Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk's Giant Dipper roller coaster celebrates 100th anniversary

Dustin Dorsey Image
Saturday, May 18, 2024
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk's Giant Dipper turns 100
On May 17, 1924, the legendary Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster opened to guests at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KGO) -- This day in 1924, the legendary Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster opened to guests at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk -- which was only 17 years old at that time.

One hundred years later, guests still come from around the world to enjoy the thrill upon the California landmark.

There's nothing quite like the anticipation going to the top of a roller coaster.

But even better than the rise is the fall, and it's a feeling guests have felt riding the Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for 100 years.

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"It's my first big coaster. I'm just excited for it to be 100 years old today," Paisley Prater said.

It was on May 17, 1924 that construction of the iconic wooden roller coaster officially wrapped up and a legend was born.

It cost an eye-popping 15 cents a ride back then.

Fast forward 100 years, The Boardwalk will celebrate the Giant Dipper with special events all day on Saturday May 18, culminating in a fireworks show a century in the making.

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"It's now the fourth-oldest roller coaster in the United States," said Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Spokesperson Kris Reyes. "It's one of the tenth-oldest in the world. So, it's really of it's kind, and it's a really special treasure."

The Beach Boardwalk attractions draw crowds from around the world, with the Giant Dipper being by far the most popular.

This helped Santa Cruz County see a 135% tourism spike in 2023, with more than a billion dollars flowing in.

"Santa Cruz County saw the third consecutive year of tourism growth since the pandemic," said Visit Santa Cruz County Director of Communications Christina Glynn. "The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is just another way to experience a very unique attraction at the beach."

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On the official 100th birthday of the Giant Dipper, guests flocked to Santa Cruz once again to celebrate in the best way they know they can: by riding.

"It's the definition of summer," Sasha Hahn said. "It's so amazing. It's so cheerful, and it's a great way to kick off the summer."

"I said, 'the 100th is going to be in 2024. I will absolutely be there,'" Cheryl Jones said. "I swore it to myself, and I'm here today for that day, and I'm super excited."

So whether it's your first time, or your 100th, the Giant Dipper has brought nothing but joy for a century.

Here's to 100 more!

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