ThrillCoaster Tours takes teens on a tour of roller coasters throughout the country.
For Ira Gordon, the perfect roller coaster combines speed and drop.
For him, that perfect coaster is Millennium Force in Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio). With a 300 foot drop and speeds that top out at 93 mph, it meets both his requirements.
"It's got speed and a really good drop," said the East Brunswsick resident, who owns and operates ThrillCoaster Tours. "I like having the speed combined with a good drop."
The fact that Gordon names Millennium Force as his top coaster means something, because he's tried them all. Every summer he rides about 120 different roller coasters across the country about 600 times, and every year goes back for more as the owner of ThrillCoaster Tours. Each summer the camp takes young roller coaster lovers on trips throughout the country to ride some of America's biggest, fastest, newest and scariest rides and to date Gordon has been on about 330 roller coasters in about 45 different parks since the camp’s inception.
"I absolutely love it," he said. "The reason why I feel it’s lasted as long as it has is my passion for it, and when I go to meet (campers parents), I do a lot of home visits for people, and once they see how passionate I am for it and how much I enjoy it, I’ll close it 90 percent of the time."
This year's camps include two nine day trips, the first running from June to July. This MidStates tour also includes side trips to a Baltimore Orioles game and to an area in West Virginia for a little white water rafting. Parents will drop their kids off on Friday morning before traveling to Maryland for the game. On Saturday, campers head to Kings Dominion to ride I305, and then to Busch Gardens to ride the new multi launch roller coaster, Verbolten. The next stop is Carowinds to ride Intimidator, followed by Dollywood to ride the new Wild Eagle. After the rafting, the campers head travels to Dorney Park to ride the Stinger, which was moved from California's Great America.
"I’m a roller coaster enthusiast, and when I was a teenager I used to go to travel camps and they'd take us to an amusement park and we wouldn’t get there until the afternoon. We’d go on a few rides and leave, and that drove me crazy," he said. "I always said that when I got older, if I had the opportunity to do this, I'd create something that went in the morning and stayed until closing."
With more than eight years in the business, Gordon knows these places like the back of his hand and knows the best times to go, and the best way to get from ride to ride. One tip, he says, is to hit rides in the morning when lines are the shortest, and stay until closing so you can ride them when the park is lit up.
"I've been doing it long enough now that I’m experienced, and when I go to each park I know how all the parks are laid out and really structure the day based on where the rides are and try to get the coasters that people may not know how to get to. So we thrive on being able to get around the park quickly without using maps, because maps slow you down."
One item Gordon likes to point out is that ThrillCoaster trips are much different than just a day trip to Great Adventure or as part of a family vacation. At ThrillCoaster, Gordon crafts trips that will take teens off the beaten path, to areas that most families would never consider for vacations, which means he visits theme parks many in the area would never go to.
“You’re not going to travel from New Hampshire to go to Great Adventure unless you’re a really big enthusiast. Parents aren’t going to do that on their vacation,” said Gordon. “We really like to go to remote places that parents won’t take them. Every year we form trips based on what rides are going out, sit with the kids and ask them what they would do next year if they come back.”
Visit the ThrillCoaster Web site for more information and to learn how to register. www.thrillcoastertours.com. Call them at 888-542-4842.