As I’ve talked about before on the blog, I became a Wonderland super fan back in 2003. Around that time, I was surrounded by amazing enthusiast websites and was active on many community forums. Being an immature kid trying to fit in, I wanted one of my own.
With my new site and forums, we formed a little group of coaster enthusiasts and Wonderland fans.
I used to annoy the park with really dumb questions (and probably still do) and at some point I must have asked if they’d be willing to host an enthusiast event, since I was so jealous of seeing trip reports of events at parks in the US. The discussion got serious and we were offered a 30 minute ERT slot for the new Italian Job: Stunt Track roller coaster in 2005. It was a really basic event but it was free and had one requirement: At least 30 people must be there.
Leading up to the event was a bit hectic from what I remember because we didn’t really have 30 people to list off hand. Thanks to the legendary PCW Junkies who must have brought in at least half of the required number, it happened. I was told this was the first enthusiast event the park had ever hosted.
September 3, 2005 rolled around and we gathered at the floral flag for a picture… which I’ve censored for privacy reasons and because the internet doesn’t need my mug on it, even from 2005.
I had a cheesy little day schedule printed out for everyone, which included a few times where we’d meet at certain rides. I don’t think anyone actually did meet up for those.
Once 9:30am came, we were escorted toward the back of the park to the Italian Job: Stunt Track where we enjoyed Paramount Canada’s Wonderland’s newest roller coaster for ourselves. (I don’t have any pictures other than the group photo or any video from the event, unfortunately.)
At the end of the event when the public started joining the queue, we were stopped down the exit path at a table where they had a set of these boxes. Each family/group was given one as they took down our contact information. I was told they’d be holding it so we could try and organize something again but learned that the list was lost once the Cedar Fair transition happened.
The box (the “vault”) contained copies of the Italian Job and School of Rock DVDs, a Mini hat, a small Nickelodeon plush, and this very clean set of pens. Keep in mind that this whole event was free to attend so we were all blown away by the gifts.
I still remember people coming up to me as they were picking up their gifts, telling me “great job” and “thanks for putting this together”. It was a great experience and one of the many reasons why I always feel I’m in debt to this park.
End of The Line
After that event, there were things that were going on that essentially guaranteed there wouldn’t be a sequel. I lost interest in keeping up with a website and forums while dealing with high school and other things…
A New Beginning?
Thirteen years later, it’s interesting to look at how the internet has changed and how the coaster community has changed with it. Social media platforms have made it easier reach so many people, and share information and media immediately. Parks are embracing it. It’s great.
However, I’m a lot more timid and fearful than most because of my past with trying to build up something big on the internet. There was a lot of drama that unfolded but I’d like to think it was part of being a kid with an internet connection.
As I’ve tried to put into words many times, back then I used to focus on the amount of people visiting my websites but I try not to be like that anymore. (Seeing success still feels nice, though…) If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past few years, it’s to do whatever you want that will make you happy, even if that means going to Wonderland weekly by myself just to share some pictures and make bad jokes on Twitter.