Frequently Asked Questions
Many of you have e-mailed me with questions about Joyrides. Here are the
most frequently asked questions (FAQs) along with my replies. If you have a question for
me, please check this list before sending me e-mail, because I might have already answered
your question. If you have a new question, feel free to contact me Joe Schwartz,
Questions about This Website
Questions about Other Websites
Questions about Amusement Parks and Rides
Questions about the Photos
When are you going to add some new photos?
Sorry, I've stopped updating the site, as you can probably tell.
Why don't you have any photos of my favorite
amusement park or ride?
Most likely, I haven't visited that park since I began photographing rides in
1994. Or perhaps I visited when the weather was lousy, and I didn't like how my pictures
came out. Or maybe your favorite ride was particularly difficult to photograph. Please
don't take offense if I haven't included your favorite park or ride Joyrides is just a
collection of my favorite photos, and there are plenty of great rides that I haven't
photographed to my satisfaction.
Could you put my photos on Joyrides?
Sorry, I use only my own photos on Joyrides.
Can I use your photos on my website?
Yes, but only if it's a non-commercial site. Provided that you follow the rules
on my copyright page, you don't need to ask for my permission.
Can I use your photos on my commercial website, or
for some other commercial purpose?
Not without my prior written permission see
my copyright page for details. Please contact me at
to purchase a commercial license. Typically, my fee ranges from $200 to $800 per photo,
depending on the size and distribution of the reproduced photos. I can provide high-resolution
JPEG images (roughly 3600 by 5400 pixels) or the original 35mm negatives if necessary (but
they must be returned to me as soon as possible).
Please note that I do not have model releases from any of the people in my
photos, nor property releases from any of the amusement parks. I cannot give permission
for non-editorial commercial use of any photos containing recognizable faces. I may grant permission for
commercial use of the remaining photos, but you're responsible for obtaining a property
release from the appropriate amusement park.
Can I link to Joyrides from my website?
Yes, you're welcome to link to any of the HTML pages on Joyrides without my
permission. However, you may not link directly to any of the JPEG files. If you prefer, you may use this banner as
a link to the Joyrides home page:
Could you link to my website?
Since there are so many websites devoted to amusement parks, I limit my recommendations to those which I think are the very best. If your
site provides interesting original content, I'll consider linking to it.
Will you link to my website if I ask really nicely?
Pretty please? I'm begging you!
Sorry, but begging won't change my mind. There are good sites and bad sites, and
I think it's helpful to distinguish between them. If your website is just a rehash of
other sites, try to think of something unique to add. Try to create a site that you'd want
to visit (and revisit) if it belonged to someone else. When your site rises above the
rest, I'll link to it.
Where is your amusement park located? What hours is
it open? How can I get tickets?
I don't own an amusement park, and I have no affiliation with any of the
amusement parks pictured on Joyrides. I simply visit these parks and take photos. If you
need information about one of the parks, please contact that park directly. Most of my
pages contain a link to an amusement park's official website.
I want to purchase your rides for my amusement park. How
much do they cost?
I don't own or sell any amusement park rides I only photograph them. You can find
many rides for sale on the AIMS website and on UsedRides.com.
How can I find the address or telephone number of a
particular amusement park?
You can refer to David O'Connor's index of North
American parks. You can also consult Tim Melago's list of amusement park websites.
How can I find a particular book or video about
Contact Gόnther Hall, a resale company specializing in amusement-related
publications. It's owned and operated by Nancy Stillwagon, who's probably the friendliest
and most helpful enthusiast in the industry.
How many amusement parks have you visited?
In the past fifteen years, I've been to almost every amusement park in North America,
plus another 20 in Europe. At last count, I've ridden over 500 roller coasters.
Have you ridden all of the rides in your photos?
Most of them. I've ridden all the operating roller coasters that I've
photographed, but I skipped a few of the other
Which rides are the best?
That's a very touchy subject and a matter of strong personal opinion. Amusement
park rides, especially roller coasters, act on riders in a variety of ways both
physical and emotional. Everyone has their own favorites, for their own reasons. I happen
to enjoy wild airtime more than anything else, but you may prefer other aspects of a ride.
With that in mind, here are my current favorites:
Wooden Roller Coasters:
Voyage Holiday World, Santa Claus, Indiana, USA
El Toro Six Flags
Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey, USA
Raven Holiday World, Santa Claus, Indiana, USA
Athol, Idaho, USA
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USA
Steel Roller Coasters:
Superman Six Flags New England, Agawam, Massachusetts, USA
X Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, California, USA
Expedition GeForce Holiday Park, Hassloch, Germany
Goliath Six Flags Holland, Biddinghuizen,
Flags America, Largo, Maryland, USA
Flyer (Flying Scooters) Knoebels, Elysburg,
found at carnivals
Men In Black Universal Studios Florida, Orlando, Florida,
Spiderman Islands of
Adventure, Orlando, Florida,
Stratosphere Tower, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Did you take all of these photos yourself?
Yes, I did.
Could you e-mail me some of your photos?
That's not necessary most web browsers can save downloaded images on your hard
disk. For example, if you're using the Windows version of Netscape or Internet Explorer,
you can click the right mouse button on an image and choose the "Save As..."
menu item. Check your browser's documentation for details.
Why do the photos look grainy?
You've probably set your video display to use only 256 colors (8 bits per pixel).
For the best appearance, set your video display to use thousands or millions of colors (16
or 24 bits per pixel).
Why do the photos look blurry?
If you're using America Online, you probably have image compression turned on.
Although this makes the photos download faster, it drastically reduces their quality.
Consult the America Online instructions and turn off image compression to see the photos
at full sharpness. (If these words look blurry also, consider buying a new monitor or
consulting an eye doctor.)
What type of camera and film do you use?
For most of my photos, I used a 35mm point-and-shoot (P&S) zoom camera. I've tried
several different models from Minolta, Canon, and Samsung,
and all of them were reasonably good. The best thing about a P&S camera is its small size. The worst thing
about a P&S is its slow lens it takes a relatively long time to gather a certain
amount of light onto the film. This means you have to use fast film, especially if you
intend to use the zoom. I always use 400-speed print film, either Fujicolor
Superia or Kodak MAX. On a sunny day, this film does a
very good job of
freezing the action, and it's only slightly more grainy than 100- or 200-speed film.
In 1999, I finally decided to buy a single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. An SLR
has several advantages over a P&S faster and exchangeable lenses, more manual
control, and a larger viewfinder that shows you almost exactly what the lens sees. Currently, I'm
using a Canon EOS
Elan 7 camera with a Tamron 24-135mm zoom lens. This equipment is quite a bit better than a P&S camera. Since its lens is much faster, I
can use a faster shutter speed and get sharper action shots than before. Granted, this SLR is much larger and heavier than a P&S,
but I prefer its added flexibility and higher quality.
By the way, I highly recommend Philip Greenspun's incredible photo.net website for advice on anything
related to photography. I can only aspire to his level of greatness.
What type of scanner do you use to scan the photos?
For most of the photos on my site, I had the negatives transferred onto a Photo CD. This process uses a
high-resolution professional scanner, and the resulting images usually contain more
visible detail than the prints do. I used Wal-Mart for this service because they're much cheaper than any
other place I've found $0.88 per image.
Nowadays, I use a Nikon
Super Coolscan 4000 ED scanner, which can scan 35mm negatives and
slides. It has the awesome feature of using an infrared sensor to automatically remove scratches
spots from the scanned image. Its ultra-high resolution of 4000 dpi is overkill for web
images, but it helps to extract fine details when printing enlargements. I use Ed
Hamrick's excellent VueScan
software ($40) to perform each scan it almost always produces better images than the
software that comes with the scanner.
What software do you use to manipulate the photos?
I can't bring myself to shell out $600 for Photoshop, so I
($90) and Paint Shop Pro
($70) instead. Both programs are extremely useful for retouching photos. PhotoImpact also
comes with a set of utilities which are especially handy for creating web pages. These are
the steps that I typically perform on each photo:
Rotate the image to make sure that any vertical elements line up with
the edge of the image.
Crop the image to remove unnecessary elements and direct attention to
Cover up any dust spots by copying and pasting nearby groups of pixels.
Adjust the brightness, contrast, and highlight/shadow detail. This used
to be the hardest part of the process, because it involved trial-and-error manipulation of
several different variables. In many cases, my Photo CD images were much darker and duller
than their corresponding prints, and it took a lot of fussing to make them look good.
Thankfully, I discovered a wonderful plug-in utility called Intellihance ($200) that greatly
simplifies this task. In this Lil' Phantom
example, Intellihance easily yanked an attractive picture out of the murk:
Duplicate and shrink the image to create a thumbnail, then use
PhotoImpact's Button Designer to add beveled edges. I save the thumbnail as a JPEG file
with a quality level of 50.
Add my copyright notice, give it a shadow, and adjust the colors to
create a chiseled effect.
Sharpen the image.
Use PhotoImpact's SmartSaver to determine the best compromise between
image quality and JPEG file size. Most of the time, I use a quality level around 70.
Can you give me any advice about taking photos at amusement parks?
Start by looking at other people's photos and deciding what you like or dislike
about each one. I try to capture the motion and excitement of a ride if it's a roller
coaster, I want to see the train in action. If I can get close enough, I want to see the
Always be aware of how much light you have and what direction it's coming
from. Try to visit amusement parks on sunny days whenever possible. Keep the sun behind
you make sure your shadow is pointing toward the subject. Remember that the sun moves
from east to west, so a scene that's poorly lit in the morning might be better lit in the
Experiment with different compositions. Use vertical photos to emphasize
height. When converting photos into digital form, improve the composition by cropping out
unimportant or distracting details. If a scene is too wide to fit in one photo, try taking
multiple shots and piecing them together.
Look for unusual vantage points. Sometimes you get the best view of a ride
while waiting in line or exiting the ride. (If you stop in line to take photos, be
courteous and let others walk around you.) Occasionally, you can photograph a ride while
you're riding another one keep your eyes open!
Be patient it can take a while to get a good shot. Don't be afraid to
use lots of film. (For each photo you see on Joyrides, there are five others that didn't
make the cut.) It's not uncommon for me to spend several hours taking photographs, so it
shouldn't surprise you that I usually visit amusement parks by myself.
Above all, have fun. If it becomes a chore, just put away the camera and
Photos Copyright ©
1994-2004 Joe Schwartz