I admit, we didn’t even have Dinosaur Land in White Post VA on our Retro Radar. But when we saw the giant-sized prehistoric beasts looming over the roadway as we motored down Route 522 we screeched into the parking lot to check it out. And as luck would have it – it’s totally up our Retro Roadmap alley!
We also had the incredible luck of buying our tickets from Hunter Leight, a gracious young gentleman who also happened to be the great-grandson of Joseph Geraci, the founder of Dinosaur Land (his grandmother Joann Leight and her sisters currently run the place.) Hunter was more than happy to fill us in on the history of this family-owned roadside attraction, starting in 1963 when his grandfather opened it a roadside gift shop selling birdbaths and lawn ornaments.
In 1968 grandpa saw some miniature golf courses- and the not-so-miniature creatures that decorated the links -and decided that they would be a perfect addition to his roadside business. And thus, Dinosaur Land was born!
A hit with children- and those of us who are a bit more child-like, we paid for our tickets (got a free booklet from 1969 describing the dinos – score!) and decided to see what lurked beyond the gaping jaws of doom that surround the entrance.
Jim Sidwell of Tennesse made their first dinosaurs, and later dinos were made by roadside artiste and inventor of FoamHenge, Mark Cline. And of course we’re not going to show you more photos of the interior- we’re here to encourage you to see the place for yourself, sillies!
(Retro Roadhusband was very proud of his Dinosaur booklet – almost as proud of it as his recently acquired Planet of the Apes coloring book!)
There are plenty of ginormous creatures on the surprisingly large fenced-in compound. Photo opportunities abound! One of the interesting differences between photos taken now, and those taken when the park was first opened (and available on post cards in the gift shop) is that the trees have grown up around these time traveling creatures, and that Mod Betty doesn’t have that fab dress. (Thanks to the folks at Roadside America for their link and fellow appreciation of this roadside sight.)
Everyone was getting into the act when we were there- what a poseur!
I was glad to hear that because of the proliferation of dinosaur inspired TV shows, modern kids still like to come to Dino Land, and folks that visited when they were kids are glad to bring their children back here.
I personally was glad to know that they had a gift shop! You KNOW how Mod Betty loves the ticky-tacky souvenirs of yore.
And I got a ticky tacky souvenir of yor score!
While deliberating over what charm to get for my bracelet (I wanted to get them all…) I did also take note that the dinos go into hibernation in the winter, and the place is closed between January and March, inclusive.
Dinosaur Land is just a smidge off of Interstate 81, so next time you’re driving through Virginia, stop by and do your part to make sure that this place, and cool vintage places like this, don’t become EXTINCT!
3848 Stonewall Jackson Highway
White Post, VA 22663-2402
View VA – Virginia Retro RoadMAP in a larger map