Roller Coaster Celebrates 100th Birthday

The Giant Dipper Roller Coaster – one of two national historic landmarks at the iconic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk – will celebrate its centennial birthday in 2024. Visitors welcomed the Giant Dipper when it debuted on May 17, 1924 and lined up to pay 15 cents to experience the ride. Today, guests pay $8.00 per ride and it is arguably the most popular attraction at the admission-free Beach Boardwalk. 

The thrill ride, with speeds up to 46 MPH, is the fourth oldest coaster in the United States, continuously operating in its original seaside location. The coaster was built by Arthur Looff in just 47 days at a cost of $50,000 (nearly $900,000 today.)  Amusement rides seemed to be part of the family’s DNA:  In 1911, Looff’s father, Danish woodcarver Charles I.D. Looff delivered a new merry-go-round adorned with 73 hand-carved horses to the Boardwalk after achieving success with his first complete carousel at Coney Island and went on to create several more around the country, including Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Long Beach, and San Francisco, among others. In June 1987, both the Giant Dipper and the antique carousel were designated National Historic Landmarks by the U.S. National Park Service.

The roller coaster – the true star of the boardwalk – also made appearances in many American films, including Clint Eastwood’s Sudden Impact, Dangerous Minds, and The Lost Boys.

Photography and B-Roll available upon request.