I recently came across this New York Times article from last year and it fascinated me, because although I am known as the one to typically avoid riding amusement park rides I consider “scary”, I have always been completely petrified of roller coasters. When my boys were young they used to beg me to ride on roller coasters with them. I just could not do it. The climb to the top, the speed of the decline, and all the whipping around is just way too much for me. I was a good mom though, because I DID accompany them on other rides – like um, say merry-go-rounds and bumper cars! Go me!
So the article is written about this man, Martin Lewison, who not only is NOT afraid of riding on roller coasters, he claims he has ridden over 1,800 different roller coasters in more than 33 different countries over the past dozen years!! How many people can say that?? How many would want to be able to say that? Just thinking about it gives me nightmares.
According to the article, Martin Lewison is an assistant professor of marketing and management at Farmingdale State College located on Long Island, NY, and on his first day of class he actually told his students, “One of the reasons I took this job is that there’s a theme park (Adventureland) across the street.” After a while, Professor Lewison actually started walking his classes over to Adventureland for field trips, and presently he works his amusement park knowledge into his curriculum. He has even created special classes such as Theme Parks and Tourism!
Since all the traveling Professor Lewison does is a bit much on a teacher’s salary, he says he was lucky enough to marry his wife, Dr. Cheryl Lewison, who now travels with him. Dr. Lewison left a law career to pursue her medical degree and is now an ER doctor. Thank goodness Dr. Lewison is able and willing to help fund all their trips, especially since they travel to countries like China and New Zealand. The best part?? She shares his enthusiasm for roller coasters and enjoys keeping track of how many times they have ridden on them.
I wish I could take a survey to find out if most of us are thrill seekers like the Lewisons, or if more are like me who are leery, well ok afraid, to ride on roller coasters and partake in other thrilling activities such as zip lining and parasailing. I sort of wish I could get out of my comfort zone and experience the thrill and excitement that the Lewisons do, but I guess I will have to settle to just read about them and imagine what their lives are like.
No matter where you fall on the “thrill seeking” spectrum, I encourage you to read the entire article below. It’s definitely an interesting and thrilling story.
New York Times article…
September 6, 2018
“I’ll be honest with you,” Martin Lewison, 52, told his students on the first day of class on Tuesday. “One of the reasons I took this job is that there’s a theme park across the street.”
But for Mr. Lewison, an amusement park enthusiast obsessed with roller coasters, there is no ignoring the fact that Turbulence — Adventureland’s bright green, plunging, spinning coaster — can be seen from the university’s business school.
Mr. Lewison, an assistant professor of marketing and management, walks his classes over to Adventureland for field trips, and works his amusement park expertise into his curriculum. He has created special classes such as Theme Parks and Tourism, and drawn material from his trips as a self-described coaster nut: a serial rider with few peers when it comes to amassing visits to different coasters around the country and the world.
He says he has ridden over 1,800 different roller coasters in more than 33 different countries over the last dozen years, a tally recorded along with other top riders on the website Coaster-Count.com.
The constant travel might seem unaffordable on a public university professor’s salary, were it not for the generosity of his wife, Dr. Cheryl Lewison, who shares his coaster affinity and his impressive riding totals.
Dr. Lewison left a corporate law career to pursue medicine, and is now an emergency room doctor at Queens Hospital Center. Her income helps finance the trips.
“I thank my lucky stars every day — I definitely hit the jackpot” in marrying Dr. Lewison, he said. “I remember I told my father that I met a woman who was a lawyer and a doctor. He said, “You marry that girl tonight.’”
Both grew up riding coasters, but their joint pursuit began in earnest in 2007, about a year into their marriage. Early on, they could rack up nearly 200 coasters a year by hitting jackpot sites like Cedar Point park in Ohio, where they could ride a dozen coasters in one trip. Then they began hitting coasters all over the world.
“He said that when we got to 1,000 coasters, we’d stop,” she said, “and conveniently, he forgot.”
They visited 125 last year, Mr. Lewison said, and this year’s expeditions have ranged from New Zealand to the Jersey Shore. In coming months, they plan on hitting amusement parks in the Middle East and Vietnam, not to mention the Halloween festivities at Great Adventure in New Jersey.
They have traveled to China six times and ridden more than 150 coasters there, said Mr. Lewison, who recently tried planning a marathon trip to a series of obscure Chinese parks involving constant flights.
“But my wife said, ‘We’re going to die in a plane crash and people will say, ‘What were they thinking?’” he said
Mr. Lewison grew up in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., cutting his teeth on smaller rides at nearby Palisades Park — which is long gone — and then on coasters such as Lightnin’ Loops at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, the Dragon Coaster at Rye Playland in Westchester County, and the Cyclone in Coney Island.
His obsession blossomed by age 13 when he traveled to Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Va., and rode the Loch Ness Monster 22 times in one day, he said.
His coaster craze cooled after hearing about the fire in 1984 that killed eight teenagers at the Haunted Castle at Six Flags, but it resurfaced while he pursued a doctorate in business in the 1990s at the University of Pittsburgh, thanks to the coasters at nearby Kennywood amusement park.
In his Theme Parks class last week, he apologized for not being quite up to speed. Relatives were staying with them in their modest apartment in Forest Hills, Queens, to attend the U.S. Open tennis tournament, he explained, “so I can’t get any work done.”
When Mr. Lewison asked the class about theme park experiences, a student described her recent internship as an operator of the popular Flight of Passage ride at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
“You worked on Flight of Passage?” said a star-struck Mr. Lewison, who explained that he had ridden it during an event held by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions trade association.
After the student regaled the class with a detailed recount of Disney’s strict dress code and other requirements, Mr. Lewison sighed and said, “It’s going to be a good semester.”
He said he had “a pocket full of Adventureland tickets” and that he planned on dismissing the class early because, “I got a date with a roller coaster I don’t want to miss.”
He drove the few short blocks to the park, with a podcast — the Disney Dish — playing in his car. At the park, he said hello to Paul Gentile and Bob Amoruso, two Adventureland executives who he invites to his class as guest speakers.
Mr. Lewison walked over to Turbulence, a German-made coaster he rode the day it opened, May 22, 2015, for his 1,268th official coaster.
He took off his glasses and rode it, arms shooting up during the drops. He was the only person on the ride in a shirt and a tie.
“It’s got a lot of punch for a small footprint,” he said with admiration back on stable land. “I’d travel 3,000 miles to ride something like this.”