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Dinoland U.S.A. is the realization of the original park concept of showing animals that you can't see, i.e. that once lived but are extinct. It is the home of one headliner attraction, two minor attractions, an arcade, a playground, and a walking trail.
The backstory of this land is that, many years ago, dinosaur fossils were discovered near a small town. The find was so impressive that the dig is still going on (at The Boneyard), and the original paleontologists founded the Dino Institute (Dinosaur) nearby to study the the excavated fossils in more detail. Sensing a tourist bonanza, the locals (a couple named Chester and Hester) erected a tourist trap in an unused parking lot (Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama, home to Triceratop Spin, Primeval Whirl, and Fossil Fun Games). Periodically, the graduate students from the Institute go on nighttime excursions to add "-osaurus" to the end of any sign that they think needs it.
Dinoland U.S.A. was originally intended to be one of the major educational areas of the park, and the 1998 Dinosaur Jubilee was the kind of thing the Imagineers had in mind. This exhibit, updated in 2000 but eventually replaced by Dino-Rama, showed guests an array of fossil artifacts. Dino-Sue was partially assembled here in Dinoland U.S.A. as well, before being moved to the Field Museum in Chicago (a replica is still viewable near the Cretaceous Trail).
Ah, Dinoland. If the Animal Kingdom is the most misunderstood of Disney parks, Dinoland is without doubt the most misunderstood (reviled?) of its lands. To most guests, nothing about this land says Disney, and the primary reason (in our opinion) is that the backstory is far from obvious, and not revealed anywhere. Instead, guests find a playground (elaborate, yes, but still just a playground) first, a pair of carnival rides, and an arcade that costs extra. If any of them make it to the far back corner to get to Dinosaur, they feel that they aren't even in Dinoland anymore, so even a good experience at the one headliner ride won't redeem the land.
We, on the other hand, have learned to appreciate Dinoland after learning the backstory. There are graduate student pranks to hunt for, more than a dozen Hidden Mickeys, and decent shopping, although the dining selection is poor. Kids focus on the playground and Dino-Rama attractions, and the more adventurous have Dinosaur to lure them.
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