Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Finding Chester & Hester in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Finding Chester & Hester

Animal Kingdom is my favorite park. Animal Kingdom is an immersive environment with something to behold around every corner. You can enjoy incredible encounters with 1,689 amazing animals everywhere you look and it’s all wrapped in a lush, beautiful, and  exquisitely detailed landscapes.

Animal Kingdom is meant for taking your time, exploring and immersing yourself in its natural environments. STOP: LOOK: LISTEN!   Wait for the animals to poke their heads out of hiding and enjoy the views. Search for the details. Watch the park come alive, in front of your eyes.

One of the most detailed lands is Dinoland, USA. The engaging, and detailed back-story is often overlooked.  The back-story is a detailed history that gives the Imagineer a platform upon which to design the props, signs and details.

Let’s look at one location that will help fill in some of the details and help you appreciate this part of the Animal Kingdom more. I am going to focus on one of my favorite shops in the Animal Kingdom:

Chester and Hester's Dinosaur Treasures

And so the back-story goes……

As I traveled down U.S Route 498 (named 498 because the Animal Kingdom Park opened in April 1998), I noticed my gas gauge was nearing empty and saw an old gas station ahead.
A married couple in their 60’s owned this rundown gas station and a few acres of land in Diggs County.  

 They sold Sinclair gasoline and this allowed them to sell gas, oil, service autos and make a sustainable living.

In 1947, some amateur fossil hunters found some dinosaur bones in the area.

 Within six months the Dino Institute set up their headquarters in Diggs County and began buying up all the land around Chester and Hester's gas station.

The Dino Institute wanted to purchase and demolish the gas station, but Chester and Hester refused to sell. Chester and Hester wanted to turn the gas station into the biggest, best, supreme and quintessential dinosaur destination.  They wanted to sell cheap dinosaur souvenirs out of their gas station to cash in on the visitors that were visiting to dig for fossils.

They received 17 offers to sell the gas station but refused to sell.
During the first twelve months they were open, their cheap merchandise was bringing in the big bucks, so much more than the gas they sold.  They converted the entire service station into a large store called "Chester and Hester's Dinosaur Treasures”.

 Up in the air above are all sorts of cheap toys.

Over the years they have stocked the shop with dinosaur toys, figures, images trinkets, special items and more.  Since 1947, Chester and Hester designed, re-designed and improved the store and made a small fortune selling the souvenirs.

 As you walk around the outside of the location:
Notice the use of truck tires as planters at the entrance and the remnants of the old gas station and service center.

 If you search around you can find the old Sinclair gas pump out front and the oil cans that have been turned into a hat rack.


 Walk out the back door and pose for a selfie with the colorful dinosaur statue that is made out of plaster, rocks, bottles, broken glass and mirrors. 

 Tacky signs are strategically placed all over the building advertising "going out of existence deals" or "Prehistoric Prices."

Be on the lookout for the corny signs and slogans they erected to attract passing motorists.

   Inside the store takes cheesier and tackiness to the next level.
This is a fantastic store to browse in, if for nothing else the very different decor. Check out the photo in one corner of Chester and Hester themselves as well as their framed dollar bill, which is the first dollar the old couple ever made at the site.

 Leave a message on the wall of the old coin pay phone
Look for the comic books. The store has all kinds like Batman, Spider Man and other hidden treasures.
Keep a look out for the tacky stuff.
Can you find the Carnotaurus latex figures or RC Time Rover ride vehicles?
Dr. Howie DiBlasi is a retired educator, business owner, author and an Ed Tech consultant.  He is a life long Disney fan that began in 1959.  He has been blogging about Disney, travel and technology for the past 8 years.

He can be found on twitter HERE  @hdiblasi
and @mydisneyclass

His website HERE

He is also the host of the My Disney Class Podcast, found HERE