Dinoland USA: Animal Kingdom’s Most Fun Rest Stop at Disney World!

To the average guest, Dinoland USA located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom is one of the most skipped lands probably out of most of the parks.

Most only venture to ride the thrilling Dinosaur attraction, meet characters like Donald Duck, or to entertain the kids at the Boneyard.

Dinoland USA is full of hidden, quirky details that pay homage to the little known Disney film and the returning fad of Road tripping across America!

And with everything in the Disney Parks, Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) has a well themed and well laid out tale behind it!

With rumors swirly that it will be closing soon, I thought it would be great to explore all that the land has to offer and why it deserves more attention before it goes extinct.

Animal Kingdom Dinoland USA Dino Rama Entrance with Chester and Hester Green and Blue Dinosaurs

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.  Which means if you click on certain links, I may receive a small commission at no additional charge to you.


During the early stages of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, it was coming down to the wire before its opening in April 1998.

CEO Michael Eisner had to budget and had to choose which land was going to open with the park.

It was between Beastly Kingdom, a land filled with fantastical creatures, or Dinoland USA. He wanted to capitalize on the upcoming Disney film, “Dinosaur” and so Dinoland USA was chosen for Phase 1.

It was planned that Beastly Kingdom would come to be in a future phase after the park opened, but it never came to be.

The land designated for it is where Pandora: The World of Avatar stands today.

While at first glance, Dinoland USA seems a bit….off putting, it’s all part of its story and it may change your mind about how you look at it for future visits.  

ORDER NOW to secure your ticket reservation in the parks! GET MY DISNEY WORLD TICKETS!


The backstory for Dinoland USA takes us to 1947 in a small highway town. An amateur fossil hunter would go on to discover some dinosaur bones.

Dinoland Dinosaur Ride Disney Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Dino-Sue is a replica of the largest and most complete T-Rex fossil ever found.
Dino-Sue is a replica of the largest and most complete T-Rex fossil ever found.

Afterwards, the hunter contacted some friends, who collected enough money to purchase the site.


Now I want to take you through the attractions in this land and what you can expect on your visit.

Dinosaur Ride

Since the discovery of the new town, scientists and more have come to the site and the Dino Institute was created.

Animal Kingdom Dinosaur Ride with Tyrannosaurus Rex Skeleton

Here you travel back in time to save an iguanodon before an asteroid hits – super crucial stuff!

The institute was on the path to a major breakthrough and I won’t spoil the full storyline for the Dinosaur attraction but it’s not to be missed!

If you’ve ever ridden Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland, then you’ll already know the type of ride vehicle and track layout because they are both very similar.

DinoLand USA Animal Kingdom NikkyJ Disney Solo
DinoLand USA Animal Kingdom

This ride isn’t ideal for little ones due to the loud noises, total darkness, and quite scary dinosaurs, but it’s a hit with those seeking thrills.

Triceratops Spin

The Triceratops Spin ride is a take on Dumbo The Flying Elephant over at Magic Kingdom and they added Midway games too.

Overall, it’s intentionally corny,  super cute to take Instagram photos, take a break, people watch and much more! You simply have to give it a chance.

The Boneyard

Children aged 10 and under are welcome to explore rope bridges, navigate through intriguing caves, and slide down twisting slides.

Join in at the excavation site and assist in uncovering fossils from a Triceratops and a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

They can also unearth numerous dinosaur-themed surprises while enjoying a fun time digging into the past.

Disney World GUIDE Blog Banner

It’s so much fun for the little ones and great place for adults to relax and take a break.

Now Defunct Primeval Whirl

The now deceased attraction, “Primeval Whirl” was a comedic take on the Dinosaur attraction.

Primeval Whirl at Animal Kingdom

It was a wild mouse type roller coaster that packed a punch- with sudden drops, rapid turns, and unexpected spinning.

Animal Kingdom Dinoland USA Primeval Whirl Roller Coaster Ride

Some of us loved it while others were not a fan of the jerking aspect that the ride gave.

WATCH: 13 Beginner Tips for Going to Disney World This Year!


Be sure to check out the gift shop, Chester & Hester’s Dinosaur Treasures, was originally a gas station created by the town’s founders that was used to make a quick buck as well (according to the lore).

You can also pick up your prehistoric goods at The Dino Institute Shop which is located at the exit of the Dinosaur ride.

Ready to plan your theme park trip? Watch the best vacation planning tips on YouTube. Get started here!

Food in Dinoland USA

Now we’re at my favorite part, the food!


The main eatery in Dinoland USA is mentioned above, Restaurantosaurus. It was sponsored by McDonald’s between 1998-2008 and served up McDonald’s staples until the sponsorship ended.

According to lore, Restaurantosaurus is a former fishing lodge transformed into a dive spot where college students earn extra income.

Some of them live in the lodge as well!

Restaurantosaurus Menu Disney Animal Kingdom in DINOLAND USA
Restaurantosaurus Menu Disney Animal Kingdom

Nearby, Chester and Hester, two entrepreneurs from the area with a quirky sense of humor launch a tourist attraction named Dino-Rama, playfully poking fun at the Dino Institute.

The Paleontologists don’t find it funny however.

As per its story, the fishing lodge was originally the first headquarters for the Dino Institute before it expanded to its current location.

It functioned for various uses such as a museum, dormitories, educational facility, and dining space for researchers and learners prior to its transformation into a restaurant in 1978.

The walls and rooms keep with its theme and story as it’s decorated with fossils, memorabilia and sculptures.

It is broken down into several areas including:

  • Old Museum
  • Dino Institute Dormitory
  • “Hip Joint” Rec Room
  • Dino Institute Motor Pool Garage

ORDER NOW to secure your Orlando theme park ticket reservation in the parks! GET MY TICKETS.

Restaurantosaur Menu

You can expect a delicious 1/3 Angus Cheeseburgers, Fried Chicken Sandwich, Impossible™ Spicy Southwestern Burger, and Cobb Salad here.

Delicious Black Bean Burger at Disney's Animal Kingdom Restaurantosaurs in Dinoland USA.
Plant Based Burger at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Restaurantosaur

You can also partake in alcoholic beverages here at the bar on the side of the restaurant.

Restaurantosaurus Lounge and Bar in Dinoland USA at Animal Kingdom
Restaurantosaurus Lounge

This place is really neat to spend time in and a great option if you’re looking for something familiar and quick to eat while you rest.

More Food Options to Try in Dinoland:

  • Trilo-Bites: Get the buffalo chicken chips (they are a must-have!)
  • Dino-Bite Snacks: Get a delicious ice cream treat here such as the Dig Ice Cream Sandwich


3 Top Tips and Tricks for Your Visit

Here I will give a few quick tips and tricks for some of the attractions and things to do in Dinoland USA.

1. Experience Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!

This attraction resides on the outskirts on the area and is a really great show if you’re a fan of the film.

New songs and acrobatics featured in the show, along with puppetry really brings the story to a different yet familiar light.

Animal Kingdom Finding NEMO Show with actor pulling turtle

There really isn’t a bad seat in the house, but I prefer middle section as the performers come through the aisles to give an interactive experience.

Finding Nemo cast at animal kingdom Disney Solo Trip with NikkyJ
Showing Our #DisneySide with Animal Kingdom’s Finding Nemo Cast

If you don’t want to waste a Lightning Lane on Dinosaur or it isn’t available, try to shoot for it around lunchtime or towards park closing. In my experience, it’s usually a 15-20 minute wait.

Hipster Power Tip: While in the Dinosaur queue, pay attention to the detail placed throughout and tell Mrs. Huxtable I said hello!

2. Meet Rare Characters

You are able to meet some familiar characters also known as Donald and Goofy here. But for the 1990s babies, this is also a great place to meet Scrooge Mcduck and Launchpad Mcquack

Finally you can meet chip and dale in the most adorable dinosaur costumes!

Dinoland Chip and Dale Meet and Greet Animal Kingdom with Victoria Wade

You will have to ask a Cast Member about the times they meet which is preferred in my methods.

Cast Members are more up to date when it comes to character meet times versus the website. They usually meet near Restaurantosaurus.

3. Party with Donald!

You can’t miss Donald’s Dino Bash either which is a fun dance party with these characters! Have you ever done a line dance with Chip and Dale? Now is your chance!

Best part is, it’s usually not busy so it’s a perfect way to get some photo-ops with them.

Ready to start planning your next Disney World vacation? Listen to the latest podcast episode on Apple or on your non-Apple device now!

My Final Thoughts

Dinoland USA is a classic example of Walt Disney Imagineering really playing into its theme.

Dinoland Dinosaur Ride Disney Animal Kingdom Theme Park

Guests write off the land as cheap and skip it. But in reality, that’s all part of its story, theme and charm quite frankly!

I think it was important to bring up its story because it allows you to truly look deeper into the details placed all over the land to create its bigger picture.

While one may come for the E-ticket Dinosaur attraction or to let their kids dig around in the Boneyard where the very first fossils were found, this is the big draw to explore the land.

DINOSAUR Queue Line Entrance at Animal Kingdom

Visit the Chester and Hester Gift Shop which one could compare to the joke shop of Fred and George’s from the Harry Potter films.

There is so much to see in there and buy if you want to like their pockets with a quick buck.

Finally, dining at Restaurantosaurus is a treat too as you can see nods to Disney History on top of the details that play a continuation of its overarching tale.

The tale of Dinoland USA plays into the old days where families would road trip across the country and stop at cheesy highway towns.

Road tripping has since come back with the pandemic and the land plays into that.

Should you visit dinoland at Disney Animal Kingdom_
Save This Article for Later Using the Share Button Below!

Will you be making Dinoland USA a priority on your next visit before the rumored closing date? Let us know in the comments.

Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!

Victoria Wade Disney Writer at ThemeParkHipster

About the Author

Victoria is a professional solo traveler here to make your solo trips as stress free AND enjoyable as possible for you.

She has over 5 years of Disney and Non-Disney travel experience and was featured by POPSUGAR as one of the Top 50 Black Disney Creators you should follow.

She is a Proud Native to Baltimore, Md but always will call Disney World home. You can find her at Disney Tea with V.

UP NEXT: Disney Animal Kingdom for Adults: The Definitive Guide for Your Trip

(Original Article Date: October 25, 2020/Updated by Editor on July 8, 2024)

Share this article!

Leave a Comment