Monday, May 01, 2017

Pee Wee and the Dinosaurs of Cabazon

It's been on my bucket list for years, and even though I have driven by Cabazon Dinosaurs numerous times, I never stopped to see it in person. My first sighting of this bizarre pop culture location was in the movie "Pee Wee's Big Adventure."

Pee Wee (Paul Reubens) and girlfriend Simone (Diane Salinger) stop by here to catch a breather, sitting inside the Dinosaur.

Although viewers may have thought the dinosaurs here were constructed for the 1985 Tim Burton comedy, they actually existed long before that. Originally known as Claude Bell's Dinosaurs, this roadside attraction in Cabazon, California, outside of Palm Springs features two enormous, steel-and-concrete dinosaurs named Dinny the Dinosaur and Mr. Rex. Here's Mr. Rex, the one featured in the aforementioned film:

Knott's Berry Farm sculptor and portrait artist Bell began construction of the dinosaurs in 1964 in an attempt to attract more customers to his nearby restaurant, the Wheel Inn (which closed in 2013). The Wheel Inn is also where the "Large Marge" scene in "Pee Wee's Big Adventures" was filmed. More on that later.

Mr. Rex was the second dinosaur that Bell completed in 1986. Originally, a giant slide was installed in Rex's tail; it was later filled in with concrete.

Dinny, the dinosaur that greets you when you enter the area, was created out of spare material salvaged from the construction of nearby Interstate 10, costing Bell $300,000. Talk about sustainability.

Bell's death in 1988 halted construction of a third sculpture, which was supposed to be a woolly mammoth. Bell's family sold the property in the 1990s and since then, Cabazon Dinosaurs has been the site of a roadside creationist museum and giftshop.

If you're not sure who Large Marge is, be sure to catch "Pee Wee's Big Adventure."

She was played by the incomparable Alice Nunn in this shockingly memorable but short scene:

A peak into the display:

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Major Pepperidge said...

What a fun, classic roadside attraction. And a classic movie!

Unknown said...

I wanna go!!!!!! That is so coooool!