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The magic of Rex

Nov. 1, 2009
A point of pride for us as parents was when our oldest son began reading dinosaur books at age four.

by Mark Hartley
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A point of pride for us as parents was when our oldest son began reading dinosaur books at age four. Adult versions, not the children's versions where the reptiles resemble Barney. In fact, my recollection of these scientific books was there were very few illustrations, which is likely why I didn't read them after he finished the books.

Later on, he and I both read Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park. I didn't need pictures. The author's descriptions of the fictional theme park based on dinosaurs were vivid and entertaining enough. When the movie of the same name came out, my oldest son, then 15 years old, left the theater after the opening scene involving the beast that escaped the transport cage — nearly identical to the description in the novel. Even though he knew what was coming, the scene was too intense for him, and he walked out. My youngest son and I, though, remained glued to our seats until the final credits.

I found a hammock with my name on it at the Dolphin Hotel.
Click here to enlarge image

Flash forward a few years later to the family vacation in Walt Disney World Resort. Occasionally, I will browse through family photo albums of the trip, marveling at the kids captured in a state of bliss while at the resort. However, my lingering memory of the Disney experience occurred in Animal Kingdom, home of a dinosaur thriller ride, where my oldest son and I were paired together. As with many Disney rides, hidden cameras snap photos of the riders during pivotal moments. With this particular ride, a dinosaur looms out of the darkness with an in-your-face suddenness. After the ride was over, I looked us up on the wall of photos. I have the silly grin on my face that I'm sure all Disney employees recognize. My son had the abject look of terror on his face that I'm sure all Disney employees also recognize.

When I feel old and ornery, when I don't care what younger people think of me, I like to remind my oldest son about that photo.

It's surely because of those books he read as a young child — the same books I ignored as an adult. You probably noticed that I have not used any of the formal names for dinosaurs in this column. I just know some of them were nicknamed Rex.

“:Easy now, Rex. I'm not as tasty as my publisher over there. Look, he's pulling an advertising rate card out of his briefcase. Sure look like high rates to me. Go eat him!”

I fit in well with the Disney experience, a sucker for the magic the place offers. I recently spent a couple of days scouting out the Dolphin Hotel, which will host the RDH Under One Roof conference in August 2010. In the coming months, we'll be talking about the conference in RDH, RDH eVillage, and Get ready for some magic!