Dinosaur Train: What's at the Center of the Earth?

Movie review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Dinosaur Train: What's at the Center of the Earth? Movie Poster Image
Dino family's fun journey emphasizes curiosity, courage.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 120 minutes

Parents say

age 4+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

The dinosaurs' adventures introduce viewers to the concept of subterranean Earth. As the characters travel deeper and deeper into the planet's crust, they note how creatures in different places adapt to their habitats, discover fossils from different historical eras, and learn about minerals that make up rock layers. Segments featuring a real-life paleontologist let kids see how fossils are found, removed, and cleaned for study and museum displays. Vocabulary terms such as "mantle," "core," "law of superposition," "speleologist," and "troglobite" are included and defined in dialogue.

Positive Messages

Kids see the characters' curiosity come to fruition in their many discoveries inside the earth's crust. Asking questions yields learning opportunities, and teachers share their knowledge and personal experience to increase the dinosaurs' awareness of how things work. Differences are celebrated among the characters, and everyone enjoys meeting new friends.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters are eager to learn and never shy away from asking the questions that pop into their minds. They're fascinated by their discoveries and always respectful to the creatures they meet. Adults gently guide them in the right directions while validating their feelings at the same time.

Violence & Scariness

At separate times, both Shiny and her dad express their fears about traveling deep into the earth's crust, but friends and family help them overcome their jitters.

Sexy Stuff

This special is part of the Dinosaur Train franchise, which counts merchandise and a popular TV show among its brand items.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dinosaur Train: What's at the Center of the Earth? is a TV movie associated with the Dinosaur Train preschool series in which the characters ride a special train that tunnels into the ground to explore some of the layers of the earth's crust. Educational content is central to the story with concepts such as fossils, mantle, hypothesis, and minerals identified and defined in ways young viewers can easily understand. Specific topics aside, the characters embody the excitement and joy of adventure and discovery at every turn of their journey, and respect for diversity is evident throughout. The story also emphasizes the validity of experiencing fear about an unknown situation and shows how two of the characters work to overcome their worries with others' help.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 2 and 3-year-old Written byNomad123 August 3, 2018

Too fast!

While the content was fine, the story, movements, and speech was so fast. At times, it was difficult for me to understand. The kids had a very hard time followi... Continue reading
Parent of a 3-year-old Written by[email protected] September 23, 2018

Gentle intro to fossils and more

Nice mix of singing, science and trains. Toddler heaven!

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What's the story?

In DINOSAUR TRAIN: WHAT'S AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH?, Buddy (voiced by Dayton Wall) and the Pteranodon family take a memorable trip deep into the earth's crust on the Drill Train to learn about what lies between the surface and the inner part of the planet. With the Conductor (Ian James Corlett) at the helm, the Drill Train makes several stops in a quest to find the perfect place for the Cretaceous Cavern Station that's in the works. In each place, Buddy and his siblings -- Shiny (Erika Shaye-Gair), Tiny (Claire Corlett), and Don (Laura Marr) -- explore and discover fascinating qualities about layers, fossils, and minerals, as well as the new friends they encounter along the way. Segments featuring a paleontologist help kids match up what the movie's characters learn about fossils with how they're discovered and preserved in real life.

Is it any good?

These characters' adventures never disappoint viewers with their zest for learning and passion for adventure, and this subterranean excursion is no exception. The title's query is the question on everyone's mind as Buddy and his family set off on a trip like no other, burrowing into the ground to discover what lives deep underground and where and how to find evidence of what existed in the past. As they make one amazing discovery after another, viewers learn about the mysterious world miles beneath their feet and the curious creatures perfectly adapted for life there.

Other less-bookish educational qualities also impress in Dinosaur Train: What's at the Center of the Earth?, especially those related to how the characters treat each other. There's sibling affection and kindness to spare, but the standout issue of this story relates to coping with fear, which Shiny and her father experience at alternating moments during their ever-descending journey deep into the earth. It's a natural fit to address this concern in a story like this one, and kids will benefit from watching both a child and a grown-up work through their anxiety with help from friends and family.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how diversity is celebrated in Dinosaur Train: What's at the Center of the Earth?. How are the creatures Buddy and his family meet different from them? Do those differences make them inherently better or worse than the dinosaurs? Is it always easy to be different from our friends and peers? Why, or why not?

  • Kids: Did you learn something new about the earth and its inhabitants in this movie? How do scientists study the creatures and people who lived long ago? Do you think it's important to know how they lived? Which other subjects spark your curiosity? Why do you think curiosity is an important character strength

  • Are you generally excited about trying new things, or is there a component of worry to it? How does having family and friends around help encourage you to try? What are the potential rewards of doing so?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dinos

Character Strengths

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