For some, the term “airtime” conjures up the number of minutes you spend on your cell phone. But for a select group of thrill seekers, airtime is that exquisite zero-G weightlessness sensation experienced while traveling on trains over wooden or steel tracks at high speeds. These are the members of American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE), who will be visiting Astroland and the world famous Cyclone as the highlight of their annual Preservation Conference on Sunday, August 5. The conference will attract over 300 members from 25 North American states and provinces.
Considering the area’s rich amusement history and that Astroland is keeper of the world’s most famous roller coaster, Coney Island is a Mecca for coaster enthusiasts according to Mark Cole, ACE’s president. “Cyclone has been often imitated but has never been truly duplicated. Many consider it the granddaddy of all roller coasters,” said Mr. Cole. It was also among the first of only 17 rides in the world that the organization has designated an ACE Roller Coaster Landmark, an award reserved for rides of historical significance.
The purpose of ACE’s Preservation Conference is to bring attention to such classic roller coasters. A portion of the proceeds from the event benefits ACE’s Preservation Fund, which has supported a number of causes; ACE was the largest contributor to the restoration of Leap-the-Dips, the world’s oldest roller coaster, which reopened in its original Pennsylvania location in 1999 after sitting dormant for 13 years.
The Conference kicks off Saturday, August 4 at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ. “Great Adventure has become a popular place for coaster enthusiasts, considering how many world-class roller coasters the park has installed in the past decade,” stated Mr. Cole. From the venerable Rolling Thunder wooden racing coaster built in 1979 to the park’s two newest creations—the record-breaking 456-foot tall Kingda Ka and El Toro, a cutting-edge wooden coaster that opened just last year—the popular park has a wide range of coasters.
Founded in 1978, ACE is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation, promotion, appreciation, and safe enjoyment of roller coasters. With more than 8,000 members in 50 states and in 12 countries, ACE is the largest amusement park enthusiast club in the world. ACE membership includes bimonthly newsletters, quarterly magazines, and the opportunity to attend events at parks each year.
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