Dinosaur World - Closed
Dinosaur World -- as its former name, John Agar's Land of Kong, reveals -- is the only dinosaur park once associated with a star of Zontar, The Thing From Venus. And the history of this place is as murky as the atmosphere of Venus.
Ola Farwell, whom we met in 1985 and conducted a somewhat incoherent interview, told us he'd dreamed up Dinosaur World, and originally wanted the site to display a giant statue of General Douglas MacArthur. Local authorities nixed this idea, so the World's Largest King Kong -- 42 feet tall -- was constructed.
A more recent source, Terry Childs, told us that his father, Ken Childs, owned the park, conceived the idea of the King Kong, and was a close friend of John Agar. Agar lent his name to the venture.
And according to Rob Holster, the King Kong statue was fabricated over three years by his grandfather, Bert Holster, in Clarksville, Texas. Its installation was completed in 1984 or so. Rob spent a few summers helping at the park, and recalls Ken Childs as the owner along with some interesting details of the big ape:
"Kong was originally supposed to have moving arms that beat his chest, all while clutching Fay Wray, of course. The final product had the red blinking eyes, using 'Psycho Lights' purchased at Radio Shack. The jaw moved up and down as well, but I heard that feature broke soon after completion."
Rob said Kong "originally hailed as 'The Biggest Monkey on Earth,' which was printed on hats sold in the gift shop."
Dinosaur World always wore it politics on its gargantuan monkey manacle. Kong's right hand once dangled the Ayatollah Khomeini at the end of a noose. A crudely painted display remained of caveman Ronald Reagan spanking caveman Tip O'Neill with a spear labeled "MX Missile." The '80s -- you had to be there.
Aside from its name shift, Dinosaur World didn't change much after the mid-1980s, a bulwark of primeval consistency in a hellbent-for-leather world. It was still the largest dinosaur park in the world. The Kong Burger in the snack bar still delivered a full pound of meat on a bun.
Unfortunately, by 2005 the park had ceased operation, with the entrance building locked and the phone calls left unanswered. Perhaps John Agar's Land of MacArthur would have fared better.