Animatronic dinosaurs to come to life in Henderson

Hidden by deep woods and surrounded by a six-strand cable fence marked “high voltage,” a family of triceratops leads a small herd of herbivores through the thick brush, while only a few yards away a 20-foot crocodile eyes its next meal.

The dinosaurs, or at least life-size, fiberglass and steel replicas, are part of the coming Prehistoric Park in Henderson, which will give educational tours about the long-extinct creatures.

“I think it’s very educational,” said owner Lee Venable. “The school systems in our area are excited about it. It will be good for field trips for kids to come and enjoy. We’re going to target the schools, but with the feedback I’m getting from the general public, it will definitely also be for entertainment. I can’t tell you how many parents are excited for it.”

Venable said the park will feature a half-mile serpentine sidewalk that will take guests through prehistoric epochs as a sound system broadcasts different dinosaur sounds throughout the park.

Upon completion, there will be 30 dinosaurs in the park, he said, 10 of which will be robotic, complete with blinking eyes and breathing chests.

Venable said the 20 stationary replicas came from the Philippines. He is still waiting on the robotic models to come in from China.

At the moment, some of the beasts’ heads, arms and other various body parts lie on the ground, waiting to be assembled, as if a dino battle royale had strewn the appendages about.

“I’m a pretty hands-on kind of guy,” Venable said earlier this month. “I was out here helping to put together a brontosaurus this morning. We had a tree branch fall on one, but we’re going to patch him up and put him back together.”

Venable is also the owner of neighboring Cajun Palms RV Resort, a 40-acre RV complex featuring three pools, three bars, putt-putt golf, two concession stands and a 19,000-square-foot multipurpose building with movie theaters and meeting rooms.

Dwayne Mayfield, a longtime camper at Cajun Palms, said he is excited about the prospect of taking his grandkids to the new dinosaur park.

“I think it’s going to be pretty cool,” Mayfield said.

Amanda Stelly, Cajun Palms manager, said the enthusiasm about the coming park surprised her.

“I never really anticipated this many people being interested in it,” she said. “Not just the campers, the community and everybody is really excited.”

Stelly said the park will offer a unique learning destination to local schools that are running out of places to bring students to have fun and learn at the same time.

She also said the number of phone calls she’s received about using the dinosaur park for entertainment purposes has shocked her.

“The number of birthday parties that are going to happen there is going to be unreal,” she said. “That’s the most inquiries I’ve had.”

Prehistoric Park is part of an adjacent 80-acre development that Venable said he hopes will feature high-performance go-carts, an arcade, an indoor water park and the “nicest lazy river in the U.S.”

“We’re all pretty excited,” Venable said. “There’s really just nothing like this in Louisiana.”