Tag Archives: amusement parks

Road to 500

17 Jun

As a child I knew from the moment I buckled into Darien Lake’s “Viper” that I was born to ride. I spent my childhood playing Disney’s Coaster DOS game, drawing over 300 coasters during recess, and leafing through issues of Inside Track magazine. Later in life the passion stuck as worked the rides as an employee of Martin’s Fantasy Island, and Cedar Point and diminished my college GPA by staying up all night designing theme parks in Roller Coaster Tycoon. When I was younger I dreamt of the day I would ride my 100th roller coaster, and while I picture traveling the world  to accomplish this feat, I never imagined it would come to this… my 500th coaster.

The time has come for “500 Rides of Summer.” I could have knocked off a few extra credits in Japan and Taiwan, but I was holding out for that special ride, one worthy of 500. While America offered a plethora of options to choose from, ultimately I chose a park that exudes ‘Americana,’ and represents what an amusement park should be. Consequently, Knoebel’s, in Elysburg, Pennsylvania, with probably the best long-standing reputation of operating a family-friendly park with appropriate pricing and dedication towards renewing, rescuing, and restoring classic rides and attractions, will be the site for my 500th coaster.


In 2004, I was fortunate enough to visit Knoebel’s , so I scooped up coaster credits on the late “Whirlwind” and “High Speed Thrill Coaster,” in addition to the currently operating “Phoenix” and “Twister,” which leaves me with four possible credits at Knoebel’s.


Black Diamond: indoor wooden/steel Philadelphia Toboggan Coaster creation

We’ll start with “Black Diamond” for #498, as it’s a nostalgic ride and one rescued from Dinosaur Beach, a defunct boardwalk in New Jersey.


Impulse: 2015 Zierer’s vertical lift looper

For #499, “Impulse” fits in well as it’s a cutting edge creation at the tip of innovation.


Flying Turns: a 2013 in-house built wooden bobsled

But for the epic #500, I could think of no better (Dollywood’s “Lightning Rod” was a close second) choice than the one-of-a-kind wooden bobsled coaster “Flying Turns.” It’s also significant because it took years of planning, frustration, and investment to finally produce this ‘iconic whirlwind of fun,’ which I rather arrogantly (please excuse the pride) associate with reading #500.


Kozmo’s Kurves: 2009 Miler family coaster

Then the new era begins as all life should with childhood innocence as I take a joyful romp on “Kozmo’s Kurves,” permitting the friendly staff allows this 6′ foot 1 dangly guy to ride.

Thank you to Knoebel’s for hosting my special moment, and I look forward sharing some snapshots and perhaps some video, if Mr. GoPro and I may ride together, of the #500 ride and our overall park visit.

For perspective’s sake, there are dozens of coasterers who have ridden far more than 500 coasters, and they should be celebrated. My 500th ride is not mean to serve as a bragging right but rather a testament to the passion our coastering community has for seeking out the next best thrill. Every single new ride should be commemorated and celebrated. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to #1,000, but I’m happy to know that I got here, and I’ll never stop riding!


Coastering in Hokkaido, Japan at Rusutsu Resort. #GoGoSneaker


IMAGICISE: Amusement Madness

24 Jun

Let’s take a trip to my favorite place in the world… the amusement park! Let your creativity soar up and down the hills of these thrilling imagicises! For more on roller coasters and amusement parks be sure to visit our sister site CraveCoasters.

For those wishing to ‘tone’ their creative muscles, simply spend 5 minutes on each prompt. For those ‘bulking up’, spend an additional 5 minutes writing or follow the specific instructions with each prompt.

* For further directions on ‘Imagicise’ click here.


  • Day 1: Coaster Alphabet

    Turn your paper/journal over horizontally. Write the alphabet from A to Z in a roller coaster / hilly layout across the page. (See example below) Use each letter as the start for a roller coaster worthy name. Make sure to be original. For instance, stray away from Cyclone for C or Big Dipper for B. But remember, there are coasters for all ages, so each name does not need to envoke terror. Feel free to take it in any direction you desire. “Bob the Ride” could be a hit with little kids. When all the names are written it will look like a roller coaster. Example names include Amphibitor, Badlands Bruiser, Candy Kane Train, and Dungeon Dweller. For those bulking up, choose one of the names. Imagine this coaster was built. What does it look like? What are some of the features? What type of person will enjoy it?

  • Day 2: Crazy-Go-Round

    Merry-go-rounds traditionally spin a stable of horses in a circle. But many carousels have been themed to feature anything from a menagerie of endangered species to Dr. Seuss characters, and even the Flintstones. If you were going to take a ride on a carousel, what theme would you like it to have? Brainstorm a slew of ideas. Examples could include: insects, automobiles, mythological creatures, or even space age robotic horses. For those bulking up, choose one of the themes, and describe each individual “horse.”

  • Day 3: Enough Stuff

    Stuffed animals have officially been designated an endangered species. Consequently, amusement parks and carnivals are tasked with coming up with alternate prizes for their games of chance. Create a list of possible prizes. Be both realistic and creative. What would you like to win? Examples include: hula hoops, collectable coins, currency from all over the world, and especially calendars featuring 80 year old models.

  • Day 4: Perfect Day

    Not everyone has the patience for lines, or the stomach for consecutive inversions. But most amusement parks have something for everyone. Imagine their was a park built specifically for you. Describe the perfect day at your ideal park. What will you ride, eat, see, and play? Be as adventurous or sedate as you desire. For those bulking up, imagine the perfect day for a close friend, family member, or a fictional character.

  • Day 5: Golden Years Theme Park

    Theme parks like Disneyland were meant to be enjoyed by all ages. However, the hustle and bustle may be too much for elderly citizens. Envision a theme park specifically built for golden girls and boys. Describe this park. What’s it called? Where is it located? What are the differences and similarities from other parks.