by Andrew Rybarczyk
Four years ago I started on a journey that would take me places I could never have imagined. Today as I write this, a major goal of the journey stands completed. But instead of jumping to the end, let's start at the beginning. Four years ago, I sat in a hotel room with my wife in Springfield, MO. She was on a business trip and I was tagging along. We had a lot of downtime and so it was decided that we would take a trip to Worlds of Fun and spend the day there. Now I had been to multiple major theme parks growing up such as both Busch Gardens, Great America, Disney, and of course Cedar Point. I enjoyed theme parks but I was of the mindset that Cedar Point was the best, so why devote time to going anywhere else. Something changed though at Worlds of Fun and idea dawned on me. Experiencing the rides at Worlds of Fun especially Prowler opened my eyes to the fact that maybe it was worth attending other parks to experience a different set of coasters. It also so happened that a family trip had already been scheduled for Kings Island which gave me an opportunity to experience even more variety. A this point another idea dawned on me. Why not begin counting the rides I've been on? And so the coaster quest began.
My goal at the quest was never to achieve a certain number or to be in competition with others. Sorry to say it, but just because you've ridden more rides does not make your opinion better than someone who's ridden fewer. It's funny that many of the rides I loved even before I started the quest still remain high on my favorites rankings. Granted many new rides have populated that list but still the old favorites remain. Another observation I have made is that the more I ride, the more I understand what I like. For instance, this summer solidified my opinion that I am not a wooden coaster fan. Sorry, but steel is my ride of choice and woodies that ride like steel are my favorite wooden coasters. This quest has also opened my eyes to parks that I would probably never have attended. Two that stand out are Six Flags Fiesta Texas, which may have some of the greatest backdrops of any amusement park in the world and Hersheypark that really took me by surprise because of its layout, rides and architecture.
Another important aspect to the quest was the gaining of new friends. I can say with certainty that if that decision to go to Worlds of Fun was not made, I would not be writing this today. I have made so many new friends through both COASTER-net, Coasting for Kids, and attending club events. I've also grown a lot closer to my sister who has become my ride warrior partner for long trips. Camaraderie makes riding coasters so much more fun. Obviously attending parks with friends and family is the best, but having the ability to discuss and debate can be just as fun.
Down below this article, you'll find a vlog that I created that chronicled my #299 and #300 roller coasters. Some of you may be surprised at my choice of #300 but I think the story contained within will clear some of that up. I could sit here and list everyone that helped make this personal achievement a possibility but it would be too long. Instead I'd just like to thank everyone who has ever attended a park with me, ridden a coaster with me or even listened to my endless coaster talk. It's because of you that this was made possible. Now on to #300...