I bought tickets for something called a “Dinosaur Drive-Thru” that had been circulating on Facebook. It was only ten bucks. We needed to leave the house and do something. I really did not care what it was. I was really just excited to have something to do. A goal. A focus. An outing.
Then I looked at the flyer, noticing it was beautifully hand painted. It called itself “The Greatest Little Dinosaur Show on Earth.” I knew whoever made the flyer was a kindred spirit. I realized I needed this. I needed a kindred spirit. Some kind of connection to the other humanity out there. Togetherness.
Then that night I recieved an email with the subject: IMPORTANT Dinosaur show. My stomach jumped. My heart fluttered. It was from a person named Ted. I felt like I was in a pandemic-version of You’ve Got Mail. Attached was a hand drawn map. At that moment, I knew I loved Ted.
We were going to a ten buck dinosaur rig at the county fairgrounds, that you needed a secret map to get to, and it was going to be the best day of 2020. No matter that the “dinosaurs area” of the map didn’t look very big. I figured Ted didn’t draw it to scale. Ted is a tease.
Traveling roadside dinosaur shows have been all the rage in the pandemic. There is one was called Jurassic Quest, a more expensive and classier variation. It appears at major league stadiums, costs $50, and comes with a commemorative photograph. The dinosaurs are lifesize and detailed. Reviews on the website are full of raving moms tagging themselves as #FuturePaleontologistMom. Their flyer looks like this, your 1993 dream attraction:
But we were not seeing “Jurassic Quest.” We were seeing the $10 bootleg version called “Jurrasic Wonder.” At Jurassic Wonder, there are no reviews, no lifesize dinosaurs, no tags, no souvenir photographs. There is a hand drawn map from Ted in your email. Take it or leave it.
We would have found the attraction without the map. There were hand-written signs everywhere. Ted is really into Sharpies.
Shoot that little Sharpie-scrawled arrow directly into my heart.
Jurassic Wonder was as if someone went to the Spirit Halloween Store For Dinosaurs, bought every animatronic on the sales floor, set them up in the grass at the county fairgrounds, and charged people ten dollars to drive past them. It was the ultimate hustle, and I hope Ted is a millionaire now because he absolutely deserves it.
The dinosaurs were awful and amazing at the same time.
At the beginning of 2020, we went to Disney World, where the children were dazzled by castles, magic, and Mickey Mouse. At the end, we went to see Ted’s animatronic dinosaur collection set up on wads of hay so that they wouldn’t sink into the ground if it rains.
I can’t tell if my children enjoyed it or not. But it wasn’t for them. It was for me.
You can see the wrapping line of cars to see this thing. We’re all so desperate for entertainment, for connection, for absolutely anything. I laughed heartily at the dinosaurs. It was joy. It was dumb. It was something.
It had the feel of a rip-off roadside attraction, and that made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. We need more of this, post-Pandemic. More dumb art, more cheap hustles, more weird little shows in our communities. We don’t need crowds and corporate bonanzas. We need someone lovingly setting up dinosaurs on the side of the road.
God bless you, Ted.
I’m clearly not updating every day in December, because the pandemic is driving me crazier than I thought. However, I will keep searching for dinosaurs in my soul to keep me afloat, and I hope you do, too.
Also, new logo, who dis?