As It Happens

This Welsh man has ridden the same roller-coaster 6,000 times

When Ryan Hackett first laid eyes on the Megafobia roller-coaster in Wales, he rode it 21 times in a row. And he hasn’t stopped since.

Ryan Hackett's passion for wooden roller-coasters began when he was a child, and has never let up

Ryan Hackett has ridden the Megafobia at the Oakwood Theme Park in Wales 6,000 times. (Submitted by Ryan Hackett)

Story Transcript

When Ryan Hackett first laid eyes on the Megafobia roller-coaster in Wales, he rode it 21 times in a row. And he hasn't stopped since.

Hackett was among a select group of individuals selected to test ride the wooden beast before it officially opened to the public at the Oakwood Theme Park in Pembrokeshire in 1996.

"It was just fantastic, and I can remember clocking up 21 goes that day, and I said, 'Wow, how often do you get a chance to do that?'" he told As It Happens guest host Peter Armstrong.

"So I thought, I'm going to start counting. And that's what I did. And I've counted every single one since."

Hackett, 61, hit a milestone last week when he rode the Megafobia for the 6,000th time. 

Hackett, who lives in the Welsh town of Milford Haven, has been a roller-coaster enthusiast since he was just a boy. His mom would take him to a theme park in Blackpool — a nearly six-hour drive north — to ride a wooden coaster called the Grand National.

"I can remember almost flying out of my seat, and I just loved it. I mean, it was incredible," he said. "And so I can blame my mom for all this. You know, she started me on it."

The structure actually moves, and that's what you love. It's just part of the joy of riding a woody.- Ryan Hackett, roller-coaster enthusiast 

To this day, he still prefers wooden roller-coasters above all others. 

"The whole structure shakes and it's brilliant. I mean, I like it a little bit rickety, you know? In fact, some people call me 'the rough rider' because I do like some of the rougher rides," he said.

Hackett, left, says each ride on the Megafobia is different because of the way the wood moves in different winds and under different weights. (Submitted by Ryan Hackett)

What's more, he says wooden roller-coasters offer more variety than their sturdier steel counterparts, moving differently depending on the weather or how many people are riding. 

"People say to me all the time, 'Do you ever get bored after, you know, 100 rides or whatever, never mind 6,000?'" he said.

"And I say, 'No, never. Because it's made of wood. The structure actually moves, and that's what you love. It's just part of the joy of riding a woody."

Hackett has ridden his favourite rollercoaster 1,000 more times since he received this card marking his 5,000th in 2008. (Submitted by Ryan Hackett)

He's a member of the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain, which boasts over 1,000 members from 15 countries on its website, and has travelled the world to ride roller-coasters of all kinds. The key to a great ride, he says, is the amount of "air time" you get.

"That's basically how many seconds are you off your bottom and you're above the seat," he said. 

He's been to Canada's Wonderland in Toronto, where he's enjoyed the park's wooden rides, as well as the more modern steel Leviathan. 

But his favourite roller-coaster of all time is The Voyager, a wooden ride at the Holiday World & Splashin' Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana.

"I love it that much. I've even got a tattoo of it on my leg," he said.

Ryan Hackett likes the Voyager roller-coaster so much, he got a tattoo of it. (Submitted by Ryan Hackett )

But, of course, he'll always have a spot in his heart for his beloved Megofobia.

"It's a fabulous machine. And she's running as good today as she was 25 years ago, if not better," he said. 

"Maggie, or Megophobia, she's just so re-rideable. And like I've said, it's impossible to get off that ride without smiling."

Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview produced by Ashley Fraser.

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