Tim's Turn - March 2018


Back in a Phlash

How a popular radio host indulges his love for coasters

One of the best ambassadors for the attractions industry today is a national radio personality who puts more miles on his car each year than many truck drivers. Phlash Phelps can be heard daily each morning on SiriusXM channel 6, better known as the ’60s on 6.

I am a fan and love to listen to his show as I take my own road trips. He chats with callers from across the country as if he grew up in their neighborhoods. He seems to know a little bit about every place. It’s obvious he’s been around—several times.

Traveling mostly on weekends and during his vacation, he puts more than 80,000 miles a year on his car, plotting out routes to take advantage of weather, areas he hasn’t visited before, and the location of roller coasters. He says he’s flexible when planning trips and that it’s all based on the high-pressure system on the weather map, potentially guaranteeing him a rain-free journey.

A member of the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) for 36 years, Phlash has a coaster count that now stands at 682 in more than 225 parks on four continents. 

Phlash’s wanderlust came as a result of being fired “a lot” from his jobs in radio, posting 17 gigs in 17 different cities in 34 years. His passion for the industry came about because of a book his father gave him when he was 14. “I got hooked on parks and coasters when I looked through ‘Roller Coaster Fever,’ which listed all the coasters in North America. All I wanted to do after reading that book was to ride each one.”  

His first park was Knott’s Berry Farm when he was 21 months old, and his first coaster was the “Trailblazer” at Hershey­park. Six Flags Magic Mountain has become his favorite park because “of the number of coasters and that it stays open much longer than anything up here in the north.” He loves Cedar Point, also because of its hefty coaster count, and the park’s 300-footer “Millennium Force” is his favorite coaster mostly due to its 93 mph top speed. 

One fun fact about his wish to whoosh is that he has ridden a Schwarzkopf Shuttle Loop in three different locations. “First time was at Kings Dominion when it was known as ‘King Kobra.’ Then I rode it again when it moved to Jolly Roger park in Ocean City, still as the ‘King Kobra,’ then rode it again at Alton Towers as ‘Thunderlooper.’” It has been located yet again to Hopi Hari in Brazil. “I’ll have to go,” he adds.  

Phlash has visited all 50 states, twice, stopping at parks along the way to ride new coaster installations. His current goal is to visit each of the current 417 sites of the National Park System, and by the end of 2017, had crossed 372 of those off his list. 

For 2018, he plans to use every one of his earned vacation days to go where he hasn’t been before and to visit parks and ride the coasters he hasn’t previously ridden. But don’t ask him too far in advance where he’s going, as he holds off planning his specific journeys until the last minute. “It all depends on that high-pressure system, I don’t want bad weather to ruin my adventures,” he says. 

I think we all can agree on that.

Tim O’Brien is a veteran outdoor entertainment journalist and is a longtime Funworld contributor. He has authored many books chronicling the industry’s attractions and personalities and is the only journalist in the IAAPA Hall of Fame.