A Short Drive: Dinosaur Kingdom II

Sitting directly across the street from the Natural Bridge Zoo is the Dinosaur Kingdom II attraction. You can’t miss it. In fact, there is so much going on in every square foot of your vision that it is hard to draw your attention away from it. I could see the entrance while in the zoo and, even then, it would steal my focus – and that’s just the entrance.

It is really difficult to explain what Dinosaur Kingdom II is and if you will enjoy it. I absolutely loved it but I love things that are absurd and represent imagination run amok. That is what this is, in spades.

The founder is an artist who makes sculptures in fiberglass. Big sculptures. You can see some of his other work in a video from 2018 with the CarpetBagger channel on YouTube. I found the CarpetBagger channel during the height of the lockdown and recommend it if you would like to go to amusement parks, wax museums, and attractions of all kinds vicariously through video.

Dinosaur Kingdom is a series of installations, some animatronic, some interactive. From the ticket booth where the kindly attendant shows you the latest hatched dinosaur (hand puppet) all the way to the maze at the end, it seems like there is something carefully packed into every step of your path through the campus.

The first section is a replica western street front. There is a jail where animatronic eggs are “hatching” and we stopped to take photos of different members of our party “in jail”.

One of the buildings is of the tilting house variety. It is not the easiest to walk through but it can be done and you can make a ball secured to the wall appear to roll “up” its track.

All of the buildings have some sort of story going on inside. For example, you can’t actually go inside the building pictured below because this smart fellow has a big foot creature trapped inside, trying to get out.

Other buildings you can go inside or you are presented with an ongoing story, like the undertaker’s office where young raptors have broken in and turned the room upside down. Not literally upside down, which I would point out is a distinct possibility here. One room had a game based on the classic Operation but dinosaur-themed. My companion said that this one is more difficult.

Even with all of the absurd, whimsical, and funny sights to see, I really appreciated what appeared to me to be real antiques throughout. They had to have spent a lot of time collecting all of this stuff.

At the end of the street is the Big Foot Stage and at set times during the day, there is a water fight between the resident Big Foot and anyone who wants to take up one of the dozens of water canons available in front of the building. The show starts off with Big Foot banging on the doors of the “barn” behind the water canons. I missed the first part of the battle so the video below picks up after Big Foot and abandoned the stage and run to the little house on the right.

It’s all good, clean fun and a nice way to cool off a little. After the Big Foot shoot-out, you begin a path through the woods. The first stop is an attraction that is still in the process of being completed. It is called The Triceratops Bullfight and the rules are posted as follows:

  1. Only two (2) people in the corral at a time.
  2. One person operates the head. One person fights “the bull”.
  3. Only an adult operates the head mechanism.
  4. Place your phone in the clip to make the best video.
  5. Push the button to start the music. Bull Fight is 1 minute.

My only photo of this attraction is not a good one. I look forward to when this opens and people start sharing videos. This could be really fun and a great marketing tool.

The rest of the experience is a walk through the woods, passing by various installations – some animatronic, some not. Several of the installations refer you to a specific page in the the Dinosaurs Kingdom II comic book (a $6 purchase in the gift shop) for explanation.

I did buy a copy of the comic book at the end but I haven’t read it yet. Real life happens after you leave. But I have to hand it to the artist that my photos are probably going to cause me to read the comic book (here eventually) so, in a way, Dinosaur Kingdom is still commanding my attention.

Props, Mr. Cline. A job well done.

And, touché.