Belmont Park is a small amusement park that sits directly adjoining the sands of Mission Beach, one of the well-known beach areas of San Diego. You can stay for an hour, just taking in a ride or two, or you can make a whole day of it (by buying an all-day ride wristband and then sunning and swimming at the attractive adjacent beach.) Thus, the cost for your day can range from "zero" to a "moderate" figure, depending on the activities which you choose.
Belmont Park's main attraction is the Giant Dipper roller coaster. What a history this ride has! It actually opened way back in 1925! (That's when this amusement park originally opened.) The original park was popular for several decades, and then---as things tend to do---went downhill and eventually closed. The Giant Dipper was slated for destruction in the 1980s, but a group of sentimental, concerned citizens banded together to save the coaster. In a remarkable civic effort, they were able to get the Dipper designated as a National Landmark, and thus immune to the bulldozer. Financial backing was found, the coaster received a $2 million restoration, new rides were installed in the rest of the park, and voila! The shiny new Belmont Park reopened in 1990 and made a big hit with locals and tourists alike. You must be 50 inches tall to ride the Giant Dipper, but there are rides for the younger crowd as well. The Liberty Carousel is open to all ages and is a reproduction of an antique carousel, copied from photos in San Diego archives. Two "kiddie rides" include the Crazy Submarine (which takes kids up into the air and back down again in a circular motion) and the Thunder Boats (a kiddie boat ride). Guests 42 inches and above may ride:
(1) the Vertical Plunge, a small "tower" ride that lifts riders up high, then drops them down again quickly
(2) the Raceway Bumper Cars, though you must be 52 inches tall to do the driving
(3) the traditional Tilt-a-Whirl (go-round-and-round ride)
and (4) the Krazy Kars, a ROUND type of bumper car that also spins. For those 50 inches and taller, there's Chaos, a ride with cars that spin individually while the whole ride itself is going up into the air and revolving in a circle. Wild!
Also, new for 2005 is the Beach Blaster, another ride that spins you around, but this time, as you hang in a "suspended" ski-chair type of car, you swing from side to side like a pendulum! There are several extra-fee attractions, such as the Family Fun Arcade, offering video games, air hockey, and pinball machines. There's a rock-climbing wall and a trampoline. The Plunge swimming pool is another option. My favorite to watch (but not try!) is The Flow Rider, a wave machine that sends a never-ending wave for surfers to ride. I always wanted to learn to surf! So, I had some vicarious fun watching the surfers on this one!