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October 2, 2012

A History of Dinoland U.S.A. and Restaurantosaurus - Part Two

jack-spence%27s-masthead4.jpg


Yesterday I discussed the humble beginnings of both Dinoland and Restaurantosaurus and how the discovery of dinosaur bones forever changed Diggs County. Today I'll continue that story.

After a long day in the hot sun, the students needed a way to unwind in the evening. To that end, one section of the lodge was transformed into a recreation room to be called "The Hip Joint."


The Hip Joint

The Hip Joint


The room abounds with games such as a badminton net, a carrom board, a basketball hoop, croquet set, a Frisbee, and an assortment of other sports equipment and board games.


Games and Sports Equipment

Games and Sports Equipment


This room is also home to a number of traditions that began in the early years. One of these asks each student to bring a rock from their home town. At the conclusion of their internship, they are to paint a message on the stone and it is displayed with honor.


Rocks

Rocks

Rocks

Rocks


There are also a number of tributes that are bestowed on the students. One of these is the Zip Award. This dubious honor is received by the individual who works the hardest all summer and finds nothing - zip - for the entire season.


Zip Award

Zip Award


On the other end of the scale, the Golden Trowel Award is given to the student that achieves the greatest number of discoveries during the year.


Golden Trowel Award

Golden Trowel Award

Golden Trowel Award


The Golden Boot Award is given to the student who has walked the most miles in search of dinosaur bones. Of course, this tired soul must give up one of their boots in order to be immortalized.


Golden Boot Award

Golden Boot Award


An Airstream trailer used by one of the early paleontologist has been incorporated into The Hip Joint. In it are two booths and a jukebox. When visiting, be sure to read some of the musical selections the students have to choose from. Here are just a few:

End of the World by Skeeter Davis
Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis
All Dug Up by Elvis Presley
I am a Rock by Simon & Garfunkel
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by U2
All Those Years Ago by George Harrison


Airstream

Airstream

Airstream Booth

Airstream Juke Box


On the outside of the Airstream, one prankish student has left his mark.


Airstream Hijinx


The professors and students also have a large selection of reading material to choose from for research and pleasure. Shelves in almost every room are crammed full of books and National Geographic magazines. Here are a few of the titles:

Skeleton Crew by Stephen King
Touch the Earth by David Luban
Stone Deep by Davie Wiltse
The Last One Left by John MacDonald


Books

National Geographic


Of course, the student's entertainment isn't confined to The Hip Joint. Fun can also be had outdoors with a little imagination.

On the backside of the water tower is a crudely painted target.


Water Tower

Water Tower


Across the way, on the porch roof, we find two lawn chairs, a cooler, and other paraphernalia. Attached to the wall is a rack full of plunger-type arrows and a couple of bows. Also, connected to the eves is a pulley and rope.


Arrow Game

Arrow Game


If you follow the rope, it stretches all the way to the water tower and has a bucket full of arrows attached to it.


Arrow Game


It appears our ingenious students have devised a unique game to play in their off hours and have come up with an interesting way to retrieve their arrows.

Also seen in a porch window sill is a bucket of golf balls and a club. I feel sorry for the people driving by on U.S. Highway 498.


Golf Balls


Nearby on Pterodactyl Pterrace, a basketball hoop has been set up for a little one-on-one play.


Pterodactyl Pterrace

Pterodactyl Pterrace


Back inside the lodge, more touches of the student's sense of humor can be found. For example, this French poster for the Japanese movie Godzilla is displayed proudly. Although not a real dinosaur, Godzilla does have the characteristics of several prehistoric creatures. He has the head and lower body of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, the neck and forearms of Iguanodon, a triple row of dorsal plates reminiscent of a Stegosaurus, and the tail and skin texture of an alligator. Godzilla's monstrous size and destructive powers were similar in scope to other films of the day that featured dinosaurs terrorizing the hero and his helpless heroine.


Godzilla Poster


How about this message that one dimwitted student left for Animal? Poor Jenny.


Surprise Birthday Party


We've all heard that if you dig a hole deep enough, you'll end up in China. Well one student has marked a map with instructions. On a Post-it note placed over the Central United States he has written, "Start digging here." On another Post-it note over China he states, "End up here."


Start Digging Here


Here are few more signs found around the lodge.


Various Signs

Various Signs

Various Signs

Various Signs

Various Signs


Apparently, Hawaiian Shirt Day is a big event at the lodge. You can even see a few shirts drying above the porch roof.


Hawaiian Shirts


I especially like this pterodactyl with a sign around his neck which reads, "I (heart) Flying."


I (heart) Flying


The students are masters at pranks, but the professors try to pull a few tricks of their own - enough so that a scoreboard was created to keep track of who was getting the better of whom. Here are the latest standings.


Prank Score Board


Pay phones were a fact of life in the early days of the Institute. When a call was received and the recipient was absent, a message was taken and thumbtacked to the wall. When The Hip Joint was created years later, a second, more modern pay phone was installed in this room.


Old Pay Phone

New Pay Phone


Dr. Bernard Dunn is the Chairman of the Dino Institute Internship Program and oversees the selection process of new candidates. He is also the senior paleontologist and his name can be found on several bulletin boards in and out of the lodge. His caricature can also be seen in The Hip Joint in a drawing titled "Over Dunn."


Over Dunn


In the early years, the commissary supply room was continually being broken into by hungry students. Try as they might to secure the doors to this storage facility, the locks were repeatedly damaged. Finally, management gave up and made snacks and soft drinks available throughout the day in a cooler to be located on the porch. The mangled padlocks can be seen hanging against the signs and the broken latches can be seen lining the supply room door jam.


Commissary Sign and Locks

Commissary Sign and Locks

Commissary Sign and Locks


By the way, if you go looking for the cooler, it can be found on the porch roof with the plunger/arrow players.


Cooler


For a number of years, McDonalds was a major sponsor of the Dino Institute and helped run the cafeteria. But like so many other philanthropic organizations, they pulled their funding in search of other charitable causes. While present here, a McDonald's French fries carton could be seen in one of the dinosaur's mouth.


McDonalds


During the McDonalds years, two interesting signs could be seen around Dinoland. The first was located along the exit route from the attraction "Countdown to Extinction," later "Dinosaur." Playing with their slogan of the time, "Have you had your break today?" a sign was erected that said, "Have you had a Crocodilian today?"


Have you had a Crocodilian today?


Another sign was mocked up to look like a monster-movie poster with a number of clever catch phrases that captured the horror of a beast attacking with the catchphrases of McDonalds.


Movie Poster


Tourists visiting Restaurantosaurus today no longer select food from a cafeteria line but rather an overhead menu. Selections include hamburgers, hotdogs, fries, nuggets, a salad, and a few other offerings.


Ordering Area

Ordering Area


Dining rooms are located on both sides of the ordering area. Condiment and fill-your-own drink stations are found in both areas. In addition, fixin's stations allow guests to complete their burgers with a variety of toppings.


Condiment Bar

Condiment Bar

Topping Station


The seating at Restaurantosaurus is spread out among seven rooms. This helps alleviate the noise level somewhat and provides a slightly more intimate atmosphere. Note, some of the dining rooms are dark. Take this into account when selecting a place to eat. Also available are outside tables. These can be found on the porch out front and beyond the tent rooms.


Restaurant Seating

Restaurant Seating

Restaurant Seating

Restaurant Seating

Restaurant Seating


Restaurantosaurus is a busy establishment as it is the only counter service location in the Animal Kingdom that sells hamburgers. The restaurant opens daily at 11am and lines begin to form before this time. Closing time is determined by park closing. To see the complete menu, click here.

Here is a picture of a hamburger, chicken nuggets, a chocolate mousse, and cheese cake a friend and I enjoyed while researching this article.


Chicken Nuggets

Hamburger

Desserts


To be honest, I don't eat here often. The main reason, I prefer the selections at Flame Tree BBQ and Pizzafari. But that doesn't mean that I don't like Restaurantosaurus. The food they offer is good if you're in the mood for "standard" theme park fare.

I also love the theming at Restaurantosaurus. A person could spend hours examining all the details and reading the materials posted on the walls. The Imagineers outdid themselves when designing this establishment. I've only offered you a small smattering of the stories available here. I highly recommend giving this place a try if for no other reason, it will give you an excuse to be immersed in a fantastic world.

Now I'd like to break the fourth wall and provide you with an interesting detail about Dinoland U.S.A. But before I do, I must travel back in time to Disneyland, 1955. (I'll borrow a Time Rover from the Dino Institute for the trip.)

As we all know, the financing for Disneyland was an uphill battle. Because of this, Walt and his team were constantly looking for ways to cut costs. One decision to save money dictated the use of less expensive asphalt instead of concrete for many of the streets and thoroughfares. This would generate a significant savings. Unfortunately, asphalt becomes soft on hot days. When Disneyland opened, Southern California was undergoing a heat wave. Many women's high heeled shoes sank into the soft surfaces and they literally walked out of their shoes.

In order to be as authentic as possible, the Imagineers wanted Dinoland U.S.A. to be covered in asphalt. After all, this was how the roadways of the 1940's were manufactured. However, they didn't want to make the same mistake as their predecessors at Disneyland. So they used concrete and artistically made it appear as asphalt. This was achieved by pouring a carefully prepared mixture of colored concrete over chicken wire. Then, at just the right moment, the chicken wire was removed, leaving a rough surface that resembled an old highway. Additional cracks and potholes where then carved into the surface.


Concrete - Asphalt


Three years ago, I wrote an article about Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama. Although some of the information is a repeat of what you've read here, there is additional material about the mini-amusement park they created. To read this blog, click here.


When planning a land or attraction, the Imagineers come up with a complete backstory first. Then they design the attraction using this backstory and staying within its given parameters. When the attraction (or land) is debuted, this story is usually reported in press releases. After that, it's rarely mentioned again. But the backstory is there if you take the time to look for it. The Imagineers aren't trying to hide it from you. In fact, if the story were too obvious, the ambiance would seem fake. If you want to know the backstory of almost any attraction, it is there if you take the time to look. I gathered the vast majority of the information I provided you with today by taking the time to explore this facility and being observant.

In real life, no one tells you the backstory when visiting an area unless you're touring a historical monument. When you stop at a mom and pop roadside stand in Florida to buy a bag of oranges, no one tells you the history of the citrus crops or how these people came to operate this humble stand. If you're really curious, you need to investigate and ask questions.

Well that's it for Dinoland and Restaurantosaurus. I hope you've enjoy this journey through time and I've inspired you to check out this eatery on some future visit. Now that I've forced you to slow down and smell the roses and provided you with the backstory, I hope you'll find this restaurant as intriguing as I do.

I'd like to end this article with a small clipping I found on one of the Restaurantosaurus bulletin boards.


Everything I Know



October 1, 2012

A History of Dinoland U.S.A. and Restaurantosaurus - Part One

Jack Spence Header


When I started writing this article, my intent was to review and describe Restaurantosaurus, the counter service eatery located in Dinoland U.S.A at the Animal Kingdom. However, the more I got into the piece, the more I realized you can't write about the restaurant without discussing the backstory of Dinoland. You see, the two are united in a pseudo-history that Disney created to add realism to the area. It would be difficult to tell the story of one without telling the story of the other. So what you will receive over the next two days is a linear account of both Dinoland and Restaurantosaurus and how they grew together over time. I also might take a side trip or two in order to cover other bits of Disney history semi-related to the area.

In 1946, a rustic fishing lodge could be found along U.S. Highway 498 in Diggs County, somewhere in the heartland of America. Nestled in a grove of trees, this spot provided local and visiting anglers a place to relax and tell tall tales about the one that got away. Nearby, a gas station own by an elderly couple, Chester and Hester, provided the basic necessities of travel.


Highway Sign

Fishing Lodge

Gas Station


In 1947, an amateur fossil-hunter found a few old bones near the lodge. He took them to some of his paleontologist friends who verified their authenticity. Realizing the importance of the find, the group banded together and purchased the lodge and much of the surrounding land. This was the humble beginnings of what would eventually become the Dino Institute.

Professors and grad students soon took up residence here and created a makeshift dormitory. Needing a place to eat, a cafeteria was added within the old lodge. Since research programs are always looking for funding and grants are hard to come by, the students decided to open their cafeteria to the public and make a few additional bucks to help subsidize their various digs. Not being too particular about what to call their eatery, they simply erected a large sign on the roof that said "RESTAURANT."


Restaurant Sign


At the same time, the students also opened up a small, walk-up counter where motorists could purchase an ice-cream cone, cookies, and a refreshing beverage. They called this location Dino-Bite.


Dino Bites


College students being college students, monkeyshines and mischief began to ensue shortly after their arrival. It soon became the fad to add the suffix "osaurus" to signs throughout the lodge.


osaruus suffix

osaruus suffix

osaruus suffix

osaruus suffix


Of course, pranks must be "topped" and one particularly mischievous young man decided to add a huge "osaurus" to the "RESTAURANT" sign to the delight of his classmates - and the name stuck.


Restaurantosaurus Sign


As word of the dinosaur find spread, tourists began to stop by to see what all of the hubbub was about. They would visit the dig site, known as the Boneyard, then head over to the lodge to see what else they could learn.


The Boneyard

The Boneyard

The Boneyard

The Boneyard


Since money was tight, it was not possible to build a proper tourist information center, so the professors and grad students opened their home and created a makeshift visitor's center within the lodge. Now the travelers could stop by and receive a proper education as to what was going on in Diggs County.

As more and more relics were unearthed, the paleontologists displayed them on the walls and shelves of the lodge. Eventually, the visitor's center was transformed into a mini-museum. Many of these early artifacts can still be seen today.


Lodge Museum

Lodge Museum

Lodge Museum


When the lodge grew too small to house all of the dinosaur bones, a tent was erected on Chester and Hester's land and some of the larger creature's skeletons were displayed fully assembled. This exhibit was called Dinosaur Jubilee. Nearby was the Fossil Preparation Lab where one of the paleontologists could be seen cleaning debris and dirt from recent finds. The map (below) shows the various sites.


Dinosaur Jubilee

Dinosaur Jubilee

Dinoland U.S.A. Map


On the walls of the lodge-museum are numerous pictures of team members, unearthing new discoveries.


Museum Photographs

Museum Photographs

Museum Photographs


Also found on a wall in the lodge's main room is a portrait of Clarence P. Wilkerson. This gentleman believed in the project and was a major benefactor.


Clarence P. Wilkerson


As the needs of the dig site grew, so did the needs of the support facility. First to be added was a Quonset hut. Erected adjacent to the lodge, this structure would serve as the maintenance bay for the various field vehicles.


Quonset hut

Quonset hut

Quonset hut


Inside the Quonset hut you can still see engine parts, tools, hubcaps, and other automobile paraphernalia. Also, take a look at the walls. The imaginative mechanics have used their greasy hands to create some rather creative dinosaurs.


Car Engine

Auto Tools

Hubcaps

Grease Dinosaur

Grease Dinosaur


It seems our mechanic is also a sculptor. He created this dinosaur out of wrenches, nuts, bolts, and other metal odds and ends found in the garage.


Metal Dinosaur


Our artistic mechanic also has a sense of humor as can be seen on this wall sketch. In case you can't read the small print the dinosaur says "Hey Harry, Have you got somethin' for my U-joints"¦."


Dinosaur Cartoon


Notice the cans of oil on one of the shelves. The brand is Sinclair. This is the same brand of gasoline that Chester and Hester sell at their service station.


Sinclair Oil

Chester & Hester Gas Station


Sinclair is a real oil and refining company that was established in 1916 by Harry F. Sinclair. Its distinctive green dinosaur silhouette (brontosaurus) logo was a fixture on U.S. highways for many years.


Sinclair Advertisement


Sinclair sponsored a dinosaur exhibit at the 1933-34 Chicago World's Fair. The exhibit pointed out the supposed relationship of petroleum deposits and dinosaurs. The display included a two-ton animated model of a brontosaurus - an early and crude AudioAnimatronics.

At the 1964-65 New York World's Fair, Sinclair sponsored another dinosaur exhibit. "Dinoland" featured life-size reproductions of nine different dinosaurs.


Sinclair at the Fair

Sinclair at the Fair


Of course Walt Disney was also at the New York World's Fair with his own dinosaur attraction. On "Magic Skyway," guests road in Ford convertibles (the humble beginnings of the PeopleMover) and progressed in time from the day of the dinosaur to the modern era. After the fair, the AudioAnimatronics dinosaurs were moved to Disneyland and installed along the route of the Disneyland-Santa Fe Railroad.


Magic Skyway

Magic Skyway


The names "Sinclair" and "Disney" were united in 1991 with a joint venture by Michael Jacobs Productions, Jim Henson Productions, and Walt Disney Television. A TV show titled "Dinosaurs" premiered and ran for four seasons. The comedy revolved around a group of anthropomorphic dinosaurs whose last name just happened to be Sinclair.


Sinclair TV Show


Back at Restaurantosaurus, we find a tribute to Walt and his dinosaurs. First, there are several sketches from "The Rite of Spring" section of his movie Fantasia. Put to the music of Igor Stravinsky, this piece chronicles the rise and fall of dinosaurs. If you'll notice, the title "Concert Feature" can be seen on the two sketches. This was the working title for Fantasia.


Concert Feature

Concert Feature


Nearby, a photograph of Walt, surrounded by his AudioAnimatronics dinosaurs, can be seen.


Photo of Walt Disney


With more and more finds being discovered every day, the research facility continued to grow. However, money was still in short supply. To expand the facility again, semi-permanent tents were constructed next to the Quonset hut. The lower walls of these structures are built of wood while the upper sections are made of canvas.


Tents


This latest addition was used for auxiliary storage. Inside you'll find provisions and camping gear as well as bones and other fossils excavated at the nearby Boneyard.


Tent Interior

Tent Interior

Tent Interior

Tent Interior


You will also find another student prank in this room - a classic. Over one of the doors is a bucket of water just waiting to find a target. Some poor, unsuspecting sole is going to get drenched.


Bucket of Water over the Door


As time marched on, the lodge became the first home of the Dino Institute which was formed to help promote this site and encourage a better understanding of paleontologists and dinosaurs. In addition, classroom studies became available to students for the first time. A sign of this can be seen on a flag hanging on one of the walls.


Dino Institute Flag


Hoping to generate cash for the struggling Institute, the trustees hired Dr. Helen Marsh sometime in the early 70's. Dr. Marsh had a reputation of rescuing cash-strapped museums and bringing them back from the brink of disaster. Within days of her arrival at the Dino Institute, she purchased Chrono-Teck Inc which had recently lost its government grant. Six months later, she announced to a stunned scientific community that her company had invented the "Time Rover," a vehicle that could travel back in time.


Dr. Marsh

Dr. Marsh


Things changed dramatically for the Dino Institute after this invention was announced. Now scientists could visit the prehistoric world for themselves. In addition, it brought the Institute prestige and funding to build a state-of-the-art facility to assist in research and house classrooms. The "new" Dino Institute was dedicated on April 22, 1978.


Dino Institute

Dino Institute

Dino Institute

Dino Institute


Dr. Marsh, calls the skeletal remains of dinosaurs, "quaint exhibits." She also claims that this "bare bones" approach is about to become extinct. Capitalizing on this ideology, she insists that tours to the Cretaceous period be offered to non-professionals to help subsidize the costs of the new facility.


Tme Travel


However, her announcement did not set well with the World Paleontological Society. Its president, Dr. Vladimur Borontsky, cautioned that thorough testing be conducted before the general public be allowed to ride. Dr. Marsh brushed these comments aside and stated, "Our staff has taken the 'rover' through an extensive 'test-and-adjust' phase and they all say the same thing. 'It's fast, it's a blast, and it's in the past.'"

Dr. Marsh's superior attitude has become contagious and most of the others working in the main building are intent on maintaining a "dignified" decorum. On the other hand, the professors and grad students of the lodge realize that the unearthing of fossils will continue to be a wonderful source of knowledge and they've retained their down-home sense of humor. This is evident by the many pranks and shenanigans perpetrated in the lodge and around town. Their carefree attitude greatly distresses Dr. Marsh and the Institute leaders, but there is little they can do about it.

Meanwhile, Chester and Hester could see others getting rich while their profits had only risen mildly with the influx of tourists. Determined to cash in on the area's new found wealth, they started selling souvenirs as well as gas. It wasn't long before their tacky merchandise was raking in more money than the gas they sold, so they converted the entire service station into a large shop called "Chester and Hester's Dinosaur Treasures."


Dinosaur Treasures


As profits started to grow, Chester and Hester decided to build a small amusement park across the street from their souvenir shop. Since their land bordered the main highway, this would be the perfect spot to attract passing tourist aiming for the Boneyard and the Dino Institute. However, this expansion would also require the removal of the Dinosaur Jubilee and the Fossil Preparation Lab which had been erected to showcase full-sized dinosaurs.


Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama


Fortunately, no hard feelings ensued with the forced removal of the exhibit. In fact, the students even paid homage to this entrepreneurial couple by hanging their photograph in the lodge.


Photo of Chester and Hester


That's it for Part One of my Dinoland/Restaurantosaurus article. Check back tomorrow for the conclusion.


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About Dinoland U.S.A.

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The β€œWorld” According to Jack in the Dinoland U.S.A. category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Asia is the previous category.

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Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.