Belmont Park is a vintage historic amusement park located on the beach in the Mission Bay area of San Diego. Belmont Park opened to the public in 1925 as the Mission Beach Amusement Center. It remained popular through the Thirties and Forties, but fell into disrepair in the latter years of the 1960s. The park closed down in 1976, but was renovated and reopened in the 1990s. The story of Belmont Park is intrinsically connected to the story of its star attraction, both then and now, the Giant Dipper Coaster.
The Giant Dipper, a 2,600 foot long wooden coaster, was custom built for the Mission Beach Amusement Center, and was one of the most popular attractions at the park. When Belmont Park closed in 1976, the old roller coaster fell into disrepair and became an eyesore. Eventually, the city pressured the owner of the ride to tear it down. At that point, a group of citizens stepped up to protest and worked to have the Giant Dipper declared a National Landmark and requested to have ownership of the Dipper transferred to the group. Through a series of business arrangements, the Giant Dipper was restored to operating condition and reopened to the public in 1990.
The Giant Dipper is one of two attractions that date back to the original Mission Beach Amusement Center. When The Plunge opened in 1925, it was the largest heated salt water pool in the world. It survived the years better than the Giant Dipper, but only marginally. By 1940, the salt water had damaged the filter system and was replaced with fresh water, making it the largest indoor heated pool in Southern California. The pool was closed in 1987 because the structure failed to meet earthquake and fire safety standards. The Plunge reopened in 1988, just two years ahead of the Giant Dipper.
The two historic attractions share top billing with a far newer attraction that is making history of its own. In 2005, the Wave House at Belmont Park opened with a pair of simulated surfing attractions and a beachfront that includes kava bars, barbecue pits and meandering boardwalks. The trio of attractions is only the centerpiece of Belmont Park, which also features thrill rides, a midway, a miniature golf course, a mirror maze and a laser maze. The park also includes numerous shopping venues, boardwalk snack stands and restaurants and a boardwalk with sidewalk kiosks of all kinds.
Belmont Park is open to the public at 11:00 a.m. throughout the summer. Closing hours vary. Winter hours vary and all hours are subject to change without notice. Admission to the park is free, but rides are an additional cost. All day ride tickets are available for $12.95 and $19.95. The park also offers a number of discounts, promotions and party packages. For more information about hours and rates, guests can contact Belmont Park at 858-488-1549.