My last roller coaster photography book is more than a decade old now, so I was excited to check out Thomas Crymes new book: American Coasters: A Thrilling Photographic Ride. I was provided a copy of the book for this review.
American Coasters covers roller coasters at 12 major American theme parks. They are: Cedar Point, Knoebels, Six Flags New England, Carowinds, Six Flags America, Kennywood, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Kings Island, Six Flags Over Georgia, Kings Dominion, Dorney Park, & Six Flags Great Adventure. There’s also a miscellaneous section at the end called “Best of the Rest” as well as an Index you can use to look up rides.
Featured Theme Parks
A lot of the mid-Atlantic including theme parks that I’ve visited most in my life (Carowinds, Kings Dominion, Busch Gardens Williamsburg) are included in the 12 featured parks. I’m very familiar with the parks and I liked what I saw. With Busch Gardens for example, there’s so much that could be included at the park. It’s been rated America’s Most Beautiful Park for, well, forever. It’d be easy to nitpick, but Crymes did a solid job choosing some great views of the park. If I had to narrow it down to just 14 pages (seemingly impossible), I couldn’t have done a better job. Especially when you consider the terrain layout of the coasters. Aside from Griffon, they’re tough to capture.
General Park & Ride Photos
Each park is introduced with a few views of the park in general. For example, the Carowinds section has an image of one of the things that make it so unique; a sign that identifies the North and South Carolina state line that runs through the park. Photos are partial page, full page, and some even span pages. Photo captions share a bit of the rides’ history including when it opened, any name changes, and other descriptions of the ride like its layout.
Featured Roller Coasters
Rides have a profile with the kind of vital statistics you’d find in the Roller Coaster Database. There’s also a succinct, but informative 4 or 5 sentence paragraph describing the featured coasters. And, thankfully the book includes detailed descriptions of the what’s pictured in the photos. This is great for the non-geeks that wouldn’t have a clue as to whether they were looking at a corkscrews or a cobra roll.
More for the Next Book
As I mentioned, the book covers 12 American theme parks. I was a little surprised to see that none of them were out West or in the Florida. While there are a few photos of coasters from these areas in the “Best of the Rest” chapter, there were no full park sections. Having said that, there are a lot of theme parks to cover even when you limit a book to the United States. And, the book is definitely chocked-full with enough high quality photos as it is. This was just something I noticed and it will give Crymes plenty of material for a second volume.
My Take: There’s Nothing Like the Physical Medium
Even with the ease of access to all kinds of information via the internet through our smart phones, tablets, and TVs these days, there’s still something special about a book. If I wanted to show a guest or family member a picture of a roller coaster that I was trying to describe, I’d reach for American Coasters. I’d recommend it so you can show your friends and families some of your favorite roller coasters and amusement parks too. The images are beautiful and plentiful. It should find its way to the coffee tables of coaster enthusiasts around the World.
Have you checked out American Coasters? What’s your take? Leave a comment below.