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 proud 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 ThrillNetwork.com
Photo Credit: Chris Hughes