A kiddie coaster is a relatively small coaster built for those not yet tall enough or too scared to ride larger roller coasters. These coasters are therefore much less intense. A common ride design for a kiddie coaster is an oval or circle with small hills, also known as bunny hills.
There is no specific criteria for defining the size of a kiddie coaster. On Coasterpedia, a coaster is considered to be a kiddie coaster if it is aproximately equal to, or smaller than, the size of a Tivoli Medium coaster from Zierer.
During the latter half of the 1940s, the first steel kiddie roller coasters opened. The highly successful Little Dipper was introduced by Bradley & Kaye. These roller coasters had a simple oval layout and flat track. Near the end of 1948, the manufacturing rights for the Little Dipper were sold to Allan Herschell Company who continued building them until the late 1960s. At around the same time or shortly after, Ben Schiff's company B. A. Schiff & Associates and Miler Manufacturing began producing kiddie roller coasters with a similar layout to that of the Little Dipper model but with a different type of track.
In 1977, the first known Big Apple MB28 model began operation. Built by Pinfari, these roller coasters had figure-eight layouts. Several years after the introduction of the Big Apple MB28, other companies began producing very similar worm themed roller coasters with the same layout. Hundreds of figure-eight kiddie roller coasters have now been built.
Zamperla introduced its powered kiddie roller coaster in 1983. This model was very successful. Having a continuously powered train allowed for layouts such as double helices which were previously not practical with a gravity powered train.
In 1985, the first Butterfly installations opened. Built by Heege Freizeittechnik (now Sunkid Heege GmbH), it is the first known shuttle kiddie roller coaster. The model is still produced today and remains one of the smallest ever roller coasters.
In the late 1980s, Wisdom Rides began producing many different types of powered kiddie roller coasters. The company's products are typically oval-shaped and very small.
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