VirginiaWind

NOTE: The descriptions of the places in this guide were accurate at the time the articles were posted. Please be advised that you should call ahead before traveling to any of them.

The Land Before Time (1960's Style) in Dinosaur Land, White Post, VA

By: Michelle Harper

Dinosaur LandWhether it's traveling back in time to visit the earth millions of years or just traveling back on a more personal journey to the childhood of about 30 years ago, Dinosaur Land in White Post Virginia is the perfect destination. Truly one of the last "dinosaurs" of its kind, this little reminder of Roadside America is practically begging for one last ride in the back of the family station wagon to a place where roadside billboards beckoned you with words like "Spectacular!", "Colossal!" and "Unbelievable but True!". Unlike the real dinosaur, however, this place seems to be winning the battle of extinction as crowds still gather to touch one of the last remaining pieces of Americana.

Dinosaur LandBuilt in 1968, Dinosaur Land still stands as a reminder of an era filled with drive-ins, B-monster movies and a certain amount of innocence that allowed for us to stare in awe at life-sized fiberglass models. Today its lure is more for children looking for a place to play and adults still searching for that last bit of childhood. However, it has so much more to offer. Where else can you sit in the hand of the famous movie star King Kong for a mere $5.00? If you are inclined you can even climb inside a 60' shark, wrestle with a 70' Octopus or trade moves with a 14' preying mantis that looks like it walked right out of a set of a 1950's nuclear radiation movie. The park is a virtual warehouse of old sci-fi movie props just waiting to be photographed with you as the latest star. No need for computer generated imaging. It's just you and the "real thing" and there's no problem with copyright issues. In fact, photography is encouraged at no extra charge. Talk about a true time warp!

Michelle wrestling octopusIn addition to all the campy fun, you just might actually learn something. Parts of the park are actually educational. Information is posted near every model with interesting facts and descriptions of many lesser known creatures such as a Diatryma to more popular Mammoth and Sabre Tooth Tiger. Many animals are forever frozen in candid scenes from their daily lives such as the Pteranodon lodged in the tree branches overhead ready to swoop down upon its prey or the Brontosaurus craning its neck to nibble leaves from a high treetop. Even the depiction of the "Epic battle" between the meat eating Tyrannosaurus and the herbivorous Titanosaurus gets the basic message of "survival of the fittest" across to even the youngest of visitors.

Don't mess with us.In its day, Dinosaur Land was the promise of every child's imagination. Now it takes a bit of that same magic as well as a longing for childhood to bring the luster back to these somewhat aging characters. Though it's a bit tarnished from years of use, it is what it proclaims to be and nothing more. Signs warn that some of the dinosaurs are being repaired and that the weather has "been hard on the park". However, there are promising signs of renewal and hope as the park is planning on getting 10 more models soon.

Stealing an eggAfter the tour, a visit to the souvenir shop is a must. The store, just like the park itself offers a wide range of goods from the tacky to the educational. You can find everything from fireworks to pottery, Native American goods to novelty items such as a Hillbilly Fish Finder and of course, all things dinosaur.

King Kong's got Michelle!While visiting White Post, you would be remiss if you didn't stop and see the famous "white post" for which the town is named. This marker has stood as a reminder of the town's heritage since it was placed there in 1750 by George Washington to serve as a guidepost for visitors to Lord Fairfax's estate. (The white post is located on White Post Road Rt. 658). Though the original post has been replaced several times, the town has taken great efforts to recreate the original. The town of White Post, like Dinosaur Land takes great efforts to preserve its history. Perhaps this explains why though many roadside tourist attractions of the past have become extinct, Dinosaur Land has withstood the test of time.

Directions: Located in the Shenandoah Valley on US 522, 340 & 277 between Winchester and Front Royal
Admission: $5.00
Hours: 9:30 AM - 5:30 PM Daily. Closed Jan and Feb
For more information visit: www.dinosaurland.com

Other Items of Interest:
Convenience Store and Gas: Located on premises
Picnicking: Area located at White Post Village Park less than 5 minutes away on Rt. 658 on White Post Road
Dining: Chasens Country Buffet located less than 10 miles away on Rt. 50 in Winchester. (Take Rt. 522 N to Rt 50. Left on Rt. 50 to Delco Plaza. Located right before Harley shop)

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