Jurassic Park doesn’t exist (yet!), so you’ll have to settle for a close second: DinosaurLand.
Here are the top 5 reasons to go.
1. Education. All displays are completely to scale and photorealistic. The placards tell you fascinating facts. Did you know that the praying mantis is “the highest evolved of all insects”? Bet you didn’t think evolution worked that way. Well, it does.
2. Terror. You will be at the edge of your seat the entire time. Except you won’t be sitting — you’ll be running for your life! These displays are so spot-on that you’ll still have the jitters when you’re back on the highway.
3. Biodiversity. Nature has provided bounteous derp-faces in all shapes and sizes. Gaze in wonder at the one-toothed Sabertooth and all his friends. You will find smirks, scowls, leers, giggles, and big-tongued roars galore.
4. New parents. I got kidnapped by King Kong (hi, new Dad!) and adopted by that raptor thing (hi, new Mom!). I liked my old parents, but I think my new parents are pretty exciting, too!
5. Surprise dinosaurs! Someone on the Internet asked “Is an octopus a dinosaur?” and got scoffed at. Whoops! It appears to be one. So there, Internet! The gift shop also had sections devoted to cats and Elvis, both of which are apparently dinosaurs, as well.
I met a man in said gift shop who had a sweet tattoo he let me photograph, which is probably also a dinosaur. As was the man himself. As are we all. Or not. I’m having trouble distinguishing where the line is.
… But seriously, guys, you should visit this thing. It’s $6/adult ($5/child). You will have a fun time. You may even survive.
Keeping weird attractions like this open is really important to me. In a world where everything is slick and pre-fab, this was really a work of passion. It’s not some mega-corporation enforcing top-down “infotainment.” Someone cared about this wack-fest. These places are aspirational. They reflect a can-do big-dreams attitude that I love.
I’ll post more sights and suggestions as I continue my trip!