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Going Along for the Ride : Entertainment: Two fans of Universal Studios’ ‘Back to the Future’ attraction have 150 trips in their past. And they keep going back . . . and back . . . and back . . .

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Thomas Capps has to wonder what he’s doing to his future by coming back.

Capps works for Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park. But he spends his free time at Universal Studios Hollywood--riding the rival amusement park’s “Back to the Future” attraction with a buddy, Philip Cooper.

On Monday, the pair were back. Wearing “Back to the Future” shirts, shorts, hats, sunglasses and wristwatches, they rode into the future for the 150th time.

“We’ll never get tired of it,” said Capps, taking a swig from his “Back to the Future” water bottle. “One day, we rode it 26 times,” added Cooper.

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Capps is a chef who has worked at the Knott’s Berry Farm employee cafeteria for six years. Cooper is a gardener at a Lutheran church in Buena Park. The 22-year-olds have been friends since they met on the first day of junior high school in Cypress, where they live.

Both are fans of the three “Back to the Future” movies: Each has three video copies of each film.

“One to watch and one left unopened in the original packaging--for the future,” explained Capps. “The other is a six-hour video with all three of them back-to-back,” added Cooper.

The pair showed up June 12, when the $60-million Universal City attraction opened. They enjoyed the time-travel ride so much that they each purchased a $59 season pass, allowing unlimited visits to the park.

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On weekly excursions since then, they have memorized every line of narration, every exploding sound effect, and every bump and turn in the 4 1/2-minute flight simulation. Riders sit in twisting, bouncing mock-ups of DeLorean cars as a 70-millimeter film is projected around them on an 80-foot dome.

“We recite the lines in our sleep,” Capps said. “But we keep quiet on the ride so we don’t disturb the others riding with us,” Cooper added.

Workers at Universal Studios recognize the pair. “Their hats and shirts and those glasses make them stand out,” said Jose Rodriguez, a “Back to the Future” supervisor.

The pair were certainly standouts Monday as they waited to take trip No. 141, the second trip of the day. Behind them, Darren Nelson of Spokane, Wash., was wide-eyed with envy. “I have all three of the ‘Back to the Future’ videos,’ ” the 8-year-old said.

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Darren’s mother was supportive. “When you’re old enough to do it on your own, you can ride it 140 times too,” Denise Nelson said.

Cooper acknowledged that his parents are concerned. “They keep asking what I’m going to do with my future,” he said.

Capps, a theater arts major at Cal State Fullerton, said co-workers at Knott’s Berry Farm seem to understand his obsession with the ride. “They’d known of my interest in the ‘Back to the Future’ movies.” Knott’s spokesman Bob Ochsner said Capps isn’t risking his time card by time traveling. “Amusement park employees are in the business of having fun,” Ochsner said Monday.


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