Thrill ride enthusiast Andrew Grover spends his days off work at Gold Coast theme parks. (ABC Gold Coast: Tom Forbes)
Thrill ride enthusiast Andrew Grover is about to embark on an adrenaline-filled holiday to the United States where he will visit five theme parks and ride 69 different roller coasters.
- Car salesman Andrew Grover has been a roller coaster enthusiast since he was a boy
- He estimates he will get about 150 rides on his upcoming tour of US theme parks
- Experts say the Australian view of roller coasters differs from other countries where they are popular
To his family and friends, the 34-year-old is known as ‘the roller coaster guy’.
“They think I’m crazy,” he said.
“They scratch their heads, they don’t understand it.”
The new car salesman spends his spare time visiting Gold Coast theme parks where he patiently queues for his favourite rides.
“Heights scare the hell out of me,” he said.
“I think it just gives me such a massive adrenaline rush being strapped into a seat … just thrown around in your seat.”
Looping back to where it all began
Mr Grover’s love of thrill rides began on a family holiday to the United States 27 years ago.
The then seven year old visited Disneyland and he has been obsessed with roller coasters since.
“Just went on the rides, just loved them so much,” Mr Grover said.
“I couldn’t get enough of them.”
Andrew Grover visiting Disneyland as a seven-year-old, and Movie World as a 34-year-old. (ABC Gold Coast: Tom Forbes)
In late July he will return to the US where he will visit Knott’s Berry Farm in Los Angeles and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom near San Francisco.
He will then fly to the state of Ohio and visit Kings Island and Cedar Point, which, with its 18 coasters, is the biggest roller coaster park in the world.
His final destination will be Six Flags Magic Mountain at Santa Clarita, California.
“There’s 70-odd roller coasters across those parks and I reckon I’ll get 150 in — 150 rides,” he said.
There are two roller coasters that he is most excited about riding.
“Probably number one would be Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point, and Steel Vengeance as well, at the same park,” he said.
‘Intense and unusual’
Amusement academic Malcolm Burt completed a Masters Degree in roller coasters.
He believes Mr Grover’s passion for thrill rides is not unusual.
“The reality is the thrill rides, and roller coasters in particular, because they’re mostly at the pointy end of the thrill ride spectrum, give you intense and unusual sensations that you can’t get in everyday life,” Mr Burt said.
“The really intense thrill rides … precisely what they’re doing is, they’re making you feel like you’re going die.
“We didn’t need roller coasters or thrill rides when we were in the caveman age, because you really were at risk of dying every day.
“Now the world has changed enormously, but we haven’t in some ways.
“It’s like we need some of these pressure releases and primers to give us that little jolt that we just can’t get safely another way.”
Not just for kids
Ed Dickinson, from the Australian Coaster Club, said Mr Grover’s thrill ride holiday binge may appear unusual, but it is quite common in countries that have a long history of roller coaster rides.
“It’s not really that popular in Australia — I find that people overseas are much more accepting of doing this activity,” Mr Dickinson said.
“We tend to think that roller coasters and amusement parks are for children only, yet if you go to the States, Europe, Japan you find everyone is still into it.
“America, they’ve had their roller coasters for 50 or 60 years, and you find a lot of enthusiasts grew up on roller coasters and still love them today.”
Mr Dickinson said there are 25 roller coasters in Australia, while the United States has 763.