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Storyland/Playland dinosaurs are lifelike, but not looking for a snack

Dinosaur Island exhibit prepares to open at Storyland

Board chair Scott Miller speaks April 2 about the inauguration of Dinosaur Island at Storyland/Playland. Fresno High ROTC students helped set up the dinosaur models.
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Board chair Scott Miller speaks April 2 about the inauguration of Dinosaur Island at Storyland/Playland. Fresno High ROTC students helped set up the dinosaur models.

Passengers on the Willis B. Kyle Express Train will have something new to look at while on their choo-choo ride at Storyland/Playland park in central Fresno.

Dinosaur Island will feature fiberglass models from the Philippines that are meant to be a realistic representation of what fossils indicate the dinosaurs would look like, board chairman Scott Miller said. The Dinosaur Island project cost around $30,000.

“We’ve got 18 realistic, life-size dinosaurs that we’re installing,” Miller said. “The conductors will know a little bit about the dinosaurs. It’s going to be educational.”

Around 35 Fresno High Junior ROTC students volunteered Saturday to help set up the models.

“We first place (each dinosaur) where we want them to be,” said Adrien Alvino, 17. Following that, a hole is dug and filled with cement, and the models are secured to the ground with metal rods.

Alvino said that helping set up Dinosaur Island brought back memories of visiting Storyland/Playland as a child.

Triceratops, postosuchus, velociraptor, stegosaurus and other dinosaurs are all represented at Dinosaur Island.

Although the parks typically reopen for business each spring, Storyland/Playland did not open in March 2015 because of funding challenges. Formerly overseen by Rotary clubs, which had raised money to build Playland a half century earlier, Storyland/Playland needed more than $800,000 to cover the cost of repairs and improvements. The Fresno Chaffee Zoo Corporation stepped in that month to take on oversight of the parks and fundraising efforts.

Storyland reopened in September 2015 after volunteers logged 13,000 hours of service, Miller said. “Our goal is to have a similar number for the Playland opening.”

Playland is scheduled to reopen in May.

“Our goal is just to make kids happy and hopefully have something educational along the way,” Miller said.

Razi Syed: 559-441-6679, @razisyed

Want to help?

Donations for Playland’s renovation and reopening can be made at www.playlandfresno.com.

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