In August, Fantasy Forest had the pleasure of hosting special guest, David Ellis, a 51 year old roller coaster enthusiast and international amusement park thrill-seeker, whose passion for tight turns and steep slopes has fueled an international tour de force from across the Pond (London) to our park, and beyond.
David hosts his own popular YouTube channel where he entertains over 47k subscribers with first-person footage of his wild rides (viewed over 50 million times!). But who better to share with you more about how he came to discover Fantasy Forest and Queens' only roller coaster than David himself.
My name is David Ellis. I live in a town on the East coast of England, around 100 miles from London. Ever since I was about 10 years old, I was hooked on roller coasters. After joining a couple of roller coaster enthusiast clubs in the 90's, I began to travel the world to visit theme parks/amusement parks to experience their latest thrill rides and attractions.
Traveling the world with like-minded enthusiasts opened up a whole new world to me. I have visited parks all over the US and Canada, including theme-parks in Japan, South Korea, China, Scandinavia, and most of Western Europe. During my early trips, I had recorded many of my roller coaster rides on my video-camera and during a 1999 trip to the U.S., I met computer game designer and fellow coaster enthusiast, Chris Sawyer, who used the coaster sounds from my videos in the best-selling computer game, Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 (RCT2). If you ever play RCT2, try calling a guest, "David Ellis", and see their thoughts when they ride a roller coaster - it's a cool hidden feature in the game! RCT also changed my life. In 1999, I won a copy of the original computer game but didn't have a computer to play it on...so I bought one and almost straight afterwards met my wife, Susan, online . We were married in 2002 in Las Vegas (broadcast online, of course) at the end of a two-week theme park tour with the European Coaster Club (ECC).
The biggest challenge with being in two different enthusiast clubs was having too many wonderful trips available and never enough time off work, and very soon I was finding that club trips were becoming difficult to attend due to work commitments. To compensate, Susan and I started doing our own 'road trips', the first in 2010, followed by a mammoth 5000-mile trip in 2014; a West Coast trip in 2016; and, here we are back in the USA in 2017. Our latest venture included 30 theme parks, amusement parks, and mountain resorts starting in Chicago and ending in New York, where our last day included a visit to Fantasy Forest Amusement Park - a new park and a new roller coaster to try out!
Whilst my wife is a little more 'laid back' these days in her quest for new roller coasters (even though she is one of only a handful of females to have ridden over 1,000 coasters), I remain as eager as I was in my younger days to visit new parks and try out their rides. I reached 1,000 coasters back in 2014 and on my visit to Fantasy Forest, I was thrilled to add the Corona Cobra Coaster to my count...it's my coaster number 1189.
Oddly enough, we weren't supposed to be in the US this year at all as the ECC had originally planned a return visit to China. Sadly, the logistics proved too much for the organizers so when it was canceled, I reviewed the US maps on the coaster count website and plotted a route that took us to as many new places as possible. We drove through 13 States in total, covering 3,074 miles over 16 days, and we visited four new States for us: Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Rhode Island. We also visited many old favorites such as Knoebels and Kennywood in Pennsylvania, Kings Island in Ohio, and Lake Compounce in Connecticut. Our route finished at JFK airport, and our final day took us to Fantasy Forest in Queens.
I have a favorite quote that sums up my approach to life and roller coasters:
Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.
I am a big kid at heart and when it comes to coasters, my saying is, Big or small, I ride them all!...and provided that I can safely fit in a coaster, I will give it a ride.
The Corona Cobra Coaster is a great ride for kids (and this big kid enjoyed it, too!). I also tried out a few of the other attractions on my visit, including the Flushing Meadows Carousel (which I understand came from the 1964 New York World's Fair) and the cute Queens Motor Speedway, which was a lot of fun.
These days, I don't make video tapes as I did in the 90's. I now upload my footage to my YouTube channel which really took off when I had a viral hit in 2011 with an alpine coaster video showing me riding down an Austrian mountainside without using the brakes. That video got 3 million views in its first week and all of a sudden I was a media star! I now share my roller coaster antics with the world online with over 47,000 subscribers and 57 million views. I guess there are lots of people who enjoy what I do, which is really cool.
To everyone at Fantasy Forest Amusement Park, I hope that my videos will bring you a few new visitors. Thanks for all the fun!