In the woods of Virginia, a science fiction alternate reality version of the Civil War wages on.
The story behind the park goes something like this: In 1863, while excavating fossils in Lost Caverns, a family of Southern paleontologists discovered a hidden valley full of living dinosaurs. As the Garrison Family studied these creatures in peace, the Union Army discovered their secret and attempted to use the dinosaurs as weapons of mass destruction against the South.
That’s when things went terribly wrong for the Yankees.
Built by artist Mark Cline, creator of such whimsical attractions as Foamhenge and Professor Cline’s Haunted Monster Museum, Dinosaur Kingdom is most definitely not to be confused with Virginia’s other, much more straightforward dinosaur park, Dinosaur Land.
At Dinosaur Kingdom, visitors are guided along the path showing the grisly defeat of the Union Army by these terrible lizards. A big snake swallows a Yankee soldier whole; an Allosaurus rips a Union officer off of his rearing horse while his hapless companion futilely tries to lasso it. Several dinosaurs were even outfitted with motors and speakers, moving their jaws and wagging their tongues while cinematic music and sound effects are piped in through speakers.
Mark Cline makes his living building fiberglass statues of celebrities, historical figures, animals, and of course, dinosaurs. The inspiration for Dinosaur Kingdom, he says, came from the 1969 movie The Valley of Gwangii, in which cowboys romp with dinosaurs on the outskirts of a Mexican town. He had originally planned to depict the dinosaurs versus Pancho Villa’s militia, but instead decided instead to play to Southern sympathies by casting the Union Army as the villains.
In 2012, both Dinosaur Kingdom and the adjacent Monster Museum were destroyed in a fire. At the time, Cline decided not to reopen, stating, “Everything becomes extinct one day.” However, in summer of 2016, Dinosaur Kingdom II reopened in all its splendor, complete with some of the original dinos and Union soldiers, plus a cyborg Stonewall Jackson to boot.