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Old Coaster Ready to Roll

August 07, 1990|DEANNA BELLANDI

More than 65 years after its inaugural run in 1925 on the Fourth of July, the Giant Dipper roller coaster is back on track.

The historic wooden coaster in Belmont Park reopens to the public today at about 1 p.m. after surviving many demolition threats and undergoing a $1.2-million restoration by the San Diego Seaside Co.

"It's all ready," said Belmont Park spokeswoman Judi Lapin. "It's actually moving."

A ride on the coaster will cost $2. It will be open during the summer from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, except Friday and Saturday when it will run until 11 p.m., said Tim Cole, an assistant manager for the company. The hours will be scaled back during spring, fall and winter months.

During the next few weeks, Cole said, the coaster won't open until about 2 p.m. every day so that painters and carpenters can finish cosmetic touch-ups.

Coaster officials promise a two-minute, hair-raising ride aboard the Giant Dipper, as the six-car, steel and fiberglass train whips around half a mile of track, taking riders down 13 drops. It hits a top speed of 45 m.p.h.

"It's fantastic," said Cole, who rode the coaster during a test run.

Replaced during restoration were all 2,600 feet of the wood-and-steel track, all 28,973 bolts and much of the coaster's Douglas fir frame. The coaster was designated a landmark last month by the National Park Service.

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