Ready to race?
Of all the rides at the Minnesota State Fair, I don’t know if any are as iconic as the Giant Slide.
One look at that big yellow, wavy ramp, and the next thing you know, you’ve bought some tickets, grabbed a mat, and are climbing up those long stairs, ready for the short (but fast!) race down!
If you’ve ever wondered about this fun landmark of our awesome state fair, read on for 11 fun facts!
1. It costs $3 per ride this year.
For less than the price of some roast corn, visitors can grab a mat, climb up a few flights of stairs, and race down the undulating bumps of the Minnesota State Fair’s Giant Slide.
It’s one of the state fair’s most popular traditions, so it’s no surprise it’s packed with history and trivia!
2. The slide is 50 feet tall
And 170 feet long by 30 feet wide.
2. And 50+ years old.
The legendary slide made its first appearance at the 1969 Minnesota State Fair.
3. It’s inspired by a smaller model from California.
The slide’s original creators, Fred and Beverly Pittroff, first saw a smaller version of the slide in Santa Cruz, California.
At the time, Fred was selling hot dogs on a stick at a local amusement park. When he learned the slide was the most popular attraction in the park, he became infatuated with the idea of a bigger, well… giant version.
He and his wife hired an architect, called up a friend in the bleacher business to borrow some scaffolding, and got to work.
Their first model appeared in California in 1966, but ended up being a little too steep. They made some tweaks, and the Giant Slide we know and love was born.
4. The creators originally sold 42 copies of the slide.
A year after the successful prototype was developed, Fred Pitroff attended an industry event and was able to sell 10 parks and fairs on the idea of his slide.
Over the next twenty years, he’d use the same blueprints to sell and build over 40 copies of the slide. Models of the slide can still be found as far away as Australia!
5. Minnesota’s version is one of only two giant slides still ran by the family.
The Pitroff’s daughter, Stacey, first rode the slide when she was just four months old. By age 14, she began working the slide.
Today, she runs the family slide business, and the Minnesota State Fair is lucky to be just one of two of the family’s remaining slides.
(The other is the Wisconsin State Fair.)
6. The current owner got married on the slide.
Stacey Pitroff met her husband, Robert Barona, while the two were working the Minnesota State Fair in 1993. (Robert was working at the hamburger stall next door.)
On the opening day of the 1996 Minnesota State Fair, the couple was married on top of the slide. After a kiss of the bride, the two slid down to live happily ever after!
7. Current annual revenue? $600,000.
With tickets costing about $3 a ride and the slide boasting approximately 200,000 ticket sales per season, the slide generates well over half a million dollars in sales per year!
8. But it takes some serious manpower to run!
Of course, all of those sales aren’t profit. The Minnesota State Fair’s Giant Slide requires a crew of about 100 employees to run each year.
The crew works in shifts, usually about 25 employees at a time.
9. Those employees wax the slide by hand.
Well, sort of…
To wax the slide, the crew developed an ingenious (and fun!) method – they put wax on the bottoms of their mats and slide on down!
The 170 foot ride evenly spreads wax along the galvanized steel surface.
10. And there’s other costs, too!
The main line item? A $4 million dollar insurance policy.
11. It’s now a three-generation family business
Stacey and Robert’s children, currently in their 20s, are the third generation to work the fair’s Giant Slide each summer.
In school, both studied business management and entrepreneurship, in hopes of taking over the family slide business.
More FAQs and Trivia about the Giant Slide
How tall is the Giant Slide at the Minnesota State Fair?
The Minnesota’s State Fair’s Giant slide is exactly 50 feet tall. The ride is also 170 long by 30 feet wide.
How much does the Giant Slide make at the MN State Fair?
The Minnesota State Fair’s Giant Slide makes over half a million dollars each year.
This year, tickets cost $3, and the slide averages over 200,000 riders per year. So, the slide is projected to make over $600,000.
How old is the Giant Slide at the Minnesota State Fair?
This year, the Giant Slide is 53 years old.
The slide first appeared at the 1969 Minnesota State Fair. Most of the slide is still original; only the scaffolding has required replacement due to those tough Minnesota winters. The steps and slide surface remain the same as its original debut.
How many steps are on the Giant Slide?
Minnesota’s version of the Giant Slide has exactly 100 steps to reach the top!