Teen Builds Insane DIY Roller Coaster in His Backyard

17-year-old Jake McCluskey has managed to live out the dream of countless childhoods, after building his own roller coaster in his backyard.

The roller coaster, which takes up the whole of his 24 feet by 15 feet Northern Virginia backyard, includes its own drop and loops completely around the garden.

After being prompted by family and friends, McCluskey shared footage of the ride to his TikTok account, and was favoured by the For You Page algorithm of the app, which amassed him over 16 million collective views.

McCluskey, who has wanted to be a roller coaster engineer since the age of five, made the ride completely by himself using leftover wood from construction sites, screws, PVC pipe and skateboard wheels.

"Home Depot is really like my second home," he tells Newsweek.

Unlike most other make-shift roller coasters, McCluskey's ride is more than just a cart on a track—it has a cable lift which pulls you to the top of the drop, and a lever which then releases you.

A backyard roller coaster.
Jake McCluskey built a roller coaster in his own backyard, and went viral on TikTok for it. Image courtesy of Jake McCluskey. Jake McCluskey

As the home of almost any tutorial you can think of, McCluskey used YouTube to expand on his engineering skills, along with the inspiration of Will Pemble.

The YouTuber-turned-Netflix-star's journey to becoming an at-home roller coaster owner motivated McCluskey to start with own first version in January 2020. He spent around five months in 2020 working out how to make it turn smoothly, and later returned to make his third and fourth versions in April 2021.

For McCluskey, who told Newsweek that typical classroom environments don't foster his ADHD, his mission to make a roller coaster has been an ongoing and dedicated one: "It was blood, sweat and tears," he jokes. "There's been times it's been raining, like pouring rain, and I'm out there drilling nails."

The hard work paid off when McCluskey went viral on May 13, receiving an influx of complementary comments, mixed in with a few inevitable Phineas and Ferb comparisons.

"I was in my English class, and I looked at my phone. I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I have like, 80,000 views.' I called my mom and I was like 'Mom, I think I might get famous'," he joked.


the best thing ever is when your mom supports everything you do and even ride your backyard roller coaster I love you so much mom@jillymac426 

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Proud mom Jill McCluskey, says she unsurprisingly at first told her son he couldn't turn her garden into an amusement park. Like any good teenager would, Jake McCluskey began to secretly build it in the garage anyway.

"I've always tried to encourage and support and give him resources to channel that creativity. So I was just like, 'okay, just go for it'," explains Jill McCluskey on her change of heart.

Now, she even featured in a TikTok video capturing her first drop on the rollercoaster, in front of 200,000 views.

"She put up the white flag," jokes Jake.

Although his dream job is a mechanical engineer, Jake McCluskey explains that his grades "may not be the best," but that he potentially sees set and design as a close second—his TikTok also hosts videos from his Halloween haunted house, which he sets up for the neighborhood annually and spends "two months straight building it."

Next, Jake McCluskey plans to take the roller coaster to the next level with a full loop complete with an upwards lift hill and a tunnel for it to ride through.

He's not forgetting the app that sent him viral in the first place either, as he intends to paint the cart TikTok's signature red, blue and black shades.

You can follow along with Jake McCluskey's next steps in building his at-home roller coaster on his TikTok account, @jakemccluskey32.