Beyond the tilt-a-whirl, merry-go-round and salt & pepper shaker at the Larchmont Family Amusement Park is a 48-foot high, wooden roller coaster built in the classic figure eight design. It was named “Leap the Dips” by designer E. Joy Morris back when it was built in 1902. It’s 102 years old and still operating. It’s the oldest operating roller coaster in the world.
It was closed in the early 80's and partially destroyed, but preservation efforts helped to restore this coaster back to its original form. Leap The Dips reopened in 1999 in full operating capacity. It is one of the few remaining side-friction coasters in existence and a National Historic Landmark.
It’s named Leap the Dips because you leap the dips … at a top speed of 10 miles an hour. So in this era of the 70 mph, corkscrew, upright roller coaster, why do some of us still scream when riding Leap the Dips? Because it’s over 100 years old, maintained by minimum wage high school students, and held together with over 100 years worth of paint, rusty nails and heavy grease.
But that’s why people still ride this old and slow wooden roller coaster; not for the thrill of the speed or g-forces but because in the back of every person’s mind is the very likely notion that this old beast will crumble, fold and fling you to your untimely death on the very next turn. That’s the thrill!.