American Coaster Enthusiasts
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The American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) is an organization dedicated to the enjoyment and preservation of roller coasters. Membership is open to anyone with payment of yearly dues, and membership benefits may include discounted admission to certain amusement parks. ACE members often meet at various parks around the United States and other countries for special events, sometimes sponsored by the parks themselves.
ACE was founded in 1978 by Roy Brashears, Paul Greenwald, and Richard Munch. At the time, it was commonplace for thrill-seekers and prospective Guinness aspirants to participate in marathons on roller coasters. Such a marathon was arranged in 1977 on Rebel Yell at Kings Dominion in Doswell, Virginia to promote the release of the movie Rollercoaster, starring George Segal, Timothy Bottoms, Henry Fonda, Richard Widmark, and Helen Hunt. Rebel Yell was an exceedingly appropriate choice, as it was also featured in the film. Three of the participants in this marathon, the aforementioned Brashears, Greenwald, and Munch, discussed forming a club for those who have a passion for riding roller coasters. With that, the idea for ACE was born and Coaster Con I (where the group officially became an organization) was held a year later at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
Purpose and membership
The organization's primary goal is education. ACE helps to promote the conservation, appreciation, knowledge and enjoyment of roller coasters and their place in history as architectural and engineering landmarks. ACE fulfills its goal of education primarily through its publications including the quarterly magazine RollerCoaster! and the club's newsletter, ACE News, published six times a year.
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 currently has twelve Executive Committee positions, which are appointed by majority vote of the elected officers.
One such Executive Committee position is the Regional Rep Director, who oversees a system of ACE regions, Regional Representatives, and Assistant Regional Representatives. These regions and their reps often sponsor events at amusement parks, produce regional newsletters, and keep members within the region up to date via email and regional web sites.
ACE is almost entirely run by volunteers, only employing an independent contractor to run certain day-to-day operations regarding mailings, receipt of event payment/membership dues, and merchandise. Annual membership dues are available in individual, couple, family, and corporate memberships.
ACE offers a variety of club logo merchandise for purchase to its members.
- California Northern
- California Southern (including Hawaii)
- Canada (except British Columbia)
- England (including Ireland and the United Kingdom)
- Heart of America (Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and southern Illinois)
- 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 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|
There is an annual publications postage fee of USD $10 for members in Canada or Mexico and USD $30 for members outside of North America. A 6-month non-voting trial membership is also available to individuals for $24.95. An individual may only purchase a trial membership once, after that they must purchase a full membership if they still wish to be a member.
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).
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.
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.
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:
- 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:
|“||THE AMERICAN COASTER ENTHUSIASTS RECOGNIZES THIS COASTER AS AN ACE COASTER CLASSIC.
ACE salutes this park for maintaining this coaster as an American treasure in its purest form. We congratulate you for the use of traditional materials, methods and equipment, which are fundamental to the classic wooden roller coaster experience.
ACE commends this park for operating this coaster in the traditional manner so that future generations may enjoy its classic thrills and its enduring popularity.
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.
|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|
|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|
|Kiddie Coaster||Playland (New York)||1928||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|
|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|
|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|
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.
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.
|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||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
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 also received the Golden Age Coaster award.
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.
- American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) (Official website)
- Rutherford, Scott (September 2001), The American Roller Coaster, Osceola, Wisconsin: MBI Publishing Company, p. 120, ISBN 0-7603-0689-3
- Munch, Richard (1982), Harry G. Traver: Legends of Terror, Mentor, Ohio: Amusement Park Books, p. 176, ISBN 0-935408-02-9
- 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
- Constitution and Bylaws http://www.aceonline.org/constitution/
- Code of Conduct http://www.aceonline.org/conduct/
- Coaster Awards http://www.aceonline.org/CoasterAwards/?type=1
- Rolling Thunder (roller coaster)#Trains
- Coaster Awards http://www.aceonline.org/CoasterAwards/?type=3
- Coaster Awards http://www.aceonline.org/CoasterAwards/?type=2