Mountainfest 2020

by Vanessa Thomas

Climbing the lift hill of the Wisp Mountain Coaster (Credit: Vanessa Thomas)

When people find out I’m a roller coaster enthusiast, they sometimes ask what the scariest coaster is that I’ve ever ridden. It’s hard for me to answer, because I don’t find roller coasters scary at all. The Wisp Mountain Coaster is another story, though. I’ve been riding this mountain coaster for years, at nearly every Mountainfest event hosted by ACE Mid-Atlantic. The ride never fails to thrill me, and this year was no exception.

Most years, the Sunday afternoon of Mountainfest is a chilly, sometimes snowy affair. But on March 8, 2020, an unusually warm and sunny day welcomed a dozen ACE members to Wisp Mountain Resort. After signing our waivers for the mountain coaster, we each received four ride tickets. We walked to the ride station and gathered for a group photo, then got in line. A short mechanical delay gave us extra time to socialize, some of us discussing the previous day’s Coasterbash event in Pittsburgh (hosted by ACE Western Pennsylvania) and our upcoming coaster plans for the year. But the wait was not long, and we were soon riding up the lift hill, one by one.

I’m always grateful to have four ride passes at this event, because it allows me to get a bit braver on each ride. The rider is in control of how fast their cart goes, and I tend to be a little hesitant on the first run, applying the brakes when flying around the ride’s sharp curves. I can’t help it, because it truly feels like the cart and I might fly off the rails if I don’t. But if you’re brave and don’t apply the brake too much, you can experience the full thrill of the coaster and even get a little airtime over the ride’s short dips if you’re going fast enough.

After each of us completed our four runs on the mountain coaster and gathered at the bottom, most of us felt that we weren’t quite ready to go home. So we decided to gather for lunch at a nearby pizza place. We shared each other’s company over some good food, talked about our rides on the mountain coaster, and swapped stories of our amusement park experiences and adventures. When the meal was over, we finally said our goodbyes and parted ways, some headed east and some west, all taking home new memories of a good day of off-season coaster riding.

Thanks to Bill Galvin for organizing the event year after year. I know I’ll look forward to gathering in western Maryland and riding the Wisp Mountain Coaster with my fellow ACE members again next year.

Mountainfest 2020 group photo (Credit: Jeremy Wdowicki)