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Attraction Profile www.parkworld-online.com


Wild and Wacky


At the end of last year North American editor Paul Ruben spoke to fibreglass artist and entertainer, Mark Cline and this month, he shares another of Mark’s creations - Dinosaur Kingdom II


park’s fibreglass figures created by Jim Sidwell he told his dad that one day he would build similar dinosaurs, and he kept his word. More than 50 years later, Dinosaur Land is still in business and now features several of Cline’s creations alongside Sidwell’s originals.


W


Weapons of Mass Destruction In 2012 a fire destroyed Cline’s monster museum and his first effort to build his own dinosaur park. In 2016, he opened Dinosaur Kingdom II in Natural Bridge, Virginia. It’s different. And that’s an understatement. It mixes art and absurdity.


The park sits along highway U.S. 11, behind a giant fence. Inside are more than 25 scenes with about 100 characters. The walking tour starts with a train car and through a colourful spinning tunnel that transports them back in time. On the other side is Extinction Junction, a tiny town filled with mysteries and wonders, including a house tilted at a disorientating angle and mechanical slime monsters that pass behind walls. Rather than being set in the Mesozoic era, the time of dinosaurs, it takes you back to 1864, near the end of the American Civil War, to a previously unknown area of


WINTER PART 1 2021


hen Mark was 11 or 12 years old, his father took him to Dinosaur Land in White Post, Virginia. Cline was so enamored with the


Virginia known as Saur Valley. (Dinosaur valley, get it?) Guests enter the park through the Extinction Junction train depot. The Old West-inspired town was once part of a motel and Cline turned each building into its own interactive funhouse. At the undertaker’s, dinosaurs crawl in and out of a casket. At the dentist, guests can try their steady hand at a game of “Dinosaur Operation,” removing metal pieces such as the “peanut brain” or “tailbone.” An elaborate introductory video explains the park’s concept—the “untold” story of how Union soldiers used “dinosaurs as weapons of mass destruction” against the South during the Civil War. Cline explains that there was nothing here but a forest. In its place he created an adventure. “Very few roadside attractions like this exist anymore,” he says. “I brought back something that almost really did become extinct.”


Milking a Stegosaurus Like Dinosaur Land, the main attraction here is the dinosaurs, set up in various scenes that together tell a larger story. There are no explanatory plaques, but visitors savvy enough to scan a QR code will be rewarded with videos of Cline acting out select scenes. In the adjacent gift shop they can even buy the comic book, Dinosaur Kingdom II. It reads like the script depicted in the park.


The park includes 16 acres of woodland where you’ll find 37


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