My favorite attraction in all of Animal Kingdom is the thrilling Dinosaur. From the small details to the larger- than-life dinos, Dinosaur is a sure to keep any guest on the edge of their seat from the moment they enter into the Dino Institute.
The first time I experienced Dinosaur, I remember immediately thinking of how it reminded me in a way of the extinct (pun intended) Magic Kingdom attraction Alien Encounter. My basis for this theory is rooted in the attractions both being psychological thrillers. From the complete darkness at times to strange noises, sights, and smells, both attractions disorient the senses in order to create not only a physical thrill, but also a psychological one. Despite riding Dinosaur countless times, I always find myself surprised at what comes with each twist and turn and it’s that that keeps me coming back for more.
Dinosaur initially opened with Animal Kingdom in 1998 with the different name “Countdown to Extinction.” The attraction remained untouched until the Disney feature film Dinosaur premiered in 2000. At this point, the name of the attraction was changed to reflect the film, as many of the dinosaurs featured along your journey are also showcased in the film. Despite the change of name, there are still some small details which pay homage to the original title of the attraction. Be sure to keep your eyes open for several references including the letters “CTX” which stand for Countdown to Extinction. My favorite reference features the text “SECTOR CTX-WDI-AK98” which stands for Countdown to Extinction Walt Disney Imagineering Animal Kingdom and the park’s opening year of 1998. See if you can spot this great detail as you make your way through the pre-show and queue.
While you are waiting in the queue, take your time as you pass through the room featuring the full size T-Rex. Does that voice sound familiar? It belongs to none other than Bill Nye the Science Guy making his second appearance on property as he is also featured in Ellen’s Energy Adventure over in Epcot’s Future World. Nye narrates the sequence of how the dinosaurs came to become extinct with a great little demonstration of the meteor impact. As you circle this room and listen to the narration, look at the walls around you and notice the color difference in the soil depicted on the walls. That color difference represents the K-T Boundary which is the marked point in the Earth’s soil of distinguishing dinosaurs and mammals. This is just another great example of how Imagineers take great measures to create tons of details that many guests might not even notice.
When you finally enter into the pre-show room, you are introduced to the head of the Dino Institute, Dr. Marsh, who informs you that you will be traveling to the Cretaceous period. You are also introduced to (groan with me here) Dr. Seeker, Dr. Grant Seeker who seems to have other plans for you up his sleeve. Instead of traveling to the normal period, you will be headed back dangerously close to the impact of the asteroid in order to bring back with you a dinosaur which Seeker has tagged on a previous trip. As you take in the pre-show, you are also introduced to the ride vehicles, or Time Rovers. These vehicles are called Enhanced Motion Vehicles (EMVs) and were developed for the Indiana Jones Adventure attraction in Disneyland. They allow the vehicle itself to smoothly move along a path in the attraction, while simultaneously moving the section containing guests to create the sensations of bumping, turning, tilting, and pretty much any other movement possible.
As you enter into the loading area and are about to embark on your adventure, look for a set of tri-colored pipes that I mentioned in last week’s post. These pipes are red, yellow, and white and feature the chemical formulas for ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. These pipes remain as homage to McDonald’s which sponsored the attraction from 1998 until 2008. They are yet another great little detail to point out to your friends and family. As your vehicle begins moving and enters into the tunnel which transports you back in time, check out the metal structures on the walls. When Imagineers were designing this part of the ride, they drew inspiration from the inside of a toaster! After this room, you are thrust into the world of the dinosaurs with darkness, sounds, sights, and smells that are all foreign to our world today. While at first you encounter dinosaurs that seem pretty tame, you will soon find your adventure taking a more ominous turn as you run into the menacing Carnotarus Robustus Floridana. This charging dinosaur was actually created by Disney and his name roughly translates to “meatbull.”
When you emerge from your adventure (hopefully in one piece!) double back to the small courtyard near the Fast Pass Distribution area and look up at the T-Rex hovering over your head. He is actually over 40 feet long and 20 feet tall and is an exact replica of Sue, the largest and most complete T-Rex ever discovered. Sue was found by Susan Hendrickson in South Dakota in 1990 and currently resides at the Chicago Field Museum; however she once made her temporary home in the Animal Kingdom. When the park opened in 1998, the Chicago Field Museum sent some of Sue’s bones to be cleaned by their scientists while on public display. While I visited the Animal Kingdom in 1998, this is one detail I am really bummed that I missed out on!
No matter how many times I encounter the thrilling dinosaurs and adventure on this attraction, Dinosaur will never get old to me as its thrills and surprises will always keep me coming back for more. I would recommend either visiting early in the morning or obtaining Fast Passes when you want to experience the attraction, as its lines can become quite lengthy in the more crowded times of the year!
Do you love Dinosaur? Does it kind of remind you of Alien Encounter as well? Have a favorite dino inside? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.