DINOSAUR, formerly known as “Countdown To Extinction” in the Dinoland section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom uses state of the art technology to create an intense, thrilling journey to the Cretaceous Period - 65 million years in the past.
The attraction combines advanced audio-animatronic creations along with an innovative, patented, Disney ride vehicle to make this ride more intense than any other at Disney World.
There are 10 different types of dinosaurs that have been created for DINOSAUR. While the story has you looking for the gentle iguanodon, you will encounter the not so gentle pterodactyl and carnotaurus. The carnotaurus is an advanced A-100 series audio-animatronic figure making the fierce looking creature appear lifelike.
The other technological break through for this attraction involves the ride vehicle. This design which received U.S. Patent # 5,623,878, includes elements of a motion simulator like you would find in the Star Tours attraction integrated onto a moving base.
This allows the creation of enhanced feelings of speed, drops, and overcoming obstacles without subjecting the riders to the safety hazards previously required to generate that kind of effect by actually travelling that fast.
The ride vehicles can also be individually programmed so that each one provides a different ride experience, prompting the riders to want to come back again and again. This flexibility in programming is what really makes the ride special.
Here is an excerpt from the patent:
A dynamic ride vehicle for executing a sequence of distinct motion patterns and for providing unique ride experiences in an amusement park attraction or other environment includes a movable chassis and a body having a passenger seating area. A motion apparatus, including computer controlled actuators, imparts motion to the body along a plurality of axes independent of any motion of the chassis as it moves along a path. As the vehicle travels along the path, articulation of the body and appropriate steering of the vehicle enables the vehicle to execute, in cooperation with the motion apparatus, a sequence of distinct motion patterns. Execution of the motion patterns enhances the passengers' sensation of vehicle movement that is actually taking place, as well as the sensation of a realistic moving ride vehicle experience that is actually not happening.
Once you get past the patent language, it means that the ride vehicle can move in multiple axes (up to 6) while being located on a movable base. That combination allows for creating motion that provides exciting thrills for the passengers.
When riding DINOSAUR you don't think about the technology that went into the attraction, you spend your time hoping that you won't be attacked by the carnivorous dinosaurs that you encounter along the way. The ride is dark, thrilling, and action packed. The advanced technology allows you to believe for those brief minutes that you really are dodging dinosaurs and trying to find your way back before the meteor hits earth.
Let's hope that the Disney Imagineers continue to be innovators, using wonderful storytelling and the latest technology to create thrilling attractions.