Over the years I’ve attempted to explain my healthy obsession with theme parks and roller coasters to almost everyone that I know. The conversations always begin by me telling them that it’s really just like any other hobby (albeit an expensive one), and they tend to nod their heads in agreement. Though, the part that always shocks them is when I say I’ve ridden over 100 roller coasters. Obviously this isn’t a crazy amount compared to others in the coaster community, but to anyone outside of the community it seems insane. I constantly get asked why/how I count coasters, and those questions are usually accompanied by a look of disbelief or confusion. The more I get asked these questions, the more I reflect on them myself…
Why do we count roller coasters? Is it worth it? Is it dumb?
I think the initial answer I would give is no, it’s not dumb. People have all sorts of different hobbies and can do whatever they please with them. I mean, a spreadsheet full of 1000+ roller coasters including over 100 Wacky Worms and Miner Mikes isn’t that different from collecting trading cards or playing Fantasy sports….right?
Anyways, even if counting coasters isn’t dumb, I think there’s much more of a debate of whether it’s worth it or not. Again, my initial answer is a positive one: it’s worth it if you enjoy doing it. That goes for most hobbies.
However, lately I’ve been considering if counting coasters is truly “enjoyable” for me. Like I said, I’m currently sitting at 100+ coasters (119 to be exact), and that already feels like a lot to keep track of.
My trip to Six Flags Over Texas in March definitely contributed to this internal debate, as I found myself skipping certain coasters at the park despite not having the credits for them. I usually miss a couple coasters at each theme park I go to, but this time I chose to not ride the park’s S&S 4D Free-Fly (Joker) or their Batman: The Ride clone. I had my reasons for this, as I wanted to get more rides on the wonderful New Texas Giant, but I definitely didn’t have to skip them if I didn’t want to.
Besides getting more rides on New Texas Giant, what else did I have to gain by skipping these two coasters? Well, I’ve already ridden a 4D Free-Fly and two Batman clones before, so I didn’t really feel the need to have the same experience again. The more theme parks I visit, the more I crave unique and memorable experiences. I mean, why ride a roller coaster I could ride at my home park when I could ride a fantastic RMC at a park far from home?
I’m also not just a coaster enthusiast, but a theme park enthusiast as well. In fact, I prefer enjoying the overall theme park experience as opposed to just riding some roller coasters and leaving. As much as I love the adrenaline of thrill rides, I’d much prefer to hop on a highly immersive dark ride like Rise of the Resistance and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Even at Six Flags Over Texas, which doesn’t have theming on the levels of Disney or Universal, I found myself wanting to just walk around and absorb the park’s atmosphere instead of going immediately from coaster to coaster. If there was a non-coaster attraction that interested me, I did it. I went up the Oil Derrick observation tower, and I rode the Justice League dark ride. Those things sounded more interesting to me than a Batman clone.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, after 5 years of being a hardcore coaster enthusiast, I think slowing it down a bit is a nice change of pace. I’ll definitely continue to keep a coaster count, but I only really want to ride unique roller coasters that I’ve never been on before. I’m not chomping at the bit to ride my fourth Vekoma Boomerang. The next time I go to a park that has one, I’ll probably skip it…unless it’s elaborately themed or something…
But should everyone stop counting coasters and focus more on the entire theme park experience? No. Of course not. Like I said, if you enjoy doing it, by all means you should continue to do so! I’m just going to approach this hobby from a different angle for a while. If it sounds interesting to you, then try it for yourself! Choose to focus more on the whole experience and less on riding as many coasters as possible, even if you miss some credits. It doesn’t make you any less of an enthusiast.
After all, what matters is we all love theme parks!
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