|The entrance to DINOSAUR.|
|Attraction type||EMV Dark Ride|
|Opening date||April 22, 1998|
|Ride duration||3:05 minutes|
|Height requirements||40" (102 cm)|
|Sponsored by||McDonalds (1998-2008)|
|Based on||Disney's DINOSAUR|
Countdown To Extinction
The attraction that would eventually be known as DINOSAUR traces its roots back to 1991 . At that time, Disney developed a new type of ride platform that was able to tilt and sway regardless of the speed or direction of the vehicle. The new ride vehicle (known as an EMV) was first used in Disneyland's Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye in 1995 . This success of that attraction convinced Imagineers that they could tailor the system for the new E Ticket Dinosaur attraction that they were developing for Disney's Animal Kingdom. During the original designing processes, Imagineers had hoped to create an "E-Ticket" roller coaster known as The Excavator . Besides being a traditional outdoor roller coaster (taking place in an archaeological dig site), the attraction would have featured dinosaur encounters. A second proposed attraction was a family ride, which would have taken guests back to the time of the dinosaurs, where guests would be brought face to face with the reptiles . As plans for the park progressed however, and the theme park ran over budget, it became clear that the cost of the building the attraction made the project unfeasible . Instead, Imagineers decided to create a new attraction known as Countdown to Extinction. Besides using the same ride vehicle, the track layout and the ride structure of the new attraction were also copied from Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye . Although neither a roller coaster nor a family friendly ride, Countdown to Extinction used elements of both of the previously planned dinosaur attractions. The thrilling attraction took guests back in time, to come face to face with dinosaurs. Originally embarking on a research trip, guests would instead travel back to the final moments before the dinosaurs went extinct .
The attraction opened as Countdown to Extinction on April 22 1998, with the rest of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
On May 19, 2000, Disney changed the name of Countdown to Extinction to DINOSAUR, in order to tie the attraction in with their newest movie (also titled DINOSAUR) . Due to the fact that Disney felt more children would ride the attraction because of this tie, a number of minor changes were made to the attraction. These changes included:
- All of the attractions signage being replaced.
- The removal of the Styracosaus statue outside of the attraction. The Styracosaurus was replaced with a statue of Aladar from the film .
- Some of the jerkier movements of the vehicle were toned down, making the ride slightly less intense .
- The required height to ride the attraction was lowered from 48 inches to 40 inches 
- On Countdown to Extinction's soundtrack, the footsteps and roars of the Carnotaurus sounded as if the dinosaur was catching up to guests as they were being chased. When the attraction reopened as DINOSAUR, the soundtrack was changed so that it sounded as if the dinosaur was falling behind in its pursuit .
- At the finale of the attraction, the large meteor was replaced with a Carnotaurus Head 
In 2016, DINOSAUR closed for a lengthy refurbishment . When the attraction reopened it featured upgraded lighting, improved audio, enhancements to the time travel vortex effects, and projections of Compsognathus overhead . The Compsognathus projections replaced the static dinosaurs that were previously featured .
Queue and Preshow
The queue for DINOSAUR begins with guests entering the Dino Institute. As guests meander through the building, it becomes clear that the scientists here are not only interested in how dinosaurs lived, but how they became extinct. In the halls of the Dino Institute (which was once a secret research facility) guests can find the remains of real dinosaurs, statues, and paintings, as Bill Nye the Science Guy gives them background information about both the dinosaurs and the institute. After making their way through the institute, guests reach the preshow area, where they watch a short film.
The preshow begins with Doctor Marsh (the director of the Dino Institute) welcoming guests. She then explains that the way that scientists have studied dinosaurs has always been through their fossils, but that this method is about to change. Dr. Marsh next introduces guests to the institute’s newest invention, the Time Rover. Marsh claims that this new vehicle will be able to transport guests back to the age of the dinosaurs, in order to take them on a breathtaking tour of the early Cretaceous period.
As Dr. Marsh finishes her introduction, she is cut off my Dr. Seeker, another scientist at the institute. Seeker informs guests that instead of traveling to the early Cretaceous period, he plans to send them to the late Cretaceous period so that they can help him with his research. Dr. Seeker explains that he wants guests to rescue an Iguanodon (Aladar from the Disney movie DINOSAUR), that he has previously “tagged with a locator” on an unauthorized trip back in time. Upon hearing Dr. Seeker's plan, Dr. Marsh enters the room, and informs guests that they will not be traveling to the late Cretaceous period, because of the asteroid that will soon hit the planet, killing most life forms. She then informs Dr. Seeker that the Time Rovers have been locked to travel to the Early Cretaceous period. After giving a brief safety spiel, Dr. Seeker tells guests that he has hacked into the Time Rover's coordinates so that guests will be able to save the Iguanodon. He then explains that their mission will be to track the dinosaur with the homing signal. After the Iguanodon has been found, Dr. Seeker will "enlarge the transport field" bringing guests (and the dinosaur) back to the present time before the asteroid hits Earth.
After getting into their Time Rover, guests are instructed to "get in, grab the Iguanodon, and get out, before the asteroid hits.” At this point, the Time Rovers begin moving and guests enter the time tunnel. Here, lights begin to flash all around before suddenly going out, revealing a field of stars. As the star field fades away, guests find themselves in prehistoric jungle. The first dinosaur they encounter is Styracosaus, who is pushing a tree very close to the Time Rover. As the vehicles continue forward, the computer warns guests that the meteor shower is within range, although Dr. Seeker tells guests not to worry. Continuing on, guests come across an Alioramus, who is digging for its prey. The large dinosaur then pulls a large lizard out of the ground, before eating it. Just past the Alioramus, guests see a mother Hadrosaur (specifically a Parasaurolophus) who is watching over her young, as a raptor stands on a nearby ledge looking for prey.
After passing the raptor, Dr. Seeker says that it is time to get serious. Seeker then sets the Time Rover's autopilot to the coordinates of a dinosaur that he believes is the Iguanodon. As the rover speeds forward, it comes to a halt when it reaches the dinosaur. Unfortunately, the dino in question was not the Iguanodon, but instead a dangerous Carnotaurus. Realizing his mistake, Seeker tells guests that they need to get away from the dinosaur.
The Time Rover then speeds over the rough terrain, frantically trying to get away. After making their escape, Seeker tells guests that another large dinosaur is coming up. As the Time Rover slowly approaches the dinosaur, the computer tells Dr. Seeker that it is a Sauropod (once again not the dinosaur guests are looking for). As the vehicle continues forward, the computer warns Dr. Seeker that the asteroid impact will take place in 90 seconds. After hearing this warning, the Time Rovers enter a jungle, where two small Pterodactyls can be seen on a ledge. As the computer warns guests about another Pterodactyl, and Dr. Seeker yells "Incoming!” the Time Rovers go down a small drop, as a large Pterodactyl swoops by overhead. As the Time Rover drops, small Compsognathus leap over the vehicle.
Following the drop, the computer warns guests that the asteroid will be hitting in 60 seconds, but Dr. Seeker wants to continue on. Now in the complete dark, the computer warns the doctor that the Time Rover is experiencing “loss of traction". Suddenly, a strobe light effect reveals that the Carnotaurus has found guests! Dr. Seeker orders "evasive maneuver" as the Time Rover takes many frantic turns, trying to escape, but to no avail. Despite the previous series of maneuvers, guests once again find themselves face to face with the Carnotaurus, who raises itself to full height and roars loudly.
Dr. Seeker now realizes that he needs to abort the mission, but he is unable to. As the Time Rover continues forward, it appears as though large trees are going to fall and crush the vehicle or at least stop its progress. At this dire moment, Aladar appears (with the computer calling him the Iguanodon). Dr. Seeker tells the computer that they need to forget the dinosaur and abort the mission. Aladar is then seen holding up a tree, allowing the Time Rovers to continue forward. As guests try to make their escape, the meteor impacts, sending a flash of light throughout the jungle. This light reveals that the Carnotaurus is back, and lunging toward the vehicle. Just as Dr. Seeker worries that guests will be unable to make it back, the Time Rover goes down a slope and once again guests find themselves in the star field. As the field fades, guests arrive back at the institute. A television screen shows Aladar has apparently come back with guests. Dr. Seeker then thanks guests, before saying that he has to go find Aladar before security does.
Fun Facts and Trivia
- When the attraction first opened there were no barriers surrounding the fountain just outside of the attraction. Due to guests entering the fountain, Disney eventually added various barriers including planters .
- DINOSAUR (as well as the rest of DINOLAND USA) was sponsored by McDonalds from 1998 to 2008 .
- Shortly after opening, the lasers and pyro effects used in the attraction's vortex tunnels were turned off .
- At the time of its opening DINOSAUR (then known as Countdown to Extinction) featured 12 of the largest Audio Animatronics that Disney had ever created.
- DINOSAUR features one of the largest smoke machines used in any theme park.
- When DINOSAUR first opened the Compsognathus would jump across the ride's track, however this effect has been turned off and the dinosaurs are now static .
- In the attraction's queue guests can look up and see three pipes that are red, yellow and blue. Written on each of the pipes is the chemical compound that makes up ketchup (red), mustard (yellow) and mayonnaise (white). These pipes are a subtle reference to the fact that McDonalds originally sponsored the attraction .
- The large turtle skeleton found in the attraction's gift shop was initially featured in the Dinosaur Jubilee attraction .
- Imagineers initially wanted the large mirror that reflects guests to be an optical illusion where guests would see their ride vehicle and the Iguanadon that traveled back in time with them. When this effect didn't work, Imagineers instead installed the monitor that currently shows the Iguanadon roaming around the institute .
References to Countdown to Extinction
- On a map of DinoLand USA found opposite The Boneyard Playground, guests can see that the attraction is still referenced as Countdown to extinction .
- A wall near the boarding area in DINOSAUR reads, "SECTOR CTX-WDW-AK98". The wall references Countdown to Extinction as well as the year Animal Kingdom opened and Walt Disney World .