News / Arts & Entertainment

    American Roadside Attraction 'Dinosaur Land' Lures Visitors

    American Roadside Attraction 'Dinosaur Land' Lures Visitorsi
    X
    July 08, 2014 11:08 PM
    A big part of the American landscape of the middle 20th century was the roadside attraction - small zoos, amusement parks or quirky museums along the highways families traveled on their way to vacation destinations. Most of those attractions are gone, but one in Virginia, a couple of hours from Washington, called Dinosaur Land, is still going strong.
    Deborah Block

    A big part of the American landscape of the middle 20th century was the roadside attraction - small zoos, amusement parks or quirky museums along the highways families traveled on their way to vacation destinations. Most of those attractions are gone, but one in Virginia, a couple of hours from Washington, called Dinosaur Land, is still going strong.  

    On a sunny afternoon, kids are enjoying looking at the dozens of dinosaurs, large and small, that are posed around the park. Adults who came here as youngsters now bring their own children. As he watched his daughter marvel at the creature towering over her, Brian Beck recalled his childhood impressions of the dinosaurs.

    “They were larger than life. I’ve grown up loving dinosaurs because of this place,” he said.

    A family business

    Dinosaur Land began 51 years ago as a roadside gift shop. Joseph Geraci displayed a huge wooly mammoth outside as a gimmick to lure in customers driving past.  Then he added prehistoric beasts next to the shop and gave it the name it has today. When Geraci passed away in 1987, family members, including his daughter Joann Leight, took over the business.

    Leight is proud that four generations have worked at the park, including her grandson John, who grew up with Dinosaur Land, and says it hasn't changed much.
     
    “We try to keep the old America feel around here. It’s not meant to be a museum.  We’re meant to be a roadside attraction.  We like for people to just stop by,” he explained.

    That's what Hannah Pascucci did. She writes a travel blog about the state of Virginia.

    “It’s run down, but still very popular,” she observed. “This is kind of in the middle of nowhere.”

    Over the years, the park has added newer dinosaurs that look more realistic. Each one is created on a wooden frame, surrounded by wire and fiberglass, and then painted.

    Joann Leight said, “Even though they don’t move, they’re not animated, the kids are still really fascinated with them because they are life size.”
     
    World-class gift shop

    Dinosaur Land’s gift shop was recently named one of the 10 best places to buy souvenirs in the United States. Its shelves are crowded with everything from animal figurines to four-million-year-old ocean fossils.  And of course, lots of dinosaurs, including popular small plastic toys.

    “The movement of their mouth gives them a more realistic feel,” John Leight said as he demonstrated the action. “Their scales are uniquely and artistically drawn and painted to give them a more lizard-like feel.”

    Darci Rampino, who first came to the park as a little girl, looks at the toys with nostalgia.

    Tourist Nathan Bright enjoys looking at vintage postcards -- photos of children with the dinosaurs in the 1970s. They are relatives of the park owners.

    “It would be a novelty just to send that out to someone because they’ll think it got lost in the mail for decades,” he said.

    Joann Leight says today Dinosaur Land is getting more visitors than ever.

    “Now we do a lot of advertisement on the interstates,” she explained. “Each year it keeps growing.”

    David Price is continuing a family tradition by bringing his children to Dinosaur Land.

    “Here I am, 30 years later, doing it all over again. I’d like to see it stay for another 100 years,” he said.

    John Leight hopes his family can continue his great-grandfather’s legacy, so the park doesn’t disappear like the dinosaurs.

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    New in Music Alley

    Take It From The Top: Stanley Jordani
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    May 17, 2016 5:01 PM
    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously. He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously.  He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

     

     

     

     

    Blogs

    African Music Treasures