The mad scientist in Natural Bridge

Published 9:03 pm Thursday, August 4, 2016

By Henry Luzzatto


In the town of Natural Bridge, a man in suspenders and a safari hat builds dinosaurs.

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I first met Mark Cline at a Board of Supervisors meeting. He gave a presentation to the board about his plans to open a theme park called “Dinosaur Kingdom 2.”

The board watched in amusement as Cline gave a presentation of his vision, which included life-size animatronics of the prehistoric creatures. With his long, messy hair, eccentric wardrobe and manic demeanor, he had the air of a mad scientist from an old movie.

About a week later, I ventured out to his studio, Enchanted Castle Studios, to do a news story on the new theme park.

A little bit of background on Mr. Cline: He’s a legendarily eccentric artist, who uses fiberglass to build huge models of monsters and creatures that populate haunted houses and the like across the country. He’s best known for his creation “Foamhenge,” a full-scale Styrofoam model of Stonehenge. If you take a trip into a haunted-looking attraction in Virginia Beach, chances are you will see his work.

When I arrived at Enchanted Castle Studios, which seemed to be at least a mile away from civilization in any direction, I immediately marveled at the creepy models littering the property. Half-finished giant monsters, a mold for a brontosaurus and a supersized foot sat in the front yard.

I found Cline after perusing his workshop, which was filled with shelves of eerily realistic model heads.

He was sitting at his workbench, modeling the teeth for a 15-foot velociraptor. He shot up out of his chair and vigorously shook my hand. I barely got the camera and microphone set up before he began to tell me about his plans for Dinosaur Kingdom 2.

He explained that the theme park would mix Civil War history with prehistoric creatures. In the world he would create, mad scientists for the Union would resurrect the dinosaurs and use them as weapons of mass destruction against the South. He explained the complicated plot of his park, which included mine shafts, a tyrannosaurus that eats Confederates and a cross-dressing Stonewall Jackson with a robot arm.


The thing that made Cline stick out in my memory (aside from his obvious eccentricity) was the joy with which he worked. This was a man who was doing exactly what he wanted to do, and, honestly, what many people wanted to do when they were kids.

There was an undeniable element of childish wonder and enthusiasm coming through his work.

His workshop was like the floor of a supersized kid’s bedroom, with huge dinosaurs, monsters and movie characters piled haphazardly around the room. Upstairs is and area like a treehouse, filled wall-to-wall with comics and sketchbooks that Cline either drew himself or used for inspiration.

Watching Cline work made me realize that, while not everybody gets a chance to live the dreams they had as a kid, it is possible to realize those aspirations. Though Cline has faced adversity, losing much of his studio and his previous theme park to fire, he has worked through and continued to do what he loves.

Dinosaur Kingdom II opened on July 2. I haven’t made a visit there yet, but I am excited to see the kitschy, crazy, childlike world of Mark Cline.

Henry Luzzatto is a Suffolk native and an intern at the Suffolk News-Herald. He carries a photo of Pikachu in his wallet. Email him at