Thomas Crymes’ American Coasters: A Thrilling Photographic Ride (©2013, Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.) was one of the best industry books I’d ever found. It had it all, from big, beautiful pictures to interesting facts that even seasoned coaster enthusiasts found enlightening.
Everything, that is, except a sampling of parks from across the country. Great as it was, American Coasters mainly featured amusement parks up and down the U.S. eastern seaboard and left the country’s other parks wanting for attention. Lucky for us, Crymes picks up where he left off in American Coasters 2: Coast to Coast (©2016, Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.) and it’s just as good, if not better, than its predecessor.
Primarily featuring coasters in the central U.S. (think parks such as Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana; the two Six Flags parks in Texas; and Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee), the new book follows the same pattern of its predecessor. The focus is the photos, and Crymes excels not just at excellent photography but at picking out the moments, spots, and even times of day when each coaster really shines.
Photography dominates text in this book, and because of that, it’s really a volume to pick up again and again simply to admire the visuals of modern coasters. But, for a photo-centric book, it’s surprisingly informative. Crymes does a great job calling out records broken and iconic elements of coasters while sprinkling in fun facts about rides, information one couldn’t necessarily find on Roller Coaster Database.
For example: I had no idea that Six Flags New England’s Cyclone was renovated with Rocky Mountain Construction Group (RMC) Topper Track in 2011 before being completely converted into the wood/steel RMC hybrid Wicked Cyclone in 2015. There are many more interesting tidbits, but I won’t spoil the surprises in the book. (It’s well worth noting, in support of the mission of Amusement Park Pro, that Crymes also includes tips on when to ride certain coasters to avoid long lines.)
Speaking of wooden coasters, Crymes doesn’t hide his admiration for Great Coasters International (GCI) creations in this book. There are many wooden rides around the country that are rough-and-tumble relics of past generations, but GCI coasters are not among that group. If you’ve never ridden the likes of Hersheypark’s Lightning Racer or Dollywood’s Thunderhead, the beauty of modern GCI creations still awaits you.
The best part of American Coasters 2‘s love for GCI is an exclusive interview with Adam House, Senior Engineer at GCI. If you want an insider’s take on coaster design, manufacturing, and maintenance from one of the industry’s biggest players, this book has it!
Some non-coaster enthusiasts reading American Coasters 2 may sometimes need to refer back to the first volume, and that’s not a bad thing. Together, the two books form a pretty complete picture of the U.S. coaster landscape. In fact, I was impressed with the attention Crymes gave to many smaller parks. The last 40 pages feature parks and coasters that’ll probably never make it into Travel Channel shows, but are iconic and thrilling nonetheless. Examples include Lake Compounce in Bristol, Connecticut, Luna Park in Brooklyn, New York (home to the world-famous Coney Island Cyclone), and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in California.
A huge thanks to Thomas Crymes and Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. for providing a copy of American Coasters 2 for review. This is the most thorough, beautiful, informative and up-to-date roller coaster book available today and, combined with American Coasters, its predecessor from a few years back, it forms an essential set for any coaster enthusiast’s library.
American Coasters 2: Coast to Coast is available on Amazon for $23.87.