I Can Dig It: Dinoland, U.S.A.: Disney's Animal Kingdom Park - PassPorter.com
PassPorter.com
Award-winning travel guidebooks

   guidebooks   |   news   |   podcasts   |   boards   |   blog   |   worksheets   |   photos   |   articles   |   updates   |   register   |  


I Can Dig It: Dinoland, U.S.A.: Disney's Animal Kingdom Park

by Melissa Sue Sorrells Galley, PassPorter Guest Contributor
Last modified 11-03-2011
  



PassPorter.com > Articles > Walt Disney World > Touring  

When you think of quintessential Walt Disney World experiences, DinoLand U.S.A. is probably not the first thing that comes to mind.

But, for my money, DinoLand is a shining example of the complexity and depth of story you can find in the details at Disney Parks. Here in DinoLand, the storyline is embedded in every inch, so get your pick, chisel, and brush, and let’s uncover some magic!

It looks like all dino bones and midway games on the surface, but the underlying story here is wrought with tension. It’s about small-town economics and big-thinking academics. You can see the tensions bubbling to the surface all over, from the way Chester and Hester do business to the subtle academic battles being waged in The Boneyard.

I’ll be the first to admit that the story is complex and takes a bit of unpacking, so here’re the basics: DinoLand was a sleepy little town along Route 498 until, in 1947, fossils were discovered. Over time, the town's fossil exhibition grew, attracting increasing attention from the outside world. What started as a man with a chisel evolved into the Dino Institute, an academic institution and tourist attraction for the dinosaur-hungry public.

Seeing an opportunity to make a quick buck, Chester and Hester, who owned the gas station in town, set up Chester and Hester’s Dinosaur Treasures. The garish, attention-getting lights, colors, and signage are designed to distract travelers and lure them away from the Institute.

Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama photo
Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama

Welcome to Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama! - photo by MelissaSue

And then, a breakthrough: scientists at the Dino Institute developed ground-breaking time travel technology, allowing them to offer tours of the early Cretaceous Period. Suddenly, business was booming, as guests lined up to take a journey in a Time Rover.

Seeing more and more holidaymakers roll through town, Chester and Hester fought back, introducing Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama. The centerpiece of their carnival is Primeval Whirl, a ‘time-travel’ ride designed to siphon even more tourism dollars their way.

The dichotomy here is striking. At the Institute, you have museum-quality offerings, including lab notes, multimedia displays, and fossils. There’s also the museum-style Dino Institute Gift Shop, offering educational toys and tee-shirts. On Chester and Hester’s end, you’ve got some hastily thrown together carnival games and rickety-looking rides sitting next to a tchotchke shop.

As you walk through Restaurantosaurus, the land’s quick service restaurant (and really an attraction in its own right), you can trace this history, and some of these tensions come into sharp relief. Formerly a sleepy fishing lodge, the unique eatery has expanded along with the settlement. Look around and you can see remnants of the original lodge, remnants of a dino-centric museum, and remnants of the days of preserving dinosaur fossils in plaster.

In the current timeline, the building serves as a dormitory, mess hall, and recreation center for the grad students and interns working at the Dino Institute. You can see their influence is the irreverent sense of humor found throughout (and on top of) the building. Next time you’re in town, take a closer look at the ‘hand’-drawn murals and drawings in the Quonset Room (off the original Lodge Hall) and the relaxed, collegiate vibe of The Hip Joint, their rec room.

When they’re not scrawling jokes on the walls or launching plunger-tipped arrows at the town’s decrepit-looking water tower, the graduate students and interns are in The Boneyard. While your children let their inner carnotaurus out to play, take some time to read the bulletin boards posted around the dig site. You’ll get a laugh, and you’ll probably learn something, too!

What’s most fascinating to me is how many layers there are to this story. Above and beyond the great historical and sociological details, the land is also entirely in sync with the overall themes of Animal Kingdom, especially the message of sustainability.

So many of the things you’ll see around the newly bustling town are retrofitted and repurposed. Look at Chester and Hester’s money-making enterprises: huge truck tires, re-purposed from their auto shop, serve as planters in front of Chester and Hester’s Dinosaur Treasures, which itself used to be a gas station. (And scientists have long theorized that gas is made up of recycled dinosaurs.)

In Chester and Hester's DinoRama!, Fossil Fuels, a water squirt game, recycles bits and parts from their old gas station to create a carnival game. Vintage Airstream travel trailers, a staple of the previous business, are reconditioned for use as a snack cart in DinoRama and as a building extension at the local lodge. Take a look inside Restaurantosaurus, and you’ll notice that the condiment rack in the plastering room looks like it’s fresh out of a paleontologist’s lab (because it is).

It’s the million little details like these that win me over: ‘Lullaby for a Brontosaurus’ playing while you wait in line for lunch; the ‘punny’ signs, awards and notes that Dinoland’s interns have left for each other all around; ‘-osaurus’ added to the end of everything, which makes even an “Authorized Personnel Only” sign funny.

So next time you’re in DinoLand, prime your funnybone, take a look around, and appreciate the rich and varied details Walt Disney Imagineering buried for us here.


Animal Kingdom DinoLand Resturant photo
Animal Kingdom DinoLand Resturant

Restaurantosaurus sign close-up in DinoLand, Disney's Animal Kingdom - photo by MelissaSue




About the Author:
Melissa Sue Sorrells Galley works in higher education communications in upstate New York, where she lives with her husband, Robert, and her cavapoo, George. Her favorite Disney characters are Elliott (also known as Pete’s Dragon) and Figment. Follow her @msorrellsgalley or read about her recent adventurous trip to Disney World on PassPorter.com.


Recent Walt Disney World Articles:
Breakfast Choices at Disney Parks - A Disney Dining Review last updated 04-23-2015
Harmony Barber Shop at the Magic Kingdom - A Walt Disney World Park Review last updated 03-19-2015
The 2015 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival - A Walt Disney World Event Review last updated 03-19-2015
Family Fashion - Matching Outfits at Disney - A Walt Disney World Planning Article last updated 03-12-2015
Walt Disney World Theme Park Traditions - A Walt Disney World Planning Article last updated 03-12-2015

More Related Links:
Enjoying the Japan Pavilion at Epcot - A World Showcase Favorite last updated 2/24/2011
The Parades of the Magic Kingdom - A Plethora of Processions last updated 01/22/2009
Epcot's World Showcase - Pavilions vs. The "Real" World last updated 01/29/2009
Recent Changes to Disneyland - Part 1 last updated 02/12/2009
The Seas With Nemo And Friends - In Love With The Living Seas last updated 4/23/2009




Reader Comments:


Thanks so much for a great article! I have always felt that Dinoland was not fully appreciated; now perhaps more people will pay attention to the fantastic work the Imagineers did in this area. smiley for :)

     MaterK on November 4, 2011 @ 11:49 pm
Great article! I really enjoyed it, particularly since I have always loved the theming of Dinoland. I know that many don't appreciate the theming because they don't know/understand the back story. This article does a great job of explaining it.

     HollyH on November 5, 2011 @ 8:56 am
I am one, that never heard this story. Is it presented somewhere IN the park, that I can show the family?

     JCRKTW459 on November 5, 2011 @ 10:52 am

     MelissaSue on November 10, 2011 @ 8:24 pm
View all 4 comments in forum thread

So what do you think? Click here to share your comments, feedback, and experiences on this article and topic!

(Note: You must be a member of our PassPorter Message Board Community to leave comments. Join today for free!)




Updated 11-03-2011 - Article #745 



Read additional articles from PassPorter.com

Subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter, PassPorter News, published for more than 58,000 opt-in subscribers worldwide. As an added bonus for subscribing, you will receive a 20% discount coupon for the PassPorter Store -- no catch!

E-mail Address:

First Name:

E-mail Format:
-Text/Don't Know  

-HTML

 
 

We respect your privacy and never sell or rent our subscriber list. Subscribing will not result in more spam! We guarantee it.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Copyright 1999-2015
by PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.

       SEARCH
       LEARN MORE
Learn More With Our Award-Winning Guidebooks


 


RSS General PassPorter Community - Boards & Forums on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, and General Travel - Touring the 'World': The Parks at Walt Disney World
PassPorter Community - Boards & Forums on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disn...
Swap the latest tips and information on touring the parks at Walt Disney World.


Pirates refurb to start in June instead of in May
by CinderAbby
22 Apr 2015 at 7:15pm
I know this is good news for some of you Pirates of the Caribbean refurbishment to begin later than originally planned...
(click title above to view replies)

Is Talking Mickey in the theater all the time now?
by CinderAbby
19 Apr 2015 at 6:24pm
I know when Talking Mickey started, it seemed like it was hit or miss for people to see him. Is he permanent now in the theater or is it still hit...
(click title above to view replies)

Does anyone have any good Avatar Land information?
by guerns17
17 Apr 2015 at 4:49pm
I have been trying to look online for some information on Avatar Land and everything has been very basic. Im curious will there be any new...
(click title above to view replies)

Soarin and TSMM refurb question
by phoebec
16 Apr 2015 at 2:32pm
Are Soarin and TSMM going to be closed during the refurb or are they expanding and keeping the ride open? When is this supposed to begin? ...
(click title above to view replies)

MGM Studios nostalgia
by Uncleromulus
16 Apr 2015 at 9:43am
Guys--remember when they had the Tram going through the Golden Girls Street? And you could see the houses? Well--one day we were on a WDW behind the...
(click title above to view replies)



Total Visits: 5002


PassPorter ~ 1998-2015 ~ 17 Years of Making Dreams Come True!
Publishers of bestselling travel guidebooks and proud recipients of 13 national book awards
About PassPorter
About Us
Site Map
Press
Privacy Policy
Images & Artwork
Guidebooks
About
Previews
Buy
Reviews
Updates
Features
News & Updates
Articles
Podcasts
Photos
Message Boards
Newsletter
Concierge Desk
Desktop
Trips
Books & E-Books
Tips
Settings
Customs Office
Register Books
Book Updates
Contests
Checklists
Help & Info
Finding Answers to Questions
Help Desk
Using Your PassPorter Forum
Store Customer Service
E-Mail Us
Follow Us
PassPorter.com Front Page (Updated Daily!)
PassPorter Newsletter (weekly and free)
Latest Posts
Facebook
Pinterest
YouTube Channel
Questions? Check our Site Map and visit our Help Desk to learn how to contact us online, by e-mail, and by phone.
Please feel free to link to this page so that other vacationers can find it.