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Mission Beach Roller Coaster, San Diego California

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Mission Beach Roller Coaster

I could tell you a bunch of dull, boring facts about the Mission Beach roller coaster, commonly known as the “Giant Dipper”. Like the fact that the Mission Beach roller coaster is one of two original oceanfront roller coasters still operating on the west coast. Or that the Mission Beach roller coaster was rebuilt and reopened in 1990. Instead, I will get right to the good stuff. Riding the Mission Beach roller coaster is simply a whole lot of fun.

In the age of mega roller coasters with massive vertical drops and corkscrew turns, one might ask, how could a small, wooden roller coaster be so much fun? The answer lies not in the statistics but in the experience.

The Thrilling and Historic Ride

Walking up to the landing area you are whisked back to yesteryear. White washed wood, carnival lights, clanking steel and creaking timbers remind you, this is no modern marvel. The screams from a ride in progress test your nerves: are those people really scared or just having a great time? The answer is both.

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Riders are seated in small rail cars, just like the old days, with a drop down bar. With no fancy seat belts the question always comes to mind, did the bar lock? Of course it did but wondering makes it just a little bit scarier. The ride begins with an abrupt jolt, you can actually feel the steel chain grab the car and off you go. As with most roller coasters the beginning is fairly benign, but don’t get too comfortable, the screams you heard will soon be your own

As the car speeds up you are rushed through a series of hair raising turns and steep vertical drops that whip you back and forth, making you wonder once again about that drop bar When the car crests the top of the tracks, you can briefly enjoy the best view of Mission Beach before quickly descending. The car races through a darkened tunnel, eliciting loud screams of terror and excitement. Just when you think you have had enough, you arrive at the landing. You stumble out of the car and walk past the wide eyes of the next group of riders.

Don’t be surprised if you get back in line and go again, it’s that much fun. Next time you visit Mission Beach, take home one of San Diego’s best memories, the Mission Beach roller coaster.

Getting There

The Mission Beach roller coaster is located at the Mission Beach amusement park (Belmont Park), on the corner of West Mission Bay Drive and Mission Boulevard in Mission Beach California. For information on pricing and hours of operation visit the Giant Dipper Website.

John Rogers, the author of this article, was born and raised in San Diego. He spends much of his free time exploring the beaches and open spaces of California, especially those described on this site.

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Mission Beach travel resources


San Diego Weather
San Diego Surf Report

San Diego Links
San Diego Beach Safety Info

Local Highlights & Info
San Diego Spring Break
Mission Beach Roller Coaster
Cruisin' the Mission Beach Boardwalk
The Enlightened Explorer’s Guide to San Diego Weather

San Diego Attractions

San Diego Zoo
Sea World
San Diego Wild Animal Park
Legoland

Mission Beach hotels


Vacation rentals — condos, townhouses, and more... great for large groups!

Dana Inn
Bahia Hotel & Resort
Holiday Inn Express Sea World
Hyatt Regency Islandia Hotel & Marina
Paradise Point Resort
Good Nite Inn Sea World
Hilton Resort & Tennis Club
Inn at Mission Bay-Sea World/San Diego

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