Quassy Breathes New Life into a Cherished Favorite
This season, what is old is new again at Quassy Amusement Park & Waterpark in Middlebury, Connecticut. The “Little Dipper” steel roller coaster is riding the rails looking brand new—like it did upon opening in 1952.
“It’s an iconic ride and has been here forever,” says Quassy Park President Eric Anderson. “We always hear guests talking about how they rode it when they were kids, and with social media, people are more active in sharing stories.”
During the offseason, Anderson’s team gave the old ride some TLC instead of retiring the roller coaster.
“We were pretty close to replacing the ‘Little Dipper’ a couple of years ago. It was getting kind of beat up and the cars were looking aged. But we decided to make a concentrated effort to put some resources into the ride,” Anderson says, adding “Little Dipper” was the first roller coaster he ever rode.
The park had new sections of track made, along with refurbishing each car. Crews added new floorboards, frames, and seats. Shiny new paint completed the top-to-bottom refresh.
Anderson notes that the Allan Herschell Company in New York, which originally manufactured the now-discontinued ride, is still an important resource for Quassy because the park has several Herschell rides. The park searched through old Allan Herschell photos to find images of the 220-foot-long coaster’s original cars in an effort to provide Quassy’s maintenance department with the ride’s original color scheme. The park also refurbished the “Little Dipper” sign atop the ride’s 12-foot lift hill, modernizing it with the installation of LED lights.
Quassy’s headliner attraction is another roller coaster, the “Wooden Warrior,” which opened in 2011. Anderson recalls when the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) visited the park in June 2013 to ride “Wooden Warrior,” they also wanted to ride “Little Dipper.”
“We were so focused on ‘Wooden Warrior’ that we didn’t plan to open ‘Little Dipper’ that day. But when they asked about it, we opened it and they lined up. The line was as long for ‘Little Dipper’ as ‘Wooden Warrior!’”
In its 67-year history, Anderson says, more than 10 million guests have enjoyed a ride on “Little Dipper”—a number sure to grow as the next generation continues to go for a ride.