World’s largest coaster club honors oldest operating roller coaster in Ohio

By | July 25, 2022

POWELL, Ohio — The American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) unveiled an ACE Roller Coaster Landmark plaque for Columbus Zoo & Aquarium’s Sea Dragon, the oldest operating roller coaster in Ohio. Sea Dragon, which opened in 1956, is also considered an ACE Coaster Classic owing to its traditional operating methods, including hand-pulled manual brakes and no seat dividers.

The designation as an ACE Roller Coaster Landmark is reserved for rides of historic significance. Sea Dragon is notable as the oldest roller coaster remaining from famed designer John Allen. During the height of the postwar baby boom of the 1950s, amusement parks began adding junior-sized roller coasters, designed for younger riders. John Allen, president of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC), began designing his own coasters after taking control of PTC in 1954. Among his first designs were three nearly identical junior wooden coasters that opened between 1956 and 1957 at three different parks. The first was at a Zoo Amusement Park located adjacent to the Columbus Zoo in Powell, Ohio, now known as the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, with construction supervised by PTC’s Frank Hoover.

“We are incredibly proud that Sea Dragon is receiving this wonderful recognition from American Coaster Enthusiasts.  We value sharing the roller coaster’s history with our returning guests and those who are experiencing the excitgement and thrill for the first time.” Said Anthony Sabo, Vice President of Waterpark Operations and Guest Services.

Originally called Jet Flyer, the coaster has a height of 37 feet, reaching a top speed of 25 mph along 1,320 feet of track. The coaster was renamed Sea Dragon in 1984 after the park was leased to Funtime, Inc. and the park rebranded to Wyandot Lake. Six Flags took control of the park from 1996 until 2006, and a year later management returned to the Columbus Zoo, which annexed the park and included a complete refurbishment of the coaster.