Disney is busy trying to do what it can do to address theme parks around the world re-opening during this Pandemic, while trying to open up the new attractions it previously announced. Yet a new challenge arises with DinoLand. Not only has the Primeval Whirl been shut down for good, but Universal’s Islands of Adventure is about to put a new spin on all things Dinosaur with its new Jurassic World VelociCoaster. Dinoland needs a fix. A big one would be nice, but not necessarily feasible given the current situation we are in. Still, a shorter, more feasible fix could not only serve to brighten up the space, but keep people in the park longer, and spending more. We look at the endangered situation Dinoland, and at three short-term/low-cost options for addressing its plight.
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Dinoland has needed fixing nearly since it opened on April 22, 1998. In the early days there was nothing beyond the ride, the playground, the gift shop and the restaurant. There was a Cretaceous Trail, which continually became encroached on over time, making it smaller and smaller. To make up for the lack of attractions there was a tented Dinosaur exhibition. There was also a Fossil Preparation Lab where guests could observe through windows the tedious process of preparing “Sue”, which was the largest Tyrannosaurus ever found.
In came Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama, with the Primeval Whirl, TriceraTop Spin and Fossil Fun Games. The story was that as the Dino-Institute grew in popularity, Chester and Hester who already had a flourishing gas station from passing visitors determined they would take the parking lot across the street and create a tourist trap all themed around dinosaurs. In someways it was a tongue-in-cheek look at tourist traps along Route 66, with a color scheme that seemed to align with the infamous South of the Border on I-95 in South Carolina. What was supposed to be an addition to Disney’s Animal Kingdom during the wake of difficult economic times became only a further eyesore. It was painful.
Meanwhile, Universal competed against Disney’s Animal Kingdom by opening up Islands of Adventure with an entire land dedicated to Jurassic Park, based on the blockbuster film of 1993. It had an impressive playground, and two thrilling attractions. One that was too short and another with poor animatronic dinosaurs. Plus restaurants, gift shop, and little more. It too countered by making poor choices like adding games of chance along the trail.
The park announced a few months ago that Jurassic World VelociCoaster is coming to its Islands of Adventure in summer 2021. Everyone has known this for some time, but no one at Universal formally announced it until September 2020.
The surprisinglyattraction will send guests out of the station at high speeds using a magnetic launch system. According to limited details shared by Universal, VelociCoaster will include two launches, one of which will hit 70 mph in 2.4 seconds.
It is believed that the second launch will catapult the trains up the ride’s 155-foot “top hat” tower (so called because with a very steep rise, a short crest at its apex, and an equally steep drop, it resembles the classic, formal hat) and then sends them careening down the other side at a dicey 80-degree angle.
This is not a competitor to Disney’s Animal Kingdom as much as it is to Disney’s Tron and Guardians of the Galaxy Coasters. But it does add a stamp of disappointment on DinoLand. That also comes in the wake of Primeval Whirl closing for good. That was sorely needed, as two Cast Members over the years had died while working on the operation of the attraction. The Wild Mouse style attraction had a sister attraction in the UK that had a child fall out of the ride vehicle while in motion. Disney temporarily closed the attraction afterwards, and then since then re-opened only for seasonal purposes. In the wake of the Pandemic it has been announced as being officially closed.
For that reason, we recommend some solutions to this land. There have been grand ideas already put on the table–some with rumors attached. That includes:
- An Indiana Jones Re-theming of the Land.
- Doing a Zootopia attraction similar to what is going on in Shanghai Disneyland.
- Creating a water boat attraction utilizing the omnimover ride-style system found in Shanghai Disneyland’s, Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle of the Sunken Treasure.
- Doing a wooden style coaster known as the Excavator. This was an original idea that was shelved over time.
I welcome any of these possibilities, but am uncertain that we will see any of these in the next 5-8 years. Meanwhile, we have a sad carnival-occupied parking lot serving as the worst themed attraction in any Disney theme park globally.
I would like to suggest some lower cost/easier to implement attraction ideas. Not that I wouldn’t welcome any of the previously rumored ideas. I just think that with the pandemic and all that is on Disney’s plate, there needs to be a quicker, lower-cost fix.
DinoRama is to Disney’s Animal Kingdom as to what Paradise Pier was to Disneys’ California Adventure before there was a makeover into Pixar Pier. Keep the carnival aspect, but make it much more attractive to be in.
You can see the comparisons here with Dinosaur Jack’s Sunglass Kiosk…
And our roadside Dino here in Dinorama.
How do we take what was not working and give it a facelift? Largely by focusing on the following:
- Keep a Carnival, but Park Like Element
- Lots of Landscaping and Shade
- Bold, Bright Colors
- Fun, Beautiful Attractions
- Beautiful Day and Night
- No Asphalt!
Below our some images of Pixar Pier. What works is the use of great colors, shade, a sense of an experience that is more welcoming.
This image is bright and colorful day and night. Important to this land.
This image takes a games of chance area and makes it colorful and welcoming.
Note that Pixar Pier embraces a nighttime show that is colorful and entertaining (and very Disney). Part of this land’s problem is its connection with the adjoining night time show which has also been eliminated: Rivers of Light.
Emphasize Diggs County, Indy, Route 66 Theme
The Route 66 style gas station theme is not a bad one. We’ve seen how it has played out successfully in CarsLand. In this instance, let’s go back to the original back story of Diggs County. Let’s make it a place that is along a highway seldom seen by others in a time that has been somewhat lost.
The gas station is the stepping off place for this thematic setting.
There are details in this gift shop that might play out in a themed land here.
Outside billboards offer clues as to the approach to this land. One emphasizes the importance of connecting with the original part of the land, especially the Dino Institute.
This billboard especially plays out to a couple of concepts. One is the idea of nature and trails. The other is about connecting to the larger community. The final concept is to the individual who looks like Indiana Jones.
The Boneyard has an established date of 1947. Does that give us a sense of a timeline this land could further itself into? Could it play out a post World War II theme going into the 50’s?
This theming also plays out beautifully in portions of Restaurantasourus, where we find a barracks/food hall for young paleontologists. The highlight of this theming is an airstream trailer.
Guests love the one and only crocodile in the park. There could be a much larger exhibit on this. Also, what about snakes? I know Indy hates snakes, but that’s the charm of this.
This image is here to suggest the beautiful berms and landscaping themes that could go with a Diggs County Feel.
A new attraction possibility could come in the form of what is found via the Raging Spirits attraction in Tokyo Disneyland and the Indiana Jones. et le Temple du Peril attraction in Disneyland Paris. It’s a somewhat generic ride system built by Intamin. It is also an attraction that can be ridden backwards.
The one in Tokyo especially makes use of archeological sites that are being worked on. Could this same theme showcase Dinosaurs rather than old pre-Colombian artifacts?
And if you added a bit of Indiana Jones theming here (it’s okay to have it in more than one park), how could it better influence the Dinosaur ride. Remember that the original attraction layout emphasized snakes!
Duckburg Dino Celebration
The idea behind Donald’s Dino Bash is the belief that ducks are a descendent of dinosaurs and that dinosaurs may have even had feathers. Also ducks, dinosaurs and crocodilians all lay eggs on land.
What was simply a revived meet ‘n’ greet experience became very popular as people searched out the possibility of meeting Launchpad McQuack or Scrooge McDuck.
The meet ‘n’ greets do much to inform how some thematic detailing might play out if there was a Duckburg Dino-Bash experience in Dinoland. We’ve had a Mickey Toontown Fair. Why not a Donald Dino Duckburg Carnival?
Imagine Triceratops Spin adding a Chip ‘n’ Dale component to the attraction?
Like the Green Army Man Parachute Jump in Toy Story Land at Hong Kong and Disneyland Paris, could we do a themed Launchpad McQuack Pterydactyl Drop?
Could a carousel with dinosaurs be possible (Disneyland Resort has two carousels, why not Walt Disney World Resort)? I’m not a fan of off-the-shelf carnival rides, but I think anything is better than currently nothing. And I think those options could be implemented in the next year or so, not ten years down the road.
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