so that may provoke some uncomfortable questions from some of the smaller viewers.
Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia (2007)
This documentary gets a gold star from me simply because the creators chose Donald Sutherland to narrate it. However, that probably won’t mean much to your children.
What your kids will love about this documentary is how easy it is to follow and understand, that it’s filmed in a way that almost looks 3D and the fact that it showcases some of the very largest dinosaurs to ever walk the Earth.
The film shows computer-generated footage of the huge dinosaur Giganotosaurus, the rarely shown Argentinosaurus and so many more.
Your kids will learn about the evolution, history and even the extinction of the dinosaurs and be able to wow you with all their new knowledge and facts after watching.
Walking with Dinosaurs (1999)
Unlike the movie of the same name, this is actually a six-part documentary series. I, personally, prefer the English version narrated by Kenneth Branagh, but the American version, narrated by Avery Brooks, isn’t bad either.
It uses CGI, live-action and animatronics to create an authentic-looking nature documentary set in the Mesozoic Era and featuring some of kids’ favorite dinosaurs. It’s incredibly informative for kids who prefer fact over fiction.
This Discovery channel special is actually a large collection of short vignettes that show what a normal day in the lives of various dinosaurs might look like.
From the smallest dinosaurs to the biggest, every dinosaur had its own daily routine. This documentary shows what those routines might have been.
This is a great documentary for teens and older children, but it actually gets pretty violent in places and has some graphic scenes of dinosaur limbs being ripped off and dinosaurs mating, so it’s probably not one you want to share with your toddler just yet.