Yesterland
Animal Kingdom
at Yesterland.com
Primeval Whirl
 
at Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama!

Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

“Sixty-six million years ago, dinosaurs had the ultimate bad day. With a devastating asteroid impact, a reign that had lasted 180 million years was abruptly ended.”

That’s how the Natural History Museum of London, England, summarizes the hypothesis that an asteroid impact caused the dinosaurs to die out.


The extraterrestrial impact is an integral part of the plot of a big-budget, high-tech ride dreamed up by the wizards at Walt Disney Imagineering. Originally named Countdown to Extinction when it opened in 1998, it was was renamed Dinosaur in 2001. It’s still in DinoLand U.S.A. at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

“Yester” Animal Kingdom also has a ride about the devastating impact and the extinction of dinosaurs. It’s Primeval Whirl, dreamed up by the proprietors of Chester & Hester’s Dinosaur Treasures.

Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Chris Bales, 2015

Across a narrow highway from Chester & Hester’s Dinosaur Treasures

Okay. To be honest, Primeval Whirl is also a product of Walt Disney Imagineering. There’s an elaborate backstory to explain DinoLand U.S.A. and all that’s ever been in it.

Fossil hunters discovered a trove of dinosaur bones in fictional Diggs County. This led to the establishment of the Dino Institute, with a graduate program in paleontology, a museum displaying dinosaur skeletons, a dormitory lodge with a food hall for the grad students, and the dig site itself.

It was a time before Interstate Highways. Chester and his wife Hester had a gas station on U.S. Highway 498, near the Dino Institute. They saw an opportunity to make money off tourists—not only visitors to the Institute, but also motorists just passing through. So they put up billboards and direction signs. They restocked their general store with “dinosaur treasures.”

Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Main gate into Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama

Their next endeavor was a dinosaur-themed amusement park, Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama. They parked two rides, several carnival games, and a snack trailer on an old asphalt parking lot across from their gas station and store. There was even a life-size brontosaurus sculpture to attract passing motorists.

Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama is still much as it was when it opened—except that one of the rides has moved to “Yester” Animal Kingdom.

And that’s where you are now. So let’s take a ride on Primeval Whirl.

Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Chris Bales, 2015

Attraction entrance

Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2020

Height restriction and health warnings

Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2004

Time travel engineers in the attraction queue

Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2007

Lever man

Chester and Hester could simply have plopped an off-the-shelf Reverchon Spinning Coaster in the parking lot, but they chose to decorate it as a dinosaur time travel experience.

Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Load area

Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2007

Your “Time Machine” awaits

Are you ready? Your round coaster vehicle—or Time Machine—seats up to four guests.

Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

To the Cretaceous Period!

Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

A time travel process that apparently relies on clocks

Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2007

Approaching the top of the hill—just in time for a barrage of meteors

Most roller coaster lift hills only take you up, but this one takes you back in time too. There are four stages:

Back in Time.
WAY back in Time.
Older then Dirt.
Seconds B4 the Meteor Hits.

Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Wild mouse track

The turns are unbanked. As you go through them, you slide into your seat partner. That’s part of a typical wild mouse experience.

Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2007

“The end is near”

You’re not yet at the end of the ride. In fact, you’re still high up in the structure. A cut-out dinosaur warns fellow dinosaurs about a much more consequential end—their impending mass extinction. Keep an eye out for other cartoony dinosaurs and fiery meteors.

Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2007

Starting downhill

Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Spinning!

Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2007

Nothing hidden about the structure

Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2007

Yea! Your time travel experience is over.

Primeval Whirl at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2004

Back in the current time on the cracked asphalt with fading white lines

You made it, but the dinosaurs didn’t. See if you can find Chester and Hester. Tell them how much you enjoyed their ride.


Primeval Whirl opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on April 18, 2002. It joined two other attractions at the new Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama!—TriceraTop Spin and Midway Games—which had opened November 18, 2001.

To have sufficient capacity for a Disney park, Primeval Whirl had two identical tracks side-by-side on either side of a central queue.

Since opening, Primeval Whirl and the rest of Dino-Rama have been criticized as not being up to Disney standards. Many guests only saw a cheap carnival with off-the-shelf rides and games sitting in a cracked asphalt parking lot. In reality, it was all carefully designed and constructed to be a loving tribute to the roadside attractions of the 1940s through 1960s, before the Interstate Highway System rendered the old routes obsolete. The shabby asphalt is actually carefully textured concerete. The silliness and tackiness were a product of careful research and design to achieve authenticity of the same quality as Animal Kingdom’s Africa and Asia.

After being down for several months in 2019 for unscheduled maintenance, Primeval Whirl officially became a seasonal attraction in September 2019. It reopened November 29, 2019, for the holiday season, operating through January 4, 2020. Riders that January day did not realize they were experiencing the attraction’s final performance.

On July 16, 2020, news sites and Disney bloggers reported that Disney had confirmed the permanent closure of Primeval Whirl, along with Stitch’s Great Escape at Magic Kingdom Park and Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The announcement came just five days after the limited reopening of Disney’s Animal Kingdom following the park’s four-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of the publication of this Yesterland article, Disney has not announced how the demise of Primeval Whirl will affect the future of DinoLand U.S.A. and Dino-Rama. Will a new ride replace it? Will Dino-Rama continue with just one ride? Or was this closure the first step in the elimination and replacement of all of Dino-Rama?

 

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Updated December 18, 2020