Oldest Roller Coasters in America

Leap-the-Dips, Lakemont Park, Altoona, PA 1902
Leap-The-Dips is the worlds oldest standing roller coaster, being built in 1902. Located at Lakemont Park in Lakemont (Altoona), PA, the ride has stood idle for fourteen years. It has been fully rebuilt for the 1999 operating season. Leap-The-Dips is the only "side friction" roller coaster left in North America. The ride is very gentle, with only small drops, averaging about 10 MPH. Currently, the cars are running on Oak boards, as they did during it's initial years. The only metal "rails" are located in the station.


Jack Rabbit, Sea Breeze Park, Rochester, NY 1920
Jack Rabbit, is an "out and back" wooden roller coaster located at Seabreeze Amusement Park in Irondequoit, New York. At its opening in 1920, it was the fastest roller coaster in the world, the Giant Dipper superseded it in 1924. It is the fourth oldest operating roller coaster in the world and second oldest in the USA. It is a hard ride to learn to operate, there are several brake levers and it takes a while to learn the proper timing and sequence to accurately stop the cars at the platform.
  

Jack Rabbit, Kennywood, West Mifflin, PA 1921
Designed and built by John Miller in 1921, it is one of the oldest still-running roller coasters in the world. The ride's three trains were manufactured by Andy Vettel in 1947 and contain three cars of six seats each. The aging cars are considered an essential part of the ride's nostalgic experience but also lead to some young children being disallowed to enter the ride (36" is the minimum), due to the use of only a small lapbar to hold in riders. A popular early feature of the ride was a tunnel which covered the turnaround section after the first drop, but this was removed in 1947 when the new cars were ordered. In 1991, the tunnel was restored, even though it's a bit shorter than it had been.

The Jack Rabbit was built shortly after Miller patented a new track design in 1920. This design involved the use of wheels both under and over the track, which allowed Miller to create the then enormous 70 foot drop that is the attraction's largest. It is most well known for its double dip following the lift hill. The double dip produces strong airtime that makes the rider feel that they will be thrown from the seat, and a feeling that the train leaves the track.
 
 
  Ride the Giant Dipper at Santa Cruz Beach

   
Giant Dipper, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk,  CA 1924
The Giant Dipper is a historic wooden roller coaster located at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, an amusement park in Santa Cruz, California. It opened on May 17, 1924. Over 55 million riders have ridden it since its opening. The United States National Park Service recognized the Giant Dipper as part of a National Historic Landmark also covering the nearby Looff carousel in 1987. It was named an American Coaster Enthusiasts Coaster Landmark on May 5, 2007. The ride appeared in many television commercials and movies, including The Lost Boys, Sudden Impact and Dangerous Minds.
 
Giant Dipper, Belmont Park, San Diego, CA 1925
Originally the idea of John D. Spreckels, the original coaster was built by a crew of 100 to 150 people in two weeks. The coaster became very popular in the 1940s and '50s but by the late '60s, it had fallen into disrepair. It closed in 1976. In the early 1980s, people began calling for the demolition of the coaster, as it had been in disrepair and became a home for local transients. A date for the demolition was set, but a group of citizens calling themselves the "Save the Coaster Committee" headed by Tim Cole intervened and had the Giant Dipper designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1987. A few years later, the San Diego Seaside Company was formed to restore the coaster to operation. $2 million was spent on the restoration. New trains, manufactured by Morgan Manufacturing, seated 24 riders per cycle in six four-person cars. On August 11, 1990, the Giant Dipper was reopened to the public. The response was so strong that a second train was eventually added to the coaster.

Wildcat, Lake Compounce, Bristol, CT 1927
Wildcat was built in 1927 and is the park's centerpiece. With a first drop of only 73 feet, it's not too intense making it popular with younger guests. The entire structure was rebuilt with new wood in 1985, and the last bunny hills were retracked in 2004. The Wildcat went down for refurbishment on September 17, 2006 and reopened for the 2007 operating season. During its refurbishment, the brake runs were completely removed and rebuilt with new magnetic brakes. The station also received air gates in the queue line and individual seat belts were added to each seat. The Wildcat's trains were built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. Before the Wildcat was built, the Green Dragon Coaster used to stand in its place.

 
7. Giant Coaster, Arnolds Park, Arnolds Park, IA 1927
8. Cyclone, Astroland - Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY 1927
9. Racer, Kennywood, West Mifflin, PA 1927
10. Little Dipper, Playland, Rye, NJ 1928
 

This listing of the Top Ten Oldest Roller Coasters in the United States is constantly being revised as we discover more of these ancient wonders. So, if you feel we are missing one, please email us and let us know!