Country Dinosaur Jubilee

The story goes that when Disneyland was first being built, they had no funds, no good ideas, and no edible landscape with which to manufacture a good Tomorrowland.  Today, they might just fill it with character greeting areas and call it a Fantasyland Expansion, but back then they just went with whatever they had:  Bathrooms of the Future, Dutch Boy Paint Exhibits, and the “Kaiser Hall of Aluminum Fame.”

How does one get into the Aluminum Hall of Fame anyway?  Do the aluminum beat writers vote?  And do they base it only on statistics, or do championships matter more?

Anyway, Animal Kingdom had the same problem.  To say it was short on attractions was like saying Lady Gaga is short on pants.  Opening Day rolled around and they had 4 rides — half of which were transport boats and trains.  They needed some filler, especially over in Dinoland U.SA., where aside from the E-ticket thrill ride, their other big attraction was a glorified sandbox.

Enter the Dinosaur Jubilee!

The Dinosaur Jubilee was housed in a large tent-like structure, around the corner from the Cretaceous Trail, which was itself labeled as an attraction in spite of being nothing more than a sidewalk with ferns on either side.  You stepped through the white plastic flaps and into the Museum of Natural History, if the Museum of Natural History had been built with astroturf and Hefty bags instead of marble and glass.  Teevtee has already given you a sneak peek at the majesty of this edifice, but I recently found a couple pictures from those early years that show a different side.

Dreamcatcher hair ornaments were high fashion for Woolly Mammoths

These are personal photos of a bygone era, and just looking at them made me nostalgic for the quality Disney attractions of yesteryear.  As you can see, the Dinosaur Jubilee was not only jubilant about dinosaurs, but also about creatures that came along roughly 60 million years later.

Everything was larger than life in the Ice Age, including candy canes.

This is sort of like doing an exhibit called “The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame” and including hymns from the time of the Great Flood — only worse, because Noah is a mere 6000 years removed from Rock n Roll.

Maybe even less.

Dinosaur Jubilee looked temporary, it looked low-budget, and it looked devoid of any special Disney touch, such as themed exit signs or Drew Carrey narration.  In spite of being listed on the map, it’s hard to envision anyone considering this a real attraction.

Unlike this.

It was quickly earmarked for replacement, and the vast resources and creative talents of Walt Disney Imagineering gave us something we’re still talking about to this day.  Unfortunately, we talk about it in hushed whispers, pronouncing it scandalous, while fanning ourselves and hoping we don’t faint.

In 2001, Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama opened to an astonished public, who had never before seen carnival rides actually erected inside Disney’s borders.  The closest we had come to unthemed rickety deathtraps was the Boardwalk pool waterslide — forgivable, because it was a waterslide, not a carny coaster.

Jamboree, Jubilee, what’s the difference?

Dinosaur Jubilee’s demise couldn’t have come at a worse time.  September 11 derailed capital expenditures for companies everywhere.  But Animal Kingdom needed capacity like Angelina Jolie needs a nanny, so in came the carnies.  We were fed some sort of ridiculous backstory about Chester and Hester as a cover, but nobody believed it, except for people who thought Eric Massa really was just having tickle fights.

Today, except for the concrete footprint of carny-land, not a trace of the jubilant dinosaurs remain.  However, if you feel so inclined, you can go stand over near the ring toss and pretend you’re about to be swallowed by a Woolly Mammoth.  It’s probably more fun that way.

Parkeologists recreate opening scene to Spaceship Earth.    “I don’t care what you say is behind me, you’re not going to trick me into looking.”

Huge thanks today to Major Pepperidge over at Gorillas Don’t Blog for the Kaiser Aluminum Hall of Fame picture and also to mrkathika on flickr for the Country Bears picture.

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