I know that DinoLand USA in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park gets a lot criticism for lacking theming and being somewhat below Disney standards, however; I love the kitschy roadside attraction theme and the details the Imagineers put into it to pull that off. Here are 8 of my favorite things found in DinoLand USA:
8. The Music
The background music in DinoLand USA makes me smile and laugh. Sometimes the ambient noise outside overpowers it, but then you get into a quiet area and the “punny” appropriateness of the musical loop to the area is fully evident. Usually you can hear it best around Restaurantosaurus, The Boneyard, and over by the gift shop. Songs include “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” by REM, “Walk the Dinosaur” by Was (Not Was), “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood & the Destroyers, and “Diggin’ Up Bones” by Randy Travis. When you think about it this eclectic mix of extinction, dinosaur and digging related songs fits perfectly into this eclectic land that features all of these things.
7. Primeval Whirl & Triceratops Spin
Primeval Whirl and Triceratops Spin are not headliner attractions by any stretch of the imagination, but they are fun “Carnival” type rides that fit into the theme of Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama . . . as a roadside attraction to pull in tourists visiting Dinosaur sites. Triceratops Spin is a cute take on a Dumbo-type spinner attraction that is great for younger kids (especially while older siblings may be riding Dinosaur), and it rarely has a long wait. Primeval Whirl is very much a fair or carnival type attraction like a Wild Mouse ride you will find at many local fairs. It is a spinning roller coaster, so it is not for the motion sick sensitive guests (like me), but it is a fun ride and my kids love it.
6. The Boneyard
The Boneyard is a play area for children that parents both love and hate. It is enclosed, but there are so many slides and areas that it can be a little confusing to keep up with very active kids. This is such a great area to let kids run free and use up some energy. One side has slides and climbing structures that go through and around a dinosaur dig. Then you cross over to the other section where you can dig out a huge fossil that is buried in very fine pebbles (be ready to shake these out of shoes, and possibly clothing). If you can hit this area earlier in the day it is less crowded and less hot.
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I love Restaurantosaurus despite the menu being pretty basic Fast Food options on the menu. My favorite part is to explore the restaurant which is set up like the housing area for the interns working at the Dino Institute. And like all graduate students, things get a little crazy. There is one area that is the machine shop, the recreation area, dining hall, and one that is like a museum. Take a few minutes to walk around and look at all of the props, signs and other memorabilia all around . . . it is pretty elaborate. My favorite place to dine is in the Airstream if they have that section open.
4. Carnival Games
While the cost a little extra, the carnival games located in Chester & Hesters’s Dino-Rama are so much fun! They even have cute Dino prizes that you can win. It fits in perfectly with the carnival atmosphere and it is a great activity to take a little break from theme park attractions. Just be sure kids are prepared that they may not win, and I find it helpful to set a 3 game limit.
3. The Theme
As I’ve been mentioning through all of my previous favorite things, I really love the theme of DinoLand USA. As you enter from Discovery Island you will go under the Boneyard Dig Site, and then on your left you will find the more Carnival-esque Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama that represents the roadside attractions of the mid-20th Century. Even the walkway looks like it belongs. On the right is the more academic side with the Dino Institute, the Dinosaur attraction, and Restauarantosaurus. Each element has its own contribution to the overall theme. Dinosaur attraction and the Dino Institute are all serious business, Restaurantosaurus is where the interns at the institute let loose a little bit, and then Chester & Hester’s is all kitsch capitalizing on the tourists coming to visit the Dinosaur sites. All of the lighting, signage and props in each area point to the theme from the gigantic cartoon-like Dinosaur in the Dino-Rama to the Dino Skeleton as you enter in.
2. Dinosaur (the attraction)
This is definitely the headliner in DinoLand USA, and one of the popular rides throughout Animal Kingdom. It is a family favorite here at my house. Dinosaur has an elaborate storyline of going back in time to explore the world of the dinosaurs, but a rogue controller decides there are other plans for your journey wanting to save the Iguanodon and bring it back to the Dino Institute. Of course lots of adventure ensues on this bumpy and loud expedition through the Cretaceous period. It is a lot of fun, but could be frightening to some, and too jerky for others.
1. The Characters
Over in DinoLand USA you will find some of your favorite characters wearing Dino themed costumes. You can find Goofy & Pluto wearing costumes that look like they would fit into Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama, they usually meet near the entrance to the Dino-Rama. As part of Donald’s Dino Bash (celebrating his recent DNA discovery that ducks are related to Dinosaurs), you can also find two of your Duckburg favorites, Scrooge McDuck and Launchpad McQuack from Ducktales. This is the only place where you can meet them so that is definitely a favorite! Chip and Dale are in on the action too, they meet along the Cretaceous Trail wearing adorable dinosaur costumes. You will definitely want to pay a visit to DinoLand USA for some great character meet & greets.
What are your favorites in DinoLand USA?