U.S. Roadside Attraction no. 1
Cabazon Dinosaurs, Cabazon, California
Climb to the top of a life-size Tyrannosaurus rex for an up-close view of its teeth at this real-world Jurassic park. Purchase souvenirs at a museum shop located inside Ms. Dinny, a 150-ton Apatosaurus considered the largest concrete dino in the world.
Cabazon Dinosaurs, also referred to as Claude Bell's Dinosaurs, are enormous, sculptured roadside attractions located in Cabazon, California and visible to the immediate north of Interstate 10. The site features Dinny the Dinosaur, a 150-ton building shaped like a larger-than-life-sized Apatosaurus, and Mr. Rex, a 100-ton Tyrannosaurus rex structure. Dinny (pronounced "Dine-ee") and Mr. Rex are at the Cabazon exit of Interstate 10 in California, a short distance west of Palm Springs behind the Wheel Inn diner on Seminole Drive in San Gorgonio Pass.
Creationist museumFollowing the sale of the property by Bell's surviving family in the mid-1990s, Cabazon Family Partnership and MKA Cabazon Partnership of Costa Mesa, California became the new owners of the roadside attraction. The partnership obtained approval for a major expansion of the Cabazon dinosaur site in 1996 with the land-use approvals including restaurants, a museum, and gift shop, and a 60-room motel at the Main Street exit in Cabazon. Orange County developer and MKA partner Gary Kanter states the original vision has been for MKA to transform the area into a children's science and museum exhibit.
Currently located inside Dinny is a gift store and museum promoting creationism with some of the toy dinosaurs in the shop sold under the label "Don't swallow it! The fossil record does not support evolution." The current ownership has expressed a Young Earth creationist belief that most dinosaurs were created on Earth about 6,000 years ago – the same day as Adam and Eve. In stark contrast to that belief are Bell's painted frescoes and sculptures inside Dinny, depicting a naturalist and evolutionary viewpoint. Bell's paintings include representations of Cro-Magnon man (labeled "Cro-Magnon Man 30,000 [years ago]") and Java Man (labeled "Java Man 400,000"). Bell's historic displays now exist alongside information detailing the creationist viewpoint of the earth and man's origins.
The Cabazon Dinosaurs attraction also features an open-air museum with fiberglass and robotic dinosaurs. Other activities at the site include a sand pit where visitors can experience a "dino dig" as well as a gemstone and fossil-panning sluice. Pastor Robert Chiles, assisting Kanter in turning the exhibit into a non-denominational church, has been quoted as to his belief of why children are drawn to the dinosaur attraction, "There's something in their DNA that knows man walked with these creatures on Earth." Chiles and Kanter plan to promote their views of creationism at the attraction based on their interpretation of the Book of Genesis.