On the edge of the Colorado Desert, mere feet away from I-40, sit two mammoth plastic dinosaurs named Dinny and Mr. Rex. They are a famous roadside attraction, routinely making the list in many travel books and magazines, and on infinite travel blogs (like this one 🙃). This is likely due to their proximity to the interstate, with easy in-and-out access, and the fact that they are literally gigantic and life-size. Oh, and you can go inside of them.
Located at 50770 Seminole Dr, Cabazon, CA 92230, the attraction is open daily, from 9am to 6:30pm Monday through Thursday, and from 9am to 8pm Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Construction began in 1964 on Dinny, an Apatosaurus, taking 11 years to complete (1975). Dinny was the brainchild of Knott’s Berry Farm sculptor and portrait artist Claude K. Bell. He had opened a restaurant called Wheel Inn Restaurant and needed a way to attract people to it. This was in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s, and literally in the middle of nowhere, so he needed something BIG and awe-inspiring to attract the masses. Thus came Dinny. He ended up being 45-feet tall and 150-feet long and was built using spare material salvaged from the construction of the interstate.
Six years after the completion of Dinny, in 1981, construction began on a second dinosaur, Mr. Rex. As his name suggests, he is a Tyrannosaurus Rex. He took approximately 5 years to complete and his tail was originally a slide. However, since almost everything can be deemed a potential liability because people consistently make stupid decisions, the tail slide was closed and filled with concrete. Now it looks like a round, fat worm.
You can go up into the belly of the beast, literally, of both dinosaurs. The experiences are widely different from one another. In Dinny, there is an entire gift shop. There is a lot of stuff, including toys, shirts, stuffed animals, magnets, jewelry, candy, and many other various knick-knacks. As for Mr. Rex, his insides are hollow, and you can climb up into his mouth. The areas inside both Dinny and Mr. Rex were crowded, so if you are still super not into crowded areas, you may want to skip it. Workers were allegedly monitoring and limiting the number of people allowed inside each, but we did not see a single employee doing any kind of gatekeeping, literally anywhere. Everyone was pretty much self-policing inside both dinosaurs. Inside Mr. Rex we had to wait for about 30 minutes for our turn in his mouth. As for Dinny there was no wait, but it was almost claustrophobic because of how many people were inside, combined with all the expensive tourist trinkets for sale crammed everywhere.
Located in the back, behind Mr. Rex and Dinny, is a fun little place, and if you’re not careful, you may miss it. It’s not small, it’s just kind of hidden, tucked away in the back and hidden by a fence. It’s more or less a garden with numerous dinosaurs sprinkled throughout, with various informative signs. Eventually the path ends at the back of Mr. Rex, which is where you can climb up into his mouth.
According to the sign near the ticket booth, Mr. Rex’s Dinosaur Adventure features “Over 50 static & robotic dinosaurs”, “Dinosaur Dig – find a Dino and win a prize!”, “Fossil & Gemstone Panning”, and “Climb inside Mr. Rex and sit inside his mouth!”. The entrance prices are $13 per adult, $11 for children aged 3-12 (children under 2 are free), and $10 for military, LEO, and firefighters (with I.D.), as well as seniors (aged 55+). This is the only area that requires payment to enter. You can also purchase add-ons for various prices, like taking a ride on the robotic T-rex and buying a fossil and gemstone bag to “pan for real fossils and gemstones”. Walking around the base of Dinny and Mr. Rex is free, as well as going inside Dinny to the gift shop.
I enjoyed this portion of our visit more than any other because 1) there were fewer people in this area (although it did begin to fill up as we were leaving; we arrived early for this very reason), 2) it was informative, and 3) it was cool to “walk among dinosaurs”, even if they were fake. I can’t think of any other place other than the La Brea Tar Pits that has life-size reconstructed prehistoric animals or dinosaurs. I’m sure there are other places, but I know of none.
As for Mr. Rex, he was probably my least favorite experience. As mentioned, there were no employees regulating anything. However, this wasn’t why it was my least favorite. It was because it felt like it took forever, BECAUSE, like I said, there was nobody telling people when to move on from Mr. Rex’s mouth. There was a sign that said each group had one minute inside, but really, who’s counting or caring? Some people took less time than others, but overall, we stood in line for about 30 minutes. It was hot and uncomfortable, due to being inside a giant, insulated plastic dinosaur and there was nowhere to sit or lean. Also, the stairs into Mr. Rex’s mouth are old and winding, and not easy to traverse. If you are disabled or have leg issues, please be advised. The stairs are navigable, but they are not a simple, straight staircase.
Inside Mr. Rex’s mouth is small and if small spaces makes you feel stressed, you may want to skip it. If you’re with a party of 4 or more, I would suggest going in smaller groups. There is not much room to stand, as most of the area is taken up by Mr. Rex’s actual mouth, which you can climb into. This part does offer you a unique view of Dinny, as you can see him from the perspective of Mr. Rex. As mentioned, once upon a time a slide existed inside his tail but sadly exists no longer.
There is another store near the entrance of Mr. Rex’s Dinosaur Adventure, and it is much larger and less confined feeling than the store inside Dinny. This is also where kids can exchange the rock they find in the Dinosaur Dig for a small prize. On top of souvenirs, there are a bunch of animatronic dinosaurs inside that routinely move and make noises. I thought it was a super cool feature.
So, if you’re ever out this way, in the barren California desert right on the cusp between civilization and no-mans-land, give Dinny and Mr. Rex a visit. It’s an approximately 20-minute drive from Palm Springs, 40 minutes from Coachella, 1.5 hours from Los Angeles, 4 hours from Las Vegas, and 4.5 hours from Phoenix. Many people unknowingly pass these two dinos every single time they drive into southern California on I-40, an interstate that millions of travelers take every year. So, if you’re ever coming in from Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, or literally any other state along I-40, take about an hour to stop at the World’s Largest Dinosaurs (allegedly).
P.s. It’s reallyyyyyyyy windy here!!!!!