Belmont Park, San Diego, California, USA
January 1, 2011, 11:29P
Spent the morning with the family at Belmont today. I love this place and always have. The people watching alone is worth the trip. Not a lot of rides...so I'll cover it real quick.
Giant Dipper: A woodie near the beach. Can't go wrong with that. Though, whoever put those trains on that ride needs a firm lecture. I don't know my trains like a lot of you do, but I'm guessing whatever plastic version they have on the Dipper is the economy version of coaster trains.
It is still a fun ride. You can see and smell the ocean. A twisting out and back course. I tried it everywhere as there was zero wait first thing this morning. I suggest sticking to the front car (1st or 2nd seat) and the front car ONLY. The rest shake the crap out of you. I say this as a guy who always prefers the last seat for the "roughness." This is not a fun "roughness" the further back you sit. It is a "ouch" roughness.
I thought the tiny "museum" for the Dipper was awesome. I think I am getting old when I enjoy reading about the ride's history as much as actually riding it. I can only imagine those old open seat trains made for a better ride back in the day.
Chaos: Where did it go? It is on the brochures and website, but they mover the Tilt-aWhirl to that spot...?
Tilt-a-Whirl: I know this is probably a kiddie ride for a lot of you. Lucky for me...I have two little ones. I get to ride this thing and get credit for being a doting father versus looking like the "old guy" on the kiddie ride.
Did I mention this is simply the fastest spinning Tilt-a-Whirl I have EVER been on. It is a newer/different model with open seating/cars. It spins from start to finish with nary a dead spot to catch your breath. I had the same experience a year ago when they had this at the back of the park. I rode it at least 5 times today. I doubt I have just been lucky EVERY time.
Frisbee: I don't know the technical name for this ride. But my son and I have settled on Frisbee. This is similar (the same?) as La Revolucion at Knotts. This may be a fancy fair ride, but I LOVE IT! I love this ride at Knotts...I love it at fairs...and I REALLY love it at Belmont since they let you stay on there 5-6 minutes!
This may be blasephemous...but I would say that this is the best ride in the park. The Dipper is the coolest...but the Frisbee thing-a-ma-jing is the most fun!
Conclusion: I could talk for hours about the atmosphere, food, unique bumper car ride, etc. Suffice to say, I love this park. It is small, and certainly not a thrill park. It makes up for this with a big dose of sea-side charm. My kids had bigger smiles here than Sea World...take that for what it is worth. Also note that we waited for nothing. Yet they kept all rides running as if they were full. Three times my son and I were the only people on the Dipper. They never once sat around and waited for others to come. They loaded us and sent us on our way.
For those that like small park's with some history...I consider this a "can't miss." Keep in mind that I am very biased toward "atmosphere" over thrills. This place has plenty of the former. I could not ride a thing and still enjoy hanging out at Belmont. There are not many places I would EVER say that about...
P.S. Was hoping to get a night ride tonight. But after dinner at Old Town, my son fell asleep and my wife was "too darn cold." I wore that darn wristband all day for nothing!
January 2, 2011, 1:41A
Hey Aamilj, nice TR.
I agree that I like displays and historical exhibits about rides almost as much as the actual ride itself. I always look for nifty bonus displays and ACE preservation signs.
As far as Beach Blaster, it's not technically a Frisbee, though similar in design. As you rightly pointed out, it's practically identical to La Revolucion at Knotts. Both are Chance-Morgan Revolutions. (I've had opportunity to do the one at KBF, and one or two others of its ilk, but never made it to Belmont, yet.)
Now standing and operational: Chums of Coasterdom.
January 2, 2011, 2:54P
Yea, it was just a one room museum. But they had pictures of the old crew from 1925 next to the crew that rebuilt it in 1990. They had some cool (sad but cool) pictures of the trains as they sat rotting in the mid 1980's, etc!
By the way...they had one picture that showed this old ride called Turbo. I can hardly describe the ride. It looked like Rock-O-Plane cars (similar not identical) on the end of two rotating arms. Heck...I can't even describe it with words...but it sure looked cool! Clearly the word "Turbo" was top and center of the ride. Some of those old rides look awesome.
January 2, 2011, 3:57P
Ah yes, the old Chance Turbo. I've always wondered exactly what those rides did, too. It seems like one of those rides that everyone talks about, but not a lot of people have ridden.
Perhaps Knoebels should attempt to find/resurrect/recreate one of these next. :)
January 2, 2011, 5:01P
Yeah, I forget how many Turbos are still operating. Very, very few, if any. I've heard the ride experience is somewhat comparable to the Zipper, but even more insane.
Aamilj, here are some photos: http://www.flatrides.com/Ride%20Index%20Pages/turbo.html
January 2, 2011, 5:42P
Found a video on YoutTube:
I muted it, FYI. :)
January 2, 2011, 8:56P
Last I recall (couple years ago?), there was one operating Turbo, run by a fair operator in Australia.
The "Frisbee-type" ride is also manufactured by a few other companies with some variations (the noticeable difference being whether you face inward towards the center of the ride or away from it). KMG's Afterburner is still my favorite - only rode that once, at Celebration City. Huss and Moser also build them. I'm *pretty sure* (not certain by any means) the one at Belmont is the same as the Knoebels version, and that they're both Mosers. Hopefully someone will confirm the accuracy of that, or correct me if not...
"I have a theory that you can make any sentence seem profound by writing the name of a dead philosopher at the end of it." Plato (via Banksy)
January 2, 2011, 9:33P
Bill, Not sure who made the one at Knoebels, but I LOVED that ride.
Last edited by Tekwardo, January 2, 2011, 10:06P
January 2, 2011, 9:46P
They have a Turbo at Knoebels? Or the used to? That thing looks fun. I can't imagine how long load times were/are. All I can say from the museum pictures...is sometimes between 1925 and 1976 they had a Turbo at Belmont. The photo was B@W. They also had a Bullet ride. I always enjoyed the Bullet, but have not seen one in over a decade!
I'm guessing, from the looks of it, I HAVE to get to Knoebels and Kennywood before I die. They look like the last hold-outs from a bygone era. I love old-school. My mother-in-law has all these photos from the Pike (Long Beach) back in the day. That place looked awesome! I'm obviously a huge fan of Santa Cruz too. I've just not been to the Midwest yet...
January 2, 2011, 11:03P
I'm trying to picture what ride at Knoebels you are talking about but I am drawing a blank. Are you referring to Fandango, the small version of a frisbee ride?
Somehow, I don't think that's the ride you are talking about as it doesn't seem similar to a Turbo, but I could be wrong.
January 2, 2011, 11:06P
Bill (gator) was talking about the Afterburner, not a Turbo ride. He commented he didn't know who made Knoebel's version of the ride. I don't know either, but I loved Fandango.
January 2, 2011, 11:23P
Argh I hate the keyboard layout of this new laptop....just lost a good three paragraphs. LOL! :)
Anyhow, short version - yes, referring to Fandango as the spinning ride.
The only reason I even mentioned the Chance Turbo is that it comes up in discussion here about once every 12-18 months on average. From what Dave has explained, I imagine it's quite a hassle to keep one operating at all, much less to keep one running a fair circuit...so if you want to ride one, book Australia and soon!
"I have a theory that you can make any sentence seem profound by writing the name of a dead philosopher at the end of it." Plato (via Banksy)
January 3, 2011, 2:29P
Well, whatever they are called and whoever manufactures these things...it seems we can all agree that Frisbee Rides are fun. I've always had a soft spot for the Zipper because this was every kid's goal at the county fair. But I have to admit that I think these Frisbee thingys might be the best flats for any park/fair to have. If I drive by any park/fair and see one, there is a good chance I'll have to buy some tickets and take a spin.
January 6, 2011, 5:14P
I grew up in San Diego and used to go to Belmont Park all the time as a kid. Until the park closed (mid 70s), they were using the train you see in the museum. I rode it many times. They were very cool and didn't even have a seatbelt - even at the time that seemed scary. The weight of them was obvious by the way they rolled on the track (which didn't have the highest of maintenance either) and as you rode the ride it was intensely bone crunching (which to us, just added to the thrill), but to your description of what bothered you now, would have most certainly made it completely unrideable to you. Believe me, it was hardcore!
Those new cars are horrible. I'm sure it's for weight and that they are cheap in comparison. There isn't a lot of motivation for them, but if they did some more maintenance on the track and replaced the cars you would see that it's an amazing coaster. With the heavier cars (and other factors), the momentum was different and you moved through the elements much more aggressively. There is a part midcourse where where you pop over a hill and jolt slightly to the right where in those old cars I used to feel like I was going to be chucked out of the car (obviously not really, but you sure felt out of control to an extent). Now it's just sort of another hill in the long line of hills.
And yes, Belmont Park had the Turbo for a bunch of years. Usually you could only ride that at the fair, and then Belmont Park got one. I always liked the Turbo, it was a great ride, but no matter where you went, it was not incredibly popular for whatever reason. I seem to recall at one point hearing that when it was set up at fairs and carnivals, it was considered to be a visual thing than a real moneymaker - it always attracted a lot of attention for the midway. More people used to get sick on that ride than say The Zipper, maybe because it had more of a disorienting effect.
It had two distinct movements though, one was that when the the entire unit turned, the separate wheels would turn as if it were rolling on the ground - the other (and the one that made the ride killer) was the separate wheels would turn the opposite to the way it would if it were rolling on the ground (don't know if that makes sense, but you could watch a video to get the idea). Anyway, what that did to the motion of the cars (remember that the cars also have an axis on their back/ top, and you are facing outward - which is very strange separate movement in itself) is it gave the feeling of being thrown straight up in the air, where you usually did a flip/ twist in the car - to straight down looking at the pavement face on, then back to straight up again.
Last time I got to try one it was a bunch of years back up in Canada at Niagara Falls area. I knew I had to ride it because I was pretty sure I would never get to ride one again. Though I would ride one in a second again if I had the chance, in my opinion The Zipper is, and always was the best momentum flipping ride. I will never be able to get enough of that ride. If The Zipper was the one that went extinct, I would be a much sadder man. So take that for what it's worth!
When I was at Belmont at the end of summer, I rode their Chaos a few times. I think it's a fun ride, and if they got rid of it, that's sort of disappointing. Maybe it's just being refurbished? I also rode the Beach Blast a bunch of times (Frisbee thingy), and it was my nephews favorite ride. I thought it was a lot of fun too.
January 6, 2011, 8:43P
Cool info bunch... I love hearing about history.
I doubt Chaos is coming back. They moved Tilt-aWhirl to that spot (which interstingly...if I saw the pictures correctly is the same spot Turbo occupied years ago). They are building a new flat at the back where the Tilt-a-Whirl used to be...it was covered, so I did not see much...but I could tell it was not a Chaos.
I'm glad to hear about the Zipper. Even if you said that just to make me feel better. Can't wait to next fair season when my son be big enough to go on that thing... I'll have to suck it up and buy a wristband so he can power-ride...:) ;)
January 7, 2011, 3:45A
Too bad about Chaos then. I think that ride is pretty fun.
I totally understand the way your perception would be that Turbo was where Tilt-a-Whirl used to stand. But in actuality, at the side of the roller coaster (where the first hill bank turn thing is), there used to be a line of buildings like an old midway, which included bumper cars on one side and an old style fun house on the other, as well as the plunge - plus food stand type things, etc. After all of that is where the Turbo stood - the Turbo and beyond would have been approximately where the Belmont Park and beach parking lot is now. The rides I can remember off hand that were in that (now) parking area extending south were a Rotor, Sky Diver, Himalaya (type ride), Wild Mouse, a very cool old style kids area of walk though things (sort of like a collection of fun house elements - giant rotating barrel, slant floor house, slides, etc.). Some things shifted from year to year, but the years the Turbo was there (which wasn't too long), it was in that one spot - which incidentally, we used to always jokingly call "The Flying Hamburgers."
And so you know, I was not just hyping The Zipper for you. In my opinion, that is one of best carnival rides ever made. It predated The Turbo to any of my recollections. And has way outlived it because it's simpler yet more complex at the same time. My memory of the Turbo showing up at the fair in it's first year was that it was trying to add a twist to the popularity of The Zipper/ Sky Diver extreme rides. It was a unique cool ride, but The Zipper was the one I couldn't get enough of.
What I am sure about too is that The Zipper has the most random offerings of any of those rides. It's never the same twice, and that's part of it's appeal to me. To this day, I still can never get over the exhilaration I get when you get the perfect whip/ flip momentum over the top. Though the Tilt-a-Whirl is not in the same league at all, the randomness of that ride is still what I find appealing about it as well.
So yeah, you need to go on the carnival wrist band days and ride the Zipper till you feel like you've had your day's fill, cause your not finding it anywhere else! I would be really sad if I was looking back on a ride called The Zipper that I wasn't able to ride anymore.
January 7, 2011, 10:47P
I kept meaning to add this both times I posted too, but didn't get around to it, but if you have ridden a Chaos before, you have ridden a ride that is surprisingly close to the action that the Turbo had. It may not appear that could be the case since they each have some characteristics that make it impossible to be exactly the same experience (mostly that Chaos' cars are attached on the sides for a flipping face forward action), but even the first time I rode that ride it reminded me very clearly of the Turbo - only a cleaned up, more rideable version.
Here's the reason I make that comparison. Even though Chaos starts on the ground and lifts to it's vertical point, it still has the basic Turbo idea of starting the ride off in a milder stage one, then shifting into high gear, which eminates purely from a simple switch in wheel rotation that drastically changes the intensity level of the ride experience.
Stage one in both rides is where the entire body of the ride turns around in a circle on the ground and the wheel (or wheels) with the cars turns as well - during this stage one period, the wheel with the cars turns in the direction as if it were rolling on the ground. The second motion is as the body of the ride is continuing it's turning motion, the wheel would stop and turn the opposite way. On both rides this gives the impression of going straight up and looking at the sky (maybe flipping too, both rides differ in that flipping movement) and then being dragged quickly to the ground in what feels to be a straight line and you are facing the ground straight on, etc. etc.
Part of the thing about the Turbo, which depending on the riders, could seem like fun or terrible. You are in a seat without a separation that is not too different from the Zipper, yet you are not just flipping forward as you do on that ride. You are twisting and spinning with the gravity going all over the place while you are in that aggressive second stage. All during that part, you are constantly being thrown all over inside that car. I remember laughing my ass off at certain points because you are totally on top of the other person, and for the life of you you are not able to get off - which obviously can be pretty damn uncomfortable for the person that happens to be squashed at the moment.
With Chaos, they cleaned up that aspect. You have your own seat and shoulder restraints - which I never found very painful with that ride, maybe someone else would though.
Anyway, hopefully you have ridden a Chaos at some point or another to know what the Turbo felt like. If you haven't and you just got gypped out of yet another ride experience on account of it being ripped out moments before your chance at Belmont Park, maybe you will still get to stumble across one somewhere else!
January 10, 2011, 1:05P
Okay, the Chaos went the way of most them. It is a maintenance nightmare. It's been pulled from the Chance Morgan catalog, and while they are obligated to maintain support for the existing rides, I've gotten the feeling that they wouldn't mind seeing all of them scrapped. It is being replaced with the Unicoaster, which is a reworking of the old Spillman Looper. There is one at the Park at Mall of America. The Dipper trains are from Morgan Manufacturing . Hint: the half owner of the ride business at Belmont is Dana Morgan (i.e Morgan Manufacturing) who sold his business to Chance. Not surprisingly you will find a lot of Chance rides there. The other half is one of the Huttons who was formerly involved with the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. What trains do they run on the Dipper there? Why they are Morgan trains! They are much lighter than the original Prior & Church stock, ergo much easier on the track. But they also give a much different ride experience than the originals. Morgan did sell the wood coaster train designs to PTC which now handles the parts business, but to my knowledge have not built any new trains to this design.
Last edited by Dutchman, January 10, 2011, 1:07P