Engineer and Skyline Attractions co-founder Chris Gray made good on his childhood dream of crafting thrill rides.
Schoolyard rush. Gray cobbled together his first thrill rides in grade school. He and his friends “would take old lawnmowers, put seats on them, and push each other over hills to re-create the feeling of being at a theme park.” He was always dreaming about new rides and sketching ideas in his school notebooks.
A redemption song. For years, his parents didn’t believe he had a real job. Gray comes from a blue-collar family. “The whole idea of building rides was a fake dream to them—something they couldn’t quite grasp.” Until he invited them to the commissioning of his new ride at Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s theme park, located three hours from their home in Kentucky. When they witnessed their son working hard, like a NASA crew member running safety checks before a launch, something clicked with them. “They were both crying. That moment validated all those years of me being a poor, crazy kid from Kentucky who just wanted to entertain millions of people.”