My journey through life as an enthusiast.

Monday, August 22, 2011 2:14 PM

Let me begin by saying that I realize this is probably something that would be better placed in a blog. But, I do not have a blog and am not sure who would read it even if I did.

I’ve been going to amusement park and riding rollercoasters for as long as I can remember. I have a picture of myself on the Little Dipper at Memphis Kiddie park when I was 3 years old. Since the early 80’s, my family would go to Geauga Lake about once a year. Back then, all they had was Corkscrew, Double Loop and Big Dipper. To me, that was awesome. Once I was old enough, I would run from coaster to coaster and try to get as many rides on each of them as I could. My dad and sister (3-1/2 years younger) didn’t like the coasters as much as my mom and I.

As I got older, my mom decided I was getting old enough to start taking me to Cedar Point. I don’t remember exactly when it was. Though, it was in the early 90’s. I remember standing in line for Magnum and saying I didn’t want to ride it. Staring up at that 200’ lift hill scared me to death. My mom kept egging me on and said I should try it. I was sure glad she did, it was awesome. From then on, I never hesitated getting on coasters. It was so cool showing up year after year and seeing the changes to the parks. A new ride here or a new show there. Coming once a year and not even knowing what the park added until I got there. I don’t really remember seeing commercials for new rides. I didn’t watch much TV as a kid.

Even as I got old enough to drive myself to the park, my friends and I would go a couple times a year and love every minute of it. Never caring (too much) about a long line or how much food or admission was.

When I first found out about Virtual Midway and Guide to the Point, it was probably right after Millennium Force opened. I maybe went on once or twice a month. To this day I couldn’t tell you if there were forums on either site as I didn’t even know that kind of thing existed in the coaster community yet. After the 2 merged and became PointBuzz I was enamored with the volume of information and how much every body knew about everything. Year after year, I became more and more knowledgeable about Cedar Point and other parks around the country.

In 2003, my buddy and I planned a trip around the country hitting many Cedar Fair and Six Flags parks. This was when I think I first began to become a bit jaded about parks. Park after park had a handful of coasters ranging from poor to awesome. After 12 days and hitting nearly 100 new coasters, I was exhausted. I don’t think I wend to a park for a month after that. Slowly, my interest came back and the years rolled on.

Shortly thereafter my buddy got married and I was doing trips on my own. Every year I would do a small trip going to different parts of the country and trying out different coasters. The Cre-Ho in me had emerged. After a few years later I realized that going to parks on my own just wasn’t fun anymore. I decided to join ACE and my enthusiasm was rekindled. Finally a group of people who all enjoyed doing the same thing I do. As I met more and more enthusiasts, I even got past the point of just wanting to ride coasters. My interest in dark rides, large flat rides and shows grew.

Year after year, the internet community seemed to be finding out about things sooner and sooner. Between blogs, webcams, and off season photo shoots, less and less was becoming a mystery. I began feeling like I already knew the rides before they even opened. Initially this was exciting. Now, I long for the surprise I had as a kid showing up to the park for my one visit a year.

If this is where it ended, I think I would be able to deal with it and move on.

Unfortunately, in a world where seemingly everyone access to the internet at their fingertips, I am noticing that I’m not the only one. Group “A” complains that every new ride isn’t a coaster, or the coaster they want. Group “B” complains that too much charm has been removed from the park. Group “C” is constantly complaining about prices of this or that. And everything else between. I can’t remember the last time a park made an announcement and you didn’t have half the people complaining that the park wasn’t satisfying their every desire. Obviously there are people happy with what is being installed. But, the complaints seem to overpower the compliments.

I used to read and comment on nearly all the threads on a regular basis. I wanted to know what was going on here or there and what everyone thought about this or that. Now, more often than not, I find myself avoiding topics because I know they will be filled with negativity. I doubt there is a solution to this and have come to accept it. But, I almost feel it’s time to regress to the point where I don’t read any of it anymore and just show up to the park and be surprised like I was when I was a kid. That being said, my curiosity will probably always get the better of me. I will continue to read the forums, albeit less than before. Even if I didn’t read the threads, I’d still hear the complaining from friends and other enthusiasts.

If you actually read this, thank you for listening. I've been wanting to talk about this for quite a while now.

Monday, August 22, 2011 3:14 PM

I posted this verbatim on my blog about 6 weeks ago (link) :

I’ve been a coaster dork for about a decade now. Actually, more of an amusement park dork. Coasters are just one part of the equation for me and I can visit a park, not ride a thing and have a blast.

I don’t take coasters too seriously. A lot of the dork community does though – to the point where it’s a turn off. Seems like the more ‘passionate’ someone is about roller coasters, the more time they spend complaining – this ride has the wrong restraint system or too many brakes or it used to be great and the park ruined it or the third screw on the back seat of the fifth car was turned a half-turn too tight. It really gets that silly. Like people get emotional over it. For real.

All I’ve learned over the past 10 years is that the more of an ‘enthusiast’ you supposedly are, the more it seems like something coming out of your mouth on the subject is going to be a complaint. Makes me wonder why people spend so much time and money on a hobby they seem to hate so much.

Be a coaster dork, not a coaster tool. I mean the whole scene is full of social misfits as it is, don’t make it any worse for us. I don’t mind that as a whole you’re overwhelmingly gay, fat, cheap and ugly. Just quit ****ing complaining so much about things that matter so little – even in the context of a hobby that’s ridiculous to begin with.

I’ve been lucky to find a social circle within the hobby that keeps it reasonable. Thanks guys (you know who you are) for not being one of them (they probably don’t know who they are) – and a few of them do play in the backyard. Which is why I get annoyed that I occasionally overhear their stupidity.

(On a side note, I wonder how many of these people have ever ridden a wagon down a hill in the woods, because based on the complaints, that’s apparently the ‘purist’ ride they’re after.)

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Monday, August 22, 2011 3:14 PM
Monday, August 22, 2011 3:15 PM

Gonch nails it.

I like coaster-related articles, new-coaster announcement/construction/first-ride threads, and trip reports. I like getting geeky and talking tech specs. That's what's fun for me, so those are the threads I seek out.

That said, the nature of amusement park forums (including the Buzz) means that that's not all that's out there. I for one cannot flipping stand threads about industry politics. They might be important to the direction of the parks I like to attend, but quite frankly, I don't give a damn if there's conflict in [large park chain X] upper management, if quarterly earnings were up or down, or if a buyout is looming that might change... a few signs at [amusement park Y]. There are plenty of days where I look at the recent forum topics and go, "meh, not today", and I'm totally fine with that. "Nature of the beast" and so on.

With any hobby, there are going to be parts that you like, and parts that you don't. Why focus on the latter? All that'll accomplish is to turn your fun hobby into a grating, time-sucking, blood-pressure-raising chore.

Focus on the good parts and suddenly you'll find that not only are you having more fun, but you'll remember why you decided to call yourself an enthusiast in the first place.

Last edited by BBSpeed26, Monday, August 22, 2011 3:20 PM
Monday, August 22, 2011 3:47 PM

So does that mean you're a coaster enthusiast enthusiast and you're so snobby about your coaster enthusiasts that all you do is complain about them?

Monday, August 22, 2011 4:08 PM

Yo dawg, I herd you like enthusiasts, so we put an enthusiast in yo enthusiast so you can complain while you complain.

Monday, August 22, 2011 4:13 PM

An enthusiast... within an enthusiast? What is this? Inception?

Monday, August 22, 2011 4:14 PM

^^That one made my head hurt a bit.

What Gonch said is a lot of what I have been feeling/noticing lately.

Last edited by Jason Hammond, Monday, August 22, 2011 4:14 PM
Monday, August 22, 2011 4:22 PM

Sorry, here's the reference.

Monday, August 22, 2011 4:34 PM

I knew what you mean, Vater.

Monday, August 22, 2011 4:39 PM

Oh, I see. I guess I don't frequent mainstream forums & blogs. :)

So if your a Magic Mountain fan, you could just copy the second one word for word.

"Yo dawg, I herd you like X, so I put an X in your X so you can X while you X." ;)

Monday, August 22, 2011 5:01 PM

I wish I could upvote or like that or do something to acknowledge my appreciation for knocking that meme out of the park on your first try without actually having to type out a whole post. Wait. Crap.

Last edited by BBSpeed26, Monday, August 22, 2011 5:02 PM
Monday, August 22, 2011 5:18 PM

Jason Hammond said:
Oh, I see. I guess I don't frequent mainstream forums & blogs. :)

You're such a hipster, Jason. :)

Monday, August 22, 2011 6:01 PM

More like a hipster doofus.

Monday, August 22, 2011 7:54 PM

Hipstfus, for short.

Monday, August 22, 2011 8:27 PM

I am totally still enjoying this coaster enthusiast thing. Maybe some of you guys should do like me and only visit a few parks a year. Maybe that's the cure for the coaster enthusiast blues.

Monday, August 22, 2011 8:33 PM

Oh, I still like the coasters and parks. I generally get annoyed by the people I have to associate with to fully enjoy them (present company excluded, of course). ;)

Monday, August 22, 2011 8:33 PM

Well, I agree with many of the sentiments offered here. For me, it's not about the way I experience the parks. It's the way I experience other enthusiasts and enthusiastic discussions.

Monday, August 22, 2011 8:34 PM

As usual Carrie said it better than me. Same idea - different level of eloquency.

Monday, August 22, 2011 8:40 PM

For me, it's all about how big your track record is and your knowledge of how many anti-rollback notches there are on each lift hill. That is how you get the hot, loose, women.

You can't get any more eloquent than that.


Monday, August 22, 2011 8:43 PM

I may be eloquent, but Gonch, you are still more nurturing. I didn't exclude present company. ;)


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