Friday, October 12, 2007

Diggin' in Dinoland - The Hip Joint

Don't believe the Dinoland naysayers for even a moment. It remains one of Walt Disney Imagineering's crowning achievements.

In the past I have championed the cause of this much maligned area of Disney's Animal Kingdom, Dinoland has a density of details and a depth of story that is practically unrivaled in all of Walt Disney World. Even the very often derided Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama is a distinct part of the area's overall narrative.

A shining example of this convergence of story and details lies within Restaurantosaurus, Dinoland's counter service food venue. The odd amalgamation of buildings that form Restaurantosaurus is in fact home to the young interns from the nearby Dino Institute. Here is some very relevant expository from The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney's Animal Kingdom:

"The Restaurantosaurus building tells the entire story of Dinoland all in one facility-existing as it has since the long-ago days before the first fossil was discovered here. The legend of Dinoland holds that this former fishing lodge sits on the site of that first find-made back in 1947 by an amateur fossil hunter. He and a group of scientist friends banded together to purchase the site, knowing right away how much scientific value would be realized from such a cache. Since its days as a fishing lodge, this building has served as a visitors' center, a museum with fossils on the wall, the first iteration of the Dino Institute with a fossil lab, and a clubhouse for students. Now it's both a commissary and a dormitory for the grad students who live there. They feel a real sense of ownership here, as we see in their handiwork-and displays of their irreverent sense of humor-including the modification of the name on the Restaurant marquee."

One of the rooms within is a celebration of the residing grad students youthful energy and irreverence. The Hip Joint is essentially the facility's rec room and contains close to fifty years of wacky intern-collected homemade ephemera.

A distinct tradition among the grad students was that each one contributed a rock excavated from a dig site over the course of their tour of duty. Each one bears the personal touch of its donor, typically a tongue-in-cheek testament to their Dino Institute tenure.

But what makes this on-the-wall/off-the-wall rock collection especially interesting is that the interns' painted inscriptions very much represent the time periods that their dates reflect. Late 1960s dated stones make reference to Star Trek and Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Pink Floyd's The Wall is referenced on a rock dated from the late 1970s.

Another tradition reflected on the walls of The Hip Joint is the annual Zip Award. These homemade trophies were bestowed each year upon the unlucky intern who after a summer of digging found nothing--zip.

At the opposite extreme, the Golden Trowel was awarded to the student with the most discoveries.

And the Golden Boot Award was given to the person who logged the most mileage in their quest for palaeontology notoriety.

And this is just but one room in Restaurantosaurus. The backstory of the Dino Institute is communicated throughout its many nooks and crannies, Quonset hut and Airstream trailer. Even if you're not in the mood for the standard Disney World fast food that is served there, it is still well worth an expedition of exploration and parkeolgy excavation.

8 comments:

WDWEPCOTMGMAK said...

It's been great to learn the backstory for Dinoland. I never knew there was so much info on it. We really enjoy that area so we will have to look at the neat items next time.

Grumpwurst (Ray) said...

I'm still kicking myself for not having enough time to scout out the Dinoland area.

After all the info given by the Disney Scene Investigations, I wanted to get some pictures. But, alas, I ran out of time.

I guess I need to leave things for subsequent trips

Anonymous said...

Yaba daba doo! Dinoland rules!

Chip said...

Jeff-
I love the blog and your spots on Lou's shows. I just started a blog myself-a mix of memories and details mostly.

the-foolish-mortal.blogspot.com

Stop by and say hello!

Chip (elchippo in the forum world)

Anonymous said...

Dinoland is a lot of contrivance with very little substance. Of all of DAK it is the most disappointing. A promising archetype (roadside attraction) completly squandered in execution. A collection of vapid attractions that somehow avoid the fact that LITTLE KIDS are among the most fervent dino fans. A layered on expansion area that is actually better than the first phase of the project AND among WDI's worst concoctions.

I seriously wish this area had never been attempted.

KINGCRAB said...

Anonymous, if you had been paying very close attention to this blog entry and the earlier one that Jeff Pepper linked to, you'll see that you are COMPLETELY wrong in your beliefs.

KINGCRAB said...

Also, Dinoland is one of those attractions that DOES NOT deserve to be heavily-maligned over the Internet like it does.

S, please, do us all a favor and leave Dinoland alone.

D.O.C. said...

If ever there was an area of any park for looking in every direction, including up and down, this is it. It is a target rich environment for WDI plussing.