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The Year of 100 Roller Coasters Part 1: Slow Starts with Big Plans

Explorer C
I was 19 years old when I rode my 100th roller coaster. It was the now-defunct Big Dipper at Geauga Lake in Aurora, Ohio, just under an hour east of Cleveland. 

It was a huge milestone for me, cementing my passion for thrill rides that grew out of a deathly fear of them that plagued me for most of my life. It was only a few years earlier when I fully conquered that fear, but hitting the triple digits with my track record (read: the list of different roller coasters I’ve ridden) was pretty awesome in its own right.

With that in mind, I decided to use the incredible flight benefits SWA provides us and repeat what took me 19 years in a scant 12 months. I decided to set a goal of riding 100 different roller coasters by the time the ball drops to bring in 2013.

So how have I done so far? I am sitting at a whopping–get this–19. Yep. The year is halfway over, and I’m sitting at the big one-nine.  It’s … uh … been kind of a slow start.

I started off at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure back in January, having darted off to LAX after my first week of Leadership Southwest Style. I got to experience Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain, two classic rides that help define Disneyland and serve as definitive Disney attractions. On top of that, though, I got to ride California Screamin’ and Goofy’s Sky School at Disney California Adventure, adding four new rides to my track record and experiencing the place where the Disney magic began. 
Roller Coasters
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad coming out of the tunnel
Just over a month later, though, came one of those can’t-miss opportunities. I’m not sure if you all remember those commercials about One More Disney Day, but both Disneyland in Anaheim and the Magic Kingdom in Orlando were going to stay open for 24 hours straight to celebrate the leap year, opening at 0600 on February 29 and closing at 0600 on March 1. Now, what kind of amusement park fan would I be if I did not take advantage of such a wonderful opportunity?

As my commemorative T-shirt states, “I took the leap and didn’t sleep.” My cousin, her husband, and I wound up hitting all four parks in Disney World within those 24 hours—my cousin and I even made it through without an ounce of sleep. I rode four of Walt Disney World’s roller coasters during that visit, grabbing rides on the Orlando versions of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain, but also taking a spin on Expedition: Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and one of my all-time favorite roller coasters anywhere, the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (Aerosmith blasting in my ears while riding an epic roller coaster is one of life’s simple joys). 
Roller Coasters
Cinderella's Castle at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Many months later, and truly on a coaster kick after entirely too much neglect of my hobby, I was able to visit a park that was home to many of my fear-conquering triumphs: the sweetest place on Earth, Hersheypark. For those wondering where to fly for a visit to Hershey, it is just under two hours north of BWI and slightly farther from PHL. I skipped on the chocolate this go-round, but I did ride eight of the park’s roller coasters, including such greats as the wooden Lightning Racer, the convoluted Fahrenheit, the hydraulically-launched Storm Runner, and the park’s new-for-2012, oh-my-goodness-that-much-airtime-should-be-illegal SkyRush. 
Roller Coasters
SkyRush whipping through an overbanked turn
Just seven days later, though, came my most recent excursion. As a number of parks I plan on visiting this year are part of the Six Flags chain, I decided to get a season pass, as each park’s season pass gets one entry to all parks in the chain. Since I started with Southwest, I’ve actually picked up my season pass at five different parks over the years simply because I’d often get to one out of state first instead of the one closest to me. This time, it would be Six Flags New England, just a short 15 minutes from BDL, that would be the first park in the chain I’d visit.

I confess, however, that I did not really go for the gold in terms of riding everything. I only had a limited amount of time, and the park’s signature coaster, Bizarro, was just too amazing for me to pry myself off of it and go ride other things. I rode the Gotham City Gauntlet: Escape from Arkham Asylum (as it was a new ride for me, taking my overall count to 237 different coasters) and Batman-The Ride as I’d discovered that hitting 100 coasters might be more difficult than I thought without getting a few extras, but Bizarro was the main reason I’d picked the park, and it was just too good. 
Roller Coasters
Bizarro screaming into its second tunnel
So with that, I’ve grabbed laps on 19 different roller coasters thus far, but for me, the year is still young. At the end of August, I’ll check back in with you to tell you more tales of nonrev adventures and amazing roller coasters, as well as an update on how close I am to making 2012 the year of 100 roller coasters. Also, in October, we’ll see if I successfully pulled it off, and I may just reveal my all-time favorites to you.
1 Comment
Explorer C
Time to Fly to CLE or CAK and go to Cedar Point. You could get 16 Coasters in 1 day than go to PIT and Kennywood, then stop off in Kings Island.. That would help ket close to 100 in one weekend!!