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Amusement Parks: Belmont Park – a Potted History

Belmont Park is an amusement park which is located right on the beachfront in the Mission Bay area of San Diego. 

The amusement park has an incredible history centred on its magnificent Giant Dipper although that and the amusement park itself were almost demolished back in the 1970s.

The Giant Dipper Roller Coaster originally opened in 1925 as the centre point of the Mission Beach Amusement Centre. It was conceived by John D. Spreckels, a sugar magnate, who, at the time, was a major player in San Diego’s redevelopment. It was an extremely popular attraction, especially in the 1930s and 40s but by the late 1960s, Belmont Park (as it had been renamed some years before) fell into disrepair and both the amusement park and its rollercoaster finally closed in late 1976.

Now abandoned and having survived numerous fires, peeling paint and having attracted a number of vagrants to it, there was a lot of public pressure to have the amusement park along with its Giant Dipper demolished and a date for demolition was actually set.

However, a campaign committee called ‘Save the Coaster Committee’ was able to get the roller coaster designated as a National Landmark and, in 1990, there was a huge jubilation amongst the local residents when the amusement park reopened and astonishment at how well the Giant Dipper had been restored. 

Today, as well as the Giant Dipper itself, visitors to the amusement park can also enjoy The Plunge, an indoor swimming pool also dating back to 1925 and which has also been lovingly restored. One of its claims to fame is that Johnny Weismuller famously swam here in the early days. Another water attraction at the amusement park is the Wave House which was the concept of Tom Lochtefeld, a businessman and surfer, who bought the master lease of the property in 2002 and set to work on this remarkable space where surfers and bodyboarders can enjoy the thrills of riding an 8 foot barrelling wave and a smaller wave known as the ‘Flowrider’.  

There’s a rock climbing wall at the amusement park, Pirates Cove and plenty of video game arcades. 

From almost being demolished less than 30 years ago, this amusement park is now the centre of attraction at Mission Beach and as well as the amusement park itself, its boardwalk is also an attractive shopping and recreation complex and dining area looking out over the Pacific Ocean.

See also:
Amusement Parks: Adventure City – a Potted History
Amusement Parks: Knott’s Berry Farm – a Potted History

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