For nearly a decade, David Witoslawski batted around the idea of a book dedicated to Pennsylvania amusement parks. The problem for the young Pittsburgh teacher was finding the time to do it.
Fortunately, some bad luck took care of that problem for him.
"I ended up getting injured last summer, just a simple broken foot ... but I ended up developing a nerve condition," Witoslawski said. "I had to take time off from work and I ended up having a lot of sitting around time. So I decided to start writing this."
"This" is "Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip," a 152-page book the 26-year-old McKeesport Area High School teacher released in December with his co-author, Brittany Howe - his fiancee.
"We've been to all the parks together," he said. "She's helped me out with photos, editing and a bunch of things. The only rides she doesn't ride are the drop towers. We'll be getting married next year."
The book is published by Waterfall Press and is available on Amazon.com, at the website www.greatpennsylvaniaparks. com and on various E-reader platforms.
"It's part historical narrative, part travelogue and part memories," Witoslawski said. "I talked to probably two dozen folks for this book, at least. ... I ended up researching the rides, researching their origins, talking to folks that have enjoyed the parks their whole lives."
In "Road Trip," the authors detail the sights and sounds of Pennsylvania's 10 amusement parks:
n Conneaut Lake Park, Conneaut Lake
n DelGrosso's Amusement Park, Tipton
n Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, Allentown
n Dutch Wonderland, Lancaster
n Hersheypark, Hershey
n Idlewild and Soak Zone, Ligonier
n Kennywood, West Mifflin
n Knoebels, Elysburg
n Lakemont Park and The Island Waterpark, Altoona
n Waldameer Park & Water World
According to Witoslaw-ki, Pennsylvania is known among amusement park enthusiasts for having the most wooden roller coasters of any state (17) and for having "spectacular" carousels.
"I love history, and the history of amusement parks is something I'm very into," Witoslawski said. "Just seeing the excitement in the eyes of folks, that's the reason I'm into amusement parks. ... They're sort of the ultimate place to relax."
The book took shape over time, but he had been collecting material for a long time.
"Every time I go to a park, I take 100 to 200 photos," he said. "And I've jotted down notes for 10 years."
In each chapter of the book, he details one park from top to bottom. Then, at the end of each section, he talks about the other local attractions.
Blair County is unique in having two amusement parks, Witoslawski said.
"Lakemont and DelGrosso's are both excellent little parks," he said. "They're both excellent parks, and you're very fortunate to have them. You have a relatively unique opportunity to go and not spend too much money and get some world-class rides."
Pennsylvania's parks are an opportunity for families to have an easy vacation, Witoslawski said.
"These are inexpensive trips. ... It's all about affordability in this day and age," he explained. "You can go to Orlando for four or five days and spend $400 dollars or you can go to Lakemont in the middle of the week for $5."
Mirror Staff Writer Keith Frederick is at 946-7466.