Amazing Amusement Park Stories Book Review + Giveaway

Review of Amazing Amusement Park Stories book by Nathanial Tolle.

Roller coasters are often the main draw at an amusement park. Others may visit for the experience, the ambiance, water rides or even the carousel.

But when I think back on my years of coaster riding, some of the most memorable moments I can recall weren’t the rides themselves (except maybe my first nighttime ride on the Beast).

Many of my favorite memories involve the people at the park: riding alongside a friend on his first coaster ride, overhearing bizarre conversations while waiting in line and getting an impromptu backstage tour with my fellow Expedition Everest riders during an e-stop (emergency stop) evacuation are just a few examples.

Yes, sometimes people are what make the experience. And in Nathaniel Tolle’s new Amazing Amusement Park Stories book, he relays the heartwarming, bizarre, outlandish and even terrifying stories, nearly all of which involve people — the rider, the park guest, the onlooker. (Keep reading, as we’re giving away a copy of the book!)

Amazing Amusement Park Stories is divided into four sections, each representing a different kind of story: the heart-warmer, the head-scratcher, the soul-sucker and the gut-buster. Nathaniel spent a considerable amount of time researching these stories, many of which you can’t unearth with a simple Google search. Think amusement park journalism on steroids — he even reached out to the people of some of these stories for their comments and perspective.Review of Amazing Amusement Park Stories book by Nathanial Tolle.

While most of the stories you read will be new to you, there are some timeless classics that have transcended generations of coaster enthusiasts (or at least computers).

For instance, who could forget walking caricature Fabio’s mid-air collision with a goose while riding Apollo’s Chariot at Busch Gardens Williamsburg? But in the book, you’ll be treated to a more in-depth look at the story — beyond the iconic, meme-worthy photo of the Italian model’s bloody face.

A few of the stories in the “heart-warmers” section nearly brought a tear to my eye: a mother coming home from war to be reunited with her children onstage at a Six Flags St. Louis show. Other stories cover the reincarnation of the oldest wooden coaster in the United States, a creative wedding proposal, a wedding ceremony, acts of kindness and general fuzzy-feeling tales.

Some of the stories that follow are morbid and shocking. Reading about the Six Flags Great Adventure haunted-house fire that left eight dead sent chills down my spine.

Review of Amazing Amusement Park Stories book by Nathanial Tolle.

You’ll find that for as bright and cheerful as amusement parks seem to be (except for the Halloween season), they hold some surprisingly dark tales. We’re talking ghosts, hauntings and more. The top-five spookiest abandoned amusement parks list led me on a Googling frenzy, searching for photos of each of the parks mentioned.

Review of Amazing Amusement Park Stories book by Nathanial Tolle.  Review of Amazing Amusement Park Stories book by Nathanial Tolle.

You’ll read about the bizarre: take Six Flags’ Pac-Man phase in the early 1980s and the slightly (very) creepy Pac-Man mascots that roamed the parks.

The book is perfect for reading in short bursts, thanks to a variety of short stories and top-five lists (i.e. the top-five most outlandish amusement park records). But the book features just as many multi-page reads like the making of the rogue Disney-World-inspired Escape from Tomorrow film.

While it is a great pick-up read, if you’re like me, you may be unable to put the book down once you start reading — the end of each story left me wanting to read the next.

Nathaniel Tolle author of Amazing Amusement Park Stories book

Author Nathaniel Tolle

Even the non-coaster enthusiasts will enjoy reading the mosaic of stories. No coaster-nerd knowledge of the amusement industry required.

Amazing Amusement Park Stories is available on Amazon for $14.95 (as of this posting). Get it now — you won’t be disappointed.

Author Nathaniel Tolle graduated from Webster University with a degree in film studies. He published his first book, Pumpkin Cinema: The Best Movies for Halloween, in 2014. He resides in Portland, Oregon, and works for the Laika film studio.

Amazing Amusement Park Stories Giveaway

Nathaniel has kindly provided us with a copy of the book to give away. To enter for a chance to win a copy of Amazing Amusement Park Stories, share in the comments section below a memorable, bizarre, heartwarming, scary or memorable experience you’ve had at an amusement park. Please keep it clean!

Update: Congratulations to Luke O. for winning the giveaway!

Nathaniel will handpick a winner. Enter by this Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. Share now in the comments section! We look forward to reading your stories.

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5 Responses

  1. Rocco Casella says:

    When I was young (8) I used to lie to my mother that I was going to the public pool all day on my pass. But instead, I would ride my bike past the pool, through the woods, cross a highway, to go to Kiddieland (Which closed in 2009) for the day and ride all day by myself. Can’t do that today. People would call police if they saw a kid that young alone in a park or crossing a highway.

  2. Eric Freed says:

    Having grown up riding roller coasters, beginning with the Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens, I was anxious to share this love with anyone and everyone. My wife hated them, though she put up with my love and accompanied me to every park I wanted to visit. Our daughter was born in 2003, and I was excited that I might one day be able to ride coasters with her. Our lives were shattered when my wife suddenly passed away when our daughter was 5 months old. When my daughter was 4, I took her on her first real coaster, the Vapor Trail at Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA. She fell in love with it, and wanted to ride any roller coaster she could. We would excitedly check her height to see which coasters she was tall enough to ride each season. She’s now 12, and we travel all over the country to ride roller coasters, tallying well over 100 different coasters that we’ve ridden together. With season tickets this year to Six Flags and to Seaworld/Busch Gardens, we’ll continue to ride new and old coasters anywhere we can find them. Our favorite coaster is the Millennium Force at Cedar Point. Our favorite wooden coaster is the Voyage, at Holiday World. Our favorite “destination” coaster is the Cyclone at Coney Island in New York. And the Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens easily remains our most-ridden coaster.

  3. cynthia says:

    When I was 14 years old, my parents and I went to Germany and were visiting a very small amusement park, called Skyline Park. My father and I went on the Ferris wheel with hanging cars that was about 132 feet high. We were sitting for about a minute, when all of a sudden my father reached out and grabbed the middle (and only) pillar from where the hanging car was attached on. He looked nervously and grabbed my arm with his other hand. I asked him what was going on, but he was only mumbling something. I looked around and to my surprise I saw that the whole car was hanging askew and that some bolts and screws came loose. I heard strange sounds and also saw that a couple of other cars were missing!
    When the ride had finished, the employee asked if we wanted to take another ride, because we were about the only ones in the park. We didn’t know how fast we had to get off. We haven’t ridden a Ferris wheel ever since!

  4. Luke Otten says:

    When I ride roller coasters hats are just attracted to me. Last year at Six Flags Over Georgia I was riding back row of Cyclone and a kid in the seat in front of me was wearing a knit hat. About half way through the ride it flew off his head and right into my face where I was able to grab it. After we entered the break run I was able to return the hat to a smiling face, happy to get the hat back. Then this summer while riding back row of Raging Bull at Six Flags Great America a man’s baseball cap from in front of me flew off right before the MCBR. When it happened I was looking around and did not see it coming. The next thing I know a corner of the bill of the hat hit my forehead. It hurt quite a bit. For the rest of the day I had a pretty nice mark from it. I can’t wait for next season to see what will hit me!

  5. joey says:

    It was a hot day… Well, for England. And I was sat on the rocks across from Tidal Wave’s splash zone at Thorpe Park, catching the light mist from a distance. A family stand talking, their toddler wobbling around like toddlers do as it walks freely… Heading straight for the splash zone. What I didn’t expect was the force of the wave to knock the child over and as the water cleared, the child lay face down on the ground. It raised it’s head in a moment in confusion, before bursting into tears, a family member running to collect it.

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