Author and Photojournalist!
For more than four decades, Tim O’Brien has worked in the communications side of the entertainment industry chronicling in print and capturing on film the latest and greatest that theme parks, amusement parks and attractions, circuses, carnivals and sideshows have to offer. He has a strong interest and proven commitment to preserving the legends, legacy and the history of the industry.
From 2004-2014 Tim served as the national corporate spokesperson for Ripley Entertainment Inc. and had the privilege of showing off the company’s 90-plus attractions throughout the world, and in doing so has been widely published and quoted.
He was responsible for the promotion and public relations of Ripley Corporate as well as all Ripley brands and attractions worldwide and served as editor of the venerable Ripley’s Believe It or Not! cartoon, established in 1918.
Tim provided most of the talent booking for the various Believe It or Not! Odditoriums around the world, and the list of talented performers he brought to Ripley’s front door includes the best in the industry – including wire walking Nik Wallenda, showman Todd Robbins, the green skinned Lizardman, and Dan Meyer, the world’s foremost sword swallower.
In September 2009 he was instrumental in bringing Ripley’s Believe It or Not! back to the radio, after a 62 year absence, when he launched Ripley Radio – An On-Demand Oddcast. The show ran for 200 episodes and ceased new production in August 2013. The show is available for streaming at www.ripleys.com.
Prior to his position with Ripley Entertainment, Tim served as senior editor of Amusement Business, the world’s leading business trade magazine for the amusement park, fair, carnival, and circus industries. During his 18 years with the magazine, O’Brien traveled the world reporting the news and the history of the outdoor entertainment industry.
An industry specialist and award winning photojournalist, Tim has had more than 5,000 articles and more than 3,000 photos published. He has visited more than 500 amusement parks and attractions in 29 countries and has ridden nearly 600 different roller coasters. He has appeared in more than a dozen theme park documentaries on the Travel Channel, The Discovery Channel and National Public Television. Tim has written and published 17 books, all still available on Amazon.
For his contribution to the international amusement park industry, Tim was presented the Lifetime Service Award in 2001 by the International Assoc. of Amusement Parks & Attractions (IAAPA) and was the first journalist to be inducted into the IAAPA Hall of Fame in 2016, where he joins industry greats such as Walt Disney, Walter Knotts and PT Barnum.
A graduate of The Ohio State University with a master’s degree in journalism/film production, Tim is an accomplished photographer and public speaker, having lectured extensively at industry seminars, schools, libraries, and various civic groups.
Tim’s published books include: Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Baseball Oddities & Trivia – Ball Two!; Tony Baxter – First of the Second Generation Walt Disney Imagineers; Dick Kinzel – Roller Coaster King of Cedar Point Amusement Park; Ward Hall – King of the Sideshow; Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Frog Oddities & Trivia; Baseball Oddities & Trivia; Amusement Park Oddities & Trivia; Legends: Pioneers of the Amusement Park Industry; Ripley’s Believe It or Not! 2005 Baseball Media Guide; The Wave Maker – The Story of Theme Park Pioneer George Millay; TP on AB – The Life & Times of Industry Journalist Tom Powell; The Amusement Park Guide; Tennessee Off The Beaten Path; Where the Animals Are; Fun with the Family in Tennessee; and he penned The Essential Guide to Six Flags Theme Parks with his daughter, Carrie.
His entire library of published books can be found on his Amazon author’s page.
Tim currently serves on the National Advisory Council of the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Ct.; on the board of governors of the Applause Award which recognizes the world’s top theme park; and is the former chairman of the Hall of Fame Committee of the International Assoc. of Amusement Parks & Attractions, of which he remains a member.
He is also a member of: the Outdoor Amusement Business Assoc.; the Showmen’s League of America; the Amusement Park Historical Assoc.; Circus Fans of America; Circus Historical Society; the American Coaster Enthusiasts; and the Darkride and Funhouse Enthusiasts.
When not traveling, he lives in Nashville, Tenn. with his wife, Kathleen and their two cats, George Harrison and Petula Clark, and all the friendly Koi in the backyard pond. When not writing, the Tennessee Master Gardener can usually be found in his backyard which has been named a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.
Updated: November 2016