Holiday Gift Guide for Coaster Enthusiasts 2020
If you’re in search of a gift for a roller coaster enthusiast this holiday season, we’ve got you covered. We’ve been publishing our annual gift guide since 2011, and our 2020 roller coaster enthusiast gift guide features a diverse selection of gift ideas that will please any lover of roller coasters and theme parks. 2020 has been a roller coaster of a year, so not only is it a time to buy gifts for family or friends but you can support your local parks too.
Of course, you can’t go wrong with buying a season pass for your coaster enthusiast’s local amusement park, zoo or aquarium (assuming they’ll be open in 2021). But if you want something to wrap, see the list below for our suggestions. And please feel free to recommend additional ideas in the comments section below. We’d love to include it on the list. Although I think this is our longest gift guide list yet!
As in previous years, we’ve organized our gift ideas into several categories of roller coaster books, games, toys, and more. Remember that prices and availability are subject to change.
We’re biased, but we think our 2021 Roller Coaster Calendar is the perfect gift for any thrill seeker. The photographs featured were taken by members of the Coaster101 team. And best of all, we’re donating 100% of the net proceeds to Give Kids The World Village in Florida.
Each calendar costs only $15 and includes free shipping in the United States!
Edit: Calendars are sold out, and we made a $1,700 donation to Give Kids The World!
Check out Coaster101 writer and talented photographer Larry Treece’s Etsy store for some amazing photographic prints of your favorite coasters:
Non-fiction Theme Park Books
Images of Modern America: Libertyland is a chronological look at the theme park’s life, from blueprints to its razing and beyond. Photographs were gathered from former park employees, guests, historians, Memphis-area libraries, and the Shelby County Archives. Born and raised in Memphis, Coaster101 creator and author John R. Stevenson V rode his first roller coaster at Libertyland and considers his childhood days spent at the park unforgettable. This book is not only a tribute to Libertyland’s legacy, but also a history lesson for generations of Memphians to come.
Coasters 101: An Engineer’s Guide to Roller Coaster Design by Nick Weisenberger will show you how roller coaster designers spend hundreds of hours creating, tweaking, and re-imagining ride paths to push the exhilaration envelope while carefully maintaining the highest safety standards. Features design example problems real roller coaster engineers face in the field today as well as career advice for any aspiring roller coaster engineers.
Theme Park Design by Steve Alcorn. Take a peek behind the scenes, with a theme park engineer – a must read for all aspiring theme park designers! For more information read our review and interview features with Steve.
Creating My Own Nemesis by John Wardley. The story follows John’s professional career beginning with how he got out of the boring family business and into the crazy world of theme parks. If by any degree you’re into magic, illusions, theater production, theme park design, or roller coasters I highly recommend you read this thoroughly entertaining book. Read our full review here.
Theme Park Design and the Art of Themed Entertainment is the most thorough book on theme park design available. David Younger’s book is literally a textbook on every single aspect of theme parks you could think of, with quotes from real designers with priceless knowledge. Reading Theme Park Design is like taking a college course on the subject, and your professors are Walt Disney Imagineers. Click here for my full Theme Park Design book review.
“Walt Disney World Hacks” book by Susan Veness is divided into easy-to-navigate, smartly organized chapters including the money-saving “Disney For Less,” foodie-friendly “Eating Around the World” and parent-approved “Disney With Kids.”
Earlier this year I read John Hildebtandt’s fantastic book, Always Cedar Point: A Memoir of the Midway. As John himself says, his book is not a history of Cedar Point nor a corporate history of the park, but rather his personal experiences from his 40 years of service from 1974 through 2014. As general manager, John oversaw every aspect of Cedar Point, and he gives insight into all of them in his book. From design and building new rides, to trying to figure out what variables contributed to attendance the most, Always Cedar Point opened my eyes to aspects of running an amusement park I had never thought of before.
Rolling Through the Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the most detailed Cedar Point book yet written.
Adventures in Amity: Tales From The Jaws Ride is a must read for anyone who wants to work in the amusement industry. It’s a great look into the engineering and operation of one of the most epic rides ever built – and they actually had to build the ride twice.
In the recently released 3rd edition of The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World by Susan Veness, you’ll find more than 600 secrets and fascinating tidbits about Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom.
Fiction Theme Park Books
If The Princess Rolls Her Eyes, Your Wish Will Come True – If you’re following Fake Theme Park on social media (which you should be because it’s hilarious) then there is no reason to read this book. However, if you’re brand new and want a quick recap and a good laugh then check this out.
Earlier we posted a fictional interview with the main character from Serpentine, a thrilling book by Peter Parkin and Alison Darby. As you might expect in a fictional story about a roller coaster – the Blank Mamba crashes in a horrible accident. Just like the coaster, the story takes a couple of crazy turns: it goes from media day for a super-sized roller coaster, to a crazy terrorist/government conspiracy theory.
Nowhere in the world is there a more bizarre theme park than Happy Fun Land and it’s mind blowing attractions: a drop ride with no brakes and a death simulator, just to name a few. Will the human test dummy survive his hilarious adventure through the world’s craziest theme park?
Official Park Shops
Roller Coaster Toys and Models
CDX Blocks Cyclone Roller Coaster is a block based roller coaster construction toy. It will be the first commercially available kit that combines the versatility of the world’s leading building block system with the realism and excitement of the CoasterDynamix track system. The result is an amazing roller coaster model that is easy to build and fun to customize, not to mention relatively affordable too. Join multiple sets together to make larger, more elaborate custom designs. So no, it’s not made by LEGO but is fully compatible with LEGO blocks, and maybe that’s a good thing because the coaster system itself is much better designed than any official LEGO coasters that have been released. Get your own CDX Cyclone coaster here.
For more Lego set ideas read our list of Top Ten LEGO sets for roller coaster fans.
Tech, Gadgets, and More
3D Printer – Why might a 3D printer be on our list you might be asking yourself. So you can design, print, build, and operate your very own mini roller coaster of course! Check out our feature with Matt how he recreated Invertigo at Kings Island by using 3D printers.
Theme Park Apparel
Pursuit of Thrills Layout Series are original minimalist-style print designs of 8 different coaster layouts (Steel Vengeance, Fury 325, Maverick, MF, The Beast, Mystic Timbers, Diamondback, and Lightning Rod) and are printed on 18″x24″ thick paper stock with a unique smooth velvet finish. The prints have tons of depth and are unmatched in terms of print quality and finishing. Layout prints are sold individually or you can purchase park sets.
NoLimits2 is the ultimate roller coaster simulation game that lets you experience authentic roller coaster thrills. Focusing on realism and speed, NoLimits lets you ride real existing coasters, or build rollercoasters to your own specifications. Even real roller coaster design firms use this software to make quick concepts before diving into all the engineering.
Finally, RCT fans can experience all the fun from the original RollerCoaster Tycoon and RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 games with a new incarnation that combines the best elements of both classic titles! RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic theme park sim came out on mobile and tablet devices back in December 2016 and was a massive hit. Now, RCTC is available on desktop PCs as well as MAC computers. No, this is not the terrible, micro-transaction riddled mobile game RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile, nor the poorly reviewed PC game RollerCoaster Tycoon World. This is RollerCoaster Tycoon and RollerCoaster Tycoon 2, aka the fan favorite Chris Sawyer originals, rolled into one masterful game. Get it from Steam for $19.99 – totally worth it.
Planet Coaster has brought the roller coaster and theme park simulator genre roaring back to life. The game has received rave reviews, and was made by the developers of Roller Coaster Tycoon 3. Like RCT3, Planet Coaster allows players to design and manage their dream theme park, as well as ride their roller coaster creations — and share them with other players. Expansions packs are now available as well. Planet Coaster (Console/PC/Mac)
Star Wars: Tales From the Galaxy’s Edge is a new virtual reality game for the Oculus Quest, and features a series of adventures set in Batuu, the setting for Disney’s Galaxy’s Edge theme park lands. You’ll start in the cantina, and after getting missions from the bartender, you’ll embark in an immersive action/adventure game that allows you to virtually step foot into Black Spire Outpost and fight alongside C3PO, R2D2, and many brand new characters, as well as play an all-new game set in the High Republic, which features Yoda. This is a must-have for any Star Wars and Disney Parks fan, and offers a way to be present in Batuu, even when it is more difficult than ever to travel there in person.
What gifts are you getting your coaster enthusiast friends? Which coaster gifts are you hoping to find under the tree this year? Know of any good Black Friday or Holiday sales? Discuss in the comments section below, and feel free to recommend additional gift ideas!