ACE Day at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk April 16, 2016


giant dipper sign

While Adam was at Frontier City this past Saturday, I, Laurie, went up to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, a quaint seaside amusement park, unique in character and rich in history.  I ended up buying a Season Pass, and going back on Sunday.  The Boardwalk is the home of the historical 1911 Looff Carousel and the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, an ACE historic landmark coaster built in 1924.  The Giant Dipper is just simply fun… was hysterical to watch grown men and women run from the exit back to the entrance to take advantage of the one hour ERT. We enjoyed our day a lot.

The 1924 Giant Dipper is one of several great rides the Boardwalk offers.  Here are some shots taken during the ERT and beautiful sunny day we enjoyed by the beach. Giant Dipper blue train

This shot is shortly after the first drop, the blue car is striking against the crispy white coaster with its red trim.  The Giant Dipper was repainted for its 90th birthday in 2014.  It was a highlight of the 2014 Coaster Con held at several Northern California parks.

giant dipper onboard

The view as the train leaves the station, and enters the tunnel.  Photo taken with permission of ride operators.

giant dipper station 4

Notice the unique circular station.   Ride operators are able to easily step over the track to assist riders as needed.

giant dipper station 2

As the train pulls into the station, returning riders greet folks waiting their turn.


The blue car has been pulled off for the evening, but the red car worked an hour overtime on Sunday night.  The Boardwalk will frequently stay open later than scheduled if they have a lot of customers.

After the morning ERT, we were free to explore the boardwalk until lunch.  There is a whole lot of stuff packed along the mall like seaside amusement park, including tons of delicious food venues, arcades, rides, shopping, and the beauty of the sparkling Pacific Ocean.  Here is just a sample of what the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has to offer.

beachA beautiful spring day at the beach, warm, sunny, nice breeze.


Flying a kite high above the Pacific.

One of the highlights of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is Fireball, a KMG  Afterburner/Fireball style ride…………a flat ride that packs a big punch, check it out!

fireball 2

The pendulum swings left then right, and spins, actually going higher at one point than the center Fire Ball sign…………..



Admittedly, this ride is not all that unique.  But it is thrilling, and I have to admit, gets my heart racing.  I waited to ride it until Sunday evening, and it is just beautiful.  The multi colored lights, moonlight, and ocean breeze combined with the pendulum swing and spinning simultaneously create quite an adrenaline rush.

Lunch was a taco bar, catered by the Boardwalk, and beautifully presented.  All attendees were presented with the Legacy of Arrow pin presented at the premiere of the movie in San Jose, California this past January.

During lunch, the MC announced a new ride will be installed at the Boardwalk for 2017, near Undertow.  An expansion of the area will be necessary to accommodate the new ride.  The only other information given is that the new ride will NOT be a Larson Looper.  It will be exciting to see what the Boardwalk has in store for us in 2017.

The guest speakers were Boardwalk managers:


The thing that was obvious about all three of these gentlemen is just how driven and passionate they are about their jobs.  Kevin and Mark spoke about the challenges of building the stage and sound systems for the yearly concert series, (the stage has to be completely removed every fall, and rebuilt every spring.)  I am so excited about some of the entertainers planned for this year.

Blue Oyster Cult will be performing on June 24th at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, just one of the Free Friday Night Bands on the Beach offered for Summer 2016 at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.  Click the link below for the complete entertainment schedule for Summer 2016.


Todd Manoff, Manager of Mechanical Maintenance, has a very impressive resume, including time spent with Chance Morgan.  He is a force of nature, obviously very passionate about the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.  On Sunday afternoon, I returned to the park to spend the late afternoon there.  Where I parked at, was a fantastic view of Undertow, and what was immediately apparent was that it was down.  The empty cars sitting in the loading station and the idle ride operators were a dead give away.  I got out my camera, and upon zooming in, noticed that Todd was on the brake run with another of the maintenance men.  I went on into the park, and slowly made my way down to Logger’s Revenge.  It too was down, as evidenced by the empty boat sitting at the top of the drop.  And upon further investigation, I saw Todd on the ride with his staff working out the problem.  I am happy to report that both rides were restored to operations.  I made my way down to the Cave Train, and there was Todd checking out operations on it.  After dark, I was back up by Giant Dipper, and there, again was Todd  doing a check on the Boardwalk’s famous coaster. Speaking of the Cave Train, it has been updated with some additional lights and paint.  The rotating tunnel is being reinstalled, and is expected to be operational within the week. We’ll have a full article on Todd Manoff soon.

The 1911 Looff Carousel’s horses was freshly painted by hand over the 2016 season.  It is beautiful.  Inside it houses several pipe organs.  It is fun to grab a ring from the dispenser and try to toss it into the clowns mouth, (I seldom make it!)

loof carsouel 2

loof horse

loof pipe organ

orch organ

Many other historically significant items live at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, including Laffing Sal.

laffing sali

laugh sal info

There are many other rides on the Boardwalk, including a sky tram, drop tower, Pirate Ship, and Haunted House.  Arcades abound, there is a Fright Walk, indoor mini golf, bowling, and TONS of food!

sky ride

drop tower and pirate ship

fright walk

skeet ball 2My personal favorite arcade game…….

funnel cake

My sister and I are Funnel Cake junkies, and frankly this is the best funnel cake in California, and at the best price!

I would highly recommend a day at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk to any coaster or amusement park enthusiast.  The historical significance of this park to the amusement park industry, the dedication to preserving the historic rides, and yet keeping it fresh with the latest and greatest in the amusement industry is a winning combination. Thank you to ACE NoCal and Nicholas Laschkewitsch for putting this great day together.

Hope to see you at the beach this summer,


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