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How did you get into roller coasters/amusement parks?


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For me, it all started with my first Cedar Point visit in '03. It was my first coaster experience outside of Wonderland as an adult...and it completely blew me away. From there, my interest in coasters grew exponentially. One time I was sitting at work on an early-April Thursday afternoon... and decided to go to Six Flags Great Adventure that evening. The rest is history

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The whole park/coaster thing was basically foisted on me one day back in the summer of 96' when I reluctantly accepted an invitation to accompany a family friend to what was then known as Adventure World (now SFA). Before that, I had been to a few parks (KD, Hershey) as a child and teen, but I was terrified of coasters and only rode the flat rides and some water rides (and only those that didn't go upside down) at those parks. So, between the erroneous notion I had about parks only being places for kids and my extreme fear of coasters, I never set foot in a park (OK, I did go to a few carnivals here and there in the interim and happily rode any non-inverting flats I found) until that day in 96'. That was a good 15 year span of my life when I avoided it all.

 

On that day in question I was dragged onto the Mind Eraser and forced to confront my phobia. After that incident, my general opinion was that I had been scared half to death, but I developed a strange fascination with coasters that blossomed into a near-obsession that lasted the rest of the summer and has continued ever since.

 

And then in the spring of 97' I took a job in the amusement industry, not at all what I had been looking or expecting. But I had the skills for the particular job and since I was in a very frustrating job search I jumped on it, even though it meant a 3000 mile move.

 

So basically it came down to two people - the woman who dragged me onto the Mind Eraser and the man who hooked me up with that job.

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When I was growing up, my family would always go to Virginia Beach for vacation in the summer. During the trip, we would always stop for a few days in Williamsburg for shopping (what's up, Williamsburg Pottery!), colonial history stuff that I always found boring and Busch Gardens.

 

Back then, I was pretty scared of coasters and would pretty much only ride Big Bad Wolf even though the second drop terrified me. This all changed in '97 when the park installed Alpengeist. For some reason, I was determined to ride it, no matter what. After being hesitant in line, I ended up getting on the ride and had one of those "come to God" moments. I got off and thought "THIS. IS. AMAZING." and became instantly hooked. From there, I started looking for bigger and better rides to get on.

 

The rest as they say, is history...

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I posted about this in the introductions thread, but I grew up spending summers in Wildwood, NJ and always rode any and all coasters (and most other flat rides, as a kid) that were there, and still do. I avoid most of the flat rides now as a few years ago I realized I can't do anything that spins anymore (Tea Cup rides, Tilt-A-Whirl, etc), it just doesnt agree with me. Have yet to trip a spinning mouse and have mixed feelings about the idea.

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It's kind of a long story because it was a bunch of things in perfect sequence that got me into roller coasters. From the beginning, I lived only 15 minutes away from Riverside Park (now Six Flags New England), and my parents would take me there frequently (but even when I was little I still managed to rack up a sizable kiddie coaster count). When I was about 5 years old, my mom noticed that I was taking up an interest in trains. On the Discovery Channel, they were showing episodes of Thrills, Chills, and Spills; and even though they weren't trains, my mom still thought I would be interested in them. At the time, I wasn't, but boy did she have a hunch!

 

Around the age of 6, I was mentally developed enough to gain an arbitrary fear of roller coasters, particularly the feeling in your gut going down a drop; so I wound up staying away from coasters for quite a while. Occasionally I would be goaded into riding a big roller coaster, but I wouldn't necessarily like it. Still, we kept making weekly trips to Riverside Park. It was usually just for the waterpark, but it kept roller coasters in my life.

 

At the age of 11, I was given RollerCoaster Tycoon; and it was non-stop fun of popping down pre-built coasters into my parks. Around the same time, my friends were beginning to brag about braving Superman: Ride of Steel. That was the first time I ever did research on a specific coaster, but I didn't really notice any of the statistics or that it was even the #1 steel coaster in the world; just that it looked big and scary.

 

My place as an enthusiast was sealed at the age of 12. My school was having its annual book fair; there were hundreds of books available for sale throughout the atrium of the building, and all I had was $6.00. That six bucks couldn't buy me over 90% of the books there, and most of the stuff I could buy was for children much younger than me. But then there was one particular book I saw; it was a book of mazes themed to roller coasters (this book). I was captivated by the coaster on the cover looking suspiciously like Mind Eraser, and my six dollars could afford it. I could have cared less about the actual mazes, I was amazed at how many different coasters there were in the world and how different each one was. On each page was the maze, a picture of the roller coaster, and a bunch of statistics. I remember seeing the top speed of Nitro, Desperado, and Son of Beast, the fastest coasters in the book, and wondered if Superman: Ride of Steel was anything like them. A few days later, I'm researching SFNE's rides. After that, I'm looking at rides around the world. Opening week at Six Flags that season, I took my first ride on Superman, and I was hooked.

 

A lot of our VHS recordings have been lost, taped over, or simply play like crap now, but that taping of Thrills, Chills, and Spills is the only one I put effort into taking care of. I don't know where that maze book went, but I'm very grateful that it was essentially the key to defining this hobby I hold very dearly.

 

EDIT: Almost forgot! K'Nex Screamin' Serpent roller coaster! It's a working roller coaster in your bedroom! What kid didn't want that?

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I pretty much liked them ever since my first visit to Kings Dominion and rode the Scooby Doo when I was around 3 or 4. As I got older (around 7-8) and could ride Rebel Yell and King Kobra, I was hooked. Those Discovery and Travel Channel roller coaster specials from the late 1990's reinforced the idea of roller coasters and theme parks as a hobby that I was interested in. However, I never started making specialized trips outside of my home parks until around 2006 (when I joined this site).

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My mom worked weekends, so my dad would take my brother and me to Silver Dollar City on Saturdays. When I was small, the park didn't have a true coaster at all, until Thunderation in 1993. I had never seen anything like it, but I had friends who had been to Six Flags Mid-America, and they were very excited, so I went with them. I was absolutely terrified. I came off the ride intending never to do that again, but they immediately got back in line, so I went with them. It was better the second time, and eventually I learned to love it.

 

So when my kids were old enough to enjoy it, we took them to SDC, and it's become their favourite place. It's such a special thing to see them having fun in the same way I used to with my dad. That feeling is indescribable, but it's gotten me hooked on theme parks again.

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My parents took my sister and I to Disneyland when I was not quite 5 years old. I don't remember much of the trip to be honest, but I remember Space Mountain vividly and being absolutely in love with it. To this day, it's still one of my favorite coasters.

 

My first upside down coaster was the Demon at California's Great America (Marriott's Great American then). My dad works for Bank of America, and every year they would have a Bank of America employees and families only day. I never had any fear really, and was hooked after the first ride.

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