By Jim Fanning
The Good Dinosaur roars into movie theaters on Thanksgiving Day (November 25). But long before Disney•Pixar’s all-new animated feature was hatched, a herd of other good dinosaurs stomped their way into our hearts. You don’t need to be a paleontologist to know that these enormous reptiles rule. So come along on our Disney fanatic’s expedition as we dig up some fun facts on these sometimes fearsome, frequently endearing, always fascinating favorite dinosaurs.
Aladar from Dinosaur
When you’re the hero of a movie entitled Dinosaur, you’d better be ready to outshine the rest of the cretaceous cast (it took a team of 48 animators, 250 dedicated computer processors and another 300 desktop processors to bring this huge cast of CG giant reptiles to the screen)—and Aladar does not disappoint. This young Iguanodon—raised by a loving family of lemurs—is a natural leader. At 16 feet and four tons, Aladar is a big specimen—but his heart is even bigger, and his compassion for the weak is the attribute that promises this migrating group will safely reach the sacred Nesting Ground. No wonder this leading man—make that leading dinosaur—steals the heart of lovely Neera and the rest of the herd. We feel the same way.
Baby from Baby: Secret of The Lost Legend
When a modern-day scientist and her sportswriter husband discover a baby brontosaurus in the wilds of the Ivory Coast, the huggable hatchling steals this young couple’s hearts—and ours, too. Baby was designed and constructed by mechanical effects experts Ron Tantin and Isidoro Raponi, who needed a full year to plan and construct the dinosaur models seen onscreen. This action-adventure was not only inspired by actual scientific theories but also by another Disney film—so if lovable Baby reminds you of a certain big-eared pachyderm, it may not be a coincidence.
The “Rite of Spring” Dinosaurs from Fantasia
Upon hearing Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”, Walt responded, “This is marvelous! It would be perfect for prehistoric animals”—and thus the fantastical dinosaur stars of Fantasia were born. And there’s no question that the scene-stealers are the battling behemoths Tyrannosaurus rex and the Stegosaurus. But how best to animate the mammoth T. rex? Sequence director Bill Roberts told animation supervisor Woolie Reitherman to draw a twelve-story building in perspective, then convert it into a dinosaur and animate it. Woolie studied skeletal remains at museums, but scientific accuracy was set aside in favor of compelling showmanship, for, in reality, these two dinosaurs actually lived tens of millions years apart.
The Sinclair’s from Dinosaurs
Jim Henson Associates created the characters in this series covering the life of a prehistoric family, set in the year 60,000,003 B.C. In this “what if?” world, dinosaurs have evolved to become all-too-accurate suburbanites. That’s right: Earl (a megalosaurus) and Fran (an allosaurus) and their offspring (and let’s not forget grandma Ethyl) are a family of relatable reptiles who just happen to be dinosaurs. Audience fave Baby Sinclair demonstrates some aggressive dinosaur-type behavior by repeatedly battering his father with a frying pan. But as this precocious mini-dino says, “I’m the baby, gotta love me!”
Primeval World at Disneyland
Where can you encounter a whole cadre of prehistoric beasts—while riding an old-school steam train? Disneyland Park guests riding the Disneyland Railroad discover 46 prehistoric Audio-Animatronics® creatures in Primeval World. Included are pteranodons, edaphosaurus, the ostrich-appearing ornithomimuses, a group of towering brontosauruses eating in a swamp, a flock of pterodactyl, cute triceratops babies hatching from their eggs, and a battle between a Tyrannosaurus rex—at 22 feet, the T. rex is the tallest dinosaur figure—and a stegosaurus, inspired by Fantasia. Originally created for “Magic Skyway” attraction at the 1964–65 New York World’s Fair, the Audio-Animatronics dinosaurs were saved from extinction when Walt moved them to his Magic Kingdom in 1966.
Tiny from Meet the Robinsons
Ever dreamed of having a dinosaur for a pet? Leave it to that zany family of the future, the Robinsons, to do just that with Tiny, a not-so-tiny Tyrannosaurus rex. At first, this ferocious-looking creature does his best to capture (if not devour) pre-teen time-traveler Lewis—but that’s only because this T. rex is under the power of the evil Bowler Hat Guy. Once freed, this toothsome critter becomes the Robinsons’ very own, very docile dinosaur. A real fan favorite, Tiny even makes a cameo in Wreck-It Ralph as a video game dinosaur in Game Central Station.
“Land of Long Ago” from the Mickey Mouse comic strip
While helping Professor Dustibones in his plan to bring a real, live dinosaur back from an uncharted island where prehistoric life still thrives, Mickey deals with everything from earthquakes to savage cave men. Luckily he also encounters a friendly group of brontosauruses (called by Goofy “whatchamasauruses”), especially Bronty, who saves adventurous Mouse from an attacking school of sea serpents. Originally published from December 23, 1940 through April 12, 1941, this dino-centric epic was written and drawn by Disney Legend Floyd Gottfredson.
Rex from the Toy Story films
What other T. rex can make his sharp set of teeth into a sweet almost shy smile? Neurotic plastic dinosaur Rex spends more time worrying, wringing his tiny paws, and avoiding confrontation than roaring—which is just as well because he’s self-conscious about how small his roar is. Rex’s caring nature and childlike innocence make him one of the most popular playthings in the Toy Story toy box.
The Museum Skeletons from One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing
No bones about it, the skeletal stars of this crazy caper cause prehistoric pandemonium when a determined army of British nannies sets out to protect top-secret microfilm hidden within. In order to save the dinosaur from enemy spies, they hijack the huge skeleton of an Apatosaurus from Natural History Museum and soon the bony beast is on the loose in London. Not one but two (regardless what the film’s title says) 75-foot-long dinosaur skeletons (the other is a Diplodocus skeleton) weighing several tons were created; the models took two weeks for art director Michael Stringer and six model-makers to construct.
The Carnotaurus from Dinosaur at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
The signature attraction of Dinoland, U.S.A. transports guests back 65 million years to face the baddest of the dinosaur bad guys, the Carnotaurus. This scene-stealing antagonist—a new paleontological discovery in 1985—boasts large teeth and bull-like horns, signifying it on sight as an unmistakably dangerous predator. The Imagineers cast this dino-you-love-to hate in a reddish light to make him even more terrifying.
Arlo from The Good Dinosaur
We have to admit that our new favorite dinosaur is a good one. Yes, it’s that lovable green guy from The Good Dinosaur. An adorable Apatosaurus, Arlo finds he must confront his fear of… well, of everything; he falls into a river and finds himself swept hundreds of miles away from home. Starting out on his long journey home, Arlo develops a friendship with a human boy named Spot. This unlikely companion, who is almost as cute as Arlo, helps the insecure dinosaur realize he is capable of much more than he ever dreamed.