Amazing Amusement Park Stories Book Review + Giveaway
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.