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Road to 500

17 Jun

As a child I knew from the moment I buckled into Darien Lake’s “Viper” that I was born to ride. I spent my childhood playing Disney’s Coaster DOS game, drawing over 300 coasters during recess, and leafing through issues of Inside Track magazine. Later in life the passion stuck as I worked the rides as an employee of Martin’s Fantasy Island, and Cedar Point in addition to diminishing my college GPA by staying up all night designing theme parks in Roller Coaster Tycoon. When I was younger I dreamt of the day I would ride my 100th roller coaster, and while I pictured myself traveling the world  to accomplish this feat, I never imagined it would come to this… my 500th coaster.

Welcome to “500 Rides of Summer.” I could have knocked off a few extra credits in Japan and Taiwan, but I was holding out for that special ride, one worthy of number 500. While America offered a plethora of options to choose from, ultimately I chose a park that exudes ‘Americana,’ and represents what an amusement park should be. Consequently, Knoebel’s, in Elysburg, Pennsylvania, with probably the best long-standing reputation of operating a family-friendly park with appropriate pricing and dedication towards renewing, rescuing, and restoring classic rides and attractions, will be the site for my 500th coaster.


In 2004, I was fortunate enough to visit Knoebel’s , so I scooped up coaster credits on the late “Whirlwind” and “High Speed Thrill Coaster,” in addition to the currently operating “Phoenix” and “Twister,” which leaves me with four possible credits at Knoebel’s.


Black Diamond: indoor wooden/steel Philadelphia Toboggan Coaster creation

We’ll start with “Black Diamond” for #498, as it’s a nostalgic ride and one rescued from Dinosaur Beach, a defunct boardwalk park in New Jersey.


Impulse: 2015 Zierer’s vertical lift looper

For #499, “Impulse” fits in well as it’s a cutting edge creation at the tip of innovation.


Flying Turns: a 2013 in-house built wooden bobsled

But for the epic #500, I could think of no better  choice(Dollywood’s “Lightning Rod” was a close second) than the one-of-a-kind wooden bobsled coaster “Flying Turns.” It’s also significant because it took years of planning, frustration, and investment to finally produce this ‘iconic whirlwind of fun,’ which I rather arrogantly (please excuse the pride) associate with reaching #500.


Kozmo’s Kurves: 2009 Miler family coaster

Then the new era begins as all life should with childhood innocence as I take a joyful romp on “Kozmo’s Kurves,” permitting the friendly staff allows this 6′ foot 1 dangly dude to ride.

Thank you to Knoebel’s for hosting my special moment, and I look forward sharing snapshots and perhaps video, if Mr. GoPro and I may ride together, of the #500 ride and our overall park visit.

For perspective’s sake, there are dozens of coasterers who have ridden far more than 500 coasters, and they too should be celebrated. My 500th ride is not meant to serve as a bragging right but rather a testament to the passion our coastering community has for seeking out the next best thrill. Every single new ride should be commemorated and celebrated. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to #1,000, but I’m happy to know that I got here, and I’ll never stop riding! Special thanks to my beloved parents for always allowing me to hijack the family trip and steer us towards an amusement park, and to my soul-mate and wife Jaewon for traveling around the world and riding alongside me, and to all the fellow coasterers who I’ve met and renewed my vigor and passion for man-made slopes of fun!


Coastering in Hokkaido, Japan at Rusutsu Resort. #GoGoSneaker


400th Coaster Conquered!

28 Jun

It is with pure adrenaline that I announce that I have ridden my 400th roller coaster!

This week, 24 amazing students and a trusted friend/colleague invaded Singapore for an international academic competition. Of course, we just had to make a stop at Universal Studios Singapore. And then it happened…

On Saturday, June 28th at approximately 12:30pm (I’m totally guessing here)… a childhood dream became reality. I rode my 400th roller coaster! The Canopy Flyer, maybe not a coasterer’s first pick for such an honor, but it felt right. The Jurassic Park theme softly surged through my soul, legs dangling, and in the distance a new ride/coaster was mysteriously under construction. Just when the tears rolled out, the ride was over and I faced with a new challenge… time for 401!

Thank you Singapore for providing my 399th (Mummy), 400th (Canopy Flyer), and 401st (Enchanted Airways) coasters!




Roof Junior Coaster (#366)

29 May

Roof Junior Coaster (#366)

Enjoying E-DA World with my students!

CraveCoasters 2012 Review

31 Dec

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 36,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 8 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Rainbow Bandits: New Reoma World’s Hidden Gem

9 Dec

“We live in a rainbow of chaos.” – Paul Cezanne


Dolly Parton said “If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”  Though if you happen to be at New Reoma World,  that’s not the case as the park’s “rainbow” themed dark ride provides shelter from natural water bombing. While Japan is a stomping ground for coasterers, few make the trek down to Shikoku island, where New Reoma World and its four roller coasters remain hidden deep into the countryside of Kagawa prefecture.

“Rainbow Bandits” was a surprisingly funtastic attraction. The ride system was Peter Pan’s Flight meets hot air balloons set amidst a cute and corny Teddy Ruxpin and Rainbow Brite-esque universe. Granted the animatronics aren’t as “animated” as those with Disney’s signature, but the duration of the ride is filled with colorful, imaginative, and humorous scenes.

It’s no Phantom Theatre (King’s Island), but Rainbow Bandits has earned a spot in my dark ride top ten.

Special thanks to DreamUSJ for posting the on-ride video.

Photos are copyright 2012 Crave Cravak. Please do not copy, publish, or distribute without permission from

360 Degree Ride

19 Jul

Lady Bug Tamer

For my three hundred sixtieth coaster I decided to pull a 360 degree turn. While I visited Marineland in Niagara Falls, Canada for the first time in late May, I purposefully skipped their kiddie coaster. It was symbolic to hold off until the 360th spot became available. If my parents had taken me as a child to Marineland, chances are the Lady Bug Coaster, then called the Tivoli Coaster, would have been my first coaster. I desired to take this special ride back to my childhood. How fitting to hop aboard the Lady Bug Coaster for the first time at #360. I guess you can say I’m a romantic rider.

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Hot Off the Presses: AppleSeeds Features Amusement Parks

25 Jun

AppleSeeds magazine launches a thrilling issue this summer with “How the World Works: Amusement Parks.” While AppleSeeds is a social studies publication geared towards grades 3-5, this installment is the perfect read for coaster enthusiasts of all ages.

CraveCoasters’ own Stephen “Crave” Cravak had the honor of serving as the consulting editor ensuring each article accurately represented and portrayed the wonderful world of amusement parks.

Special thanks to AppleSeeds, editor Susan Buckley, and all of the writers, photographers and contributors for delivering a fresh, unique, and informative look into the amusement industry.

  Order a copy now!

Amusement Park Writing Prompts

25 Jun

For those who like to explore their artistic side, be sure to check out sister site CraveWriting’s “Amusement Madness,” a recent imagicise featuring amusement parks. Imagicise is a writing workout for the creative or not-so creative minded.

Hangover 3: Sea World Australia

24 Apr

Breaking into Mike Tyson’s estate stealing his tiger is perfectly fine because it was caught on film, for a fictional movie. It’s another matter when you pretend your Goldilocks with a video camera and break into a beloved Australian marine park to swim with the dolphins and snatch a fairy penguin from its rightful breeding grounds. Three British tourists, aged 18, 20, and 21 decided to add to the negative stereotype of UK travelers being rowdy drunks by breaking into Sea World theme park in Gold Coast, Australia. Thankfully, they posted their “Hangover” exploits on Facebook allowing police officials to track them down. As for Dirk, the kidnapped male penguin, he had quite an adventure after being dumped in a shark filled canal before locals discovered him on the shore. In the end, the dolphins probably aren’t scarred from the skinny dipping intruders, Dirk is back with his mate Peaches, and the three tourists are in the hands of justice. It’s a shame Aquaman doesn’t exist, or he would have surely kicked the pearls out of these hooligans.

For more on this story, read the following articles: Huff PostAOL Travel, and CBS News.
Special thanks to Screamscape for bringing this news to the coaster community. If you haven’t already, make sure to bookmark Screamscape, the best site for amusement park industry news, today!


24 Mar

“As men get older, the toys get more expensive.” – Marvin Davis

The creative geniuses over at CoasterDynamix are letting the public get their hands on some of their hot model coaster trains and tracks for a fraction of the cost. Visiting KickStarter and pledging to purchase an item helps the toy maker survive in this difficult economy. Without our support, we may lose the world’s finest coaster toy maker. I encourage all COASTERERS to back this company by pledging anywhere from $15 and beyond. Your kindness will be rewarded with some of their finest creations. Click here to get involved!

URGENT: You have only till Apr 10, 03:56pm EDT to back this project!

From the KickStarter site:

CoasterDynamix was started by two roller coaster enthusiasts (one of which actually designs real roller coasters!). The company has existed as an in-development side project for many years. Every dollar made has gone right back into the company to develop the system. We believe the product is finally perfect. In order to actually get a production run of these things, we need Kickstarter’s help!

 All of our models are interchangeable! Using our screw-together rigid track combined with our super-flexible ‘flex-track’, you can design a coaster of your own!

For a pledge of $15 or more, you get one of our cool Statix train models. For a pledge of Pledge of $35 or more you get the Sidewinder! For $75 or more you get the Dive Bomber! For $175 or more you get the Scorpion! For a pledge of $500 or more you get a very limited-edition, hand-build Comet!

If you REALLY like our stuff, and have $5000 to play with, we will personally work with you to design your very own working roller coaster model! This could be something REALLY cool for your entertainment room, or for your restaurant front window! You design it, we build it. Simple!

Overseas shipping will have to be a bit extra, usually $20-30 to Europe or Australia.