David Boat (Kennywood)Ben Bode (Cedar Point)Justin T. Bowler (Disneyland)Mel Fair (Narrator)David Galido (Newspaper man)William Frederick Knight (Knoebels)Neal Matarazzo (Hersheypark)Brian McNamara (Luna Park)Michael Saad (Chippewa Lake Park)Kath Soucie (Elitch Gardens Lakeside)
Nathan Cutietta, Joanna Skye
Try and remember your favorite amusement park. It's easy. Have you ever wondered how these parks started? Welcome Back Riders breaks new ground, taking a collective look at the history of amusement parks. This film is not a superficial examination of 'who has the biggest roller coaster.' Instead, Welcome Back Riders explores the history of the amusement park as a part of Americana, and the larger-than-life visionaries who creations, from Coney Island to Disneyland, were, and are, a reflection of America's evolving culture. The ride begins with the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, continues through the Great Depression and straight into present day. We learn how some have survived, and with heartbreaking footage, we see what remains of once alive parks. Through Riders unique storytelling process, the essence of 10 parks are brought to life through character narrators with an intricate script that focuses on the story, with no interviews and few dates or statistics. Behind each park, a creative visionary poured his heart into crafting a park that reflected his personality, from Walt Disney to Milton Hershey. As the film unfolds, it becomes the first American Amusement Park biography. Using an antique 35mm camera, the film combines archival footage as early as 1901, home videos and colorful postcards of the parks, to both educate and entertain, cultivating a greater appreciation for a favorite American pastime. Welcome Back Riders combines history and personal journeys into one touching story, while evoking the nostalgia we all carry towards our favorite amusement park.