Promoting plain, old-fashioned fun
Ira Gordon attended a number of camps in the ‘70s and ‘80s, including a touring camp for teenagers. On the tour, “we would go to amusement parks in the afternoon and then leave at 4 or 5 o'clock, which never gave us the opportunity to ride any of the big coasters because that time frame is when the parks are most crowded,” Gordon recalls. “It was actually during that time that I told my best friend that when I grew up I would create a company that would go to parks every day from open to close so that I could ride coasters all day.”
In the front car, friends David Lawner (left) and Ira Gordon (right) at Cedar Point Amusement Park, Sandusky, Ohio
And that’s just what he did. In 2004, Gordon created ThrillCoaster Tours, a six-week teen tour that “provides a one-of-a-kind coaster touring experience,” according to its website. He is integrally involved in the company, accompanying campers on each tour.
Gordon says his idea for the company came from the experiences he had at camp, and afterward. “Being a counselor at camp for a couple of years enabled me to learn how to form groups [of campers with counselors],” he says. This is an important skill, he explains, because group dynamics and harmony largely shape the camp experience.
A roller coaster tour of the eastern United States with some college friends also helped seal the deal. “We visited eight parks in a two-week period, stopping only for sleep,” Gordon recalls.
The trip, Gordon says, helped inspire him to create a company that would let others enjoy making memories with their friends. “It was so much fun and it was an experience that I will absolutely never forget.”