American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) recognizes Belmont Park’s Giant Dipper as an ACE Roller Coaster Landmark, a designation reserved for rides of historic significance.
Giant Dipper opened on July 4, 1925, as part of John D. Spreckels' Mission Beach Amusement Center. It is one of only a handful of seaside wooden roller coasters still in operation, and one of only three remaining examples of the work of legendary designer Frederick Church. Assisted by his partner Thomas Prior, Church was able to complete the 2,600-foot long, 73-foot high ride in just four weeks at a cost of $50,000. Classic features include a tunnel, banked turns, and graceful twisting drops.
After more than 50 years of operation and several brushes with extinction, including a devastating fire in 1955, the renamed Belmont Park and the briefly named Earthquake coaster closed suddenly in 1976. The aging coaster sat idle for five years until "Save the Coaster Committee," a grass-roots effort initiated by private citizens, was formed. It took nearly a decade of hard work and determination to overcome great odds; finally, in 1989, financial and operational aid from the Santa Cruz Seaside Company and Morgan Manufacturing arrived to rebuild the coaster. After extensive restoration, Giant Dipper opened to great fanfare on August 11, 1990, and became a successful anchor for the new retail and entertainment complex of the current Belmont Park. Giant Dipper, now operated by the San Diego Coaster Company, continues to provide thrills and enjoyment for countless riders.
ACE salutes Giant Dipper, a successful beacon of historic roller coaster preservation and a National Historic Landmark, on its 85th anniversary and the 20th anniversary of its restoration.
Presented by American Coaster Enthusiasts
ACE Spring Preservation Conference
April 23, 2010