Thursday, June 11, 2009


The greatest moments of an Enthusiasts life are spent during limited-access exclusive coaster riding sessions known as "ERT" = Exclusive Ride Time. These are slots of time during coaster conventions and other special events (like Holiwood Nights) in which certain coaster are open only to Enthusiasts attending. Parks usually open their gates early or stay open a few hours late to allow Enthusiasts to get their fix by marathoning rides over and over again.

Enthusiasts attack ERT sessions like a pack of dogs on a three legged cat. Some take the time to set records for number of rides on a certain coaster. Others use the time to try try out all different seats on the train to analyze different air time moments. Others bring a stop watch to time and rate a park's crew on dispatch times.

Sometimes ERT backfires. If a park limits its ERT to only 1 or 2 coasters, the ERT-seeking enthusiasts fill up the queue, giving the rides hour+ waits. This entirely defeats the purpose of ERT, but they still love it! "Man, only an hour-and-a-half wait for Maggie...this ERT is a heck of a deal...much better than waiting only 25 minutes during operating hours!" At other times, a park will offer ERT before the gates open, but this requires Enthusiasts to wake up at 5:30 PM in order to guarantee a place in line. (For true Enthusiasts, this is no problem) However, just by labeling an event "ERT" Enthusiasts will flock to it. In fact, Cedar Point could offer ERT on Wildcat and Disaster Transport, and Enthusiasts would abandon all other coasters in the park just to take advantage of this ERT. "No, yall go ahead and hit up Maverick and Blue Streak, I can't miss this ERT opportunity! Just how many times can I handle DT in 2 hours!?!?!"

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


If there is any park that can rival Holiday World in universal Enthusiast acclaim, it is Knoebels. Located in rural Pennsylvania, Knoebels has been thrilling park goers for over 75 years. It is truly a gem of a park.

At a glance, Knoebels possesses all the necessary aspects to be a favorite among Enthusiasts:

It is family owned.
It has a vintage woodie with loads of air time.
It has classic carousels.
It has no admission fee.
It has free parking.
It has Flyers.

Knoebels can't go wrong! Again, a visit to Knoebels is the equivalent of the Hajj.

If you find yourself in a conversation with an Enthusiast, don't ever ask him how a park without a "bunch of metal loopy coasters" can be any good. You will be met with a glare of disgust and possibly rejected by the community. But if you need to redeem yourself, just ask him about snapping the Knoebels Flyers. Hopefully he will forget your ignorant comment and think of more happy things.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Despite being obsessed with roller coasters, there is one flat ride that continues to be a huge attraction for Enthusiasts - "Flyers."

"Flyers," (technically known as flying scooters) are a carnival style ride that consists of usually 8 "buckets" suspended by metal cables from a central spinning, motor-powered axis. The central spire spins, and the buckets swing out with centrifugal force, round and round, very similar to a yo-yo or wave swinger (AKA "swingy chairs" for the non enthusiasts.) However, Flyers feature additional fun! Each bucket, normally themed after a bird, features a movable swivel fin in the front. Each rider can steer this fin back and forth in order to catch wind resistance and change the aerodynamics of the bucket, enabling the bucket to dip, dive, speed up, and slow at the rider's whim. It is one of the few rides that truly allows the passenger to control his/her ride experience.

There are several obvious reasons why Enthusiasts love Flyers. First, they feature numerous moments of varied air time. Second, the buckets are large enough to seat riders of all sizes. And third, they are featured almost exclusively at locally owned parks and are rarities at corporate parks. All the necessary ingredients to whet an Enthusiast's appetite!

Enthusiasts absolutely love Flyers. In fact, if a park would offer ERT on its Flyers, the coasters may never even be touched, and Enthusiasts would rave about the opportunity to spend 3 hours riding Flyers over and over again. ERT on Flyers would become the most popular Enthusiast event in the world. (Is HW listening?) If Shapiro were to add Flyers to every Six Flags park, Enthusiasts would proclaim SF the greatest theme park chain in the universe.

However, just enjoying a simple ride on Flyers is not enough. To truly impress your Enthusiast friends, you must become a skilled pilot of the birds and accomplish the most revered and envied ability in all of the Enthusiast world - Snappage. Snappage, or snapping the Flyers, is the most incredible moment of an Enthusiast's life. They train for years and observe experts (I recommend studying under Chuck and Rob N - I have never seen better Flyers pilots in my life. They should be in the hall of fame.) to learn the deft skill. Yes, Snappage is better than sex. And considering many Enthusiasts, like myself, ride Flyers 3-4 times more frequently in a given year than hopping in the sack, this is not a surprise.

Unfortunately, most parks feature rules against Flyer snappage. They hang signs and provide vebral warnings on the rides that snapping will result in a removal in from the ride. Ironically, Enthusiasts ignore this park rule. Enthusiasts will rant and complain all day along about line-skipping, smoking, dress codes, and puncutation on message boards, but when it comes to breaking the snapping rules, they typically let it slide. Apparently Enthusiasts only like to enforce park rules that they agree with.

I must add that I am extremely proud that Flying Scooters are manufactured in my mother's home town of Plainview, Texas by Larson International.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Air Time

Steel or wood, short or all, new or vintage - it does not matter the class of coaster, it can only be tops on an Enthusiast's list if it contains massive amounts of one thing - airtime.

Enthusiasts crave air time on a coaster. This is what they live for. In fact, if you could put air time in a syringe or in powder form, there would be a serious drug problem in the Enthusiast community.

Enthusiasts go so far as to categorize their air time - floater air and ejector air. They even keep a close tally of a coaster's air time "moments."

To make a good impression on an Enthusiast, and to make him/her feel smart, ask them to explain how different seats on a train offer different air time effects. You can mention laterals and Gs, but these coaster elements pale in comparison to air time and won't get you a guaranteed invitation to be their guest at the next coaster convention. You may then ask how a coaster that is over 300 feet tall, tops 90 mph, and covers over a mile of track is no good. The answer won't surprise you. "It has no air time."

Friday, June 5, 2009

Knowing People in the Industry

As in all elite cliques of society, name dropping is vital in determining ranking order among members. Enthusiasts often compete in a who-knows-who at their conventions and on their message boards (future post).

It is very common to read an Enthusiast's bragging about his personal tour of SFKK* with Jay Thomas, riding The Voyage with Jeff from GCII*, or having dinner with "the guys" from the gravity group. Only the elite of elite get to eat dinner with Gravity Group Engineers at Holiwood Nights. (Try to be seen with them.)

An often humorous display at Holiwood Nights is listening to Enthusiasts try to strike up conversations with park managers Pat Koch or Paula. These two ladies, along with most staffers at HW*, are tremendously friendly ladies who truly care for their guests. Everyone has a story about seeing Pat clean up trash or talking with park goers. However, most Enthusiasts like to think that they are unique from other Enthusiasts, and will seek out one of these two ladies at HWN to say, "Voyage was a little rough at the crest of the second hill...are yall aware of that?" or "Thanks for the splendid time Paula, we are always treated so well here." While these seem like innocent conversations, most Enthusiasts will make sure there are others around so that they can be seen and heard speaking to Holiday World royalty.

Both ladies, being the friendly people that they are, will smile and talk briefly, all while acting like they remember a guy's screen name from the URC. The Enthusiasts will leave the conversation triumphant not only that he got to speak with these icons, but he was seen and heard doing so. He will feel even more impressed since Pat remembered his name from last year's HWN, forgetting that he is wearing a name tag.

So, if you have friend in the coaster industry, or if you worked for a park and can name some mid-level park managers, use this to your advantage to get in tight with the eilite Enthusiast community.

On a final note, once an Enthusiast realizes he cannot be Robb Alvey when he grows up, he dreams of one day becoming Sparky.

*SFKK = Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom
*GCII = Great Coasters International Incorporated
*Holiday World

Robb Alvey

Robb Alvey lives the life that all coaster Enthusiasts dream of. He spends his time travelling the globe riding coasters (with special POV* video permission), interviewing park authorities, runs an amazing coaster website, and has a hot wife. Most Enthusiasts wish they could be him.

If, by any chance, you can join the TPR* group on a coaster voyage to Asia, consider yourself an elite of the Enthusiast world.

*Like all exclusive cliques, the Enthusiast community possess its lengthy list of buzz words, lingo, and Acronyms. It is vital that you memorize these in order to fit in.
POV = point of view
TPR = Theme Park Review

More linguistic lessons the alliteration?

Holiday World

No other park receives universal Enthusiast acclaim like Holiday World. They can't get enough of it! If you perchance to overhear enthusiasts raving over Holiday World, you're sure to hear them mention free drinks, free sunscreen, excellent affordable food, the Koch family, and three of the best woodies in the USA. And they love the water park. Somehow, despite having only 3 "adult" coasters and a few flats, Holiday World is their favorite park.

If you want to reach the upper echelons of the Enthusiast community, make the annual Hajj to Holiwood Nights coaster convention. While maybe not their biggest, it is their most important social event of the year. It is similar to African wedding bazaars, as many Enthusiasts find mates, hook up, or even get married!

If you find yourself in a conversation with an Enthusiast about Holiday World, do not ever mention that the park is low on flat rides, can be enjoyed in less than two hours, or that Raven is over-rated. This will insight a long rant about "quality over quantity" and "family parks over corporates," and you don't have time for this. Plus, you may be rejected by the Enthusiast community.