Eric Gieszl, Editor
Surprisingly, even a well-seasoned veteran of amusement parks like myself still has much to learn about the many parks throughout North America. For a less than half the cost of a day's admission to most parks, The Amusement Park Guide Fifth Edition by Tim O'Brien is chock full of valuable information for park enthusiasts or families planning their summer vacation. With information on more than 290 amusement parks and water parks in North America, this comprehensive guidebook is perfect for making travel plans or simply educating yourself about the different parks in North America.
Author Tim O'Brien is a well-known and respected industry expert. He has spent his career writing about amusement parks and the industry. Furthermore, he has extensive field experience having visited more than 500 parks in 17 countries. His personal experience and industry expertise give The Amusement Park Guide an instant stamp of credibility.
First published in 1991, the fifth edition of The Amusement Park Guide has some new sections and has been almost completely rewritten with new listings or updates for most of the park descriptions. New in the fifth edition is a section on the history of the roller coaster, the flagship attraction at most amusement parks. Also there is a new section on the history of the carousel, another staple at nearly every park.
O'Brien's introduction and the new history section give readers a better understanding of amusement parks. While not going into great depth they do a nice job of complementing the guidebook and should make a reader's park visit a little more meaningful. The guidebook also includes helpful theme park tips, such as advice for parents on how to make their child's day happier and safer.
The bulk of the book's content is the park guide that is sorted by state. What makes this amusement park guide different from others is the amount of detail included for every listed park. Each park has a well-written introduction, along with the all important address and phone number.
Every amusement park I'm aware of is included in this book, in addition to a number of family entertainment centers and water parks. Too many guides skip the hidden treasures out there, some of which actually offer a better experience than the monster-sized corporate owned parks.
For many of the parks the guide offers more than just a written introduction. Details such as operating season and hours, top rides and roller coasters, tips on how to avoid the crowds and recommendations on how much time you'll need to enjoy the park are included. New in this edition is some basic information on roller coasters at each park, including the name and type of coaster. However, the focus of the guidebook remains on the parks, not the roller coasters, so specific details like height and speed are omitted. Regardless, the guide gives a coaster enthusiast enough information to determine whether a stop is warranted to add to one's coaster count.
With all of this information The Amusement Park Guide is an excellent value. It would take you an entire summer to visit only half of the parks listed. For the hard-core amusement park enthusiast or for planning your family amusement park vacation, The Amusement Park Guide Fifth Edition is a must own resource.
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