Located outside Eureka Springs, AR, I first visited Dinosaur World just prior to its unfortunate closure. Cement sculptures of cavemen, dinosaur eggs, and a giant spider once greeted visitors at the park’s entrance, a structure resembling a prehistoric fort. I’ve been sitting on some pictures of the place a while, and I decided to go ahead and cover it based on the attention it’s recently received on our Arkansas forums.
Inside was a small gift shop, where an elderly woman sold us our tickets, which was brimming with rubber dinosaurs and the like. We proceeded to drive though the gates, near which hung an odd sign about apprehended trespassers being made to pay double the regular admission fee (which was fairly inexpensive). The whole place was set up like a “Safari” style animal park, with a series of roads offering the occasional glimpse of a dinosaur.
Near the entrance stands “Kong,” a life-sized replica of the famous movie monster. Though not truly a dinosaur, he wouldn’t be the last larger than life animal I saw. Along with the aforementioned spider there are also a gigantic scorpion and landlocked octopus to be found. The park was previously known as the “Land of Kong,” and has changed hands and titles several times over the years.
Fast fact! The sculptures at Dinosaur World are supposed to have been made by the same local man who designed The Great Passion Play’s famous “Christ of the Ozarks” statue.
The park was already in an advanced state of disrepair by the time of my first visit, and it was easy to spot certain attractions - such as a miniature golf course and mysterious cave-like structure - that had been abandoned at some point in the distant past. Nearby sat an odd bench from which venomous snakes seemed to be materializing.
The park’s centerpiece, outside of Kong, is a large pond with a tree house at its center, connected to the shore on both sides by a rope bridge. I was a little uneasy crossing the bridge, but it was surprisingly sturdy. It is here the octopus dwells. Returning to the car I saw many more fantastic dinosaurs on my way back to the 21st century, some real, some seemingly imagined (see below).
I returned to Dinosaur World earlier this year with a friend, eager to show them around, but found that it had unfortunately closed its gates – perhaps forever. However, I’m aware that may not act as a deterrent to many of this site’s readers. If you do happen to be caught, simply reference the sign and offer to pay double the admission price.
Also worth mentioning, nearby once stood the infamous Shoe Tree of Beaver, AR. Sadly, the Shoe Tree is no longer with us in its original state, and has in fact been destroyed several times by acts of man and god. However, the vile weed that is the Shoe Tree remains, and seemed to be regenerating upon my last visit. It’s not as easy to spot as it once was, boasting only a dozen or so pairs at the moment, but give it time.
I previously wrote about some larger-than-life inanimate objects in Joplin which were odd, but not spectacular. Well, I recently returned from the beautiful city of Tulsa, OK, so prepare to be amazed. I had gone with my friend TD for non-exploratory purposes (a video game convention), but there were enormous eyesores afoot, and I insisted we pay them a visit.
First stop was the world’s largest McDonalds, but the less said of that, the better, as most area natives have no doubt been there countless times. In short, it’s a former hotel that spans I-44, roughly in the shape of a “golden arch.” TD was excited, having never been there, but we were both disappointed upon reaching the top and realizing neither of us actually wanted to eat at McDonalds.
Next up was the campus of Oral Roberts University, which just so happened to be next door to our destination. ORU is home to not one, but two monstrosities. The first is immediately evident – a pair of gigantic praying hands that put those in Webb City to shame. Whereas the previously blogged Web City Praying hands are made of poured concrete on a chicken wire frame and stand a measly 15 feet or so, these are highly detailed, welded together from large bronze plates, and stand a full 60 feet tall. It’s actually the largest bronze sculpture in the world, though arguably not the classiest.
The second fun feature was the Oral Roberts Prayer Tower. The prayer tower is of a similar design to Branson’s own Inspiration Tower, though on a smaller scale. The observation deck is designed to resemble a stylized crown of thorns, and an eternal flame burns brightly at the tower’s peak. Unfortunately, the tower had closed 15 minutes prior to arrival. I can only imagine what wonders would have greeted us at the top.
Also worth mentioning – though not worth photographing – is a nearby skyscraper. Once also part of ORU’s proud campus, it has since fallen into secular hands. The tower stands at a whopping 640 feet, which, according to legend, is the same size as the Jesus who appeared to Oral in a vision, commanding him to build it. I also managed to find a climbable, dome-like structure on campus, which I of course made short work of.
Our last stop, en route back to MO, was the Blue Whale of Catoosa. The Whale was originally built as a kind of anniversary present and for years functioned as a park, complete with water slide fins and a diving platform on the tail. Several other structures still stand nearby, in various states of disrepair, including a replica Noah’s Ark (not to scale), that is being consumed by the encroaching shrubbery.
This was my second visit to the whale, and I noticed a marked improvement. Someone cared enough to replace the boardwalk flooring, slap on a new coat of paint, and even add an oversized hook (with rubber chicken as bait) and ball-cap to spruce the place up. Unfortunately, swimming is still off-limits, not that I can imagine anyone wanting to. Nearby, a boat sits in a perpetually half-sunken state, along with other bits of rotting flotsam.
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