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This Welsh family designed and built a backyard rollercoaster to pass the time during quarantine

[Aug. 24, 2020: Joshua Shavit]

11-year-old Calden Ashley, from Llandyrnog, Wales, became enamored with thrill rides a few years ago after his uncle, Leigh Downing, gave him a small marble and wooden rollercoaster. Calden later started designing rollercoasters on his computer.

“My son Charlie built [Calden] a small wooden rollercoaster that he could ride. He was absolutely ecstatic with the end result, but a couple of years on had got a little bored with it" Downing said.

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. Calden was disappointed about being unable to see his friends over his summer vacation as a result of lockdown restrictions in the U.K. Downing decided to surprise him by making an even bigger and better rollercoaster for his backyard. One that was 230 feet long and included every "twist, turn, and bunny hop" Calden ever dreamed up.

Still, they had to wait until families from different households were allowed to come together to do the build. "They really didn’t believe me when I told them I was building a rollercoaster until I showed them the video," said Downing.

"We built it with a wooden frame for the structure, PVC pipe for the rails, and 462 wooden bearers that we mounted the rails on, all of which Charlie cut and filed a 40mm profile in," Downing said. "We did it all in eight days." Some modifications were done for safety reasons, and several adults tested the coaster before Ashley was able to go for a ride.

Downing said it was "good fun" working on this ambitious project with Calden and Charlie, and they are already planning their next coaster, made entirely of steel with "a corkscrew and a loop."


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Want to learn more?

Building rides in your house or backyard appears to be an increasingly popular activity in the time of the coronavirus pandemic. If you are interested in building your own backyard rollercoaster, the article "Designing a Safe Backyard Roller Coaster with Paul Gregg" might help you on that path.

If you are interested in a few more home-made rides and attractions, here is a list.

- "Disney Fans Are Recreating Famous Theme Park Rides at Home — and It's Amazing" is an article from Travel and Leisure outlining several Disney rides and experiences built and staged at home.



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