Entertainment & Events

89th anniversary of Belmont Park roller coaster

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As belmont1we all celebrated our nation’s anniversary on the fourth of July, Belmont Park in Mission Bay observed the 89th year of its well-known Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster.

The State and National Landmark ride is one of two of the original roller coasters built of wood still in use in the state. The coaster took its first passengers on a ride on Independence Day back in 1925. Built by the famous sugar baron John D. Spreckels, the Giant Dipper was once part of the Mission Beach Amusement Center, which covered more than 30 acres in Mission Beach . Costing the princely sum of $150,000 in 1925 (more than 2 million dollars today), the original configuration had two cars each holding 18 riders.

After taking millions on thrilling rides for more than forty years, the end of the ’60’s saw the decline of both Belmont Park and the roller coaster. The amusement center and the Dipper were shut down at the end of 1976. Sitting idle for ten years, by 1984 the rotting wooden structure had become both an embarrassment and a safety hazard. The coaster was scheduled to be torn down following a slew of fires, and after becoming an unofficial shelter for the homeless. Community opinion was that Mission Beach would be better off without it.belmont3

Just before the first bulldozer was set to strike, the “Save the Coaster Committee” was formed. By managing to have the Dipper declared a National Landmark, and successfully creating the San Diego Coaster Company to assume ownership, the group of involved citizens saved the historic ride. More than two million dollars was raised and used to restore the coaster to its former glory. New tracks, six new cars, each holding 4 passengers, and a new paint job completed the task.

belmont2After five years of work, the new Giant Dipper thrilled riders again on August 11, 1990. The refurbished structure is more than 2 thousand feet long, 73 feet tall, and moves at a thrilling 55 miles per hours. Each $6 rides takes more than 2 minutes to complete. Belmont Park is located at  3146 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109. The current park covers 7 acres. Other rides include the Beach Blaster, Krazy Kars, Thunder Boats, and the famous Vertical Plunge.

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