Roller Coaster Fanatic Has Spent $50K On Theme Parks

Marcus Gaines is so obsessed with riding roller coasters he has spent more than $50,000 for the thrill of trying out new rides. The 39-year-old television cameraman says he spends about a month each year at amusement parks, and has so far ridden 1,099 coasters at 251 parks across 19 countries.

“Nothing give me as much of a thrill as a rollercoaster,” Gaines told the Daily Mail. The fanatic rides an average of 100 coasters a year, sometimes traveling abroad alone to try out new rides. On a recent three-week trip to China, he took on 70 coasters in 26 parks.

And at home in England, his obsession doesn’t stop. Gaines has ridden Nemesis at Alton Towers (the theme park that famously banned Speedos to “protect children”) in Staffordshire approximately 350 times.

Of course, Gaines has some competition out there if he’s going to try to take the crown for theme park king. Stefan Zwanzger, a man known as “The Theme Park Guy,” has traveled to 44 countries, including North Korea, in his quest to study different cultures and their playgrounds.

Alton Towers Resort bans loud sex in some hotel rooms

I’m sure we’ve all stayed a night in a hotel where we wished that there was a ban on sex because of the couple in the room next door, but I can honestly say I never thought I’d see a day when an actual hotel sex ban went into effect.

That’s exactly what has happened in some hotel rooms at the Alton Towers Resort, a giant theme park and water park in Staffordshire outside London.

After complaints from families about noisy hotel neighbors louder than the screams from the roller coasters, Alton Towers’ owners have designated certain rooms as quiet “family friendly” zones and others as “adults only.” The family friendly zones have been set up in both the Alton Towers Hotel and Splash Landings.

To be fair, I’ve been awakened by loud kids more often than I have by couples getting it on in the room next door, so perhaps those adults-only zones are the place to be.

[Image credit: Flickr user Annika Leigh]

Alton Towers theme park offers free mullets and perms for employees

British theme park Alton Towers – the site of the 2009 Speedo ban that delighted women worldwide – is bravely trying to bring back the mullet.

The park is headed back to the 1980s to celebrate its 30th anniversary later this month.

So to give Alton Towers a more authentic 1980s feel, officials are offering employee makeovers – complete with mullet haircuts for the guys and perms for the gals.

The “business in the front, party in the back” look had its heyday around the time of the artists at a concert planned for May 23 at Alton Towers.

Rick Astley (“Never Gonna Give You Up”), Bananarama (“Cruel Summer”) and Kim Wilde (“Kids in America”) are scheduled to perform at the show, which is free with theme park admission.

Discounted early bird tickets are available online for about $38.

Neighbors bothered by naturist B&B

Neighbors of Domain Farm, a recently opened naturist Bed and Breakfast in Staffordshire, England, are complaining about seeing more than they want to of the guests.

The B&B is a converted farm and features a sun deck, hot tub, and barbeque area, and while it’s set in a rural landscape, it is within sight of other homes. This brings it into the ongoing controversy, not limited to naturism, of where to draw the line between individual liberty and consideration of others. The owners are busy planting trees and shrubs around the property, but their efforts aren’t quick enough for the locals.

Despite the weather, naturism or nudism is quite popular in the UK. British Naturism, the official naturist organization, reports a membership of more than 16,000. There are numerous clothing-optional beaches in places like Brighton, and naturists are encouraged by the fact that there is no law explicitly banning public nudity, only indecent exposure. What this breaks down to in reality is that if you bare all in front of Buckingham Palace, you’ll be hauled away. If you hike in the nude, you’ll probably be fine. In fact, British naturists say nude hiking is quite popular, although I’ve never seen any on my hikes.

I have, however, seen nude hikers at Seven Falls in the Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona, where nudity is clearly not legal. The falls are several miles up a rugged canyon far away from public view, so the cops don’t bother doing anything about it. What with all the car thefts and meth labs in the city, they have better things to do.

So if you like to get your kit off, as the English say, don’t dismiss the UK as a travel destination. The Naturist UK Fact File has tons of information. It may get cold and rainy, but at least you won’t have to deal with the desert sun and cacti like those Arizona naturists!


Photo courtesy of Peter Rivera from the Gadling flickr pool. These are statues in the Louvre, not pasty-skinned British nudists after a long winter.

Museum Junkie: Anglo-Saxon treasure goes on display

Prize pieces from a huge horde of Anglo-Saxon gold are on display at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

The horde, found in Staffordshire by a metal detector enthusiast, is believed to be the largest such find ever in the UK, rivaling even the famous horde of the Sutton Hoo burial ship, pictured here. The Staffordshire Horde contains 1,500 pieces of gold and silver and appears to be the treasure of a leading warrior or chief. The collection includes large amounts of male jewelry and decorated armor and experts believe it dates to the 7th century A.D., a time when England was a patchwork of warring kingdoms.

The exhibit is on until October 13, but if you can’t make it check out these amazing pictures on the horde’s official website. Many of the pieces are still undergoing conservation and study, but once that’s all done, you can expect a worldwide tour in a year or so. Watch this space.