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Thursday, July 7, 2022

Belmont Park: Classic Giant Dipper Coaster and Seaside Fun in San Diego

My favorite kinds of park days are those where the park is a part of the experience of an overall fantastic day. Carefree days where maybe you go out and swim on the beach for a while, walk along the shores, and go ride some rides and have some good food. Seaside parks generally fit the bill for this kind of fun, and Belmont Park in San Diego is a wonderful place to do this. Pacific Beach and Mission Beach are a delight for surfers, swimmers, sunbathers, skaters, bicyclists, and more. Mission Beach is home to Belmont Park and their classic Giant Dipper coaster, one of the most picturesque classic roller coasters out there. San Diego has something to offer for pretty much everyone, and the weather is almost always perfectly in the 70s. All of the stress just melts away when you are in San Diego. As someone who is into bodyboarding, riding the wild Pacific waves is as much of a thrill to me as riding any roller coaster as well. 
Anyways, back to the topic at hand,  Belmont Park and their Giant Dipper Roller Coaster. This is a lovely little boardwalk amusement park with one of the last three remaining coasters with the touch of Prior and Church. The other two being the other Giant Dipper up at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, and the Dragon Coaster at Rye Playland Park in New York. This is a great little coaster with some awesome and flowy curves. As much as I respect Morgan for getting this coaster running again after a long SBNO period, I would love if the park got some GCI Millennium Flyers for this ride, both to provide riding stock that is more like the old Prior and Church trains, but also to better accommodate riders. Every time we rode, the ride ops had to work hard to get the two row single position lapbars to fit average sized riders. I had to slide my feet to the side of the car to make the lapbar fit, and I am only 6 feet tall. Since the trains are so light, when they would get caught by the brakes at the end, the train would often stop in the brake run and the ride operators had to go out and push it into the station. The lightness of the trains caused cars to fishtail in the higher speed portions of the curves. All of these issues would be solved with a new set of Millennium Flyers from GCI.

With all of that being said though I will say that the ride is still fantastic, especially with the lateral forces in the turnarounds. The station and coaster are also built to be a spectacle for the midway. It looks fantastic, especially as it gets dark and the lights come on. 

The station is so cool looking and ornate.

With the other rides, including an ice cream sundae themed tilt-a-whirl, and Control Freak, which is a Gyro Loop from Moser. I never saw one of these little rides before, and it is a ridiculously neat and super intense little ride. It can't be more than 30 feet tall, yet it was such a great center of attention on the midway. The park also has a series of great little family rides and a nice arcade.

Overall, I would rate Belmont Park with its surrounding beach, boardwalk, and overall fun atmosphere, as one of my favorite parks. While it does not have much of a collection of rides due to it small size, it is perfect as a part of an overall great time at the beach. Seaside amusement parks are usually my favorite in general. Couple that with the year-round perfect weather in San Diego and you have one of the most pleasant places to be. I highly recommend checking this out along with just slowing down and taking in the environs. While fixating on just coasters and parks is what we tend to do in this hobby, it is important to slow down and check out what a region has to offer as much as you can. If you don't slow down and check out San Diego, you are really missing out on some of the best scenery and overall environment that this country has to offer. 

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