Yesterday, the Giant went to sleep at Nantasket Beach in Massachusetts.
It will wake up in Largo, Md., next May.
The Giant Coaster at Paragon Park, rated one of the Top 10 roller coaster rides in the country, will be moving south. It was purchased yesterday by Wild World Entertainment and Water Park.
The 3,400-foot-long roller coaster, which boasts an agonizingly slow (54-second) ascent, a 52-degree drop in five seconds from its 98-foot peak, and speeds up to 60 mph, opened at Paragon Park in 1917 and was remodeled after a fire in 1962.
But the 10-acre, 80-year-old park itself, a favorite of the Kennedy family, was sold for $5.3 million last year. The buyers, Kahn-Quinn Group developers, closed it to build a 529-unit condominium project on the prime waterfront site at Hull, Mass., 20 miles south of Boston. The park's structures were auctioned off piece by piece yesterday.
Wild World General Manager Mark Mason purchased the Giant, billed as the world's largest and tallest wooden ride of its kind, for $28,000, and said he plans to have it operational at the Largo theme park by next May.
A spokesperson for Wild World said the total cost of disassembling the Giant, transporting it to Largo, rebuilding and remodeling it, will exceed $1 million. Pending approval by the Prince George's County Zoning Board, it will go up next to Partnership Mansion, a 1780s mansion still standing on the Wild World property.
Mason said the design of the ride gives it "a combination of action" that makes it "one of the country's best roller coasters." He said he plans to restore it to its original glory, including a "fantastic 540-degree back spiral at the end."
It may be remodeled to dive underground in places, and the toboggans will probably have windscreens to cut down on crowd noises, Mason said.
The Giant's reconstruction will be supervised by Charles Dinn, the Michelangelo of wooden roller coasters, whose stomach-churning designs include the 7,000-foot Beast at King's Island, Ohio. Target date for the reopening is May 3, 1986.
In a 1979 survey published in Roller Coaster Fever, the magazine of roller coaster enthusiasts, the Giant was rated No. 6. In terms of other nearby thrill rides, the Comet at Hershey Park, Pa., ranked No. 7, while the Rebel Yell at King's Dominion tied for 14th place with the Great American Scream Machine at Six Flags Over Georgia.
The Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens was ranked No. 3 among steel roller coasters, but many hard-core roller coaster cultists insist that only wooden rides, with their alarming tendency to flex, provide riders with a sufficient quotient of hysteria.
While the Giant was the centerpiece of yesterday's auction, everything from the Kooky Kastle and Tilt-a-World rides to skeeballs and trash cans were auctioned off. A crowd of more than 1,000 braved heavy rains for a last glimpse of the New England landmark that was a favorite of Judy Garland, Ted Williams and various Kennedys summering at nearby Cape Cod.
The Bermuda Triangle, Devil's Mansion and other rides were auctioned off, some to park operators from California, but the 57-year-old carousel and its 64 carved wooden animals will remain in Hull.
"This is truly the passing of an era," said Richard Sullivan, publicity head at Paragon Park for many years. "But you can't erase the happy laughter of children over the years.
"Everybody used to come here. Ted Williams, when they played day baseball games, would buy strips of tickets to ride the roller coaster all night. And Cardinal Cushing used to spend all his birthdays here."