American Coaster Enthusiasts

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American Coaster Enthusiasts
Acecoasterlogo.png
Founded 1978
Location
Members
over 5,000
Website http://www.aceonline.org/

American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) is a non-profit organization founded in 1978 that focuses on the knowledge, enjoyment, and preservation of roller coasters. They are the world's largest organization of amusement ride enthusiasts with over 5,000 members from at least 16 countries. Members receive discounts on admission to many amusement parks around the world, including various travel discounts, and receive a free subscription to the organization's bi-monthly newsletter and quarterly magazine. Members are also invited to attend private special events held each year at several amusement parks, which include access to exclusive ride times – a period of time before a park opens or after it closes set aside for a particular ride.

ACE keeps an online database of roller coasters which includes ride specifications and archives of published news articles. In recognition of historically significant roller coasters, the organization has awarded their ACE Coaster Classic and ACE Roller Coaster Landmark statuses to those that meet a specific set of criteria. The organization also tracks roller coasters that are in danger of being demolished, placing a special focus on traditional wooden roller coasters, and organizes efforts to save or relocate them.

History[edit]

American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) was founded in 1978 by Roy Brashears, Paul Greenwald, and Richard Munch, who met at a roller-coaster-riding marathon event in 1977 on Rebel Yell at Kings Dominion amusement park. The event was held in promotion of the movie Rollercoaster released the same year, which featured Rebel Yell in one if its scenes. At the time, it was commonplace for thrill-seekers and prospective Guinness World Record aspirants to participate in riding marathons. Three of the participants at this particular event – Brashears, Greenwald, and Munch – discovered they shared the same passion for roller coasters and decided to form a club that would allow others that shared the same interests to join. The club held its first event, Coaster Con I, the following year in 1978 at Busch Gardens Williamsburg amusement park. The group officially became an organization at the event, which has been held annually ever since.[1]

Purpose and membership[edit]

ACE is governed by five officers, four of which are directly elected and one indirectly elected by the club's membership. These officers are the President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, and Immediate Past President. Additionally, ACE has twelve Executive Committee positions, which are appointed by a majority vote from elected officers.[2] One of their Executive Committee positions is the Regional Rep Director, who oversees a system of ACE regions, Regional Representatives, and Assistant Regional Representatives. These regions and their representatives often sponsor events at amusement parks, produce regional newsletters, and keep members within the region up to date via email and regional web sites.

The organization is almost entirely run by volunteers, with the exception of an independent contractor who runs certain day-to-day operations regarding mailings, receipt of event payment/membership dues, and merchandise. ACE members are required to pay annual membership dues that are available in individual, couple, family, and corporate packages. The organization fulfills one of its primary goals of providing education through its publications including the quarterly magazine RollerCoaster! and bi-monthly newsletter ACE News.[3] Other goals include promoting the conservation, appreciation, and enjoyment of roller coasters and their place in history as architectural and engineering landmarks.[4]

ACE Regions

  • California Northern
  • California Southern (including Hawaii)
  • Canada (except British Columbia)
  • England (including Ireland and the United Kingdom)
  • Florida
  • Heart of America (Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and southern Illinois)
  • Michigan
  • Mid-Atlantic (Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia)
  • Midwest (Indiana, Kentucky, parts of West Virginia)
  • New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont)
  • New Jersey
  • New York City
  • New York State (except New York City)
  • North Central (Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota)
  • Northwest (Alaska, British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington)
  • Ohio Northern
  • Ohio Southern
  • Pennsylvania Central
  • Pennsylvania Eastern
  • Pennsylvania Western (including parts of West Virginia)
  • South Central (Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and western Mississippi)
  • Southeast (Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and parts of Florida and eastern Mississippi)
  • Southwest (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming)
  • Western Great Lakes (Wisconsin and northern Illinois)

Membership dues

Membership type 1 year 2 years 3 years
Individual (1 person) USD $65 USD $120 USD $175
Couple (2 people at the same address) USD $85 USD $155 USD $225
Family (3 people at the same address)

USD $5 for each additional person

USD $90 USD $165 USD $240
Corporate USD $95 n/a n/a

Events[edit]

At the national level, ACE typically sponsors several events each year including an annual Convention (usually in June, starting on Father's Day), two or three Conferences held at various times (often Spring Conference, Summer Conference, and Preservation Conference), and two winter non-riding events (No Coaster Con held near Chicago in mid-January and Eastcoaster held near Allentown, PA in early February). Occasionally, members of the organization are invited by amusement parks for an exclusive sneak peek at new roller coasters under construction.[5]

Coaster Con[edit]

The annual convention, called Coaster Con, usually features two or three host parks, but sometimes focuses on just one and other times may feature as many as seven. It is the most complete and extensive event that exists for coaster enthusiasts on an annual basis. Not only are ACErs admitted to the host parks, but Exclusive Ride Time (ERT) is often granted on certain coasters before a park opens and/or after it closes. This is a time during which only registered attendees of Coaster Con may ride whichever roller coasters are offered. Coaster Con also generally includes a photo contest, video contest, Midway Olympics (where teams of participants play carnival games for "Olympic Medals"), ACE annual business meeting, banquet (with presentations, awards, industry keynote speaker, and auction to benefit ACE's funds), workshops, discussion groups, displays, and memorabilia sales tables.

No. Dates Host parks
Upcoming Coaster Con events
XXXIX June 19–24, 2016 Six Flags St. Louis (Eureka, MO) Holiday World & Splashin' Safari (Santa Claus, IN)
XXXVIII June 21–26, 2015 Six Flags Great Adventure (Jackson, NJ) Morey's Piers (Wildwood, NJ) Storybook Land (Egg Harbor Township, NJ)
Past Coaster Con events
XXXVII June 15–20, 2014 California's Great America (Santa Clara, CA), Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Vallejo, CA), Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (Santa Cruz, CA), Gilroy Gardens (Gilroy, CA)
XXXVI June 16–21, 2013 Six Flags New England (Agawam, MA), Canobie Lake Park (Salem, NH), Funtown Splashtown USA (Saco, ME), Palace Playland (Old Orchard Beach, ME)
XXXV June 17–22, 2012 Dollywood (Pigeon Forge, TN), Carowinds (Charlotte, NC)
XXXIV June 19–22, 2011 Six Flags Over Texas (Arlington, TX), Sandy Lake Park (Dallas, TX)
XXXIII June 20–25, 2010 Kennywood (West Mifflin, PA), Idlewild and Soak Zone (Ligonier, PA), Conneaut Lake Park, Waldameer Park (Erie, PA)
XXXII June 21–26, 2009 Silver Dollar City (Branson, MO), Worlds of Fun (Kansas City, MO)
XXXI June 15–20, 2008 Six Flags Over Georgia (Austell GA), Wild Adventures (Valdosta, GA)
XXX June 17–23, 2007 Kings Island, (Mason, OH), Stricker's Grove, (Ross, OH) Holiday World & Splashin' Safari (Santa Claus, IN), Beech Bend Park (Bowling Green, KY)
XXIX June 18–24, 2006 Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Old Town, Magic Kingdom, Cypress Gardens, (Winter Haven, FL), Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
XXVIII June 19–24, 2005 Six Flags Great America, (Gurnee, IL) Little Amerricka, (Marshall, WI) Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park, (Wisconsin Dells, WI)
XXVII June 20–26, 2004 Cedar Point, (Sandusky, OH) Memphis Kiddie Park (Brooklyn, OH), Geauga Lake (Aurora, OH)
XXVI June 2003 Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Kings Dominion (Doswell, VA)
XXV June 2002 Six Flags Magic Mountain, (Santa Clarita, CA) Adventure City, (Anaheim, CA) Knott's Berry Farm (Buena Park, CA)
XXIV June 2001 Hersheypark, Williams Grove Amusement Park, (Mechanicsburg, PA) Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, (Allentown, PA) Philadelphia Toboggan Company, (Hatfield, PA)
XXIII June 2000 Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, (Louisville, KY) Holiday World & Splashin' Safari
XXII June 1999 Six Flags Fiesta Texas, (San Antonio, TX) SeaWorld San Antonio
XXI June 1998 Kennywood, Idlewild, Sandcastle Waterpark (Homestead, PA)
XX June 1997 Kings Dominion, Busch Gardens Williamsburg
XIX June 1996 Lakeside Amusement Park (Denver, CO)
XVIII June 1995 Carowinds, Family Kingdom Amusement Park, (Myrtle Beach, SC) Myrtle Beach Pavilion
XVII June 1994 Belmont Park (San Diego), Six Flags Magic Mountain, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, California's Great America
XVI June 1993 Worlds of Fun, (Kansas City, MO) Joyland Amusement Park (Wichita)
XV June 1992 Kings Dominion
XIV June 1991 Kennywood
XIII June 1990 Six Flags Over Texas, Wonderland Park (Texas) (Amarillo, TX)
XII 1989 Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, Clementon Lake Park (Clementon, NJ)
XI 1988 Geauga Lake, Cedar Point, Boblo Island Amusement Park
X 1987 Six Flags Magic Mountain, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, California's Great America (Santa Clara, CA)
IX 1986 Six Flags Over Georgia, Lake Winnepesaukah (Rossville, GA)
VIII 1985 Lincoln Park (Dartmouth, Massachusetts), Rocky Point Amusement Park, (Warwick, RI) Whalom Park, (Lunenburg, MA), Mountain Park (Holyoke, Massachusetts)
VII 1984 Crystal Beach, Ontario, Canadian National Exhibition, Seabreeze Amusement Park, (Rochester, NY)
VI 1983 Elitch Gardens, Lakeside Amusement Park (Denver, CO)
V 1982 Hersheypark
IV 1981 Six Flags Over Texas, Six Flags AstroWorld, (Houston, TX), Fair Park, (Dallas, TX)
III 1980 Kennywood
II 1979 Kings Island
I 1978 Busch Gardens Williamsburg (known at the time as Busch Gardens, The Old Country)

ACE supports riding roller coasters responsibly and following all posted ride rules, especially those regarding remaining seated at all times. To this end, ACE members must follow a code of conduct. Failure to do so may result in suspension or expulsion of the offending member from the club.[6]

Awards[edit]

Coaster Classic[edit]

The Coaster Classic award was developed during a period when changes in the design, equipping, and operation of wood coasters threatened to erase these time-honored experiences and rituals. The award is designed to recognize coasters that still adhere to these principles, while allowing riders to safely experience the thrill of the classic wooden roller coaster ride. To be eligible for ACE Coaster Classic status, the coaster must meet the following criteria:[7]

  • Traditional lap bars that allow riders to experience so-called airtime, or negative G's, the sensation of floating above the seat, must be installed. Individual, ratcheting lap bars do not meet this requirement.
  • Riders must be able to slide from side-to-side in their seats. A coaster with any restraint or device that restricts this freedom, like seat dividers between riders, does not meet this requirement.
  • Riders must be able to view upcoming drops and thrills. A coaster with headrests on every seat or the majority of seats that restrict this view does not meet this requirement.
  • Riders must be free to choose where they sit. A coaster where riders are assigned seats before boarding does not meet this requirement.

The amusement park or theme park operating a coaster that is recognized as a Coaster Classic is usually presented a custom plaque. The plaque typically states:

It has been noted, however, that most coasters usually have disqualifying racheting lap bars, seat dividers, and head rests to prevent people from trying to stand up during ride. For example, Rolling Thunder at Six Flags Great Adventure has Buzz bars which meet traditional lap bar Coaster Classic requirements, but it is not a classic because of headrests and seat dividers being added in 1981 to prevent people from standing up during the ride.[8]

Coaster Park Opened Awarded Status
Big Dipper Geauga Lake 1925 May 23, 1993 SBNO
Big Dipper Camden Park 1958 Unknown Operating
Blue Flyer Blackpool Pleasure Beach 1934 Unknown Operating
Blue Streak Conneaut Lake Park 1938 May 29, 1993 Operating
Coaster Playland (Vancouver) 1958 Unknown Operating
Coastersaurus Legoland Florida 2004 Unknown Operating
Comet Waldameer Park 1951 Unknown Operating
Coney Island Cyclone Luna Park June 26, 1927 Unknown Operating
Cyclone Lakeside Amusement Park May 17, 1940 Unknown Operating
Cyclone Williams Grove Amusement Park 1933 Unknown SBNO
Giant Coaster Puyallup Fair 1935 Unknown Operating
High Roller Valleyfair 1976 Unknown Operating
Hochshaubahn Viennese Prater Unknown Unknown Operating
Hullámvasút Vidámpark 1926 Unknown Operating
Jack Rabbit Kennywood 1920 Unknown Operating
Kiddie Coaster Playland (New York) 1928 Unknown Operating
Leap-The-Dips Lakemont Park 1902 Unknown Operating
Lil' Dipper Camden Park 1961 Unknown Operating
Little Dipper Six Flags Great America Built 1950, relocated 2010 Unknown Operating
Meteor Little Amerricka Built 1953, relocated 2003, 2007 Unknown Operating
Montaña Suiza Parque de Atracciones Monte Igueldo 1928 Not yet presented Operating
Nickelodeon Streak Blackpool Pleasure Beach 1933 Unknown Operating
Nightmare Joyland June 12, 1949 Unknown SBNO
Roller Coaster Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach 1932 Unknown Operating
Rollo Coaster Idlewild and Soak Zone 1938 Unknown Operating
Rutschebanen Bakken May 16, 1932 Unknown Operating
Rutschebanen Tivoli Gardens 1914 Unknown Operating
Scenic Railway Luna Park, Melbourne 1912 Unknown Operating
Sea Dragon Jungle Jack's Landing 1956 Unknown Operating
Skyliner Lakemont Park Built 1960, relocated 1987 Unknown Operating
Teddy Bear Stricker's Grove 1996 Unknown Operating
Thunderbolt Kennywood 1924 Unknown Operating
Tomahawk PortAventura March 17, 1997 Not yet presented Operating
Vuoristorata Linnanmäki July 13, 1951 Unknown Operating
Zach's Zoomer Michigan's Adventure July 22, 1994 Unknown Operating

Coaster Landmark[edit]

In 2002, ACE introduced the Roller Coaster Landmark award. The award is designed to recognize coasters of historical significance that may not qualify for ACE Coaster Classic status.[9]

The amusement park or theme park operating a coaster that is recognized as a Roller Coaster Landmark is presented a custom plaque. The plaque typically makes a statement about the award and provides information about the coaster and its opening.

An ACE Roller Coaster Landmark Award plaque for Magnum XL-200, the world's first hypercoaster
The ACE Roller Coaster Landmark Award awarded to The Racer at Kings Island
An ACE Roller Coaster Landmark Award plaque located outside The Comet at Great Escape
Coaster Park Opened Awarded Status
Batman: The Ride Six Flags Great America May 2, 1992 June 20, 2005 Operating
The Beast Kings Island April 14, 1979 October 2, 2004 Operating
Big Dipper Geauga Lake 1925 Not yet presented SBNO
Blue Streak Conneaut Lake Park 1938 June 24, 2010 Operating
Coaster Playland (Vancouver) 1958 July 11, 2009 Operating
The Comet Great Escape Built 1948, relocated 1994 September 13, 2009 Operating
Coney Island Cyclone Luna Park June 26, 1927 June 29, 2002 Operating
Corkscrew Silverwood Theme Park Built 1975, relocated 1990 August 2011 Operating
Cyclone Lakeside Amusement Park May 17, 1940 August 2, 2003 Operating
Dragon Coaster Playland (New York) 1929 August 8, 2009 Operating
Giant Dipper Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk May 17, 1924 May 5, 2007 Operating
Giant Dipper Belmont Park (San Diego) July 4, 1925 April 23, 2010 Operating
Jack Rabbit Kennywood 1920 June 21, 2010 Operating
Leap-The-Dips Lakemont Park 1902 May 26, 2002 Operating
Legend Arnolds Park June 8, 1930 August 6, 2006 Operating
Loch Ness Monster Busch Gardens Williamsburg May 20, 1978 June 17, 2003 Operating
Magnum XL-200 Cedar Point May 6, 1989 June 21, 2004 Operating
Matterhorn Bobsleds Disneyland June 14, 1959 Not yet presented Operating
Mind Bender Six Flags Over Georgia March 31, 1978 June 17, 2008 Operating
Phoenix Knoebels Built 1948, relocated 1985 October 8, 2005 Operating
The Racer Kings Island April 29, 1972 June 18, 2007 Operating
Racer Kennywood 1927 June 21, 2010 Operating
Rebel Yell Kings Dominion May 8, 1975 June 20, 2003 Operating
Revolution Six Flags Magic Mountain May 8, 1976 June 16, 2002 Operating
Roller Coaster Lagoon Amusement Park May 28, 1921 July 30, 2005 Operating
Runaway Mine Train Six Flags Over Texas August 1966 September 9, 2006 Operating
Thunderbolt Six Flags New England Built 1939, relocated 1941 August 2, 2008 Operating
Whizzer Six Flags Great America 1976 August 10, 2012 Operating
Wildcat Lake Compounce 1927 August 1, 2008 Operating

Golden Age Coaster[edit]

The Golden Age Coaster award, a prequel to the Roller Coaster Landmark award, was established to recognize significant roller coasters that were built during the 1920s. Giant Dipper at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk received the Golden Age Coaster award in addition to the Roller Coaster Landmark award. Giant Dipper at Belmont Park (San Diego) also received the Golden Age Coaster award.[10]

Preservation[edit]

ACE takes an active role in the preservation of endangered roller coasters. Since 1985, the club has either directly or indirectly helped to save more than half a dozen coasters. Most notable among these are the Phoenix at Knoebels in Elysburg, PA, the first wood coaster to be relocated from a significant distance away (San Antonio, TX) in modern times; and Leap the Dips, the world's oldest operating wooden coaster, located at Lakemont Park in Altoona, PA. On occasion, some parks have also sought the opinions of ACE members about the design of new coasters. Most notable among these is The Legend at Holiday World in Santa Claus, IN.

Because opinions on what makes a coaster great are many and varied among coaster fans, ACE does not officially rate or rank roller coasters.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rutherford, Scott (2000), The American Roller Coaster, Osceola, Wisconsin: MBI Publishing Company, p. 120, ISBN 0-7603-0689-3 
  2. ^ Constitution and Bylaws http://www.aceonline.org/constitution/
  3. ^ Cartmel, Robert (1987), The Incredible Scream Machine, A History of the Roller Coaster, Fairview Park, Ohio: Amusement Park Books, p. 191, ISBN 0-87972-341-6 
  4. ^ Munch, Richard (1982), Harry G. Traver: Legends of Terror, Mentor, Ohio: Amusement Park Books, p. 176, ISBN 0-935408-02-9 
  5. ^ Seltz, Amanda (December 7, 2013). "Coaster enthusiasts get sneak peek of ‘Banshee’". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved April 10, 2015. 
  6. ^ Code of Conduct http://www.aceonline.org/conduct/
  7. ^ Coaster Awards http://www.aceonline.org/CoasterAwards/?type=1
  8. ^ Rolling Thunder (roller coaster)#Trains
  9. ^ Coaster Awards http://www.aceonline.org/CoasterAwards/?type=3
  10. ^ Coaster Awards http://www.aceonline.org/CoasterAwards/?type=2