The joys of the Giant Dipper.
(Courtesy The Boardwalk)
COVID Economy

A loud sign of orange: Giant Dipper screams will return as Boardwalk rides reopen Thursday

California COVID-19 safety guidelines must be followed, all guests will be required to wear a face covering and some rides will be closed. But the amusement park’s reopening is the latest sign of reopening.

There have been few sadder signs of pandemic malaise than a walk or drive past the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on Beach Street without constant screams raining down from high above.

Thursday the Giant Dipper will roll again — and the screams will return.

“Everyone has been preparing for this important moment in our unique and storied history,” said Boardwalk spokesperson Kris Reyes, who has been itching for weeks to get the 1924 wooden roller coaster humming again.

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The move will come a day after Santa Cruz County returns to the orange tier for the first time since a brief week-plus span in late October.

Not all Boardwalk rides will be in operation yet. California COVID-19 safety guidelines must be followed and all guests will be required to wear a face covering.

The current reopening details only apply through April 11. Reservations are encouraged — and the window to make reservations beyond that date will open soon. Other details, including heatlh restrictions, from www.beachboardwalk.com:

  • Approximately 8-12 rides will be open each day.
  • Walk-up admission is available only as capacity allows.
  • The park is capacity controlled and gates are subject to closure. If the park is at capacity, guests with ride reservations will be given priority entry.
  • Rides will close periodically for cleaning and sanitizing.
  • Online reservations are available until two hours before ride closing, as capacity allows.
  • To make a reservation, you must purchase a ride wristband using this reservation link. If you have a season pass, here’s the link to use for that.
  • If park gates are closed due to capacity, guests with reservations should redeem their ride wristbands at the Main Ticket Booth and show the wristband at the gate for entry.

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The Boardwalk has already been open daily for select food, shops and outdoor games. Boardwalk rides will be open daily April 1–11 and then on weekends for the remainder of April. Those who want to visit the Boardwalk without riding rides can do so as long as capacity limits allow.

“The reopening of Boardwalk rides will be gradual and measured” said Reyes. “Operating hours for rides will change frequently in the weeks ahead so we strongly encourage anyone planning a visit to check www.beachboardwalk.com prior to their arrival for all the latest information.”

The Boardwalk Bowl is tentatively scheduled to reopen on Thursday as long as the county moves into the orange tier as expected.

The news is also good for job seekers. The Santa Cruz Seaside Company, which owns and operates the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the Boardwalk Bowl, and two inns by the beach, the Sea & Sand Inn and Carousel Beach Inn, is hiring. Go here for a list of the available jobs and how to apply.