Dinosaur World

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City/Town: Beaver Springs
Location Class: CommercialAmusement
Year Built: 1960's
Year Abandoned: 2005
Status: AbandonedBurned Down
Photographer: JenTilJames Kirkendall
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Dinosaur World, earlier known as John Agar’s Land of Kong and ” Farwell’s Dinosaur Park”, was a tourist attraction in Beaver, Arkansas. It was a theme park covering 65 acres , which contained a hundred life-size sculptures of dinosaurs, cavemen, and other prehistoric creatures as well as the world’s largest Noah’s Ark Mural. The park closed in 2005. It was the largest dinosaur park in the world.

The park was started in 1967 when Ola Farwell hired Emmet Sullivan to build 6-10 life-size replicas of dinosaurs. It was called “Farwell’s Dinosaur Park”. In the late 1970s the park was sold to Ken Childs and became “John Agar’s Land of Kong”. That’s when a 40 feet (12 m) tall statue of King Kong known as the “World’s Largest King Kong” was built. The owner, a friend of film actor John Agar, received permission from John Agar to use his name in the name of the park. John Agar had appeared in the 1976 version of King Kong. Many articles report that John Agar was either the owner or part owner, but he was never either one.

dworld14The sculptures were created by Emmet Sullivan, who also designed the dinosaur statues in Dinosaur Park and Wall Drug in South Dakota, and the Christ of the Ozarks statue in nearby Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Two local men, A. C. McBride and Orvis Parker handled the actual construction of the dinosaurs.

Along with the nearby Beaver Dam, a few of the park’s dinosaurs are featured briefly during the opening scenes of the 1969 horror movie ‘It’s Alive!’. The tyrannosaurus is featured in the 2005 film Elizabethtown and is shown on the film’s cover.

As of 2006 the park was intact but completely grown over. Oddly all the shelves in the gift shop were still stocked. On August 3, 2011, a fire destroyed the park’s main building. The fire was suspected to be arson.

Photos Contributed by JenTil and James Kirkendall! Enjoy!

82 Comments

  1. My son & I were visiting Eureka Springs and went for a drive. As we were driving along we saw the park off on the left down the hill and realized we had seen it in an old movie. I don't think it got credits in the movie because the movie is not listed in Wikipedia. In the movie a woman is driving along and goes along the highway and you can see the park just as we had. She then stops at dark at a crappy little motel with part of the lights on the M on motel out making it Notel. I thought it was called No Tell Motel but it apparently wasn't. There was one released in 2012 under that name but we visited in 1999 and it was an older movie then. The park was open and we did stop and go through it. It is one of our good memories of my son's late teen years.

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  5. My son Michael and I had a great day there! We drove from Cassville, MO and he wanted to get a dinosaur in the gift shop but it was late November or early December so I wrote a check and asked them to mail the one he wanted to me to arrive before Christmas. Well, Dec 21 came and I was worried and called them. THERE IS A SANTA CLAUS! They drove to Cassville, MO and brought my son 4 presents all wrapped and everything. Was so special to me that they would do this. The year would have been about 1993.

  6. Janet in Missouri on

    I was looking on internet to find the places we used to go as a kid in Eureka Springs and surrounding areas to take my now grown children since we never had an opportunity to take them when they were little and this is one of the places I remember going to! My siblings and I loved going here and really enjoyed walking across the wooden swinging bridge! Have some really good memories of crossing the dam and going to the dinosaur park. miss those times. also have been trying to find the name of the campgrounds we stayed at in Eureka Springs that just as you turned into the drive of campgrounds had a little andy's candy's store on the left with the campground office then as you came on down the drive it had a swimming pool on the right then went back to some tent camping sights. Have lots of good memories of that place also. Camped there many times and really enjoyed it.

  7. My dad's cousin, Orvis (Jessie) Parker and his wife Mary both worked here when it was knows as Farwell's Dinosaur Park. Not only did Orvis help construct the dinosaurs, they ran the restaurant and souvenir shop. In fact, Orvis built a dinosaur and delivered it to our home in Kansas around 1970. I have lots of pictures to share, some that include me, but am unsure how to add them to this blog. I'm not sure why the Farwell era of the park doesn't get mentioned in many online histories.

  8. I was just here a few days ago. Never once saw a "closed" sign on the way. I lived in Eureka in 2005. Never had the desire to see the park. My stepfather catered to the crew filming Elizabethtown. My 4 year old is going through a dinosaur phase so while visiting my mother we decided to go. No for sale signs either, just the normal "no trespassing." We pulled over on the side of the road so my boy could see the dinos. I intend to go back this winter when the trees have lost their leaves so we can see more.

  9. This was also a favorite place for me as a child. I spent alot of time at The Land of Kong now "Dinosaur World" when I was young. This place has been a part of my family for many years seeing as it is owned by my family on my mother's side. We use to go there in the summer. The cavemen paintings on the side of the gift shop was actually painted by a family friend. The guy in the trucker hat , "the proprietor", is actually suppose to be my grandfather, Ted Prysock. Actually a great caveman style painting of him. The resemblence is remarkable. I am thrilled that this place touched you enough to create this page, even though the park is no longer open. I just thought I would give a little insight to where some of the painting inspirations came from. Actually I was thrilled when I saw the picture of the caveman painting. Touches a place in the heart and brings back family memories! Thanks – Tonya

  10. I really hate to hear this! I went all the time when I was a kid as my grandparents had a cabin down at Shell Knob, MO and we'd always drive to see the park.

    About 6-7 years ago I took my wife down to the park to re-live my childhood. They were open and while my wife thought it was weird and very ran down…I loved seeing the thing from my childhood. Children don't look at things like paint peeling off etc.

    I guess we barely got there in time.

    If I was retired and wanted to live in Arkansas I'd be all over buying that place. You could really leverage today's technology to really liven the place up..

    It's now Jan 2011…has anything happened with this property? I was planning on taking my kids down to Eureka and this was going to be one of my stops. Heck, I might still drive by and show them it from the road. Might risk it to get my boy a pic by Kong.

    FYI to those with kids mad. Go to Eureka and go to the Passion Play. There is a dinosaur museum (or at least there was several years ago) there.

  11. I loved this website. I'm obsessed with exploring strange abandoned buildings and was devastated when I found out the the number one destination on my list, Dinosaur World was closed! In memoriam, I'm writing a paper for my college history class, and was wondering if anyone could provide any non internet sources about Dinosaur World. Or, it would be amazing if I could get an interview from one of Ken Childs' grandchildren! Thanks so much for any information anyone can share!
    Sincerely,

    Christine Wertti

  12. we just visited the place still closed and falling apart, I wish that someone would reopen it….it is a shame to see that beautiful piece of property to go to waste.
    I would love to buy it myself and turn into a campground…..
    thanks KC

  13. I stopped at the park last week. I didn't know about the closing and was hoping to renew my memories of visiting 20+ years ago. Oh well, some memories are better left alone. In any case, the only for sale sign was for the mobile home parked on the hill. I did not see any sign that the park itself was for sale.

  14. I went to Dinosaur World as a kid (when it was Land of Kong) AND as a grown up (not realizing we were there the last year it was open)!

    Anyhoo, I blogged about it and linked to this post, because these pictures brought back some great memories. Thanks a bunch!

  15. I am in Eureka Springs right now. I have been trying to get up the guts for the past 3 years on my annual trips here to trespass form photos and hearing the above comment a few up from here I think I actually will this time since someone else was able to! I'm pretty excited!!!

  16. Not sad to see parks like this go – they give the wrong impression about history to kids. Want your kid to learn something? Take them to the Natural History Museum in DC.

    • Yeh right, that way my child and I can risk being blown away by the Muslim terrorists in such a urban tourist draw. Think we'll stick to being out in the country. Plenty to learn outdoors that can't be found in a text book. We can tour the museum online and learn more than someone that thinks physically being there, traffic, costs,hotels, crowds. We'll spend our money on enjoying being together outdoors.

  17. I remember going to this place when I was a child with my parents. I was maaybe five or six years old and LOVED every minute of the fun. Never hearing of the place closeing down, I was planning to take my two children (six and three) this summer. I am very upset at the idea of them never getting to see the place for themselves, but I know I have about 50 pictures of the place back in it's glory days. I just need to go to my parent's house and find them. Thanks for the blog so I won't go all they way there just to upset my children.

  18. I visited this place a few times as a child and had great memories, as well as some pictures of me under the giant Kong and T-rex.
    This morning my new wife and I were leaving Eureka Springs and i wanted to show it to her. There are now "for sale" signs on the huge Dinosaur world sign, as well as a for sale sign on the double wide trailer that is there on the property. Since no one was there, we were brave enough to go under the gate and take another pix of me under the giant Kong, a replica of the picture my mom took 17 years ago. Also got a few good pix from the road. So who DOES own it now that is trying to sell it, and will it be re-opened?

  19. Hello, My grandpa Ken Childs (not Chilles)owned this park I remember going there when I was 6yrs old. After his untimely death. It was run illegaly for a time under the name Dinosaur World. Gladly it will never be able to be sold. Thank you for the pic's and the memories. My grandpa loved this park and loved to play pranks on the visitors. He was a great man. He also named it after his friend John Agar. John was never a co-owner. I wonder how the movie Elizabethtown got clearance to film there? I remember Grandpa sending pic's of the construction of the big monkey (king kong). The VW bus that was there my dad rebuilt the motor and we all drove from Utah in it. What good memories they are.
    Thanks Kaleigh

    • AbandonedAR Team on

      Hey, thanks for sharing another bit of info on this mysterious place!

      Ran illegally? Wow, that's interesting. How was it illegal? No license or something?

      Your grandpa helped create so many fond memories and experiences for so many people.

      • My grandpa was a lot of fun. As far as being run illegally it's a long story, but the estate was never settled.

        I would love to go back and see the park. The summer I spent there was awesome.

  20. I share your sadness at the now-defunct Dinosaur park, which was also a family destination several times during my Northwest Arkansas youth. I only live about 55 minutes away from the place…I should go up there and check it out. A couple of years ago, I got to explore the also-now-defunct "Dogpatch" amusement park near Jasper, Ar. It was left much as it was when abandoned years ago. Like a haunted Scooby-Doo amusement park. It was fantastic. Oh, and also, speaking of dinosaurs, if you have ever seen the big concrete ones located in the Mountainburg, AR City Park…my father is the one who built them. Your blog and website is excellent! Thanks!

  21. I lived in Eureka Spring as a kid in the late 70s (my dad owned Starkey Marina and my mom worked at the Crescent Hotel) and loved this place. I think Ace Jackalope is correct that Kong wasn't built until later.

    Sad. A little part of my childhood gone.

  22. Also, I think Wikipedia is wrong about the King Kong being there from the start. I seem to recall it was built around the time that awful King Kong movie with Jessica Lang was released.

  23. This place is near and dear to me; thanks for the updates.

    Somewhere there's a Polaroid of me with one of the dinos from the 1960s. I remember when it was called John Agar's Dinosaur Park, after the actor who was apparently co-owner. The ownership history of the place varies with who you ask, and to really untangle it would probably take a visit to the local courthouse. I think it was also Ola Farwell's Dinosaur Park for awhile.

    I used to shoot slides every few years in the 80's to document paint changes on the dinos. We called the cheap plywood dinos "2-D-sauruses."

    I think they used to have some political signs too…and I seem to remember some slightly off-color paintings in the bathrooms, in true ozarky tradition.

    They sold cheap ceramic knock-offs of the sinclair mold-o-rama dinos with their name (don't remember now if it was Dinosaur Park or Land of Kong then) crudely written in the glaze, back in the mid-1980's.

    Man, I hope it in't sold and torn down for a resort. That type of large multi-material sculpture isn't easy to remove undamaged, so I fear a second extinction.

  24. THis is a real heartbreaker. I had no idea this place had closed down. My parents took me to Land of Kong when I was a little kid– it left such an impression on me that I hauled my girlfriend down there to see it twenty years later. This was only four years ago– we must have caught it on the final swing… As I recall, the woman working the front desk was very ill, which didn't bode well for future seasons at Dinosaur World.

    I wonder how much they want for it?

  25. Finding old, hidden, and defunked places and treasures is one of my favorite things. This makes me wish I had a car. I would love to go wandering. I'm so happy to have discovered other people that share my strange obbsession. Very cool.
    Wanna go on a roadtrip sometime?
    Peace.

  26. Ah, sweet memories! My wife and I honeymooned at Beaver Lake in 1998. You can be sure that part of our romantic week included a visit to Dinosaur World! Well, we only actually made it into the parking lot. Now, I can't remember if the park was closed or if I viewed the giant spider as a portent of impending doom! Thanks for the great blog and website!

  27. I'm bummed as I didn't know that this place was closed. This has been on my lists of top places to visit since I heard about it 10 years ago. Yes someone needs to buy it! Is it for sale?

    Thanks for posting and thanks for making me depressed!

  28. Man, if that place was in L.A. it would be ridiculously vandalized. So very well written. Reading your blog is always a treat.

    Seeing the remains of Dinosaur Land (Land of Kong) is both heartwarming and depressing…it's great that it used to be around…and it's sad that things like that just don't exist anymore. Yet it's that bittersweet feeling that magnetizes me to old, obsolete and antiquated stuff to begin with.

  29. places such as this are like crack to me. you are truly a pillar of strength for not venturing further down the forbidden path.

  30. I think this park appeared in the movie "Elizabethtown" also. Did you already post about that? It does look like the park in the movie.

  31. I can't believe this place isn't covered with graffiti! Maybe the IT'S ALIVE! monster is still around and keeping a(ping-pong ball)eye on things.

  32. The Vintage Reader on

    Alas, the one time I actually convinced my mother to visit Land of Kong on our annual pilgrimage to the Ozarks, it was closed. Now I may never behold the awesome glory of our prehistoric past.

    Great pics!!!!

  33. I bet you could buy that enterprise for next to nothing, Kirk. Jon Agar just became even cooler to me. Thanks for that tidbit of trivia and another fine virtual tour.

  34. We just returned from Eureka Springs and a trip to Dinosaur World. I took my daughter by there to show her what I visited when I was younger. She loved it and she's 18!It was a little creepy being there without anybody else around. It brought back a lot of memories. We actually crossed the bridge that goes all the way across the lake. I had doubts about that, but everyone else took off and went on across and I wasn't about to be left behind. We took lots of pictures with King Kong and lots of the cavemen. We didn't get to walk the whole park, because I was afraid we would get in trouble for trespassing, plus it was really hot outside. I wanted to find the same caveman whose lap I sat on 30 years ago and have my picture taken with him again, but I guess he was too far away for our walk. Maybe next time…

  35. I went to Dino World back in the 70's and remember the rope bridge and walking across it as a 12 year old. Now 45, I took my kids by there, as I have a daughter 10 and son 8 who loves Dinosaurs. I was disappointed also to hear it was closed. I thought of going down the rode but thought I better not chance it. It seems like they keep the grounds up, but not the building. My kids loved the mirror there beside the door where you use to go in and get your ticket. I recommend that if you are in the area stop by anyway and see what you dare to see.

  36. I remember visiting Dinosaur World when I was little, back in the late 70's or early 80's. I had forgotten all about it before I came across this website. We had lots of pictures taken there, some with the cavemen and some just standing in front of the dinosaurs. I'll have to dig those up and look at them again. We are planning a trip to Eureka Springs in a couple of weeks, so I'll have to make sure I visit Dinosaur World again. Even if it's closed, it will still bring back memories.

  37. Glenda Sims on

    We had it on our to do list with grandkids and when we got there it was closed. A man came from across the street and told us the owner was in the hospital and he didn't know when it would reopen. It is a shame to see places like this go under. I can't remember the year, but I know it was still listed as open on the internet.

  38. I remember that giant spider at the entrance when my parents took me here in…around the late 80s very early 90s. Terrified the crap out of me. I didn’t trust the rest of the drive- so I kept my eyes covered.

  39. sandra mccormick on

    My grandfather is Orvis Parker who helped in building the dinos…him and my grandma Mary Parker ran it for a ehile…i remember all of my family playing there and loving every bit of it..my grandpa still lives only a mile away and has dinos he built all in his yard…a memory of the good old days:)

    • [Walking] is the perfect way of moving if you want to see into the life of things. It is the one way of freedom. If you go to a place on anything but your own feet you are taken there too fast, and miss a thousand delicate joys that were waiting for you by the wayside.

    • A journey, after all, neither begins in the instant we set out, nor ends when we have reached our door step once again. It starts much earlier and is really never over, because the film of memory continues running on inside of us long after we have come to a physical standstill. Indeed, there exists something like a contagion of travel, and the disease is essentially incurable.

  40. I have a picture of king Kong standing with me and my family standing below him. To bad it's not still open because I would have gone back since how I was too little to remember.

  41. Hello, I was planning on doing a photo-shoot here, I know you cant tell me exactly where this place is, but i was wondering how I would go about getting permission to use it for a few hours. please reply. thanks.

    • Hello I am the admin on this website, I did not personally venture here but if you contact Jennifer Tillery she might be able to tell you a little bit more! LOL I\’m sorry I wish I could give you an email but I don\’t know that either…

  42. It closed due to lack of revenue, I am sure. My grandfather, Ken Childs, owned the park from 1980 until his death in 1984. He changed the name from Dinosaur World to John Agar's Land of Kong. He was friends with John Agar and John gave him permission to use his name for the park – a marketing strategy since John Agar had recently been in the 1970s version of King Kong. My mother and stepfather ran the park during the summer of 1980 and we lived there. On the hill just to the right of the driveway there is a house. It wasn't there in 1980 – there were about half a dozen or so mobile homes. We lived in one, and one of the guys hired to do some of the artwork lived in another. In 1980, King Kong was a big wooden sign across the highway from the driveway. That's where an RV campground was located. The mechanical one came in 1984 about the time of his death. At that time, his wife took over the park. Anyway, money was always tight and the park closed and opened a few times. My grandfather's wife is the one that changed the name from John Agar's Land of Kong to Dinosaur World. When the economy tanked in the early 2000s, I am sure that it hit the park hard, forcing them to close the gates for good. I sure wish I could own that park and continue what my grandfather did. Even if it couldn't be opened daily, I personally would open it for those who called ahead. That way people could still enjoy the park at a minimal cost. I just created a facebook page for those who would like to remember the park, post their links and/or pictures to share with others: https://www.facebook.com/landofkong

    • I think this was a wonderful park that brought many great memories to my family. I lived in Green Forest, Arkansas for a while, and we'd always take weekend trips to Dinosaur World. I'm very sad to see it's now closed down. If there is any possible way for you to re-open it, please do! Maybe start a Kickstarter campaign?? And definitely keep it in the family if you can. Continue your grandfathers legacy! Best of luck to you.

    • I'm a little bit obsessed with this place. My husband and I happened upon it on our honeymoon in Dec of 2007. We trespassed and took tons of pics. When we got home we found pics of my MIL and FIL from the 70's in this park. So who owned or after your grandfather? And I can't seem to access this FB page you created.

    • My husband and I honeymooned in eureka springs in 1981 and we visited this park. We had a good time there. So sorry it's closed.

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