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Belmont Park

Belmont Park is a historic beachfront amusement park found on Ocean Front at Surfrider Square in the Mission Bay area. It contains some of the oldest attractions from the original park dating to 1925. The park offers tickets for individual rides, day passes, and annual passes. It also has many different activities and restaurants. Listed in this post are the iconic attractions you can visit in Belmont Park.

History Of Belmont Park

The park started as the Mission Beach Entertainment Center. It was built in the early 1900s by a sugar businessman named John D. Spreckels. Spreckels aimed to stimulate economic growth via real estate sales in the Mission Bay area and promote his electric rail system. The park’s star attraction was to be the Giant Dipper roller coaster. 

Built together with it was the Natatorium, later known as the Plunge Swimming Pool, constructed as the park’s centerpiece. A year after the park’s opening in 1925, Spreckels passed away. His organization later granted the center to the City of San Diego for the entertainment of its constituents. The Mission Beach Entertainment Center remained popular in the coming decades and was eventually renamed Belmont Park in 1955. 

In the late 60s and 70s, the park fell into disrepair after several incidents affecting the attractions’ safety. While a fair number of citizens considered the now decrepit Giant Dipper roller coaster an eyesore on the coastline and demanded its demolition, another group had successfully designated it as a national landmark. It worked to transfer the ownership of the rollercoaster to their group, the Save the Coaster committee. 

In the following years, several renovations and reconstructions throughout the revitalized park activity, including a new shopping center, and the park reopened in 1988.

Iconic Attractions

The two must-visit attractions at Belmont park are its oldest, the Giant Dipper roller coaster, and the Plunge Pool.

The Giant Dipper is a 2,600-foot-long roller coaster, originally designed and built by the Prior & Church design team. It was built in two months by local suppliers and a crew of between 100-150 workers. The original construction cost for the track and its two 18-car passenger trains was $150,000. After efforts to repair it following its neglect in the 60s and 70s, the coaster was unfortunately not up to standard by the time it reopened in the late 80s. 

The developer of Belmont Park contacted the Santa Cruz Seaside Company to bring it back to its former glory. The president and vice president were interested in the proposition and, upon visiting the site, even though the land that the coaster itself was on did not belong to the park’s developer, determined that the project would bring only benefits to all concerned parties. 

After long talks with the City of San Diego regarding the coaster’s restoration, the City approved a long-term lease. A new company, the San Diego Coaster Company, was formed to oversee the restoration and subsequent operation of the newly refurbished Giant Dipper roller coaster.

The Plunge Pool, dubbed initially the Natatorium, was at the time the world’s largest saltwater pool. The 60’ by 175’ pool could hold 400,000 gallons of saltwater until 1940, when the saltwater had damaged its filters beyond repair and was replaced with fresh water, making it the largest indoor heated pool in Southern California instead. Various modifications and additions were added to the collection including world-renowned marine artist Wyland’s work “Orcas off Point Loma,” which was added in 1989.

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