There are two kinds of visitors at Dinosaur Adventure Land: one is interested in supporting Kent Hovind because they believe in the cause. The second, is interested in having something to do in an area that’s relatively remote and isolated.
At the entrance of Dinosaur Adventure Land nestled in Lenox, AL, visitors pass through the massive gate donned by wood cutouts of Dr. Dino and corresponding Mrs. Dino.
|Dr. Dino on the entrance gate.|
|Mrs. Dino on opposite side of gate.|
Dinosaurs statues welcome guests who can access the park at no cost. However, they must agree that the park has no insurance and they assume responsibilities for any injuries that occur at DAL. The museum in the center leads out to a play area, which is nearby the wood shop.
|Sand pit area just feet away from the wood shop.|
Park goers can expect to peruse the creation museum and learn about scientific laws alongside scriptural references. Outside, children explore swings and other entertainment like a Noah’s Ark featuring a happy cartoon T-Rex alongside elephants and giraffes.
Besides the creation museum and a couple “rides” Dinosaur Adventure Land still has a lot of work for it to be anything like the Pensacola version. Still, fans flocked to the park not for what it has to offer at the moment, but rather to support Hovind’s vision and recognize the potential they believe it has for the future.
Jessica Gunther, a 35-year-old mother of eight, said she and her husband drove seven hours from LaFayette, Georgia to visit DAL and support Hovind. They had been fans of Hovind’s from his Creation Science Evangelism videos and now kept up with him through his YouTube video channel.
|Noah's Ark play set with both dinosaurs and mammals.|
Their children finished their lunch, eager to get back to the playground. Gunther continued to explain how seeing Hovind was akin to meeting a celebrity and they were most looking forward to seeing the zip lines and dinosaurs as the park continued to expand.
As far as Hovind’s involvement in tax-related charges, Gunther said the government was wrong to take the land and did it because it was showing God too much.
Leslie Johnson came with his family after watching Hovind’s YouTube videos daily. Johnson said he was actually most interested in the original structuring charges and wanted to see the reboot of the original DAL.
Lenox, Alabama is situated in Conecuh county, where half the population identifies as African American according to the 2010 U.S. Census. While I was reporting, I noted no more than three African American families at the event.
Rashad Edwards, a 31-year-old African American, brought his family to DAL because he had been watching Hovind’s videos online. Edwards is a local and says that he sees the park as a way to show that salvation and creation work together.
When asked whether he would tell others to visit, he said he would absolutely invite friends and he’d bring his family back to visit, too.
Edwards’ wife, Jazzma, touted DAL as something new and different in the area. It served as a place she and her husband could bring their kids to have a good time.
Homeschooling mother Joy Ford said she appreciated DAL because it presented God’s word the whole time, from Genesis to the resurrection story. She and her husband Greg traveled to visit from Oxford, AL.
At the end of the day, Jessica Gunther watched her little girl be baptized by Kent Hovind in the pond followed by an endearing moment back at shore between mother and daughter.
|Hovind baptizes a young girl in the pond.|
|Girl reunites with mother, Jessica Gunther, after her baptism.|
#ThrowbackThursday: My experience as a kid at Pensacola’s Dinosaur Adventure Land
As I watched the kids tumble around the park and fly down the slide at the new Dinosaur Adventure Land in Lenox, I reflected on my own time as a kid at DAL, back when it was in Pensacola. I remember it vividly.
Kent Hovind or perhaps a young Eric helped swing me around on the circle swivel ride, much like the one depicted below. A tour guide explained how bones have been found that reveal exactly how big Goliath was. By the end of the tour, I was ready to hop on the zip line outside.
|Kent Hovind swings a boy on the "Circle Swivel" ride.|
I never thought much of the science behind the place. I was more interested in digging for mock fossils in the sandpit. My own home-schooled science education was based on Apologia, a textbook series that incorporates scripture with science.
My grandmother and mom took me to the park, mostly because it was something fun to do in Pensacola. The park did cost money back then but it wasn’t nearly as expensive as other entertainment in the area. Price of admission was somewhere between $5-10 per person as my mom recalls.
The museum in Pensacola was more established and, in my memory, felt more museum like. It was official. Today it resembles a third grade science fair, basic scientific principles explained by moral principles in the Bible. More funding will be needed to bring it back to what it used to be.
My time as a rugrat at Dinoland resembles something like what it is now in Alabama. It’s a welcoming atmosphere and something to do for kids. For those who believe in Hovind and the CSE mission, it’s a way to support him and engage with a community of people who have the same values.
Right now, Dinoland isn't what it used to be. It's a rough draft of what Hovind's vision for the place is. Funding, time, and continual support are the only things that will move it toward reviving it to the Pensacola version. However, it does have potential to be a hub for a community of people who subscribe to the same set of values as Hovind.
Hovind has a conviction and a mission to help bring people to Christ through this park and the Creation Science Evangelism ministry. With some funding and the same kind of support expressed by the visitors at the grand opening of DAL, Hovind might see progress at DAL sooner rather than later.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Abigail Megginson studies journalism and political science at the University of West Florida. She reported on the Kent Hovind trial in 2015 and has spent the past two summers interning on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC for members of Congress. After graduation, she plans to begin a career as a political journalist.