Hello thrill ride!  Yes, we are getting into our first thrill ride here on the WDW Ride Guide and I am excited!  I love DINOSAUR.

I must begin this week by confessing I was a bit of a dinosaur nerd as a small child.  In fact, my parents lovingly decorated my room with dinosaur wallpaper, dinosaur sheets and dinosaur pillows.  I spent hours playing with my toy dinosaurs in my room as I imagined what it would be like to be a famous archaeologist digging up dino fossils.  Long before the introduction of Jurassic Park, I was dreaming up what it would be like to see real dinosaurs.

Well, thanks to the magic of Disney, I don’t have to imagine anymore!  As an adult I can ride DINOSAUR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and leave very little to my imagination.  This high thrill, fast-paced, bumpy ride immerses you in the world of dinosaurs.  So much so it can be a little too much for the faint of heart.  So, what makes this ride so amazing for some and so terrifying for others?  Well, follow me as we “dig deep” and get down to the “bones” of this ride!

To begin, DINOSAUR employs a ride vehicle we have not yet covered on the WDW Ride Guide.  This vehicle is called an EMV, or an enhanced motion vehicle.  Like many rides in Walt Disney World, the vehicle runs on a track.  However, unique to the Florida parks, this vehicle also incorporates a motion simulator allowing the imagineers to program the vehicles’ movements with the action occurring around them.  The result is like riding a bucking bronco the size of a large truck as it propels you through the environment.  In other words, it is awesome!  The same ride vehicles are used for Disneyland’s Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye and for Tokyo Disneyland’s Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull.  The enhanced motion is the main reason this ride comes with a physical considerations warning.  It is also responsible for making this a potentially frightening or fantastic ride depending on the rider.

Before you get scared off, bear with me as we explore a little further.   As I said earlier, this ride is a dream come true for dinosaur lovers.  You begin by entering the Dino Institute where you can observe real dinosaur remains as you meander through the queue.  The theming here is top notch and really works to get the imagination juices flowing.  Soon, you will go from looking at fossils to looking at the real deal as you board your CTX Time Rover.  First, you watch a video explaining the Time Rovers and how they are able to send you back to the time of dinosaurs.  Here you will learn there are conflicting ideas from two scientists about exactly where in time you will go.  One wants to put you down into the peaceful, safe Cretaceous period.  The other wants to secretly enlist you to help capture and return a living Iguanadon.   The Iguanadon is a friendly guy and only weighs 3.5 tons.  The real problem is that the he is believed to be living during the same time that all dinos were made extinct by a large meteor crash.  Sounds like a dangerous mission.  So, guess which of the two scientists wins out?

That’s right, its Iguanadon time and you are about to learn why the ride’s original name was Countdown to Extinction.   Dr. Grant is the scientist responsible for our little secret mission and will continue communicating with you through the ride.  Once onboard your 12 passenger CTX Time Rover, you quickly embark down the time tunnel.  A few seconds later you have traveled an astounding 65 million years and find yourself in the lush dark jungle home to who knows what.  Again, if you love dinosaurs or even just thrills then the next 3 minutes are going to be a lot of fun.  During that time you are going to be bounced around quickly through the forest as you try to escape the carnivorous Carnotaurus.  Whew, try saying that 5 times fast.  Not only do you have to avoid being a dino dinner, you must complete your mission of finding the Iguanadon before the impending meteor of doom hits the surface.

You do all of this while quickly turning left and right through an incredibly real feeling environment.  The dinosaurs come to life with vivid colors against the dark backdrop of the jungle.  The air itself feels different than when you first got on board.  Finally, the sound is so loud and so immersive that your brain is put on full alert and your heart starts beating a little faster as your body is slung around each turn.  By the time you come to the ride’s climax, your vehicle will be filled with the screams of most riders on board.  Then just as quickly as it started you are pulled back to today, once again safe and sound at the Dino Institute.  After you deboard, you will want to check out your group’s picture as it may just be the best theme park ride pic you will ever see.

Hopefully, it is already clear that while this ride is not for everyone it is one of my personal favorites.  I would put it in my top 5 of all rides at Walt Disney World.  However, I have found that is it very difficult to predict who will enjoy this ride.  When we took my brother-in-law to Disney World for the first time about 4 years ago I was really excited to introduce him to DINOSAUR.  He is a thrill seeker and loves roller coasters.  He actually has a much higher tolerance for g-force and overall motion sickness than I do.  There is not coaster too fast or too big for him to tackle.  So, I assumed he was going to love DINOSAUR.   At that time, my parents, my sister, my brother-in-law, my lovely wife and myself all rode the ride together.  I’m not sure how I got my wife on this ride a second time as she hates being scared.  Still, we all went and immediately after coming out of the ride I looked over at my brother-in-law and said, “What did you think?!”  He quickly shook his head back and forth in disapproval, with a frown on his face.  Now I’m not saying the ride scared him (mostly because he will still deny that to this day), but there was something about it he didn’t like.  So, when we all went back on our last Disney trip there were only 4 riders.  We knew the 5-year old nephews would not be ready based on other ride experiences so we didn’t even give them the option.  My wife and brother-in-law happily volunteered to sit this one out and watch the kids while my parents, my sister and I all rode together.  I think standing in the queue that day will end up being a moment my dad will cherish as it reminded him of our early Disney trips as a foursome.  Memories of past Disney vacations are precious things.

So my adult male thrill seeking brother-in-law did not enjoy DINOSAUR.  However, I have a friend with a 5 year old that loves the ride.  Upon learning this I was shocked.  I knew this boy was a fellow dino lover like myself but I couldn’t believe he wasn’t scarred for life from the ride’s intensity.  That is until my friend told us her trick.  This simple little trick made so much sense once she told us.  It could open up a whole world of scary rides for other little ones.  What is it?  Ear plugs.  Simple, cheap, foam ear plugs.  Our friend popped them in her son’s ears and instantly he was able to take in the sights of the dinosaurs he loved without the incredibly loud roars causing him to jump out of his skin.  When I thought back to the ride and what makes it so intense, the sound is the biggest factor.  Sure, the ride is still jerky and takes place in the dark, but if you remove the sound it would be very doable for a pint size dinosaur fan.

Will ear plugs work for you?  I don’t know.  There is no way to know until you give it a go.  With all things considered I would recommend parents do a first ride without kids if there is any doubt.  Maybe you have your own DINOSAUR experience you want to share with everyone else.  If so please leave a comment on this page or e-mail us feedback.  Be sure to check out our weekly podcast and come back to the website for a new ride each week!  Until next time, go make each day a ride worth taking.

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