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Cheryl and Martin Lewison’s marriage has seen a lot of ups and downs. Which isn’t surprising. The couple from Long Island, New York, travels the world riding roller coasters together.
At last count, the roller coaster enthusiasts had visited 773 amusement parks, fairs and family entertainment centers in 36 countries—from China to Guatemala, Canada to Sweden—since 2007 to ride the classic amusement park attractions. Why the obsession with roller coasters?
“Why do people jump out of planes? It’s thrill seeking, but it’s controlled,” Cheryl says. Nostalgia is also a big factor.
“I remember being at Six Flags Great Adventure as a kid and just feeling so happy to be there,” Martin says.
Both Cheryl and Martin work demanding jobs. She is an emergency room physician, and he is a professor of business management whose area of expertise is, not surprisingly, the global theme park industry. So it takes a lot of planning and organization for them to maximize their travels. They want to make sure they ride as many roller coasters as possible every time they hit the road.
“When we plan a coaster trip, we usually sit down and map out where we want to go and what the park opening hours are, what rides we need to ride there and how far each park is from the next park, how many parks we can fit in one day based on how much time we want to spend there and the opening hours and how far they are from each other,” Cheryl says.
On a recent 3-day trip through the Midwest, during which Great Big Story tagged along, the couple visited nine parks and rode 13 roller coasters.
Cheryl and Martin don’t usually spend much time at the parks they visit. “We’ve walked into a park, ridden the roller coaster, taken some pictures, used the bathroom and skedaddled within 30 minutes,” Martin says.
“When we’re under a strict time budget, lines can be an issue,” Cheryl adds. “We look to see if the park has a fast pass or some type of rapid access to the ride. We’ll pay extra to jump the line.”
Each ride completed is a “credit,” and the Lewisons track their credits using an app called Coaster-Count.com. When we met them, Cheryl had amassed a total of 2,047, ranking sixth on the app, while Martin was at 2,030, putting him in eighth place.
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