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Six Flags Great America keeps history alive with rebirth of the Little Dipper Roller Coaster

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Published: May 27, 2010 at 8:05 PM

When Kiddieland Amusement Park in Melrose Park, Illinois closed after over 80 years, there were fears that many of their iconic rides were going to be destroyed. However, Kiddieland’s Illinois Neighbor, Six Flags Great America, felt that part of Kiddieland should still be enjoyed by the Chicagoland guests.

In the fall, I broke the news on TPI that Great America bought Kiddieland’s iconic roller coaster, The Little Dipper, to be taken down, transported, and rebuilt at Six Flags Great America. Taking the place of the now defunct net climb, The Little Dipper was placed in a corner of Yukon Territory.

The Little Dipper Roller Coaster is a wooden roller coaster and was built in 1950, making the coaster 60 years old this year. Built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, the ride is 700-feet long with a 30-foot lift hill in a figure-eight track.

Six Flags Great America did a fantastic job at repairing and updating this classic attraction with a great new paint job on the entire coaster that makes it look like it did when it opened in 1950. The only aspect of the attraction that Great America was not able to copy completely from Kiddieland is the line to get on the ride. Instead, Great America included the history of The Little Dipper and the preservation of Wooden Roller Coasters in the United States by the Six Flags Parks in the new line. Below are two pictures: One found in the line of the attraction of the coaster in its heyday at Kiddieland and a picture that I took to recreate that part of the roller coaster.

The last time I rode this roller coaster before today, I was around 8. I was surprised to now see that the roller coaster is actually pretty small and short. As I mentioned, it only goes up 30 feet into the air and goes, at most, 25 mph. Another interesting part was that it primarily still functions as it did in 1950 with minimal electricity and all gravity and old-fashioned physics. Also, The Little Dipper Roller Coaster only has one car, which I could see would cause long lines, but you know what? It totally would be worth it. While theme parks are trying to build the biggest, baddest and most thrilling roller coasters today, it is nice to see that Great America keeping the tradition of roller coasters alive and create a more inclusive park in which you can take a walk and literally take a history tour of roller coasters throughout the years. It appears that Great America is trying to harken back to its roots in 1976 by bringing out some old signs, models, and really renovating the attractions that have been there since the park opened. The Little Dipper is a great addition to go with their other iconic attraction, the two tiered Columbia Carousel which is older than the park as well. So, come out and feel like a kid again at Six Flags Great America!

Readers' Opinions

From 38.98.151.130 on May 28, 2010 at 6:26 AM
Loved riding this as a kid. So glad they've kept it around :)
From Elizabeth Gray on May 28, 2010 at 2:04 PM
As former members of ACE and DAFE, this is great news. It is really nice to hear some good news and Six Flags in the same sentence.
From 210.154.99.241 on May 29, 2010 at 12:58 AM
good article except about the two-tiered carousel. It was built (along with a twin in CA) specifically for the Great Americas and are not older than the park. (I was there when it was under construction) You are thinking about the former Ameri-go-round which was at the back of the park (now gone); it was a restored antique carousel.

Regards,
Ted

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