Dinosaurs Coming to Wallkill?

John Jordan | September 2020

The firm that has proposed a Dinosaur theme park in Wallkill also operates parks in Leonia, NJ and Derby KS.

WALLKILL—A firm that is looking to develop and operate a Dinosaur theme park here just off Route 17 in Fair Oaks has filed applications with the Town of Wallkill and the Orange County Planning Department, Real Estate In-Depth has learned.

Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus and Town of Wallkill Supervisor Frank DenDanto confirmed that Orange County Dinosaur Park, LLC, which operates similar Dinosaur theme parks—“Field Station Dinosaurs” in Leonia, NJ and in Derby, KS, is looking to develop a “Dinosaur Kingdom” project on 137 acres of land just off Exit 116 in the Fair Oaks section of the village.

Officials with Field Station Dinosaurs could not be reached for comment at press time on the proposal in Orange County.

Town Supervisor DenDanto stressed that the project is very early in the approval process but project representatives met via Zoom with the village’s Planning Department last month. The initial plans call for the theme park to encompass about one-third of the total parcel.

While the scope of the project is still to be revealed, Supervisor DenDanto said that it is smaller than the $500-million LEGOLAND New York theme park under construction less than 10 miles from the Dinosaur park proposal. The property is on Goshen Turnpike within less than a mile from the Route 17 exit and abuts Weld and Tarbell roads.

He said that the venture is a “multi-million-dollar project,” but the total cost will depend on a number of factors. “Depending on how they decide to fit out the park—if they use static replicas or animatronic replicas, obviously that affects the budget line substantially,” Supervisor DenDanto added. The firm’s New Jersey park uses animatronic replicas.

The early plans call for a substantial portion of the project remaining green. He said that RJ Smith of Rand Commercial, brought the project to the town for consideration. Ross Winglovitz, P.E., M.ACE, managing principal of engineering & Surveying Properties PC of Montgomery is also working on the project. Although early in the process, the project could secure approvals as early as in a few months, the Supervisor noted.

The Supervisor said that the original layout of the project does not call for any rides but pathways into vignettes where patrons interact with the dinosaur replicas. A tram would be built for those that do not wish to walk the trails, he noted. The plan also calls for a Welcome Center that would have a retail component and the property would also feature an educational component.

“While it is really early in the formulation process, what is really exciting for us is that they came to us and we think it will be an ideal fit given how the 17-86 corridor is beginning to shape up as an entertainment/vacation destination for the Hudson Valley,” DenDanto said.

Orange County Executive Neuhaus said that at first blush “this is an exciting project” and would complement the LEGOLAND New York theme park, which is slated to open in the spring 2021.

Maureen Halahan, president and CEO of the Orange County Partnership, added, “Orange County has become very desirable for tourism destinations and with LEGOLAND just a few miles away this provides our tourists additional options.”

According to the company’s website, its Leonia, NJ park is closed for the 2020 season due to storm damage caused by Tropical Storm Isaias in early August. It is scheduled to reopen in May 2021.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth