“I’ll be honest with you,” Martin Lewison, 52, told his students on the first day of class on Tuesday.
“One of the reasons I took this job is that there’s a theme park across the street.”This might seem like an odd way to kick off the semester, even if Farmingdale State College does sit directly across Route 110 from Adventureland Amusement Park on Long Island. Lewison, an amusement park enthusiast obsessed with roller coasters, there is no ignoring the fact that Turbulence — Adventureland’s bright green, plunging, spinning coaster — can be seen from the university’s business school. Lewison, an assistant professor of marketing and management, walks his classes over to Adventureland for field trips, and works his amusement park expertise into his curriculum.
He has created special classes such as Theme Parks and Tourism, and drawn material from his trips as a self-described coaster nut: a serial rider with few peers when it comes to amassing visits to different coasters around the country and the world.
He says he has ridden over 1,800 different roller coasters in more than 33 different countries over the last dozen years, a tally recorded along with other top riders on the website
The constant travel might seem unaffordable on a public university professor’s salary, were it not for the generosity of his wife, Dr.
Cheryl Lewison, who shares his coaster affinity and his impressive riding totals. Lewison left a corporate law career to pursue medicine, and is now an emergency room doctor at Queens Hospital Center.
Her income helps finance the trips.“I thank my lucky stars every day — I definitely hit the jackpot” in marrying Dr. “I remember I told my father that I met a woman who was a lawyer and a doctor.
He said, “You marry that girl tonight.’”Both grew up riding coasters, but their joint pursuit began in earnest in 2007, about a year into their marriage.
Early on, they could rack up nearly 200 coasters a year by hitting jackpot sites like Cedar Point park in Ohio, where they could ride a dozen coasters in one trip.
Then they began hitting coasters all over the world.“He said that when we got to 1,000 coasters, we’d stop,” she said, “and conveniently, he forgot.”They visited 125 last year, Mr.
Lewison said, and this year’s expeditions have ranged from New Zealand to the Jersey Shore.
In coming months, they plan on hitting amusement parks in the Middle East and Vietnam, not to mention the Halloween festivities at Great Adventure in New Jersey.