Wheel Inn restaurant

Dinosaur at Wheel Inn CabazonNo matter which scene from 'Pee-wee's Big Adventure' is your fave -- Pee-wee's morning routine? His initial run-in with that weasel Francis? His "loner/rebel" brush off of Dottie? His stop at the Alamo? The 'Tequila' bar-top dance? -- all fans of the Tim Burton-directed Pee-wee Herman gem can agree on one thing: As we celebrate the movie's 25th anniversary this week, it holds up as being every bit as whimsical, delightful and laugh-out-loud funny as it was when it was in theaters in 1985.

If we had to pick our favorite scene from the classic pop culture romp, then everything that happens from the time Pee-wee climbs into Large Marge's truck to the time he lams it from the angry, bone-carrying Andy -- which includes his time at the Wheel Inn restaurant, hanging with waitress Simone and those cool, giant-sized dinosaurs -- would top the list.
Wheel Inn restaurant

Dinosaur at Wheel Inn CabazonNo matter which scene from 'Pee-wee's Big Adventure' is your fave -- Pee-wee's morning routine? His initial run-in with that weasel Francis? His "loner/rebel" brush off of Dottie? His stop at the Alamo? The 'Tequila' bar-top dance? -- all fans of the Tim Burton-directed Pee-wee Herman gem can agree on one thing: As we celebrate the movie's 25th anniversary this week, it holds up as being every bit as whimsical, delightful and laugh-out-loud funny as it was when it was in theaters in 1985.

If we had to pick our favorite scene from the classic pop culture romp, then everything that happens from the time Pee-wee climbs into Large Marge's truck to the time he lams it from the angry, bone-carrying Andy -- which includes his time at the Wheel Inn restaurant, hanging with waitress Simone and those cool, giant-sized dinosaurs -- would top the list.

In fact, if there's one movie locale that makes us want to call in sick for two weeks and hit the road, it's the Wheel Inn and the Cabazon dinosaurs ...

Large MargeLocation as Character: In 'Big Adventure,' Pee-wee was on a hitchhiking road trip to find his beloved bike (which had been stolen by the evil Fran-cis), when he was dropped off at the Wheel Inn truck stop one night by truck driver Large Marge (the late Alice Nunn) ...

Except that when Pee-wee entered the Wheel Inn, he learned that Large Marge had actually been killed in an accident 10 years earlier ... he had been riding with the ghost of Large Marge!

After he washed dishes to pay for his dinner (his wallet was MIA), waitress Simone (Diane Salinger) asked Pee-wee to watch the sunrise with her. Simone and Pee-wee spent the evening inside one of the dinosaur buildings, having a heart-to-heart (Simone: "I know you're right Pee-wee, but ..." Pee-wee: "Everyone I know has a big 'But.' C'mon, Simone, let's talk about your big 'But.'"), but they were greeted the next morning by Simone's jealous, Bluto-lookin' boyfriend Andy (the late pro wrestler Jon "Silo Sam" Harris), who chased after Pee-wee with a fake dinosaur bone, forcing our hero to hop a freight train out of town.


Mr. Rex Cabazon dinosaurHistorical Significance: Sculptor and retired Knott's Berry Farm portrait artist Claude K. Bell was the owner of the Wheel Inn Cafe in the 1960s, and started the project to build Dinny and Rex, the dinosaurs out back, in 1964, as a way to draw attention to his eatery. Dinny came first, as Bell spent $250,000 and eleven years to create him, using material recycled from the construction of the nearby I-10 highway. Dinny, who's 45 feet tall and nearly 150 feet long, was formed by making a steel framework and then covering it with a metal grid to help shape him, and then covering that with spray concrete.

Dinny's pal, dubbed Mr. Rex by Bell, was built in 1981, and Bell had drawn plans to create a saber-toothed tiger and a mastodon to accompany Dinny and Rex before his death in 1988. Mr. Rex, with his ferocious teeth, is the dinosaur Pee-wee and Simone hang out in while watching the sunrise.

After Bell's death, his family sold the dinos to a local business development group that expanded the roadside attraction into the World's Biggest Dinosaurs Museum, which includes a gift shop inside the building that is Dinny, as well as a museum that promotes the idea of creationism vs. evolution.

Fun Fact: The Wheel Inn and the famous Cabazon dinosaurs can also be seen in 'Paris, Texas' and 'The Wizard,' as well as in the Tears for Fears video for 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World,' Brad Paisley's 'Welcome to the Future' video and clips for Oasis' 'Supersonic' and singer/songwriter Tonio K's 'Without Love.'




Directions: Well, you kinda can't miss it. It's, you know, where you see the giant dinosaurs from the highway. And the big sign that says "EAT." Oh, O.K. ... It's right off the Cabazon exit of the I-10, the address is 50900 Seminole Drive, Cabazon, CA 92230; and the phone number: 951-849-7012.

Pee-wee at the Wheel InnVisitor Info: The Wheel Inn is open 24/7, making it the perfect destination for an impromptu snack or road trip. Among the tasty vittles those who've dined at the Wheel Inn recommend: the Dino Burger with homemade fries, a homemade turkey and mashed potatoes dinner, the date shake, the tuna melt (Pee-wee ordered a tuna platter and milkshake in the movie) and sundry pies (all, of course, homemade). There's also a gift shop with the requisite gift shop-y fare, and you can also visit the World's Biggest Dinosaurs Museum -- the official home of Dinny and Rex -- for a mere $6.95. The self-guided tours of the dinos, which are right behind The Wheel Inn, are available every except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and "really rainy days."
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