How Aladar Ended the Countdown to Extinction

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While Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers many shows and character meet and greets featuring Disney’s stable of cartoon characters, only one of the park’s rides is tied to an animated film. However, many of the guests who experience it might not realize it has anything to do with a movie at all. Fans of Disney’s ambitious CGI feature “Dinosaur,” on the other hand, should immediately recognize the iguanodon standing in front of its entrance.

When Dinoland USA’s E-Ticket opened in 1998, it was known as “Countdown Extinction.” Two years later, the name of the attraction was changed to tie it to Disney’s latest release, “Dinosaur.”    Among the most noticeable changes this re-branding brought was a statue of the film’s star, Aladar the Iguanodon, right in from of the ride’s entrance in place of the Styracosaurus statue that was originally in that spot. Video clips in the pre-show and post-show that depict Aladar as the iguanodon Dr. Seeker wants to bring back to the present and the use of the film’s soundtrack in the area were also added during the 2000 overlay.

While both take place in the Cretaceous period and feature many of the same species of dinosaurs inclouding the frightening Carnotaurus, there are a few key differences between “Dinosaur” the movie and “DINOSAUR” the ride. For example, in the film, one critical scene features a meteor shower that destroys the island Aladar and his lemur family call home, but unlike the one on the ride, this was not the meteor that caused the extinction of most life forms on earth. Instead, this event leads Aladar to join a traveling heard of dinosaurs on a perilous journey to find a new home. Additionally none of the species guests come across on their Time Rover trip talk, unlike the ones in the film.

The first computer-animated film produced by Disney without the assistance of Pixar, “Dinosaur” was to be the first of many films produced by “The Secret Lab,” a new division of the company that would produce CGI feature films as well as special effects for live action films. Although the film was modestly successful at the box office, it was far from the blockbuster the company expected, and The Secret Lab was quietly shuttered before finishing its second feature. While “Dinosaur” the movie may have faded from public consciousness over the years, Aladar continues to be seen by a steady stream of Disney’s Animal Kingdom guests every day thanks to another secret lab in the basement of “The Dino Institute.”

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