Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

Training Session

I don’t know about you, but I’m now fully recovered from the holidays and especially, from the recent IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando. It was bigger and better than ever, and it offered a chance to catch up with 20,000 of my closest friends. I look forward to meeting many of the other 22,000 who were there next year.

Have you noticed? We have a new editor with this issue, Becci Knowles. Presumably she is Beyoncé Knowles smarter sister. Becci was there in Orlando; I hope you had a chance to meet her.

It’s my firm belief that if you’re going to write about this industry you should ride. Ride everything you can, visit as many parks as you can. That’s why, when Becci arrived in Orlando, we set off to ride. First we went up I-Drive to the site of the world’s tallest StarFlyer. We had to ride that, I explained. She wasn’t so sure. It was tall. But Becci and I got on. Here’s the picture to prove it. In case you’re confused, that’s Becci on the right. But Becci’s shoes did not get on, not sure why. Shoes would enjoy riding the StarFlyer, too. With shoes on the ground we were lifted to the top with Becci’s eyes closed. As we began to spin she opened her eyes. Amazing view. She loved the ride. That was easy. Then we went next door to ride the giant wheel, Icon Orlando 360. Not much of a challenge. Fully enclosed and slow moving, riding it was cake.

Next stop was John Arie’s Fun Spot Orlando, home to three roller coasters. We rode Freedom Flyer, the park’s Vekoma Suspended Family Coaster, which Becci enjoyed. Then moved to the more challenging White Lightning, GCI’s wonderful woodie. Front seat. No problem, Becci was on a roll. Now it was time for her ride of passage, the 250 foot (76 m) tall SkyCoaster. She was a little intimidated. Maybe a lot intimidated.

“If you’re going to write, you need to ride,” I reminded her, so she agreed. I assured her she will survive, everyone does, and enjoy the experience. We got on, with shoes, in the Superman position and were pulled up, up, up. Anticipation builds as you go higher. So does anxiety. From below they called out, “three, two, one, fly.” We released into a wild free fall and she yelled something I’ll never forget but can’t print here. Then she began to laugh. She loved it. I knew she would. She now understands why people love amusement parks, and why thrill rides rule. You will find she is a fine writer.

Next year I hope to take her to one or more of Orlando’s theme parks, where we will experience a variety of attractions. But I’m confident she now understands the appeal of thrill rides and will happily step up whenever the opportunity exists. If you’re going to edit this magazine you need to ride. And be able to punctuate. And spell. And not go barefoot.

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