Dear Coaster Friends,
Are there certain obligations that come along with being an enthusiast? Are we defined by our enthusiasm, or is there a certain set of unwritten rules we must adhere to? The most contentious of these self imposed rules often deals with coasters, as you would expect. What counts as a coaster gets a surprisingly wide variety of responses. I think that is a condition of thinking about roller coasters and being an enthusiast. That variety is almost expected with so many peoples’ varied experiences. The desire to collect “credits” or build your “track record” is usually the catalyst for this conversation, but what if you feel the opposite?
I do want to build my experience, and with that comes a larger list of credits. However I am into having a nice day at the parks, and I don’t want to subject myself to something I feel will take away from the day. We are all friends, and I don’t want to upset you if you feel the exact opposite of me; I assume it is your version of fun. So here it is my confession, I skip credits. Not because the lines are long, or I didn’t have time; I just skip credits because I don’t want to spend my time riding a coaster I don’t think will be fun for me.
I was discussing going to new parks with some friends, and I realized there were some fundamental differences in how we looked at tackling a new park. Just as a background, I count racers as one if they have the same or mirror image layout. I make exceptions for rides like Lightning Racer at Hersheypark since I feel like they are two similar layouts that have distinct differences. The roller coaster that got the reaction was Racer at Kennywood, a park I plan on visiting this year. My friend told me to make sure I ride both sides, or it only counts as half since it is a mobius loop. My first reaction was to laugh and joke around, but then he kept saying you don’t want to have a half credit. My feeling was if I want to re-ride, then I probably would want to try both rides to see if one is smoother or if there was some reason to have a preference. Riding two identical tracks for some sort of obligation due to its unusual quality of it being a mobius loop seemed like a satisfaction of a requirement and not amusement. If you count racers as two, then riding each side is part of the fun, but as a requirement it takes something away from it to me.
A different conversation with another enthusiast - we were again talking about taking on a brand new park, but in the context that not every new ride is a new experience. I do like good rides that are clones, and there are others that are not really my favorite. The friend was advising me to run to a boomerang as my first stop in a new park since the capacity on any shuttle style ride is poor. I have been on a good handful of boomerangs, but they are not really something I look forward to. Think of some of the places you have visited, go ahead I’ll wait… Now think of your favorite ride: would you take an extra lap on it, something you enjoy, or are you jumping on a boomerang to get one more number? The same could be said of many familiar models. I am not sticking my nose up at clones, just ones that I already know I don’t enjoy. To me right now in my journeys I feel that a boomerang isn’t something I ride as much as something I endure, there are other rides I put in the same category. Not wild mouses, they are obviously a blast from the past that will not fade away. However, even though I do enjoy a wild mouse, if I have traveled to a place I may not revisit for many years should I ride a wild mouse to get a credit, or should I ride the unique experiences that I took the trouble to travel for?
There is another category of rides I feel needs to be addressed. I know I am going to sound like Sam I Am in Green Eggs and Ham, but what if I just know I’m not going to like it? There are rides that have reputations, both good and bad. Sometimes curiosity is just going to override my best judgement, but other times I get the vibe that a ride is pure pain. Old Arrows are major conflict for me. For so much of my childhood, those trains and tracks are what a thrilling roller coaster looked like. I want to have that nostalgic experience however I don’t want a headache that is going to ruin the rest of my day. So try them, try them, I may. Try them, try them the thoosies say. Stand-Up roller coasters are beyond not my favorite; the worst boomerangs are better than the best Stand-Ups to me. So I would not, could not with a fox; I would not, should not; my head will box. Then there are the poorly maintained wooden coasters, I have yet to refuse a new wooden coaster. There are a few I wish I never rode, so should I be treating them like the aged steel coasters? I would not, should not with a moose; I could not should not knock my fillings loose.
So, am I a bad enthusiast? Am I purposely diluting my experience? Part of the desire to travel and visit new parks is to have a broader view and be able to talk about this hobby with others who share my enthusiasm even if they don’t share my opinion. I also want to talk about things I have some knowledge of, and have a shared base of comparison. I want that experience to be positive, especially the first time or possibly the only time I visit a park. Feel like giving me an earful of how wrong I am? Send your rebuttal to firstname.lastname@example.org