Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Roller Coaster Enthusiast Ethnography

  1. #1

    Roller Coaster Enthusiast Ethnography

    Hello everyone,

    I am in need of primary research participants for my ethnography about roller coaster enthusiasts. I am interested in group culture, traditions, language, lore, etc. Basically, i would like to start a conversation about what it means to be a roller coaster enthusiast.

    I think this thread may provide a fun place to share stories and discuss what being a coaster enthusiast is all about. Feel free to contact me if you would like to take part in an interview by email, a face to face interview if you live near Fort Wayne, or if you would be willing to chat at Carowinds opening day. Otherwise, post your thoughts here and we can get the conversation started!

    If we could have a face to face interview I think I would start the questioning off with generics, like favorite coasters, ride counts, etc. Feel free to share those things with me. But, I want to start this conversation with a broader topic of inquiry. Do you identify with the term ‘roller coaster enthusiast?’ How does the enthusiast’s experience differ from that of the ‘average’ amusement park patron? Are there traditions? Are there different ways of behaving? What is your definition of a ‘roller coaster enthusiast?’

    Feel free to answer these questions in any way that you choose. Answer one, answer all, or share something else entirely. I promise that the questioning will become more focused in the future as my topic narrows. Right now I’m just trying to get the coaster rolling, so to speak. I anticipate that this experience will be a lot of fun for everyone. Thanks for helping out!

  2. #2
    Website Admin Katie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Madison, Ohio
    Posts
    5,117
    This sounds like a great project!

    I think a coaster enthusiast is just what it says. It's someone who is enthusiastic about roller coasters. Whether its how the feel while riding, how the rides work (a lot of us are nerds like that), the adrenaline rush you get while riding, or just getting away from life for awhile. It could be anyone of those factors or all of them combined.

    I know for me, its really getting away from life and stress. I can take one ride on my favorite coaster The Voyage and all of my stress from the last 6 months just melts away. That's all it takes is one ride. While riding I forget about everything else except for having fun!

    It doesn't matter about counts for me, or the mechanics of a ride or where it is, it's just having fun with life-long friends and getting away from life for a day or a few hours. That's all that matters to me.

    Please feel free to private message me on here, I would be glad to help you with your interview.
    ~Website Admin and Staff Director~

    Favorites: Amusement Park: Holiday World | Wooden Roller Coaster: Voyage | Steel Roller Coaster: Intimidator 305

  3. #3
    Corkscrew Poster Daniel Barto's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN
    Posts
    558
    Here's my rundown

    For me being an enthusiast stated when my dad passed away. It was 3 dreadful days after my father breathed his last breath and escaped the chains that bound him here to Earth, I decided I wanted to go to a place where I could forget what kind of hell I just lived through; I chose to go to Dollywood (to make things worse, it was my birthday). I was forced (yes I used to be a coaster-phobe [I'd pass out at the thought of roller coasters]) onto Tennessee Tornado and I just fell in love with them. Ever since then I go to many amusement parks mostly (like Katie said) to escape the hell that is our world today. All it takes is one ride.

    favorite coasters
    1- Thunderhead (Dollywood)
    2- Intimidator 305 (Kings Dominion)
    3- El Toro (Six Flags Great Adventure)
    4- Dominator (Kings Dominion)
    5- Goliath (Six Flags Over Georgia)
    6- Mind Bender (Six Flags Over Georgia)
    7- Nitro (Six Flags Great Adventure)
    8- Storm Runner (Hersheypark)
    9- Wild One (Six Flags America)
    10- Bizarro (Six Flags New England)

    ride counts
    70

    Do you identify with the term ‘roller coaster enthusiast?’
    Yes, by my definition I am a coaster enthusiast. I love ridding roller coasters.

    How does the enthusiast’s experience differ from that of the ‘average’ amusement park patron?
    Depends on the day. If I'm at an enthusiast event, we get ERT (exclusive ride time) and special treatment by the park. If it's a normal day, there isn't much difference. Like the GP we blend (for the most part) into the crowd and enjoy our day at the park.

    Are there traditions?
    Yes. For example when you first go to Cedar Point you get "baptized" in Lake Erie.

    Are there different ways of behaving?
    Not really. We follow all the park rules and such that every guest has to follow. There is one fringe group (who shall not be named) that just doesn't care about the rules. Their leader was almost kicked out of ACE (American Coaster Enthusiasts) for illegally filming on roller coasters.


    I hope that helped

    Let it shine, let it shine
    On and on, on and on, come to life

    David Crowder*Band: Give Us Rest (A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys])
    Favorites: Amusement Park: Dollywood | Wooden Roller Coaster: 1-Thunderhead, 2-El Toro, 3-Wild One (SFA) | Steel Roller Coaster: 1-Intimidator 305, 2- Maverick, 3-Goliath (SFOG)

  4. #4
    Blast Off! rjholla2003's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Somerset, New Jersey, United States
    Posts
    1,933
    This is a pretty interesting topic. Good luck on the project! As for myself, I think that I'm a slight bit of an oddball. I don't keep a coaster count, and I don't have a desire to join a "formal" group. I'm not a well-traveled coaster enthusiast either, mostly due to lack-of-funds. Hopefully the new job changes that.

    Like Katie, that first ride is magic for me. My coaster-drug of choice is El Toro for that first ride of the season. As soon as I hit that first drop and get that first taste of airtime...every ounce of stress I have built up over the off-season is instantly lifted and I am truly rejuvenated. It's amazing.
    I've been real all my life, they confuse it with conceit
    Since I will not lose, they try to help him cheat
    But I will not lose, for even in defeat
    There's a valuable lesson learned, so it evens it up for me
    Favorites: Amusement Park: Universal Studios Hollywood | Wooden Roller Coaster: El Toro | Steel Roller Coaster: Nitro

  5. #5
    Editor Leo C's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    West Jersey
    Posts
    16,690
    Drug of choice El Toro is a great description. I think of being screaming rockstar with the first drop right down through the valley.
    ThrillNetwork Editor - Originally: CHILLERLC1
    2001 - 10 Years of ThrillNetwork - 2011
    Expedition GeForce Helix Phoenix Colossos Flug der Damonen Ravine Flyer II Dragon Khan Afterburn RoarOSaurus
    Favorites: Amusement Park: Each park in my area has its own vibe but SFGADV is my proud home park and favorite. | Wooden Roller Coaster: El Toro, Phoenix | Steel Roller Coaster: NITRO, Bizarro SFNE, Kumba, Mindbender

  6. #6
    The original Maverick since 99 CP Maverick's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    East of Cleveland, OH
    Posts
    1,255
    I've always considered myself more connoisseur of roller coasters, than an enthusiast of them. I enjoy the rides, but I don't make it a point to seek them out regularly. What interests me more are the technical, physical, fundamental, and dynamic characteristics of the rides. Not only "how they work" but what the "ride experience" is and how it is enjoyable.

    I'd be glad to answer questions that fit my style more than the enthusiast one, though.

    As for what you suggested...

    Do you identify with the term ‘roller coaster enthusiast?’
    I do not consider myself one, but I consider several friends of that category.

    How does the enthusiast’s experience differ from that of the ‘average’ amusement park patron?
    They have a tendency to look down on patrons that are ignorant about the ride designers and technical specifications. They like to criticize more than they enjoy. (This statement is made with no intent of offense, but with observation of the "group" I have experienced.)

    Are there traditions? Are there different ways of behaving?
    They typically try for the front or back seats. They will ride horrible rides for the "credit." They will probably be very active on amusement park and industry websites.

    What is your definition of a ‘roller coaster enthusiast?’
    Someone who has a mild addiction to the adrenaline boost given to them by riding certain rides. If the ride fails to give them the "adrenalin shot" they will deem it as a lesser ride and consider it's worth to be very diminished. However, there are enthusiasts that act like Academy Award critics, and if a ride does not match a ride from pre-1950 they will deem is as "boring" because they cannot truly appreciate the advancing technology to the point of enjoying the ride experience.
    Holy CoW! - another NoLimits project

    RIP Geauga Lake 1888-2007
    F CF
    Favorites: Amusement Park: Cedar Point | Wooden Roller Coaster: Beast (Kings Island) | Steel Roller Coaster: Millennium Force (Cedar Point)

  7. #7
    Heartline Poster Rick B's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    1,100
    Many years ago, I started out as an amusement park enthusiast, going to Cedar Point, Geauga Lake, and county fairs every year. Rather than escaping from the past, the sounds, smells and visuals take me back to early days and bring a big desire to share that experience with future generations.

    I have always loved the thrill of a roller coaster, and as I've gotten older with vertigo setting in, roller coasters are my primary form of pleasure in a park. It wasn't until a few years ago that I realized that there were actual enthusiast clubs dedicated to roller coasters, so I joined one that is primarily made up of professionals respected by the amusement park industry.

    In my heart, I am a true enthusiast, with the desire to try out as many roller coasters as I can. Sure I keep track of credits, but it's less about the credit and more about the experience and thrill of all these different layouts and styles. Every single coaster has a personality of its own. My biggest wish is that I wish I could ride each coaster that I meet numerous times to appreciate its true beauty.

    Some days, I wish to not be known as a coaster enthusiast. From the condescending attitude towards the general public, to cutting down parks, or tearing apart a coaster because a trim brake was added, or even demanding that a coaster be torn down because it's not pleasing to them, continues to bother me.

    As far as how a true coaster enthusiast's mind works, they appreciate each coaster as a work or art and how it brings to life the laws of physics. They are fascinated by the steps involved in designing and building a coaster to make it thrilling, yet safe for the average person to ride, and just as fascinated with how it all comes together for the final ride experience. In my travels I continue to find true enthusiasts who love to ride and make new friends.

    My primary goal as both an amusement park enthusiast and a roller coaster enthusiast is to spread a positive image for the coaster enthusiast community and separate myself from the negativity. Every park and coaster deserves to have its story told honestly and respectfully. Life itself is a roller coaster, so jump in, buckle up, and enjoy the ride!

    You are welcome to PM or email me if you like.
    205 coasters and counting...
    Travel Blog | Twitter | Facebook
    Favorites: Amusement Park: All of them | Wooden Roller Coaster: El Toro | Steel Roller Coaster: Intimidator

  8. #8
    Spiderman steel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Iowa
    Posts
    2,831
    Quote Originally Posted by rjholla2003 View Post
    This is a pretty interesting topic. Good luck on the project! As for myself, I think that I'm a slight bit of an oddball. I don't keep a coaster count, and I don't have a desire to join a "formal" group. I'm not a well-traveled coaster enthusiast either, mostly due to lack-of-funds.
    That's funny, that really makes you less of an oddball than the rest of us.

    One thing I've always thought is really cool about the enthusiast community is how well-represented just about every area of society is. There are pastors and teachers and telemarketers and CEOs and Oscar winners and musicians, there are young families and elderly couples, there are students of every age, there are gay and straight enthusiasts, Democrats and Republicans, all kinds of different religions and ethnicities and races, people with disabilites and handicaps, and everyone in between. Having fun for fun's sake is the great equalizer. We all want the release that roller coasters give us. It really is a kind of drug.

  9. #9
    The original Maverick since 99 CP Maverick's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    East of Cleveland, OH
    Posts
    1,255
    Quote Originally Posted by steel View Post
    [...] It really is a kind of drug.
    It very much is like a drug...
    What is your definition of a ‘roller coaster enthusiast?’
    Someone who has a mild addiction to the adrenaline boost given to them by riding certain rides
    Holy CoW! - another NoLimits project

    RIP Geauga Lake 1888-2007
    F CF
    Favorites: Amusement Park: Cedar Point | Wooden Roller Coaster: Beast (Kings Island) | Steel Roller Coaster: Millennium Force (Cedar Point)

  10. #10
    Corkscrew Poster Daniel Barto's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN
    Posts
    558
    Quote Originally Posted by steel View Post
    Having fun for fun's sake is the great equalizer
    No truer words have ever been spoken (about coasters anyways)
    Let it shine, let it shine
    On and on, on and on, come to life

    David Crowder*Band: Give Us Rest (A Requiem Mass in C [The Happiest of All Keys])
    Favorites: Amusement Park: Dollywood | Wooden Roller Coaster: 1-Thunderhead, 2-El Toro, 3-Wild One (SFA) | Steel Roller Coaster: 1-Intimidator 305, 2- Maverick, 3-Goliath (SFOG)

  11. #11
    Hello everyone,

    I want to extend a big thank you to everyone helping out with my research. Each week I will ask new questions and I encourage any and all to take part. Feel free to jump right into the conversation.

    I have learned that there is a distinction to be made between “roller coaster enthusiast” and “amusement park enthusiast.” One common theme, so far, is that the overall amusement park “experience” is dear to everyone, whether it be roller coasters, flats, shows, food, or just the general aesthetic of the parks themselves.

    Please share how the fascination came to be. In other words, I’m interested in what it is about amusement parks and roller coasters that fascinates. Do you have any memories from going to parks when you were young that might contribute to your appreciation of certain aspects today? What is your ideal ‘day at the park?’ If you could share your experience with future generations, what would you want them to experience?

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •