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Dinosaur is a high-tech thrill ride, one of the E-ticket attractions at the Animal Kingdom, where guests are sent back in time to the age of dinosaurs. They meet several of the giant reptiles, and find themselves still in the past as the asteroid that will destroy most life on Earth is hurtling towards the ground. Since Disney tries very hard not to drive their paying customers to extinction, guests get back to the present in the end.
At park opening, Dinosaur was called Countdown to Extinction. The name was changed to match the Disney film Dinosaur in 2000 and toned down somewhat.
The ride vehicle is of the same breed as that used in the Indiana Jones: Temple of the Forbidden Eye attraction at Disneyland, which debuted in 1995, three years before Dinosaur. The vehicle is protected by U.S. Patent #5,623,878 filed in November 1995 and awarded in April, 1997.
Why isn't there a T-Rex in the ride? Disney originally planned to have one, but while designing the ride, Carnotaurus sastrei was discovered and the Imagineers decided to use the South American carnivore instead.
Dinosaur is a fantastic ride that showcases all that Disney can do with technology. The story is at least reasonable (once you accept the time travel part, at least), and the ride experience is top notch. There is even a bit of education sprinkled into the pre-show and the ride itself, as each of the dinosaurs you meet is identified by name.
The ride is dark, in some places completely dark, and very loud. Towards the end is an experience that will likely frighten young children. This happens to be where your ride photo is taken, so if you think your child won't handle it well, consider skipping this one - unless you want his shock captured on film.
The pre-show introduces you to Dr. Lars, the director of the Dino Institute (motto: Exploration, Excavation, Exultation), who describes the time tour you are about to embark on. Then Dr. Grant Seeker (get it?) cuts in, and lures you into his scheme to bring back an Iguanodon, explaining that he has hacked the time-rover to send it back, not to the early (safer) era that you paid for, but to a point in time just before the asteroid impact. Of course he will get you safely back. His plan isn't even foiled by the reappearance of Dr. Lars.
You board your time-rover, and off you go. Look quickly to the left at the white board, and you may see the Hidden Mickey drawn there. Then sit back to enjoy the thrills. Your computer guide identifies the first dinosaur you meet (Styracosaurus), then warns of a meteor shower, which Seeker downplays as a "little one." Your next encounters are an Alioramus eating another (unidentified) reptile, a Hadrosaur, and a Velociraptor.
At this point the ride gets more exciting as Seeker starts to get nervous about the time. The large dinosaur he is tracking turns out to be a Carnotaurus, followed by a Sauropod. The computer warns of the pending asteroid impact just as a pterodactyl swoops at you from above. You encounter a Compsognathus, then your time rover gets stuck in the mud (so much for high-tech humvees) as the beast attacks. You escape, only to come face-to-face with another Carnotaurus, this one right in front of you and very loud.
Finally, you find your Iguanodon, but Seeker has lost his nerve and is trying to get you back to the present. As the asteroid bears down on the Earth, Seeker finally gets you back, along with an extra passenger.
Be sure to check the "security monitors" in the hallway as you exit.
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