Halloween at Walt Disney World Resort

Primeval World at Disneyland Park: Seems Like Just Yesterday, Give or Take 250 Million Years

posted on June 30th, 2011 by Paul Hiffmeyer, Chief Photographer for Public Relations, Disneyland Resort


They may be turning 45 tomorrow, but the residents of the Primeval World diorama at Disneyland park don’t look a day over 250 million.

Having appeared at the New York World’s Fair two years earlier, the prehistoric creatures, brought to life through Audio-Animatronics technology, debuted at Disneyland park on July 1, 1966, and they’ve been fascinating and entertaining our guests ever since.

After seeing a video of Walt Disney talking about New York World’s Fair, I realized that we don’t have a lot of photography of this classic attraction in our archives, perhaps because it is only visible to guests as they make their way from Tomorrowland to Main Street, U.S.A., aboard the Disneyland Railroad, so I decided to “travel back in time [on foot] back to the fantastic Primeval World – land of the dinosaurs.”

Primeval World Diorama at Disneyland Park

I remembered that in the video Walt talked about three baby Brontosaurus that were affectionately named Huey, Dewey and Louie, so I included them in my first photo. Not sure who’s who – any guesses?

Primeval World Diorama at Disneyland Park

This photo from 1964 shows Walt Disney interacting with one of the baby Brontosaurus.

Primeval World Diorama at Disneyland Park

You can’t go wrong taking baby pictures when they’re as cute as these Triceratops. I’ve always been impressed by the way this attraction looks riding by on the railroad, but seeing it up close you realize that the detail is truly amazing.

Primeval World Diorama at Disneyland Park

Taking this next photo was one of my highlights as a Disney photographer. I confess that I was actually relieved to see that the Tyrannosaurus rex and Stegosaurus were motionless and quiet when I showed up, because that was about all the realism I could handle up close!

If you like these photos from my trip back in time, I will share more next month.

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Filed: Disney History, Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort

22 Comments

1

Bernadette on June 30th, 2011 at 1:09 pm

These are great pics!!!!

2

Ehren on June 30th, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Great pics, I always look forward to your posts Paul. Keep them coming.

3

Peter on June 30th, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Wow! Awesome…great post. Happy Anniversary to the Primeval World!

4

Gloria from CA on June 30th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

I remember my Dad driving the family back to the East Coast to visit relatives and see the World”s Fair in 1964. It was a warm day in New York and humid! But we did not miss any exhibit that included all of Walt’s dreams. It was fantastic to be able to return to SoCal and go to Disneyland and revisit these treasures year after year. My husband and I ride the train each time we visit the park and the dinosaurs bring me back to those memories of the summer of “64. Thanks for this post.

5

Jessica on June 30th, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Lucky! I’m so jealous! I always manage to find an excuse to ride past this at least twice when I visit the park. I remember seeing it for the first time when I was but a wee Disney obsessed kiddo, I talked about it the whole trip and constantly wanted to see more of the dinosaurs.

As I get older my appreciation for it just grows and grows. Every time there’s something new to notice, some little detail that stands out that you never saw before.

I don’t think its ever been captured as perfectly as you’ve done here. Simply beautiful!

6

Kayleen from CA on June 30th, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Still one of my very favorite things to do at 44 ‘ears – see the dinosaurs!

7

James from NV on June 30th, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Last year was the first time I took my 3 year old daughter and she asked me if They were real. It is always special how you guys can bring up found memories

8

Robin Anne from CA on June 30th, 2011 at 6:13 pm

This brings back so many good childhood memories!!! Keep up the good work!

9

Megan on June 30th, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Love it! My girls and I ride the train just to see the Grand Canyon diorama and dinosaurs. We actually just returned from the real Grand Canyon, a trip inspired by this attraction!

10

Cory from AB on June 30th, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Primeval World is one of my favorite attractions at Disneyland, and somehow it came as a total surprise!

I’m a chronic vacation planner and for my first ever trip to Disneyland in 2005, I studied the place backwards and forwards. Yet somehow, despite my loving dinosaurs and steam trains (and with FAntasia being my favorite DIsney film), any mention of Primeval World escaped my notice. To say I was pleasantly surprised when I took my first Grand Circle Tour and saw these would be a gross understatement! It only got better when I got to see it through the velvet draped windows of the Lilly Belle.

Thank you for these stunning photos, Paul. Every other photo I’ve ever seen has been from track position, so this new view is incredible. Count me jealous that you got to hoof it through the exhibit… Take me with you next time! Uh…

And Megan, you’re not alone on your idea. I too took a trip to the real Grand Canyon, aboard the steam train of the Grand Canyon Railway, under the inspiration of the Disneyland Railroad and Grand Canyon Diorama. What a fantastic vacation!

11

Brian and Wendy from WA on June 30th, 2011 at 8:44 pm

This holds a special place in our hearts. We got engaged in 1997 while privately riding the Lily Belle, and the “big question” was popped and answered in Primeval World! I (Wendy) have a distinctive memory of the baby triceratops hatching from their shells, viewed through tears of joy at the proposal. We always make an effort to ride the train when we’re at Disneyland to see the dinosaurs and relive the moment.

12

Hannette on June 30th, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Our family has had a couple of traditions since way back when (early 60s)visiting Disneyland. One of them was that the very last ride we took of the day was the train around the entire park; the best part was seeing the Grand Canyon diorama and the dinosaurs! I’m so glad that this part of the train ride basically hasn’t changed, I still love it!

13

Travis from NH on June 30th, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Just wanted to say that this was a fantastic post! I love reading all of the recent history articles and I’m hoping there will be plenty more in the future. These photos are fantastic, thanks for sharing. :)

-Travis
Discussion Kingdom

14

Daryl from WA on July 1st, 2011 at 2:17 am

please share more!

15

Robert on July 1st, 2011 at 2:49 am

Hi Paul,

Thank you SO MUCH for sharing these pix. I was just a kid when my folks took me to that World’s Fair, but it absolutely changed my perspectives and helped me to experience just a little bit of the magic that Walt had in store for us.

Seeing these pictures just rekindles the feelings.

In my mind, I thank Walt every day for all the amazing things that he created, and how he changed the American dialogue and self-image through his creations. But I also thank you and the others that keep his memory and creations alive.

In short: this is so cool! Thanks so much for sharing! You definitely rock, dude! Do more of this!

16

Friend on July 1st, 2011 at 11:23 am

What “Great” shots of the truly first DinoLand attraction emulated by other amusement parks and their creators. Keep up the fantstic articles.

17

Chris on July 1st, 2011 at 1:40 pm

While it makes for good scenery, sadly, it never could have happened. The stegosaurus existed in the Late Jurassic epoch, and the T-rex is from the Late Cretaceous, about 50 million years apart from each other.

18

Kelly on July 1st, 2011 at 3:45 pm

The Tyrannosaur scene was blocked off when I visited last week. Is it under refurb?

19

Mayumi on July 2nd, 2011 at 3:08 am

I LOVE dinosaurs and I had gone to disneyland twice before someone told me about these dinos and took me on the train ride! Best hidden gem ever!!! <3

20

Krista on July 2nd, 2011 at 11:17 pm

These are absolutely amazing photos of such a wonderful ride! I am so glad this is still part of the train ride.

21

Fred from CA on July 3rd, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Awesome pictures, I’d love to see more. :)

22

Nathan from WA on July 11th, 2011 at 8:09 pm

No panet is only 6,000 how old is that!!!

22 Comments