Giant Dipper roller coaster at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk turns 100

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

The Giant Dipper Roller Coaster at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is turning 100 years old this week. The wooden roller coaster opened on May 17, 1924.

Read more and see video from KSBW/Salinas-Monterey.

Happy birthday!

I got a ride on it a couple of weeks ago. Was out in San Francisco and took a drive down Highway 1 to see the coastline. The coaster was good, but I was more impressed with seeing nature and getting a really nice sunset from Waddell Beach on the drive back from Santa Cruz.

hambone's avatar


The coaster was good, but I was more impressed with seeing nature

What has happened to Coasterbuzz?

I know. But Giant Dipper was not that great. The sunset over the Pacific on the other hand was spectacular. At least to this Ohio guy.

Jeff's avatar

I imagine that for a location like that, the ride doesn't have to be that special, even if it is historic. I see you.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

It was cool to ride a part of history though.

Definitely historical across the board there when you think about the fact most amusement parks were sea-side back in the 19th and 20th centuries. There’s something magical being by the ocean, especially at night when the ride lights are on. My only wish is for better trains on the coaster!

Vater's avatar

I remember having a similar feeling riding Belmont's Giant Dipper 8 years ago, which will turn 100 next year. As an aside, I didn't think I'd have the chance to ride it since my wife and I were in the middle of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk. But the route went directly past the entrance to Belmont Park and we managed to catch a few other walkers in line, so we ducked out of the "race" for a quick lap.

Wish the CA dippers would ditch those Morgan trains, they are terrible.

2022 Trips: WDW, Sea World San Diego & Orlando, CP, KI, BGW, Bay Beach, Canobie Lake, Universal Orlando

3rding or 4thing that it could be a great ride with different trains. Le Monstre got significantly better with PTCs. The Riverside Cyclone was still a great ride with Morgans but lost some of it's bite from the first season with the PTCs.

But Dipper is still a fun ride and wouldn't miss a chance to visit the classic park and spot Lost Boys locations if I was in the area.

As a very young enthusiast I lusted after the Santa Cruz Dipper and watched a VHS tape of the front row POV over and over. (That’s what we did back then). It was high on my bucket list and when I finally got there may have very well been my first case of coaster anticipointment. Aside from the tunneled drop out of the station, it seemed lackluster to me.
Morgan trains don’t bother me like they do some of you, and I think they track well. Last year I re-rode the ride in San Diego and while I think the old Prior and Church trains were probably better, the Morgan trains were fine. Or I guess I should say “PTC California Style” or whatever the are.
Anyway, congratulations are very well in order for the Dipper and its caretakers. It’s an excellent example of preservation.

Both of those coasters were at one time rebuilt by Dana Morgan. His thought was that his trains were less than half the weight of the Prior & Church ones, and would lead to longer life of the track thereby reducing maintenance costs. I've dealt with him, he grew up in the business. He is not a fan of enthusiasts of any kind, especially ones that actually work in the business....

janfrederick's avatar

Happy Birthday to my first woodie! I LOVE that tunnel and toot toot signal, and that sea breeze rustling the flags at the top and view of the bay, that beautiful fan turn, curved station, and great headchoppers. You "meh" people are just spoiled. ;)

I really wanted to get out there last Saturday. I'll definitely be celebrating this Summer.

"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza

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