There aren't many things that I can think of that I've done for 20 years. The next longest thing I can think of is my marriage, clocking in at almost 11 years. I've been a parent for less than 10. My longest running job was 3 years. But 20 years ago, I started CoasterBuzz, and it's still a thing.
Tomorrow is actually the official anniversary of the launch date in 2000, and to commemorate it, I've been writing some history down to share with people over the next few months. I've had a unique view of the industry and met a lot of interesting people. Some of the stories are self-indulgent, some are general interest, but whatever, it's my stories. The introduction that I wrote probably captures it all best:
What you're about to read is a one-sided account of 20 years of amusement park history and the web site that covered it. It's part memoir, part history, probably too inside-baseball and definitely more nostalgic than it should be.
I landed in this place quite by accident. Back in 1999, I was beginning to mourn the death of my broadcast career, after being pretty sure in college that I was going to own it. I was 25 when I started Guide To The Point (now known as PointBuzz), and 26 a year later when this site became a thing. There aren't any rules when you're 20-something, or at least, you ignore the rules, and the Internet definitely had no rules. I didn't know what I was doing, I just knew I enjoyed this new hobby of publishing without a printer, a video camera or a transmitter.
Over the years I got to do some really cool things. I was invited to countless roller coaster openings, created an online club, attracted unwanted attention from a ride manufacturer, acquired a professional friendship with a CEO, toured a factory where they made coaster track, and most importantly, built a network of friends that I never expected to have.
Online community in the roller coaster world has already peaked. Maybe it will be more prominent again someday, if niche communities can wrestle it all away from social media giants. But there was a time and place where this community, at CoasterBuzz, brought people together. A few years ago I was at a wedding reception at Walt Disney World. As we enjoyed the drinks and the fries and tots bar (best idea ever), someone made the observation that many of us knew each other primarily because of this site. Sure, I created it, but its existence was something bigger than me. It was the one thing we all had in common. For that, I will forever be grateful.
It's hard to predict the future, but it can be fun to look back. I hope you enjoy some of these stories. You probably won't be interested in all of them, but I hope at least a few of them prove interesting. Thank you for your support over the years!
Truthfully, I can't tell you how much longer I'll do it. I don't have any reason to stop, but I've definitely slowed down. There isn't as much news as there used to be, and huge ride installations like Millennium Force, while not exactly common, aren't setting new records or surprising the world. The industry doesn't have a lot of room to innovate, and there are only so many parks where you can install these great new rides.
Right now, the ad revenue from the site is funding my side project, cloud-hosted POP Forums, which may or may not be a bona fide business, but there are other companies doing it, so why not? My immediate focus for that is to get PointBuzz's forums moved there so we can decouple all of the content stuff from the forum and improve both independently.
So here's to two decades of nerding over roller coasters!