Route 66 ends in the middle of the Santa Monica Pier, but Pacific Park plans to extend the experience all the way to the sea with a redesign of its roller coaster.
On the new West Coaster, cars that mimic classic automobiles from Route 66’s heyday will zip past vintage billboards that highlight the attractions along the 2,200-mile highway, including the Chicago Theatre Sign, the St. Louis Gateway Arch, a Saguaro Cactus and the Santa Monica Pier Arch. The roller coaster’s loading station will feature themed gas pumps, license plates, maps and memorabilia from different cities along the route.
Pacific Park will unveil the new coaster, which will be named the Route 66 West Coaster after the $1 million redesign, this summer, said Nathan Smithson, the park’s director of marketing and business development.
Smithson said visitors to Pacific Park already expect a Route 66 experience because the Santa Monica Pier marks the end of the journey.
“There’s always a queue of people waiting to have their picture taken at the Route 66 sign, so we’re trying to enhance the sign with an immersive, classic Americana Route 66 experience,” Smithson said.
The West Coaster runs with four to five cars that seat six people. The ride begins with a 50-foot climb, drops around a helix, rides over two hills and plummets into another helix before dipping down to the pier deck. The redesign will include a new train for a smoother and quieter ride, Smithson said.
Smithson said the coaster has not been changed since Pacific Park opened in 1996. The most recent ride, the Shark Frenzy tilt-a-whirl, was added in 2017.