Trip Report: Belmont Park
Mission Beach, CA
March 10, 2001
"Now that's my kind of mission"
Guess what? Eric and I are at it once again. This time our goal is to seek out and explore coasters in the Southern California region. As you may recall from my SFKK TR this makes my 129th day since riding a coaster. We decided to get the year off to a great start on the Giant Dipper at Belmont Park.
Prior email sent to the Giant Dipper indicated that it would operate from 11am -10pm, with the notation that the Giant Dipper does not operate in the rain. After having some breakfast we headed out on the 5 from LA to San Diego, and at about the 70 mile point, yep, rain. Much frustration and worrying started to take place in our car. Yet, we continued to drive the last 30 miles, I mean we could at least LOOK at it. Then a brilliant thing happened as we neared the park, the skies opened up, bright sunshine shone through, and the ground looked drier than Death Valley. Yes the coaster gods of Prior and Church were shining upon us as we pulled into the Belmont Park parking area (free). After parking and taking a nice walk thought he Belmont Park shopping area, we came upon the Roller coaster Museum, after spending a few minutes enjoying the museum, we purchased Ride-All-Day wristbands for $11.95 apiece. (What a deal, especially when the Giant Dipper itself is $3.50/ride)
we proceeded to walk across the midway and into an empty loading station, and took our seats in 1.1. As the operators were securing our lap bars they noted our video cameras and extended an open invitation to videotape the Giant Dipper. But in the interest of safety and wanting to enjoy the ride, we decided to take a couple laps around the Giant Dipper first.
Giant Dipper - Coaster #158
Prior&Church Twister, 1925
Trains by Morgan.
First comment is that the Morgans do NOT suck. I found the Morgans to track well, and with the luxury of being able to ride solo, nice and roomy.
Giant Dipper starts our with a twisting tunnel meant to disorient the rider, the tunnel is very dark and with the turns you quickly loose sense of direction, then you start up the chain lift, and hear the unique noise as the Giant Dippers lift sounds different than most. The lift is your time to prepare for the exhilarating ride you are about to receive. The Giant Dipper is all about curves, sharp curves, while it keeps the track plan of a double out and back, the turns are wilder than most. While the Dipper only has a few minor hints of airtime, the laterals as you are thrown into the corners are quite interesting.
A couple rides later and I was in the back seat doing the "Robb Alvey Waterville Cannonball Empty Train POV" style of POV. I kinda like that method of pov when you can get it, showing an empty train ahead of you negotiating the course. I'd like to note that both myself and my camcorder survived the Giant Dipper. In retrospect, "Noo, you couldn't practice videotaping coasters on a tame kiddie coaster, nooo you went straight for the brutal turns of the Giant Dipper"
After the video ride we took several more rides, despite the sign that said the Dipper only runs every 10 minutes unless full, the operators were willing to give us as many rides as we wanted.
We then took a walking tour of Belmont looking at the Plunge, the carousel which is was completely stripped waiting for annual rehab, and the other classic rides in the parks rides lineup. We proceeded to walk all the way around the Giant Dipper, filming the coaster and other things. After making a lap of the Giant Dipper on foot, we decided to take a few more rides, by this time a small crowd had built up, but never more than a one train wait. Queue gates? We don't need no steenking gates, or even seat queues. Just place your feet on the footprints on the hardwood floor.
Also by this time the Giant Dipper was smoking, making our earlier rides seem tame by comparison, kudos to Prior and Church, they just don't make em like this anymore.
But it is time to move on to our next park, but on our way out our attention was captured by Bumps. What is Bumps, an indoor bumper car arena, with shiny mirrored walls, a disco ball, and music. This we had to experience. After a short wait for the group currently riding to exit, we were soon admitted to the Majestic cars with lap bars. (Lap bars are the greatest thing to happen to bumper cars.) But WAIT A MINUTE. "Where are the STINGER POLES!" these cars do not have poles coming out of the top connecting to a mesh grid on the ceiling. My attention was diverted to the floor of the arena, "Maybe these are floor pickup" But alas the floor seemed to be no different than a normal bumper car arena floor EXCEPT that it was in 'stripes' There was a metallic panel that stretched from one end of the arena to the other, periodically these metallic panels were divided by thin rubber strips. Cool.
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