Florida Keys Jurassic Park Outdoor Dinosaur Museum ProposedMar 21st, 2011 | By Roy Rasmussen | Category: Science and Nature
German prehistoric model company Bernd Wolter Design is proposing to create a “Jurassic Park” style outdoor dinosaur museum at the Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, near Islamorada in the Florida Keys. The museum would feature life-sized replicas of dinosaurs, giant Megalodon sharks ancestral to the Great White, and other prehistoric creatures from earlier eras of geologic history.
Bernd Wolter Design founder Bernd Wolter, who is 68, owns a vacation home in Islamorada. He is retired, but he is helping his son, Marcus, who sold his parks and restaurant business in Sweden, to promote the Windley Key project with private financing.
The Windley Key park currently features prehistoric coral fossils and historic limestone quarries which are of great scientific value, but draw little tourism. Over the last five fiscal years, the park averaged 11,660 visitors a year and $6,252 in revenue, against $100,306 operations costs. For comparison, a coral reef state park 20 miles away attracted almost 850,000 visitors last fiscal year. Earlier this year, the Windley Key park was being considered for temporary closure due to budget cuts.
Wolter believes a dinosaur exhibit could draw 40,000 to 70,000 more visitors to the park a year, based on the experience of similar parks the company supports elsewhere. Wolter’s park in Hanover, Germany draws about 250,000 visitors per year.
Wolter offers lines of models showcasing life from different time periods and environments, including dinosaurs, prehistoric mammals, Ice Age creatures, and prehistoric marine life. The proposed Florida park would include an emphasis on marine life, consistent with the coastal atmosphere.
The park is still in the conceptual stage. Park and government officials have expressed an interest in hearing more about the project. Wolter is scheduled to meet with key park officials and business representatives this week.
The Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park is located on Windley Key off of Highway U.S. 1 at Mile Marker 84.9 near Islamorada. The park is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The Education Center is open Friday through Sunday, from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm. Guided tours are available Friday through Sunday at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. For more details, visit the Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park page on the Florida State Parks website.