Do your roller coaster and theme park counts define you as an enthusiast?

Before the 2011 coaster season I had set two goals for myself. Those goals for me were to get to at least one new park and get to a total of 75 coaster credits. To most coaster enthusiasts those two goals were fairly minor. While for me, the goals could have been quite a feat to be accomplished as I am not made of money!

In previous years I had only been to five parks. Three of them were in my home state of Ohio. The other two were quite far apart and not very likely to obtain again. Up until the 2011 coaster season, I had been on 42 roller coasters. (I know it seems awfully low. I am a struggling college student. I can only afford bare minimum here people!) When it came to obtaining the goals for this past season, I had struggled to figure out what to do boost my coaster count since lack of personal transportation has been an issue. Luckily, some friends were planning on taking a trip to at least one park that I hadn’t been too, on its opening day.

At the beginning of the 2011 coaster season I spent a weekend at two different parks, pushing my count to 62. This also allowed me to surpass my goal of going to a new park. Throughout the early part of the season I secured 11 more credits. Toward the end of the season, I added 5 more credits bringing the total to 78.

While trying to determine what the term coaster enthusiast meant; I looked up the definition to see how it was defined. [quoteicon author=”Websters Online Dictionary”]A person having an extreme liking for something.[/quoteicon]

So if I enjoyed writing with pens I could consider myself a pen enthusiast? While that’s not my cup of tea, riding roller coasters is. But, does my small coaster count and park count deter me fitting into the definition of coaster-enthusiast? Heck no! As long as you love a park or are enthused about going, what does it matter?

In fact, I think that coaster and park counts really are pointless to boast about. While I enjoy thinking, “Hey I’ve been on 78 coasters within 9 different parks,” it’s not what being an enthusiast is about in my opinion. From this season alone traveling to 4 new parks, I have enjoyed seeing what each park has to offer. I have enjoyed seeing how different parks operate such as where Dollywood typically has older folks working in the park and operating rides where at Kings Island (my home park) I operated rides and others my age worked throughout the park.

Seeing the similarities, such as Anaconda at Kings Dominion reminded me a lot of Vortex at Kings Island are things I find interesting. The biggest thing that I enjoy about being a coaster-enthusiast is just sitting on the rides in different parks and observing the sights, sounds, smells and the feelings while on the ride. Nothing will ever surpass the sight of looking at Lake Erie and having the sun rise as I’m climbing the lift hill of Millennium Force at Coaster Mania. The moment of anticipation when going into different Boo Blasters On Boo Hill, the dark ride, makes traveling to different parks worth it. It’s those little things we get to enjoy that make us love what we do!

The moments inside of a park, whether on a coaster, flat ride or walking around the park, that take your breath away are what I enjoy that makes me a coaster-enthusiast. That experience on Millennium Force did that for me. Getting to the vertical lift on Mystery Mine at Dollywood took my breath away as well. But if you want to know a secret, the biggest thing that makes me proudMystery Mine - Dollywood to be a coaster-enthusiast is having a mother and son tag along with a friend and me at Cedar Point to see why we loved going to parks and riding rides. Looking back on that day, not only did we get the mother and son duo to ride things they would not have rode before but we also got them to soak up the atmosphere of the park and experience breath taking moments in their own right. When I go to my home park and something triggers my memory to back when I first started visiting usually takes my breath away no matter how minute it could be, like the sounds and sights of a carousel.

To me it’s not about getting to ride every single coaster at a park or trying to get on the kiddie coaster to boost your coaster count, it’s about having an experience that leaves you remembering the moments that take your breath away.

Written by Chris Hughes of
Photo Credit: Chris Hughes

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5 Responses

  1. Steven

    Yes. Coaster count defines you as an enthusiast. It tells you how many coasters you want to ride and how many you have actually been on. The ones you’ve been on inform your tastes and refine and motivate your aspirations. Top 5 lists define more than count though. MF, Wildfire, Prowler, Talon & The Beast.

  2. XYZ

    I have a very small coaster count: only 21! Though, I still have an extreme knowledge of coasters as I can talk literally hours about coasters from months, even years of research. Even though, I don’t have a large coaster count, I visit my home park very oftern, usually 2 – 3 times a month at the minimum while most of the General Public would visit their home park once every 2 months. I agree that coaster count really doesn’t matter since I have the same knowledge of coasters as those with a coaster count of 400+. How? Well, I watch POVs of hundreds of coasters and it suprises me if I see a POV of a coaster I have never seen. Sure, POVs take the suprises away when you are riding the actual coaster, though the experience is much better as you know exactly how rough, how intense it is. For the coasters that I have not been on, seen POVs, but I need to know how the ride feels and how amazing it is. That is where reviews come in. I look at as many reviews I can about coasters from various websites such as the Coaster Critic & Theme Park Insider. That is why I have as much knowledge as someone with a much greater coaster count.

  3. Kurt Dahlin

    I completely agreed with you, Chris. I’ve met some people who have a couple of favorite rides at our local Six Flags and all they do is ride them over and over again. Are they enthusiasts? Of course! They are very passionate about those particular roller coasters. They don’t care if they only have five coaster credits. However, I do think the credit count is important for somebody claiming to be a roller coaster ‘expert’. I would expect them to have lots of real-life experience on all types of coasters and not just theoretical knowledge learned from reading about coasters or watching POV videos. But for enthusiasts? Nah…not important in the slightest.

  4. Ralph

    I agree. Mostly because not everyone can afford to go one hundreds of coasters around the world. I can only afford two or three trips a year. If I had more money, I would be at a park every week. Doesn’t mean I don’t like coasters anymore than the next guy.

  5. Mike M.

    I agree with XYZ. Coaster count doesn’t necessarily define you as an enthusiast moreso than how much you know about and follow roller coasters in general. Like XYZ, I read everything I can about coasters and watch POV videos as well just so I can at least relate to all the things I read. I may not be able to speak from personal experience about many of the top coasters, but I certainly can tell you a lot about them and easily jump into ANY coaster conversation. Plus, it’s not like coaster counts can’t be artificially inflated. For example, should every instance of a Wild Mouse or Boomerang be counted? Do you hold it against me that I avoid Goldrusher whenever I make it out to Magic Mountain because I’d rather get on X2 and Tatsu, or that I decided to skip out on Rolling Thunder at SFGA because I was more focused on riding El Toro? Does it really make me less of an enthusiast because I haven’t bothered to get on Air Grover yet at Busch Gardens Tampa? To me, how much you know counts more than overall numbers.


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