15 February 2016

Not a Through Street

As you head out of Diggs County on US 498, or rather move towards the back of DinoLand, U.S.A. where Cast Members come and go, you’ll notice three billboards. Each gives a little insight into the story being told throughout the land, but they’re so far off the beaten path you truly have to seek them out in order to gleam their significance.

The first lies behind Primeval Whirl’s track. It is adorned with lamps to make sure it shows up at night. This sign welcomes you to Diggs County with an open view of the county and a quirky tagline. It is reminiscent of roadside billboards all over the country. It highlights what the county is known for, dinosaurs, and presents visitors with a serene, almost bucolic vista of the area. This is saying something since the area is well known for its dinosaur attractions, many of which are hinted at on this billboard. Obviously, this sign was developed by a tourism board or chamber of commerce, taken from the fact that it contains references to both The Dino Institute and Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama.

The second sign is the stately billboard offered up by The Dino Institute. Again we are treated to an idealized view, this time of The Dino Institute, which proudly offers itself up as the sight to see when in Diggs County. Along the two sides of the advertisement is the litany of reasons as to why you should visit. Journeying into the past on Dinosaur, playing in the Boneyard playground, visiting the Tyrannosaurus rex known as Sue, and the exploration of the Cretaceous Trail are all included as highlight. On the other side of the billboard we have reviews from the Diggs County Gazette, other words of praise and selling points, and directions that appear to list The Dino Institutes location as off of the Dino Drive Exit.

Why can’t we be sure of what these directions are and what people are saying about The Dino Institute? That’s because the folks over at Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama have taken it upon themselves to include their own advertisement on the billboard. Wanted or not, the garish poster of a jolly green dinosaurs has been plastered over the top of The Dino Institute. The ad offers up the argument that if tourists would like to have some “real fun” and “laffs” then they should spend their time playing at the Dino-Rama. To be fair, this billboard sits right behind the old gas station/roadside attraction that is the hub of Chester & Hester’s. You can’t exactly place something there and expect them to not promote themselves there in some form or fashion.

This leads us to our last sign, over the gate at the end of US 498, that shows that The Dino Institutes billboard sat directly between Chester & Hester’s and our final destination. As we’ve moseyed on back in this direction, there have been road signs warning us that this was not a through street, and we have come to the end of the road which dead ends at Chester & Hester’s parking lot. Unfortunately, we’re informed that the lot is full. This sign has clearly been here for quite some time. It is in more disrepair than the others we’ve seen, and at one point in time we can see that parking was only a quarter. The price of parking has since gone up, much like parking everywhere at central Florida attractions, an increase up to two dollars. People are clearly willing to pay for the ease of access the lot provides, since it is full today, and every day.

This corner of Diggs County clearly belongs to Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama. Whether through their own means or by standing on the shoulders of their tourism competitors, the attraction can be seen on all three signs in this corner of DinoLand, U.S.A. The Dino Institute may have some quaint exhibits and the market cornered on true life adventures, but maybe, just maybe, Dino-Rama has the market cornered on fun. Which attraction will you be visiting first?

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