About the RideZone Web Site

The RideZone Story

RideZone originally started as a website called The Amusement Parks of Pennsylvania in August of 1996. That site originally featured the 13 operating parks and a few of the defunct parks in Pennsylvania. By the summer of 1997, it was apparent that the site was too small in scope and size, so planning started for a much more aggressive site.

On October 7, 1997 the site moved to a new server and was re-christened RideZone, a unique name that would stand out in the crowd. RideZone had planned expansion for all of the US and Canada operating and defunct amusement parks and picked up a good following.

July 13, 1998 saw a totally redesigned site with a new look. Other than the home page and a few special pages, it is basically the same look and feel that adorned RideZone until 2013, with the easy to use navigation provided by the toolbar at the top.

By this time, there was some confusion between which parks were operating and which were defunct so the decision was made to split the defunct park pages off to a new site, defunctparks.com on August 10, 1998. Eventually defunctparks.com evolved into the name Defunct Amusement Parks and has been a leader in that category. The term defunct park was rarely heard before this site.

In 1998, RideZone started offering Dark Ride information and photos, a section which was very popular. A list of operating and defunct dark rides brought popularity to this section which grew with the addition of in-ride photos from Rick Davis. On May 23, 1999 RideZone hosted the Laff In The Dark section, co-created with Bret Malone. Eventually, Laff moved to it's own server. Due to a number of circumstances, Laff is under different  management. Bret Malone went on to operate the Tunnel of Laffs website (no longer operating). Laff In The Dark was here for it's first nine months and still features RideZone/Joel Styer and Rick Davis images to this day. Dark rides briefly returned to RideZone and then moved again, this time to the Darkride and Funhouse Enthusiasts (DAFE) web site (www.dafe.org), an excellent organization featuring all kinds of dark attractions. Most new dark ride and funhouse content will go there. DAFE is the only Darkride and Funhouse club in the USA.

While RideZone has had some unique content over the years, especially in the rides section, it was 2000 where some photos began to standout on their own. The highlight was the series of construction photos shot at Dorney Park™ in 2000 and 2001. The new ride was Talon: The Grip of Fear (a fantastic inverted coaster).

In early 2001, RideZone had freshened the home page and refocused itself a bit. The prime focus is to show information about the featured parks through quality photography and to highlight certain rides, not just coasters but virtually any ride type.

At one time, the photos were set RideZone apart from the crowd. By today's (2013) standards, they are a bit rough, mostly due to early scanning and post processing deficiencies. Most of the images were captured on film (print or slide) and scanned.

In 2003, the decision was made to focus on a "core" group of parks. That core consisted of Pennsylvania parks and those in the immediate surrounding states plus Florida, Massachusetts and Virginia. Photos from other states may appear now and then.

Photos featured at this site have been used in magazines, newspapers, newsletters, trade show displays, billboards, brochures, TV shows, official park web sites, math and science books, travel guides and countless enthusiast web sites. The images have also been used as inspiration for paintings, renderings, animations and T-shirt artwork. Users have included amusement parks, ride manufacturers, architects, publishing companies and hundreds of webmasters. Photos have been seen in most major enthusiast magazines and newsletters. At present, the RideZone/Joel Styer photo archive is well over 100,000 original park photos.

This site has been mostly dormant since 2004. The web has changed dramatically since the days when RideZone started and information is now easier than ever to find. When RideZone started, many amusement parks didn't have their own website, now every one has a web presence. There are also people who have more time available to do a great job at presenting news and information so the bulk of what RideZone originally provided is no longer needed. High quality photography is a less common however.

In 2012, RideZone will become a showcase for my amusement park photography, showing my abilities and what I can offer.

Some of the content will remain and be freshened such as the unique rides.

2012 update. A few pages have been updated slightly. Almost all of the photography on this website is old, not in the class of today's photography, including mine. While I still do some photography at amusement parks, most of it is for specific purposes such as for magazines, parks and ride manufacturers. Very little of it is just for fun anymore (I miss those days). Where that leaves RideZone, I am not sure at this time.

About the Webmaster

Joel Styer has been a park enthusiasts all his life. In 1984, he finally located the American Coaster Enthusiasts and promptly joined. Learning to enjoy most rides, he was hit hard at the closing of many east coast parks in the late 1980s, which is what really started the quest to find information on lost or defunct parks. Up until then, he only kept a (paper) list of defunct parks. In 2000, Rick Davis, Sue Davis and Joel started the Darkride and Funhouse Enthusiasts, a group dedicated to the dark attraction industry.

His background is in electronics design with an emphasis on video electronics and embedded control systems. Hobbies include Amusement Parks (of course), Photography, History, Transportation (including canals, trolleys and railroads) and computers/networking.

Software used to create RideZone

I am often asked how RideZone is created and maintained, due to it's fairly large size. Many are surprised at the answer. The site is managed with Microsoft FrontPage 2003 (originally versions 97 & 98 and 2000).

I am also asked how the images were created. Most photos before 2001 were shot on print film and scanned. Images from late 2001, 2002 and early 2003 were scanned from slide film with a pro slide scanner. Images from Nov 2003 to July of 2006 were from a Canon Digital Rebel DSLR camera. Images from July 2006 through March of 2010 were taken with a Canon 30d DSLR camera. After March 2010, all images are taken with a Canon 5d mark II 21 megapixel DSLR.

All newer images are managed and post processed with Adobe Lightroom (presently version 4.4) and Photoshop (presently version CS5). Many of the early image processing had been done with Corel Paint Shop Pro (versions 4.1 through X). Microsoft Image Composer was also used to create some special graphics.

About 98% of the page layout is done with just Front Page. Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, Word Perfect and Notepad are also used.


1995-2013 Joel W Styer. All rights reserved.
RideZone is not affiliated in any way with the Amusement Parks listed at this site
Please do not use any photos, images or content without permission.