|Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)|
What is ACE?
Founded in 1978, American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) is a non-profit organization of more than 5,500 members from 16 countries.
ACE is the world’s largest ride enthusiast organization. Among its members are the most educated, dedicated, and passionate amusement park guests. ACE’s activities are extensive and include award-winning publications, action-packed events, and exhaustive preservation efforts. ACE is highly visible in the mainstream media. Local television stations and newspapers often consider ACE events in their area to be major news items. ACE members are frequently on hand for the debut of major new roller coasters at amusement and theme parks. In addition, numerous shows made for television networks such as The Discovery Channel have prominently featured ACE. Ultimately, ACE’s mission is to promote and enjoy roller coasters everywhere, regardless of type or size.
What happens at ACE events?
ACE events are scheduled at amusement and theme parks throughout North America, and smaller more remote destinations are not overlooked. Often two or more parks in an area are visited during a single event. National events include two weekend conferences each year and the club’s weeklong signature event — Coaster Con. ACE also organizes extended tours at parks on other continents, including Europe and Asia.
Undoubtedly, one of the most anticipated activities at an ACE event is ERT (Exclusive Ride Time), a concept pioneered by ACE wherein host parks set aside a few hours, before they open and/or after they close, so that attendees may enjoy the rides without crowds.
ACE’s annual convention, Coaster Con, is the organization’s flagship event and is held the third week in June. Typically lasting five to six days, Coaster Con is far more than just riding roller coasters. Presentations, workshops, photo and video contests are just some of the activities one finds at a Coaster Con. A gala banquet, where luminaries from the amusement industry appear as featured keynote speakers, is one of the event’s highlights.
As many members quickly discover, ACE is not just about coasters — it is just as much about the people who ride them. Lifelong friendships are born at ACE events, and some ACEers have even found true love, married, and started new generations of coaster enthusiasts.
Dozens of ACE events are also held locally at the regional level each year providing opportunities for members to gather at parks that are closer to home.
What exactly does ACE publish?
ACE News is the organization’s bimonthly newsletter. Each 20-page issue is filled with articles offering detailed descriptions of new rides, accounts of ACE events and other organization news, accompanied by dozens of photos. RollerCoaster! is ACE’s quarterly full-color magazine that features an extensive array of articles ranging in type from historical to technical to international, along with breathtaking photos. Both of these publications are included with most memberships.
ACE also produces a roller coaster calendar that is available each fall. The colorful 11” x 14” calendar features roller coasters from host parks from the previous year, new rides and those celebrating anniversaries.
How is ACE preserving roller coasters? Do roller coasters really need to be preserved?
While new roller coasters are being built each year, the classic wooden roller coaster is still somewhat of an endangered species. While about 2,000 such rides existed in the United States in the early 1920s, fewer than 125 exist today, and there are fewer than 200 worldwide. Over time, hundreds of coasters were lost as parks closed because of numerous events ranging from the Great Depression in the 1920s to television becoming a new form of entertainment in the 1950s to rising commercial land value in the 1970s.
ACE believes that wooden roller coasters are an integral part of the fabric that is Americana. The organization represents the talents of the most ardent park enthusiasts, amassing a collective historical perspective unmatched by any other group, anywhere. It is ACE’s goal to save or relocate endangered coasters through education, awareness, and promotion.
ACE’s preservation efforts have been instrumental in rescuing classic wooden roller coasters, joining efforts to refurbish the 1925 Giant Dipper in San Diego and Leap-the-Dips, the world’s oldest roller coaster, located at Lakemont Park, in Altoona, Pennsylvania. This 1902 classic is the last known example of a side-friction figure-eight roller coaster in the United States.
Another one of ACE’s projects, closely associated with preservation, is its ambition to develop, build, and operate a comprehensive roller coaster museum. In pursuit of this goal, ACE established a separate organization, the National Roller Coaster Museum & Archives (NRCMA). ACE’s own archival collection, consisting of thousands of items, including unique roller coaster cars, shares similar goals of documenting the history of the roller coaster and amusement parks, as well as the organization’s own history.
Since 2002, ACE has recognized rides of historic significance by designating many important coasters as an ACE Roller Coaster Landmark, an ongoing “Hall of Fame” of sorts.
How did ACE come to be?
When the motion picture "Rollercoaster" was released in 1977, Kings Dominion — a theme park north of Richmond, Virginia, used as one of the filming locations — staged a coaster-riding marathon as a publicity stunt. Three participants in the marathon discovered a shared, life-long passion for roller coasters, and the seed for what would become American Coaster Enthusiasts took hold. ACE officially became an organization when its first convention was held in 1978 at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia.
What roller coaster does ACE rank as the best?
As an organization, ACE does not rank roller coasters. Such a ranking does not make sense for ACE as a group. One of ACE’s goals is to promote and protect the classic wooden coaster form — often embodied by older rides at smaller, less visible amusement parks. Classic roller coasters such as Leap-the-Dips might never qualify as a top ten thriller, but as the oldest existing roller coaster in the world, there is no other ride that better signifies what ACE is all about.
Among ACEers, you will find as much discussion on this point as you can stand, but you will not find much consensus. This is part of what makes ACE so much fun. With so many members, each with personal opinions of what makes a good roller coaster, you are likely to find hundreds of different answers to such a question. Also, given the technological advancements in the amusement industry, there are simply too many different types of roller coasters to make sweeping comparisons. Instead, it is more useful to think of the different genre and sub-genre of coasters — wooden, steel, looping, inverted, launched, mine train, etc. ACE appreciates all of them!
How does one join ACE or find out more about it?
Visit the ACE Advantage page for more information and costs for our various membership options. You can join online or print a membership application and mail it in. Annual memberships start as low as $35.
Explore the rest of ACE’s site for more information on membership benefits, including exclusive discounts at many parks, a calendar of upcoming events, late-breaking roller coaster and club news, and a roller coaster census that tracks all of the known coasters in the world.
Join ACE for the coasters, stay for the friends!