Making of: Animal Kingdom’s DINOSAUR

By Keith Mahne


DINOSAUR has always been one of Animal Kingdom’s top attractions. Keep in mind that the park’s offerings on opening day were extremely lackluster with only 3 main attractions and also the Festival of the Lion King show. If you think about it, DINOSAUR is really a next generation, classic Disney dark ride which is a big reason why it quickly rose to the park’s top “must ride” attraction, particularly before the addition of Expedition Everest in 2006. Join us as we take a look at the creation of DINOSAUR in this Disney Avenue Making of segment…



Concept Art

In the attraction, guests board vehicles called Time Rovers and are taken on a turbulent journey through the Cretaceous period, featuring prehistoric scenes populated with audio-animatronic dinosaurs.

The Time Rover design, which received U.S. Patent # 5,623,878, includes elements of a motion simulator like you would find in the Star Tours attraction integrated onto a moving base. This allows the creation of enhanced feelings of speed, drops, and overcoming obstacles without subjecting the riders to the safety hazards previously required to generate that kind of effect by actually travelling that fast.

Originally named Countdown to Extinction, the ride’s name was later changed to DINOSAUR to promote the film of the same name, even though the attraction has never contained any explicit references to the film. However, the two dinosaurs most prominently featured in the ride have always been an Iguanodon and Carnotaurus, which were both featured prominently in the film. Scenes from the movie also appear in the pre-show, to help the guests identify the Iguanodon as the film’s protagonist, Aladar.

Guests enter via the Dino Institute, featuring a skull of a Anchiceratops and Albertosaurus in the front of the window, which, as the back story goes, is a once secret research facility. Next is the queue area that features a real fossil of a Carnotaurus Skeleton and other real dinosaur remains.

There is also a background narration by Bill Nye the Science Guy. Next, guests move to a room where they watch a pre-show video. The ride’s pre-show film director is Jerry Rees, best known for his animated film The Brave Little Toaster. It was written by Steve Spiegel, with Reed Smoot as Director of Photography.



Notice the entrance façade, now look right above that round-dome part…see those trees, they are in fact planted on the roof of the building to make it look as though the building ends there.

In the video, Dr. Marsh (played by Phylicia Rashād) announces that the guests are about to board Time Rovers that will take them on peaceful tours of the early Cretaceous period. As she finishes, however, Dr. Seeker (played by Wallace Langham) cuts off Marsh with a toy rubber Dinosaur hand puppet and, from his laboratory, informs the guests that he plans to send them to a time towards the end of the late Cretaceous period so that they can rescue Aladar, whom he has previously tagged, from extinction on an ‘unauthorized field trip’. Dr. Marsh overhears Dr. Seeker and enters his lab, arguing that the mission is too dangerous, as the time the guests would be sent to is extremely close to the time when the meteor that killed the dinosaurs hits. After Dr. Marsh has left, Dr. Seeker says that he has hacked the time travel systems so that the guests can go to rescue Aladar, and reassures the guests they’ll be out before the meteor breaks the atmosphere.

 
 
 
 
Guests proceed to the loading area to board the 12-seat Time Rovers and begin their exciting time travel journey to the past. This moving simulator ride bounces, bumps and careens its way through a primeval forest where you’ll encounter a number of amazing Audio-animatronic dinosaur specimens and some terrific special effects designed to stimulate all of your senses.
 


There are 10 different types of dinosaurs that have been created for DINOSAUR. While the story has you looking for the gentle Iguanodon, you will encounter the not so gentle Pterodactyl and Carnotaurus. The Carnotaurus is an advanced A-100 series audio-animatronic figure making the fierce looking creature appear life-like.

When riding DINOSAUR you don’t think about the technology that went into the attraction, you spend your time hoping that you won’t be attacked by the carnivorous dinosaurs that you encounter along the way. The ride is dark, thrilling, and action packed. The advanced technology allows you to believe for those brief minutes that you really are dodging dinosaurs and trying to find your way back before the meteor hits earth.

Here are a few behind-the-scene photos:

Now, who better to tell you about the attraction than Joe Rohde and the other Imagineers that designed it:

(Please be sure to pause the Disney Avenue Music Player in the top left-hand corner of this page prior to starting the video below if you are on a desktop computer.)

 
 
 
 
Animal Kingdom’s DINOSAUR is another amazing creation by Disney Imagineers who continue to be amazing innovators. These “makers of the magic” consistently astound us by using wonderful storytelling technics and the latest technology to create thrilling attractions that keeps us coming back for more!

For more information on how Disney Imagineers make dreams come true or transform a fantasy into a colorful, exciting world that visitors can move through, touch, and enjoy, I highly recommend you grab a copy of Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind-the-Dreams Look at Making the Magic Real. In this book, the Imagineers tell their own stories, as well as how they got there, what they do on a daily basis, what they show their friends in the parks, and how you can learn what it takes to become an Imagineer yourself. Grab a copy now in the Amazon link below:

 

 
 
 
 
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Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four.

Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true every day.

 
You can find all of Keith’s articles here.





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A Walk in the Park: WDW Edition – The Tree of Life

By Krista Joy

Construction walls around the Tree of Life in Disney’s Animal Kingdom have been removed. The 145-foot-tall structure with its 103,000 leaves – has been the iconic symbol of the park since it opened in 1998. But now, it’s got some new roots! You’ll also find a widened walkway the next time you visit Discovery Island. Let’s take a walk around the tree to discover some new animal friends and visit some old favorites in this week’s Walk in the Park article…

Disney is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to expand the offerings at Walt Disney World’s fourth theme park, which has often been accused of being a “half-day park” in the past. Disney’s Animal Kingdom has always closed earlier than the resort’s other theme parks, partly because of the need to protect its animal residents from excessive noise. However, Disney is now working to install a new night-time show, and will begin opening the park until late.

The show will be hosted around and above the Discovery River and will feature live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery. Confirmed to be named “Rivers of Light”, it is also expected to include the illumination of the iconic Tree of Life. That will involve replacing all 103,000 artificial leaves on the tree with new ones that light up. The new, expanded Tree of Life has been unveiled at the park recently and which we’ll see in a moment, however, it is unknown if this larger tree currently includes the technology that is being installed on the larger tree structure to prepare for this show. Only time will tell but all these new additions are certainly a welcome change to what is already a truly beautiful park!

Let’s have a look at those new roots:

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Krista Joy is a former Disney cast member, current head author at Disneyways.com and a co-host for the Disney Parks Podcast. She was born, raised, and has never lived any where else but in the heart of Orlando Florida. Not knowing what it’s like to be away from Walt Disney World for very long – the magic has truly become a part of who she is. Krista’s Disney dream is to bring magic and fun to the every day lives of her fellow Disney fans – while sharing some laughs along the way. She is very grateful to Keith and the team at DisneyAvenue.com for helping her to make this dream a reality! You can read more about Krista at http://disneyways.com/connect/
 
 



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A Walk in the Park: Walt Disney World Edition

By Krista Joy
Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom has to be one of the most gorgeous theme parks on the planet, wouldn’t you agree? It’s beautiful topography and landscaping truly makes you feel like you have been whisked away to a wild and exotic continent. At times it may even feel like you have gone back in time to be in the presence of dinosaurs! As extraordinary as Animal Kingdom is in the day time – the grounds are absolutely off the charts mystical and magical as night falls. Continue after the page break and have a look…


As the sun goes down, ladybug lamps begin to glow.



Zebra standing on their hind legs on the rooftop almost like they are hoping to get a peek at the beautiful sunset before it is gone.

 

 


Festival of the Lion King already had its last performance today, and Harambe Theater has closed doors for the evening.


It looks like the innkeepers at Hoteli Burudika have left the porch lights on for any weary adventurers who may need a place to stay tonight.

Hopefully guests leaving the park are taking notice of all this breathtaking beauty as they go.
 

 
 
The Yeti is winding down too! He is scaring the last few visitors and getting ready for bed, deep inside Expedition Everest.


 
 
 
Last call for a Dole Whip with coconut rum from Tamu Tamu Refreshments!
 
 

 
 
 

The Mombasa Marketplace will be one of the last things to close inside the park tonight.

 
 
Guests are enjoying a nightcap at Dawa Bar.
 
 

 
 
 

The lights shining on all the signs are interesting to see. Normally it is still daylight when the park closes.

 

 
 
Let’s head over to Dinoland and see the carnival at night!
 
 

 
 
Before we know it, we will have Pandora, and Animal Kingdom will be open at night much more often. But until next time, goodnight Animal Kingdom!
 
 
 
 

 Time to turn out the lights…

 

 

 
 
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Krista Joy is a former Disney cast member, current head author at Disneyways.com and a co-host for the Disney Parks Podcast. She was born, raised, and has never lived anywhere else but in the heart of Orlando Florida. Not knowing what it’s like to be away from Walt Disney World for very long – the magic has truly become a part of who she is. Krista’s Disney dream is to bring magic and fun to the everyday lives of her fellow Disney fans – while sharing some laughs along the way. She is very grateful to Keith Mahne and the team at DisneyAvenue.com for helping her to make this dream a reality! You can read more about Krista at http://disneyways.com/connect/



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