There are many ways to be a stellar parent. From packing the diaper bag just so, to reading up on child-rearing techniques in parenting books designed for dads. While we hope that the ultimate goal of every father out there is to be as good a dad as possible, we also know that most people want to be a “cool” dad too. You want to be the dad that teaches them how to have fun in addition to all the deeper, more impactful life lessons. You want to be the dad who acquired the sold out CoCoMelon toy your son has been pining for and snagged the Ryan’s World toy they’d been eyeing for weeks. The new dad flex we’ve seen emerge due to pandemic boredom? Building a backyard roller coaster, because apparently an above-ground swimming pool is no longer enough.
Out of all the social trends that emerged out of quarantine, this has got to be one of the most impressive DIY feats we’ve seen. Baking sourdough bread? Child’s play compared to what some of these dads and sons have accomplished — building a safe, operable roller coaster in their backyard with their ample amounts of free time.
The entrepreneur Will Pemble out of San Francisco, CA actually built his own backyard roller coaster in 2019 after coming back from a trip with his own kids, and bonding over their love of adrenaline. He decided that instead of installing a pool in his home’s large backyard like many of his neighbors, he wanted something a bit more engaging, for himself and his kids apparently.
It took him about $10,000 and over 300 hours of work over the course of three months, but he built a track that successfully runs and safely takes the rider on a 17-second ride of adrenaline down the slope of his property. It’s an impressive feat, and something that other handy internet dwellers have successfully done as well.
Pandemic boredom and a bunch of extra time on hands has caused a resurgence with this trend. Georgia teenager Ben Tolliday went viral on Tik Tok after making a video about his own successfully-built one-drop roller coaster in his family’s backyard. He put it together in about three weeks using PVC pipes, sandbags, wooden beams and a few cinder blocks. Ben built everything — the track, the car, and even a water feature in later videos. It all works.
There are numerous other dads who have combined love and dedication to their children with knowledge of engineering and physics and created their own backyard amusement parks. This adorable video showcases another, less technical option that includes a track and two cars that this devoted father pushes to the top of the drop before the fun ensues.
If you’re reading this and thinking about building one for yourself, I encourage you to do as much research as possible before embarking. Each of these creators did in-depth research into roller coaster physics and had pages and pages of calculations before sawing a piece of wood or welding a piece of steel. Building one that’s at the caliber of the options above takes an incredible amount of time and effort, as well as some inherent risk-taking in trying it out for the first time. These roller coasters don’t come together in a weekend. Fortunately, there are some smaller scale kits you can purchase online that do, and should still illicit a giggle out of your stir crazy quarantined children.
Step2 Up & Down Roller Coaster
This roller coaster toy is designed to be super easy to put together and has a colorful design that makes it perfect for childrens’ play areas. It has two non-slip steps that guide your little one up to the coaster that glides down the ramp, complete with handrails, a high back and foot rests so their ride is as secure as possible. The coaster track comes apart in four different pieces and is super easy to store as well.
Step2 Up & Down Roller Coaster Ride On
This is another backyard roller coaster from Step2 that’s 10 feet long and is made for years of play either outside in the backyard or in the playroom. This roller coaster also features two non-slip steps that easily clip into the 3-piece roller coaster track. The track is specially designed to hold the car in place, and the car itself has a high back and a handlebar so your little one stays secure during their ride.
Radio Flyer 500 With Ramp
Radio Flyer has been making tricycles for little kids for years, and now they’ve created a backyard roller coaster with a small ramp for small toddlers to ride down. The Flyer 500 includes a race car that can be used on and off the track, and features a footrest on either side for both safety and comfort. The ramp is six feet total and features grooves up and down it to mimic actual car racing. The ramp and base break down easily for storage and the base has rear wheels so you don’t have to carry it everywhere.