When Quarantine Shut Down Amusement Parks, These Families Built Their Own

When amusement parks around the world were forced to shut down because of the quarantine, many families had to cancel their vacation plans. These families didn’t let the situation cancel their fun, however, and took matters into their own hands and with some creativity and a little bit of hard work, they built their very own amusement parks — right in their backyards!

From twisting roller coasters to wet and wild water rides and a Disneyland classic, it just goes to show that when it comes to creating a thrill ride, one’s imagination (and perhaps a good power drill) is all that’s needed. 

One uncle created the ultimate backyard roller coaster for his nephew

Leigh Downing wanted a way to cheer up his nephew Calden who wasn’t able to see his friends because of the quarantine. The solution? Take some of Calden’s roller coaster sketches and create a roller coaster that the 11-year-old could enjoy from his own backyard. 

“Calden has been rollercoaster mad for as long as I can remember,” Downing said.  “Even before he was tall enough to ride, he was designing them on a computer.

Downing and his son Charlie soon got to work on building the 230-foot-long backyard big dipper in Llandyrnog, Wales. The pair used pieces of scrap metal and wood to construct the coaster’s framework and track. An old wooden cutting board functioned as the seat and bright orange roller skate wheels held the DIY coaster to the track.

According to Downing, Calden developed an interest in roller coasters when his uncle gave him a wooden roller coaster marble kit. This wasn’t the first backyard coaster Calden’s had either. Several years ago, Downing who has an engineering background, and Charlie who is a hobbyist mechanic, built a smaller wooden coaster, but this new build was far more complex. 

 “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.”

As one might expect, Downing said the neighbors had their doubts and there was a lot of trial and error when it came to making the coaster exciting — and most importantly safe. Calden’s mother and father both game the coaster their approval after a test ride. The pair finally surprised Calden with his new backyard ride and while the youngster was cautious at first, the coaster proved to be a major hit!

The coaster-builders say that their next plan is to put Charlie’s math degree and Calden’s sketches to the test and create a track with a corkscrew and loop. “I feel we did something absolutely amazing,” surmised Downing.

A family brings Disneyland’s Splash Mountain to their own backyard

The Richard family are fans of Disney’s popular Splash Mountain water ride, but when the park closed because of Covid-19, any plans to visit were dashed. Sometimes all one needs to bring the Disney magic home, though, is some imagination and a bucket of water. 

While the Richard family might not have the engineering experience to create something on the scale of a roller coaster, they were able to give their best DIY effort at recreating the iconic water ride. Using two giant logs to mimic the ride’s carved out tree trunk and some ponchos, they delivered one seriously awesome homemade version of the ride

“When the quarantine really gets to you and you miss Disney, you re-create rides,” Jordan Leigh Richard wrote in her social media post.

Richard, and her five kids dressed in ponchos, can be seen sitting between the massive logs with smiles of excitement on their faces and hands in the air as somebody soaks them with a bucket of water. It may not be quite as dramatic as the log flume’s harrowing drop, but it was without a doubt, a fun way to spend an afternoon and forget about the disappointments of canceled 2020 plans.

The homemade Splash Mountain inspired a DIY Pirates of the Caribbean ride

One of the amazing things about quarantine is how many families have used it as an opportunity to bond with each other and have a little fun in the process. The Richard family’s backyard Splash Mountain ride actually inspired another family to recreate their own version of their favorite Disney ride. 

“My mom saw a homemade Splash Mountain video that Chip and Co. posted,” Brin Thornock, the Thornock family’s second-oldest daughter, said. “She thought it was funny and shared it on Facebook. Her friends all commented, ‘We totally see you guys making one.’ So, we took it as a challenge. Pirates of the Caribbean is one of our favorite rides.”

The family soon got to work bringing the world of Captain Jack Sparrow to life in their home. The Thorncock family already had a bunch of pirate stuff around the house from past Halloweens and had been ridden Pirates of the Caribbean enough times to know the ins and outs of the ride.

Soon enough, the family had risen to the challenge and recreated the swashbuckling ride with pirate skeletons and sword fights. The family dog even got in on the action, playing a pirate prison guard. 

Brin’s sister Brooke Thornock posted the video to Twitter where it blew up the internet with over 90,000 likes and 30,000 retweets. “We figured we would just have our friends and family get a kick out of it,” she admits. “It only took us about an hour-and-a-half to put everything together. We shot it on our phones and I edited in my phone as well!”

It just goes to show that even though the coronavirus may have canceled so many beloved events, traditions, and outings, there’s no reason that fun and memorable experiences can’t still be enjoyed. As Brin put it, “Get creative!”

Photos via Metro/SWNS, YouTube

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