GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — From June 17 – June 22, a huge turnout of 600 members of American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) will travel from across the continent to descend upon three theme parks for Coaster Con 41. The collective of aficionados represents 37 states and D.C., as well as Canada, England, Israel and Chile. Busch Gardens will be the grand finale June 21 and 22.
"This year is our 40th anniversary," said Communications Director Tim Baldwin. "We have so many ways we will celebrate the occasion. ACE was formed at Coaster Con I at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in 1978 with less than 60 people in attendance. Now we get to return to where it all began with ten times as many members. This is exciting."
In the book 100 Things To Do Before You Die, authors Dave Freeman and Neil Teplica place attending a Coaster Con as a must-do. For many enthusiasts, it is their favorite week of the year. Coaster Con 41 boasts a collection of renowned coasters, as well as numerous behind-the-scenes and coaster-related activities. Event organizers have been working for months to have presentations ready to go, as well as photo and video contests to challenge members. One of the biggest perks of attending Coaster Con is ERT, which is coaster lingo for Exclusive Ride Time. Prior to park opening and after park closing, aficionados have the wild rails all to themselves.
"Forty years ago, at our first convention, we were celebrating the opening of Loch Ness Monster," said ACE President Jerry Willard. "It is now recognized as an ACE Roller Coaster Landmark and is still thrilling riders today. Busch Gardens is known for its great coasters, beautiful landscaping and great entertainment — it's the complete package. It will be the perfect finish for Coaster Con 41."
Registration has exceeded attendance expectations. Prior to Busch Gardens, the group will visit Six Flags America and Kings Dominion.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg boasts eight roller coasters. In addition to Loch Ness Monster, members will enjoy time on favorites such as the towering Apollo's Chariot and Alpengiest, as well as the newest coaster, the wooden InvadR.
About ACE: Founded in 1978, American Coaster Enthusiasts is a nonprofit, volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation, promotion, appreciation and safe enjoyment of roller coasters. With more than 5,000 members worldwide, ACE is the largest and longest-running enthusiast organization in the world. Members of ACE receive exclusive park benefits, newsletters, magazines and the opportunity to attend national, local and even international tours at parks. ACE has been prominently featured on various news programs and many cable networks such as the Travel Channel.