Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Coaster Enthusiasts 2021
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 2021 roller coaster enthusiast gift guide features a diverse selection of gift ideas that will please any lover of roller coasters and theme parks. 2021 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. 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 2022 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. Get your 2022 Coaster101 calendar here and support a good cause!
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.
There are history books about many theme parks out there, but for some reason, there were none written about Kings Island. This was realized by Kings Island merchandise associate and high school student Evan Ponstingle when park guests asked if there were any books about the history of Kings Island. He decided to change that. Kings Island: A Ride Through Time is a must-read for any Kings Island fans.
Rolling Through the Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the most detailed Cedar Point book yet written.
Making Thorpe Park: The Complete Unofficial Story of the Theme Park dives into the history of one of the UK’s largest and most popular theme parks. Written by lifelong Thorpe Park fan Chris Atkinson, the book explores the humble beginnings of the park, details its history and covers all of the park’s rides and attractions — past, present and future.
Imagineering an American Dreamscape by Barry R. Hill provides an incredible history of the regional theme park in America. This is the defacto theme park book I recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about (non-Disney) theme park history.
If you want to read up on one of America’s most “dangerous” amusement parks, look no further than Action Park: Fast Times, Wild Rides, and the Untold Story of America’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park.
The brand new Walt Disney World Encyclopedia, Volume 1: Magic Kingdom offers over 400 entries encompassing all 50+ years of Magic Kingdom attractions, shops, restaurants and more. It’s a perfect read for Magic Kingdom veterans and newcomers alike.
Fictional 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.
You Must Be This Tall to Exit The Park – Jason Ginsburg’s second FakeThemePark book delves deeper into the craziness of the world’s most unusual (and yet familiar) park. From Halloween to trained animals to disorientating cast member orientation, “You Must Be This Tall to Exit the Park” cleverly satirizes everything you love and hate about theme parks.
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
You want the gear without making the trip? Head to the official park store for drinkware, apparel, accessories, and more!
- Cedar Point
- Kings Island
- Knott’s Berry Farm
- SeaWorld/Busch Gardens Parks
- Universal Orlando
- Disney Parks
- Indiana Beach
Roller Coaster Toys and Models
Currently, there’s no better place online for roller coaster toys and models than our good friends CoasterDynamix. Not only do they have the traditional nano-coasters that we’ve come to know and love, but have expanded into wooden “Coaster Cutout” models as well.
CoasterDynamix also has created a “roller coaster” building sets that are LEGO-compatible, known as CDX Blocks. As of this writing, only the Little Dipper set is available on their site, but be sure to look elsewhere! We highly recommend the Sidewinder model.
Maybe a little out of date now, but if you’re a found building blocks check out our list of the Top Ten LEGO sets for roller coaster fans.
Want even more LEGO roller coasters? Theme Park Lego MOCs (My Own Creation) are becoming very popular. On Etsy you can find numerous designs of roller coaster cars. Bricks usually aren’t included, just the instructions.
After LEGO, my next favorite building system is K’NEX. I even won tickets to Cedar Point for building a recreation of Demon Drop. There’s a number of different K’NEX roller coaster models available on Amazon.
Theme Park Apparel
Likewise, in Kansas City, Charlie Hustle has you covered for your retro Worlds of Fun merch!
If you prefer your theme park wear to be more “-inspired” than official logos, be sure to check out the talents of Made to Thrill. Josh Reichlin has some of the best theme park-inspired gear out there, perfect for a little bit of subtlety (and trademark infringement avoiding) in your wardrobe. (Spoiler: This isn’t the last time Made to Thrill is on our list.)
Roller Coaster Art
Told you you’d see them again. Made to Thrill is probably better known for their unique posters. While several of Josh’s designs have made it into parks with “official” partnerships (be sure to check out Cedar Point and Kings Island’s online stores!), he still has a variety of amazing roller coaster-inspired prints on his site.
Roller Coaster and Theme Park Video Games
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. Check out our Plant Coaster for Mac Tips and Review.
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. I still play RCTC to this day. Get it from Steam for $19.99 – totally worth it.
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.
Tech, Gadgets, and More!
Funko Pop! Rides: There are a variety of Disney Ride inspired Funko Pops, including Mickey in Space Mountain, Mickey on Jungle Cruise, Goofy on Dumbo, and Donald Duck on the Matterhorn. Some googling will get you where you need to go!
If you’re a fan of Disney theme parks and board games you’re in luck, as there are several new board games based on your favorite classic Disney attractions, including Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, and It’s A Small World.
Tools to design and build your own 3D printed roller coaster, like a 3D printer and Arduino. When I was a kid I always wanted to build a working coaster model. Nowadays, the tools and resources exist and creative engineers like Dan Fritsche have taken full advantage.
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!