The A-Z Guide To Coaster Enthusiasm

The coaster/theme park community is a very weird beast, and oftentimes I'll be reading through a thread of comments on some social media platform that's so thick with slang and terminology that an outside might very well be forgiven for thinking we were talking an entirely different language. And that also made me think that's a bit of a gateway thing for those new to the community and looking to get more into the hobby, so I thought I'd break down a glossary of sorts today on some of the most used theme park related terminology. Some of these are more obvious than others, some might be words that I myself use often as opposed to the actual community and some are in there just because there's 26 letters of the alphabet and I needed to fill gaps. So let's dive in!

A is for Airtime
Whether you're elated by ejector or fantasise about floater, it's pretty much agreed community-wide that airtime = good. For those who don't know, airtime is essentially that moment where gravity wants you to go one way but the coaster and restraints pull you the other, resulting in moments of awesome weightlessness where you literally float in the air, hence 'airtime'. It's not something we have in abundance here in the UK sadly but if you're looking for some of my fav moments on this small island I'd go Stealth front row or Speed's first hill.

B is for Back Row Hoe
A back row hoe is a person who always dives for a back row ride above all else and will usually be willing to wait a little longer to ensure they get that coveted back row seat as opposed to lumping for a mediocre middle-row ride. They'll often be heard arguing that back row is the best, even in cases where it's clearly not (eg B&M hyper coasters). The same can also apply to a person who prefers the front row of a coaster eg "Front Row Hoe"

C is for Cred
Let me clear this up, because this is one I often see being misused. Cred is short for 'credit', meaning a coaster you've never ridden before that, once ridden, increases your coaster count by one. For example, on my American road trip this June we're riding 108 coaster, but only 104 creds for me because I've ridden four of them before. Only one ride on a coaster equals a cred meaning you do not get multiple creds for riding the same coaster over and over again.

D is for Dispatch Music
Dispatch music is the music that plays in a coaster station as the train leaves, or 'dispatches', the station. Enthusiasts love dispatch music because it's often different and more dramatic than the standard ride music heard when the ride is not dispatching. Black Mamba at Phantasialand has particularly epic dispatch music.

E is for ERT
ERT stands for 'Extra Ride Time' or sometimes 'Exclusive Ride Time' and refers to time allocated by parks exclusively to coaster enthusiast groups to allow them to have a coaster entirely to themselves for re-rides without the pesky general public getting in the way. ERT is particularly great for forming a fully rounded opinion on a coaster and engraining the experience in our brains so we can relive it over and over on the days when we're sadly not at a theme park.

F is for Fright Nights
I'm cheating here slightly and using Fright Nights as a euphemism for the Halloween season in general. Around early September you'll notice a strange shift in the theme park community's focus from the rides at the parks to the spooky stuff. We become obsessed with it, probably much to the annoyance to the very separate scare community who are into this stuff year round! For some reason the two kind of go hand in hand, theme parks and Halloween, and you'll often hear many a coaster enthusiast proclaim Halloween season as the most wonderful time of the year. And they're not wrong.

G is for Golden Horse
Golden Horse is a Chinese coaster manufacturer most famous for ripping off designs from other larger coaster manufacturers and passing them off as their own. Ill-informed coaster enthusiasts can sometimes be heard slagging off 'Chinese knock offs' as if Western companies haven't been doing this themselves the whole time. It must also be noted that Golden Horse coasters aren't all necessarily bad, although some of them are truly, truly vile contraptions.

H is for Hotel
In particular resort hotels that come as part of the theme park experience, especially for the larger resort theme parks across Europe and big chains like Disney and Universal. Enthusiasts have been known to pay double, sometimes triple the cost of what the trip should come to just to include a stay at the resort hotel despite the fact that non-hotel guests can still enjoy pretty much all of the on-resort facilities (except the rooms) at these places. They're also great places to hang out if you fancy a bit of enthusiast spotting - first one to spot the Smiler hoodie wins!

I is for IMAscore
IMAscore are a German music company who rose to fame creating music for large Merlin projects like Flug Der Damonen and Krake. They're every enthusiast's favourite theme park music composers, unless your name is Nick Hutson.

J is for Janky
I feel like this is definitely a 'me' on, but the word 'janky' refers to a clunky ass ride that feels like it's about the fall apart at any minute and has you questioning the health and safety records of the thing. Usually experienced at lower end seaside resorts on in countries with less stringent H&S laws than the UK. Jankiness should not be confused with roughness, it's an entirely different thing. Janky rides are not necessarily rough or painful, they just feel loosely held together by some rattling bolts and rusted metal.

K is for Kiddie Cred
A kiddie cred is a very specific kind of coaster, often defined by the copious amounts of accompanying shame that come hand in hand with riding one. The shame can usually be avoided if you actually have a kid riding with you, but the kid-to-adult ratio needs to be balanced too. I'd say 3 adults to 1 kid is the absolute limit, any more than that and it starts to become very clear what the game is. Kiddie creds are an excellent way to build up one's coaster count if you don't mind publicly humiliating yourself by riding tons of Wacky Worms in front of groups of concerned parents clearing discussing the weird adult riding the kiddie coaster with their kids.

L is for Last Ride Of The Day
The last ride of the day is pretty self explanatory, but it's quite a ritualistic phenomenon, especially for parks you're local to and whose operating style you're attuned to. Eg at Merlin parks we know that if the park says it closes at 5PM that actually means the queue closes at 5PM, so if you time things right you can ensure that you get the last ride of the day on your favourite coaster. This often means either having the entire coaster train to yourself or that the ride ops let you stay on for multiple loops as they try to exhaust the queue.

M is for Milestone
Another term associated with coaster counting, and kind of self explanatory. A milestone refers to a landmark number of coasters ridden eg 100, 200, etc. It's typically understood that factors of 100 count as the proper way to count milestones, but some choose to count intervals of 50 too for some reason unbeknown to me. It's pretty typical too (and even expected) for an enthusiast to hold a crumpled piece of A4 paper with the number on it on their milestone coaster and have a photo taken so that they can share this momentous occasion with other like-minded individuals on the internet and celebrate their triumph.

N is for New
A huge part of coaster and theme park enthusiasm is following new developments, and we're absolute hounds for sniffing out if something NEW is happening at our favourite parks. It can be anything from a huge new multi-million pound ride investment to new soap being used at the toilets, but if it's something different and not seen before you can bet we're taking pictures of it and sharing it online for other enthusiasts to be aware of. There is a particular glory associated with spotted a cool new thing and there's an unspoken rivalry between certain enthusiasts as to which channel will be the first to break the news.

O is for One Click
The term 'one-click' is very much associated with airtime and refers to the space between your body and the coaster restraint, the maximum being that left when the restraint is only fastened at 'one-click'. What this means is you'll get a coaster experience where you're literally flying out of your seat and fearing for your life the entire way around the track and often results in frantically grabbing and pulling the restraint tighter as you get half way around and realise this is insane and you might actually die.

P is for Plus One
See above, 'cred'. It's just another way of saying cred really and refers to the physical act of adding 'plus one' coasters to your coaster count list after you've ridden something new.

Q is for Queue
A queue is the path leading up to the entrance of a ride where one is usually forced to wait until it's our turn to ride. In general, enthusiasts hate queues and have worked tirelessly with multiple revisits to the same parks to figure out the algorithm for maximum queue optimisation. That said, if the queue is themed we'll often not mind spending a little time hanging out and appreciating the detail (eg Wodan at Europa Park). Queues are also another great place for enthusiast spotting - first one to point out the Icon cap wins.

R is for RCDB
RCDB stands for Roller Coaster Data Base and is essentially a giant catalogued list of all the coasters and theme parks in the world - past, present and future. It's the holy grail of information with it comes to the hard stats and facts of the coaster world and is often used as the key source of knowledge for identifying how many coasters are at a park and indeed if certain rides even count as a roller coaster. It's on every coaster enthusiast's bucket list to discover an undocumented coaster and be able to e-mail the website with their entry. I have one entry on RCDB, go me.

S is for Spite
One I use a lot but definitely not a phrase I came up with myself - spite refers to a coaster or ride being closed on the day you go to visit. A closed coaster is worse than a closed non-coaster because a closed-coaster leads to cred-spite, eg you're not able to add the coveted plus one to your coaster count because you were unable to ride the closed ride. Spite is absolutely vile and something I'm very conscious of when booking my trips - I'll meticulously trawl through theme park websites to check ride refurb schedules to ensure the rides I want to get on are indeed open, but largely this is entirely left for fate to decide and there's no 100% foolproof way to prevent spite from happening.

T is for Twitter
In particular theme park Twitter. If you're looking to get involved with the theme park community, Twitter is definitely your best bet. From sharing the latest news updates, to the ridiculousness of the theme park community drama that unfolds to just having a laugh and sharing content, theme park Twitter is absolutely the hub of the action.

U is for Ultimate Worst
Another me one but not a phrase I coined, ultimate worst is a term I use to describe coasters that are really, really bad - the worst in their category. Eg Infusion is a bad Vekoma SLC but El Condor is the ultimate worst.

V is for Velvet Coaster
The Velvet Coaster is a legend in its own right in the UK theme park community - as much of a beloved household name as Nemesis or Amanda Thompson. For those unaware, the Velvet Coaster is the name of the Wetherspoons pub about 200m from the entrance of the Pleasure Beach in Blackpool. Enthusiasts like to gather here and cause carnage on big iconic nights in the theme park calendar like the opening day of the season or press nights. The staff are always confused and horrified, the food is pretty terrible but the cocktail pitchers are ridiculously cheap and its the sole reason why I haven't visited the Pleasure Beach without a hangover in about five years.

W is for Whore (Cred)
A cred whore is a person who knows no bounds of shame, expense or difficulty when it comes to locking down a plus one to their coaster count. They will spend hundreds of pounds and hours of time travelling to the furthest corners of the globe for a crusty old Big Apple, have been known to beg ride ops to let them onto coasters specifically designed for children despite the fact that they should know better and would definitely have a few questionable items on their coaster list should you ever inspect it (they'll also have a pretty good argument prepared for why that particular attraction actually DOES count as a coaster). 

X is for eXpress
OK I cheated but you find a X word related the coaster enthusiasm! Anyway, Express, or indeed queue jump systems in general, are largely a big point of discussion for coaster enthusiasts. In general we'd be unlikely to cough up the cash for a queue jump pass at a local park we visit all the time but if we're heading off on a once in a lifetime trip to some park and we're worried about potentially getting everything done you can bet your ass we're shelling out! Universally agreed that Disney have the best queue jump system because it's free and coaster enthusiasts are cheapskates.

Y is for YouTube
The gateway to becoming a theme park enthusiast was RollerCoaster Tycoon and Travel Channel documentaries about extreme thrill rides back in my day, nowadays it's very much all through YouTube. YouTube is full of hours of amazing theme park related content, from on ride footage to theme park documentaries to fan theories to simple vlogs of days out. They showcase parks and news and updates in more detail than ever possible before so it's no wonder there's been an influx of new members to the community in recent years!

Z is for Zero G
Kind of another word for airtime I guess but I couldn't think of another 'Z' word and this was too obvious to miss out. Zero-g means zero gravity and refers to those moments of floatiness created by the ride's speed and forces. Particularly good when experienced through inversions eg Oz'Iris's zero-g roll and Wildfire's zero-g stall.

Now that you've read through that lot you're very much on your way to becoming fully fluent in coaster enthusiast! But there's tons of other words I've missed - care to keep the list going? Comment below if you can think of a coaster enthusiast word I've not included and be sure to include an explanation of what the word means plus an example of how you'd use it in a sentence.

Talk later xoxo,


  1. I would add C is for Coaster-Count to add your Cred to.

  2. Excellent piece as always