If you’re in search of a holiday gift ideas for coaster enthusiasts this holiday season, we’ve got you covered. We’ve been publishing our annual gift guide since 2011, and our 2023 roller coaster enthusiast gift guide features a diverse selection of gift ideas that will please any lover of roller coasters and theme parks. 2023 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.
Holiday Gift Ideas for Coaster Enthusiasts
We’re biased, but we think our 2024 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 2024 Coaster101 calendar here and support a good cause! Hurry, less than 35 are left!
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 founder 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 Coaster101’s 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. 5th Edition now available in paperback and hardcover.
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.
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 Building Sets 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. 25% OFF BLACK FRIDAY SALE through 11/27.
Check out the Print My Ride Detroit store for Roller Coaster Wheel Fidget Spinners and Restraint Stress Balls.
The CDX Blocks Lego-compatible coasters are much more affordable than the official LEGO coasters. While the Sidewinder and Cyclone share the same train and track system, many of the base structure and supports are unique to the CDX Sidewinder. I really love the realism of the model: the base is green like grass, then you have grey cylinders for the concrete footers, followed by cylindrical tube supports just like a real steel coaster.
LEGO has officially released their own Lego Looping Coaster model. Read our thoughts on the pros and cons of the LEGO and CDX looping coasters to decide which set is best for you.
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.
Theme Park Inspired Games
Nearly every classic major Disney attraction has been turned into a board game. In the Disney Space Mountain Game, players will race to see who can complete their missions and visit all 5 Starports first. Not sure what is has to do with the ride other than the name but it features standees of all five Space Mountain rides from around the world.
Other Disney attraction inspired games include It’s a Small World, Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, and Big Thunder Mountain. If you’re looking for a quick game to play with your kids then I do NOT recommend the Haunted Mansion game.
Hunt A Killer is one of the most popular murder mystery subscription box services. A great way to get a taste without fully committing is one of their standalone games. In Body On The Boardwalk, players investigate the death of a seaside amusement park employee and uncover the park’s dirty secrets that led to her murder.
Theme Park Apparel
Ohio-Based HOMAGE has a variety of Vintage-inspired shirts for the Cedar Point and Kings Island fans on your shopping list. I’ve gotten more comments from strangers when wearing The Beast shirt then any other, great conversation starter.
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).
No coaster enthusiast’s wardrobe is complete without zippered-pocket half-pants.
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, he still has a variety of amazing roller coaster-inspired prints on his site.
While by no means exhaustive, this Theme Park Scratch Off Poster Map features scratch-off markers of many of major US theme parks. It’s a fun way to visually log your coaster travels.
Roller Coaster and Theme Park Video Games
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.
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.
Tech, Gadgets and More!
Get the kids hooked on coasters early with a Step2 Ride on Roller Coaster and get yourself a new coaster credit.
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.
We’re giving away a Coaster101 Prize Pack. Enter on our Facebook page. The contest ends on Sunday, November 26 at 10pm EST. Good luck!
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 for coaster enthusiasts!