Jay Villemarette Sr.’s company is assembling a new International Drive attraction piece by piece.
The bones of more than 400 birds, beasts and other beings are arriving in Orlando for his Skeletons: Animals Unveiled, which is scheduled to open at the end of the month at the I-Drive 360 complex.
“Every skeleton in this museum is real,” said Villemarette, owner and founder, as workers wheeled in bones and boxes two weeks ago. The attraction will be an outgrowth of his Oklahoma-based Skulls Unlimited Inc., which prepared the skeletons.
Turning carcasses into displays is not a speedy process. Steps involve a chemical bath, disinfecting, whitening, taking inventory, pose design and even flesh-eating beetles. It took a year to put 400 skeletons together, assembly-line style, with as many as seven technicians working, Villemarette said.
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Most of the animals will be represented in action poses, said Jay Villemarette Jr.
“We’re going to have a white rhino in a charging pose: Head down, horn straight and all four feet are in a full run,” he said. “When you see that you can really get a sense of the power that’s behind these animals when they’re coming at you.”
The attraction will think both big and small, from a 20-foot bull elephant to a hummingbird, which arrived “in a nice little box with a lot of little padding,” Villemarette Sr. said.
The attraction doesn’t deal with extinct animals. Endangered ones will be there, however, including three manatees; one has broken ribs and vertebrae that indicate multiple collisions with speed boats.
“This museum, even though it’s an entertainment attraction, it’s still going to have a heavy feel of education,” Villemarette Sr. said. “If one kid walks out of this museum every day and I’ve changed their life and they become a biologist or a doctor or whatever, then it’s been worth it to me.”
▪ Skeletons: Animals Unveiled is scheduled to open April 25. 8441 International Dr., Ste 250; 407-203-6999; http://skeletonmuseum.com.