Many people don’t realize it, but August 16th is National Roller Coaster Day. It has been ever since the early 1980′s. It’s supposed to be a day of fun to celebrate the King of the Thrill Rides, the roller coaster.
From what I’ve read online, many people claim that August 16, 1898 was chosen as National Roller Coaster Day because it was the day that the roller coaster was first patented. However, my research shows that LaMarcus Thompson was granted the first roller coaster patent in January 1884 for his Switchback Railway at Coney Island, NY. Riders would sit in a coaster car at the top of a wooden structure, then roll straight down a 600 foot, hilly track to the bottom. An elevator mechanism would raise their car up to an identical track, but heading back the opposite direction. After rolling down the second hill, another elevator would raise them back up to where they had started. It cost 5¢ to ride and went all of 6MPH. My, oh my, how times have changed.
The patent for the vertical loop on a roller coaster was issued in August, 1898. I suppose it’s possible that this was the day chosen for National Roller Coaster Day, but I’m not sure why. Regardless of why that day was chosen, the point is to go out and have fun by riding a roller coaster. It doesn’t have to be a 450′ Strata-coaster, or something with 10 inversions. There are roller coasters to satisfy everyone’s personal preference. Just go have fun!
Buffalo Bill’s Resort & Casino in Primm, NV, right on the California border, has a decent roller coaster called Desperado. For the last couple of years, they have been offering free rides to anyone who stops by on National Roller Coaster Day, and this year is no exception. Since Six Flags Magic Mountain has more roller coasters than any other park on the planet, I figured they would be doing something special on this day. When I called them up to ask what events they had planned, the lady had never even heard of National Roller Coaster Day. She put me on hold to ask someone else. After a few minutes, she came back and said they don’t have anything planned. Perhaps it’s just me, but I feel that their Marketing department is really missing a huge opportunity here. Thoughts?