History - Giant Dipper
opened to the public on July 4, 1925.
It was originally built as a key attraction for the 33-acre Mission Beach
Amusement Center, which had opened just a few weeks earlier.
The entire project was the idea of sugar magnate, John D. Spreckels, a major force in San Diego's development.
The 2,600 ft. long coaster was created by the noted design team of Prior and Church. It was built in less than two months by local suppliers and a crew of between 100 and 150 workers. The original cost to build the coaster was $50,000, including the two, 18 passenger trains.
The Mission Beach Amusement Center was popular through the 1930's and 40's and in later years it was renamed, Belmont Park. From all accounts and records, the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster was an extremely popular attraction. By the late 60's and early 70's Belmont Park fell into disrepair and the park and coaster finally closed in December 1976.
Some years earlier, the land on which the coaster stands became the property of the City of San Diego and was designated parkland while the actual structure was still privately owned. In the early 80's the coaster became an eye sore in the heart of Mission Beach.
After surviving several fires, peeling paint and becoming the home for local transients, the owner of the coaster was under a lot of pressure to have it torn down and the demolition date was set.
A group of concerned citizens called "Save The Coaster Committee," had the coaster designated as a National Landmark and asked that the ownership be transferred to them. By doing so, they saved the coaster and are responsible for ensuring that the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster exists today for future generations to enjoy. The committee was given a preservation grant, raised funds locally, and donated their time to work on the coaster, however they were not able to raise the amount needed to restore the coaster to an operating condition.
In 1989, the developer of the new Belmont Park retail specialty center contacted the Santa Cruz Seaside Company in Santa Cruz, California to see if they might have some interest in restoring and operating the Belmont Park Roller Coaster in San Diego. The Santa Cruz Seaside Company is the owner and operator of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk amusement park.
The President and Executive vice-president were interested and traveled to San Diego to meet with the Belmont Park developer. The parcel of land that contained the roller coaster was not part of the developers project, yet it was situated in the middle of the complex and having the coaster restored and operating would benefit all concerned.
After a year of discussions with the City of San Diego and many others, the City Council of San Diego approved a long-term lease. A new company, The San Diego Seaside Company, now called the San Diego Coaster Company, was officially formed to restore and operate the Giant Dipper. Over $2,000,000.00 was spent on the restoration of the Giant Dipper and one new train that was built for the ride. The new train had six, 4-person cars.
On August 11, 1990 the newly restored, historic roller coaster was reopened to the public. The response by the public was overwhelming. The restored structure, station house and train were beautiful. Local residents who had ridden the roller coaster years earlier brought their spouses and children to see and experience the ride that they had ridden when they were growing up.
The public response to the ride was so strong that the San Diego Coaster Company ordered a second train and it was ready by the following spring. Annual ridership on the Giant Dipper in the first year was three times the original projections.
The nostalgic look of yesterday and the strict safety standards of today are combined in Belmont Park's Giant Dipper, along with a strong sense of historical and business integrity.