Coasters and Social Media: An Interview with Thrills United
Social Media in the modern era can produce a variety of things, and unfortunately, much of that content can be negative. However, every once in a while, the various platforms can produce some wholesome content that reminds us why we keep logging on day after day. Thrills United is one of those channels. Basing its fundamental beliefs on being “United in friendship, United against bullying, and United in our desire to live exciting, fulfilling lives,” the multi-platform outlet is headed by teenager Logan Joiner, previously known for the Koaster Kids organization. We had the opportunity to talk to Logan about Thrills United, and his thoughts and impact on social media.
Hi Logan, and thanks for talking with us! Can you talk a little bit about who you are and what Thrills United is for anyone who may not be familiar?
My name is Logan Joiner. I’m 14 years old and a freshman in high school. I started riding roller coasters when I was 8 years old. I started a YouTube channel called “Koaster Kids” when I was 9 years old. In October, I launched a new channel called “Thrills United.”
What inspired you to get involved in the coaster enthusiast community, and what made you choose YouTube as your platform?
Like a lot of coaster enthusiasts, I was OBSESSED with coasters as a kid. I started watching POV videos on YouTube when I was 6 or 7 years old, and I started memorizing coaster stats like height, speed, track length, and manufacturer. I did that for years before I got the courage to actually start riding coasters. After I started riding, YouTube was the natural place for me to share my experiences.
Photo credit: @bkphotopage on Instagram
Thrills United is a fairly new stage for you, with your previous channel being Koaster Kids. Can you talk a little about that and what these new changes mean?
I never intended for this to happen, but something special grew out of Koaster Kids – a passionate community of people, in countries all around the world. Hundreds of people have told me that when they started watching my videos, they said, “That kid and his friends are just like me!” They identify with us. That’s why so many of them are proud to wear Koaster Kids merch to their local parks. I want Thrills United to build on that. There are LOTS of channels focused on riding, rating, and ranking roller coasters. With Thrills United, my friends and I will still be riding lots of coasters, but also featuring other thrilling experiences, like bungee jumping, skydiving, and rafting. We want to celebrate living life to the fullest, and show how fun and rewarding it can be to do that with your friends. That’s the “united” part of Thrills United.
Koaster Kids appealed mostly to, fittingly, kids. Did you still have young enthusiasts in mind when you decided to make the change to Thrills United?
As I’m sure you know, YouTube doesn’t want anyone making videos for children anymore, and they are punishing the people who do. Thrills United content is intended for teenagers and adults.
What does it mean to you to be a part of the online coaster community? What sort of connections have you been able to make?
All of my friends are either people I met at an amusement park and got to know on social media, or people I got to know on social media and then met at a park. All of them. So, the online coaster community has meant a tremendous amount to me.
Enthusiasts from (left to right) Virginia, Western Canada, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Scotland
What about the theme parks appeals to you the most, and what first interested you about the industry?
When I was younger, it was all about the coasters. Coasters were my passion and my obsession. I’ve ridden over 500 different coasters in 8 counties. As I’ve matured, my passion has shifted from just coasters to spending time riding with my friends. I still love coasters and parks, but what makes them special to me now is the opportunity to create memories with friends with common interests. Coasters are awesome, but riding with friends is SOOO much more fun.
Your work is inspirational to a lot of people, is there a specific experience that has been especially impactful to you?
My goal was never to inspire anyone. But it makes me happy and proud that some people have said that what I do inspires them. I have had to overcome a lot of challenges in my life, and I love helping and encouraging other people to do the same thing. One experience that was very impactful was getting to meet and know a kid from Chicago named Tyler. We met at Knoebels in Pennsylvania. He is on the Autism Spectrum, and he wanted to ride coasters SO bad, but he was terrified. I had the opportunity to help him face and conquer those fears, and he has ridden over 100 coasters since, and we’ve become good friends! Now he goes to Six Flags Great America and helps other kids overcome their fears!
How has social media helped in creating these special experiences?
I do a LOT of meetups when I travel and go to parks. I love meeting people around the world who like and relate to what I do. Social media is what allows that to happen. There is no way I could do what I do without using Instagram and Facebook to connect with people. I also use social media to feature people I meet at parks or who represent Koaster Kids or Thrills United by wearing merch to their local park. It makes them feel special and feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. Making them feel special and included makes me very happy.
Thrills United is also active on Instagram. How is Instagram different from YouTube and what is different about the community it creates?
Instagram is much more interactive. People can connect with me and other people like themselves. I feel like Koaster Kids went from a YouTube channel to a community of like-minded people. I don’t think that could have happened without Instagram. In some cities, Instagram has helped groups of people who watch my videos to connect with each other, and now they all go to their home park together, even when I’m not there! There are a lot of lonely coaster enthusiasts out there, and if we can help connect them with each other, then that is a beautiful thing!
Photo credit: @bkphotopage on Instagram
Koaster Kids has almost 30,000 subscribers on YouTube, and Thrills United is already at over 2,000. Did you start the channel with this kind of growth in mind? And how has your content changed with the growth of the channel?
I’ve never cared about the number of subscribers. The YouTubers I know who are obsessed with number of subscribers or views or likes are never happy because they always want more. I’ve never had a goal for subscribers. My goal is to make content that people enjoy and find valuable. The number of subscribers is just proof that I’m doing something right.
What can young enthusiasts, or enthusiasts in general, who have a passion for coasters themselves do to stand out in the crowded social media space of today?
Be original and don’t be toxic. Don’t copy Taylor or Harry or Peter or Shawn. Just be you. If you make content about what you are passionate about, people who are passionate about the same things will find you.
What are your goals for Thrills United going forward? How can social media help with those goals?
I want the community of people who enjoy our videos to continue to grow. I’m hoping Thrills United appeals to lots of different types of people, not just coaster enthusiasts. Maybe we can expose some of the General Public to the amazing world of roller coasters! And I hope to show coaster enthusiasts that there are lots of other thrilling things to try too. And really, I hope people see that there is nothing more thrilling and rewarding than building great relationships with great friends. That’s really what it’s all about for me.
Is there anything else you’d like to discuss that we didn’t talk about? Where can readers find you on social media and online?
I’d like to thank everyone who watches and supports what I do. I also want to give a shoutout and a huge thank you to all of the Thrills United Regional Representatives across America and around the world. It’s a team of 24 AMAZING people who film videos in their local markets and contribute to the channel. These guys are awesome, and they are all more knowledgeable and talented than I am. I am very thankful for each of them. You can find us at www.thrillsunited.com or on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat @thrillsunited. Or, just search YouTube for Thrills United! Thanks!
Thanks again to Logan for his time and for allowing us to talk to him about a wide range of theme park topics. You can find Thrills United on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at the links above.