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Ride of your life

Published in the Home News Tribune Teen Scene 02/25/08

Sure it's only February — but it's never too early to think about what you want to do this summer.

And Woodbridge-based ThrillCoaster Tours has a few ideas for those 12 to 16 who are not afraid to twist, turn and plunge down the steep hills of some of America's most well-known roller coasters.

This season, ThrillCoaster Tours is offering four teen tours and one family tour. Among the amusement parks on the itinerary: Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va., and Tampa Bay, Fla.; Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla.; Six Flags Over Georgia; Cedar Point in Ohio, and La Ronde in Montreal.

On the one- and two-week tours, teens and adult counselors not only visit amusement and water parks, but also go on whale-watching excursions, hang out at the beach and take in baseball games, among other activities.

The 2008 summer tours include the Get to the Point Tour (June 30 to July 4), highlighted by a trip to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, referred to as the Roller Coaster Capital of the World, and to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania.

The Southern Studios Tour (July 6 to 18) heads to the Sunshine State for thrills at Orlando's Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, and then on to the new Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The two-week trip ends at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson.

The Boston Extreme Tour (July 28 to Aug. 1) lands at Six Flags New England and includes a day of touring Boston.

The North of the Border Tour (Aug. 4 to 15) features trips to the two biggest amusement parks in Canada: La Ronde in Montreal and Canada's Wonderland in Toronto, and includes amusements and activities in Chicago, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

But first up is the Beachgoers Family Tour (May 22 to 26), which takes families with children 6 and older on a four-night, five-day trip to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA in Williamsburg, Va., and Virginia Beach.

Now in its fourth year, ThrillCoaster Tours averages 25 teens per tour and has a counselor to teen ratio of 1 to 6. Ira Gordon of East Brunswick, founder and director of ThrillCoaster Tours, accompanies the teens on each tour, overseeing the itineraries.

"The camp was amazing!" says 13-year-old Jacob Hogan of Mt. Laurel, who toured with ThrillCoaster for three weeks last summer. "It was great to travel the country and ride roller coasters that I hadn't ridden before. It was also great to make new friends!"

Hogan's mother, Lisa Bien, has registered him for two two-week tours this summer.

"What I love about ThrillCoaster Tours is that Jacob gets to meet kids from all over the country - kids who share his passion for roller coasters, and that creates an immediate bond," she said. "I also love it because I have so much confidence in Ira and understand his passion for coasters, for kids and for creating quality, safe experiences for them. I know Jacob is in good hands, and he always has a fabulous time."


The cost of the tours range from $1,325 to $2,575. The family tour costs $2,500 for a family of three, $2,900 for a family of four and $3,300 for a family of five. The tours include admission to all amusement parks and other attractions, accommodations at quality hotels (primarily Marriotts), three meals a day and snacks, plus tour accessories. The tours include transportation on air-conditioned, first-class motor coach buses.

More information is available by visiting (888) 542-4842 or by visiting