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2019 Fall Thrillfest

by Elizabeth Ringas

A perfect fall day welcomed 135 ACE members and their guests from 12 states to the 14th annual Fall Thrillfest at Kings Dominion on Saturday, October 12th. A brief delay at the parking tolls sent volunteers into speedy mode to get everyone ready for a prompt start to ERT. All received their custom-designed event button in addition to their registration packet. Winners of the registration giveaway received their limited edition Twisted Timbers ticket plaque.

Focused competitors participate in the water shoot-out game. (Credit: Elizabeth Ringas)

ERT kicked off with rides on Twisted Timbers and Racer 75. As ERT concluded, all headed off to enjoy short waits for the 11 other coasters in the park because the beautiful weather would certainly attract evening crowds.

Shortly after park opening, attendees gathered for the Mid-Atlantic’s annual game tournament, which brings out a little healthy competition, laughter, and fun as we battle at the water gun shoot-out! Players fired water at a target to earn a spot in the finals. Stephanie Brady squirted her dog to the top first for the win. Kids battled in their own round, and Afnan Allahbaksh took home the prize.

ITOTs (Informal Takeover Times) offer attendees the opportunity to meet new friends and enjoy the energy of a ride packed with fellow members. Standing in line together can be a great place for ACE social time. Intimidator 305’s takeover brought many together filling multiple trains with members. Throughout the day, other ITOTs were held on Woodstock Express, Grizzly, and the Flying Eagles. Thank you to the volunteers who led these gatherings.

After a few minutes to catch another ride, all met for a backstage tour of Intimidator 305, Kings Dominion’s 300-foot Intamin coaster. The tour took attendees beside the lift hill, checking out the elevator cable system, and a journey deep into the structure to the first drop, where we took our group photo.

Photographers snap photos of Intimidator 305 during the backstage tour. (Credit: Jill Ryan)

Prior to lunch, an ice cream social was held for tweens & teens, and their friends and family, to help make ACE special for the next generation. ACE Mid-Atlantic’s Coast On activities create a great opportunity to help younger members meet their peers and build lasting coaster friendships.

A quick group photo before the informal takeover of Intimidator 305 (Credit: Elizabeth Ringas)

Lunch offered an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring new menu items added by Kings Dominion’s new executive chef, Denis Callinan. Lunch included Italian sausage with peppers and onions, fire-braised pulled chicken, tossed salad, macaroni and cheese, oven-roasted potatoes, cookies, chips, and soda. Once all had filled their plates, attendees were encouraged to find other members to complete a tic-tac-toe game filled with random facts, like who had the opportunity to ride Volcano, has a tattoo, has been tent camping, a member of the regional rep team, or has been in ACE for over 5 years. Three completed tic-tac-toes were drawn at random to win a pair of Fright Lane passes courtesy of Kings Dominion. Door prizes were given out randomly throughout lunch as well as some other get-to-know-you prizes, like who traveled the fartherest and who has attended the most ACE events this year. After a brief presentation of volunteers and reminders by regional rep, Elizabeth Ringas, Park President Tony Johnson answered questions from the audience.  Check out the entire presentation at https://www.facebook.com/acemidatlantic/videos/497322357781310/.

Park President Tony Johnson answers questions from attendees. (Credit: Jill Ryan)

After lunch, a few attendees took over a train on Woodstock Express, while others tried to catch a ride on Flight of Fear before its 4:00 early closing and before our exclusive Haunt activities began. Steve Fotta, Director of Haunt, took us on a behind-the-scenes look at Blood on the Bayou, Kings Dominion’s newest and most elaborate maze with two walk-throughs – one with the lights on and one with the lights off and all effects turned on. Hear from Steve Fotta himself in our recent interview at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLEk9_UGRjU&t=1s.

Later in the evening, we took a third walk-through during our EHT (exclusive haunt time) with all the monsters in place. It was fascinating to see how the detailed effects create an immersive experience and really do enhance the overall Haunt experience. Our EHT continued with front-of-the-line access to Trick-or-Treat, a fairy-tale themed maze. Our EHT brought the official end to this year’s Fall Thrillfest.  We hope you will join us October 10, 2020, for the 15th annual Fall Thrillfest! A huge thank-you to Kings Dominion for planning another fabulous event for us!


A group photo during the Intimidator 305 tour (Credit: Jill Ryan)

Weekend Up North

We had an opportunity to experience one of this year’s new coasters this past September. We decided to attend Rollercoasters Eh! – the annual event at Canada’s Wonderland, which was held by the ACE Canada region. We flew to Buffalo, New York, via Baltimore. Once we arrived in Buffalo, we got our rental car and drove across the border into Canada. We got settled into our hotel, then we ventured into Toronto. We visited the Hockey Hall of Fame and the CN Tower.

ACE Mid-Atlantic members at Rollercoasters Eh! (Credit: Shannon Somerville and Bob Ziems)

Saturday morning, we got up and got ourselves ready to go to Canada’s Wonderland for the event. 180 people from the USA and Canada were in attendance. Once we arrived, they had a small breakfast consisting of donuts and coffee from Tim Hortons (it’s the Canadian version of Dunkin Donuts). After that, we were divided into small groups for the tour, which took place at their newest attraction, Yukon Striker (a B&M dive coaster). They took us inside the tunnel and underneath the station. It was very interesting. The ERT session for the morning consisted of Behemoth and Backlot Stunt Coaster for an hour. Once 10:00 rolled around, the park opened to the general public, and we got the first rides of the day on Yukon Striker. After that, we went to the International Marketplace Restaurant, where they gave us another breakfast, buffet style. Then it was free time to explore the park.

Around 2:00, it was time for lunch, which was also held at the International Marketplace Restaurant. During lunch, each attendee got a Yukon Striker bag with a sports bottle inside. An hour later, it was time for a Q&A session with the management. One of the many things that they told us is that they’re getting WinterFest this year, but no, coasters won’t be operating. At 8:00, it was closing time, so we had ERT on Vortex (an Arrow suspended), Wonder Mountain’s Guardian, Leviathan, and to end the night, Yukon Striker. Overall, it was a great weekend.

– Shannon Somerville and Bob Ziems

Halloween Spooks Bring New Features to Area Parks

Kings Dominion steps up the Haunt experience again this year! Haunt brings two new scare zones and three new shows. The experience is not just about new, but a new level. The elaborate costumes that we saw at Winterfest last year have been duplicated in their details and the elaborate makeup makes the immersion very realistic.

  • NEW SCARE ZONE: Masquerade
    Her Royal Highness, the evil Queen Majesty, has decided to throw a ball like none other as she lays claim to the lands of the living and the dead. In what is bound to be the most prestigious ball ever thrown, Majesty is out to prove once and for all that every person and demon will eagerly follow her plan for domination. Part party, part scare zone, guests are invited to mix and mingle with the height of the undead high society, and those 21 and older can dare to try the specialty cocktails. Be sure to grab a selfie with the Duke and Duchess, but beware, sometimes the mask is there for a reason.
  • NEW SCARE ZONE: Pumpkin Eater
    In the last years of the Revolution, Peter Armstrong was a pumpkin farmer living off a winding road in the quaint woods of Virginia. Some say the spirit of a dead soldier possessed him, and in an act of rage he murdered his wife with a bayonet. He hid her body inside one of his largest pumpkins, leaving her there to rot. Soon after, he started seeing apparitions of his wife with the face of a jack-o-lantern. His rage not subsided, Peter went on to murder other victims, burying them all in the patch. The evil spirit in his body began to morph him into a pumpkin-like creature. His victims, too, began to rise and now haunt these once-tranquil woods with their jack-o-lantern faces.
  • NEW SHOW: Blood Reign
    A new reign of terror is here, and the overthrow of the dark beings has begun. Queen Majesty has grown tired of the antics of her minion, Overlord, and has vowed to bring hellfire down upon his followers. This opening SCAREremony will take place every night of Halloween Haunt at 7 p.m.
  • NEW SHOW: Heads Will Roll
    Join Queen Majesty and her Royal Court as they behead, one by one, the most loyal of Overlord’s subjects. Sometimes the executions do not go quite as planned, but they always end in a raucous musical celebration as her court of singers and dancers Put a Spell on You in this grand Ballroom Blitz. When the clock strikes midnight, the Overlord will finally meet his fate as Majesty makes one final cut in what is sure to be The Greatest Show.

In total, guests will experience seven mazes, six scare zones, and a variety of live shows during Halloween Haunt, with more than 400 monsters roaming the midways. If monsters aren’t for you, grab a no-boo pass from a gift shop and avoid the walkways at 7 p.m. as the monsters descend. Kings Dominion offers an alternative route for each scare zone so you don’t have to be scared to ride.

Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream brings new treats for 2019. Howl-O-Scream is back at Busch Gardens for 2019! Recently vote in the top 10 of USA Today’s 10 Best Readers Choice Awards, the park has been transformed into a much scarier place, filled with haunted houses, escape rooms, and frightening shows. But this year, the scares don’t just start at the front gate. There will be roaming hoards that leave the park and might just be greeting you as you open your car door.

New this year is the return of Jack – the popular pumpkin-headed mascot of long ago. Jack has his own outdoor show in Ireland this year, as well as an all-new escape room where he is ready to challenge guests. Jack has also taken over the Vault and transformed it into the new maze for the year, filling it with countless other classic characters.

As in years past, there are six Terror-tories and two shows (Monster Stomp on Ripper Row and Night Beats: Revamped). Coaster “Creepers” will also be roaming about, following guests onto the coasters and giving them an extra scare. Howl-O-Scream will run on select days between now and October 27th, with scares starting at 6 p.m. -Luke Reynolds

Check out Luke’s visit at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNxq2vmdmko

Six Flags America Fright Fest has added an extra weekend! You can enjoy all the festivities through November 3rd. Fright Fest brings two new experiences to all your favorites. New this year: Medieval Mayhem scarezone and Curs3d musical. You’ll find that Curs3d is offered in two versions – a family-friendly version and an R-rated version. Check out the second when you visit without kids, because it is not just a change of language!

Medieval Mayhem scarezone: It’s all fun & games until darkness falls. Then hell is unleashed. We’ll take you back to a bygone era when technology was primitive and prehistoric creatures roamed the land. Laughter will fade away the moment you enter this land, and your hair will stand on end as creatures big and small come from every dark corner.

They crave the taste of flesh and blood. They haunt and torment the living – hoping to steal the souls of any who trespass into their land. Beware of the demented creatures called forth to devour your soul!

Curs3d! Two vampire slayers encounter more terror, more monsters and more blood than they bargained for when they return to Dracula’s lab to slay him in this all-new musical thriller.  You’ll be glued to your chair as an action-packed fight for survival ensues. Not everyone will survive. Come find out who gets slayed in the end!

Adventure Park USA brings a fun and educational family adventure during their Fall Festiv-ALL Each Saturday features a different festival, and the entire park has added extras. Special attraction for Fall Festiv-ALL include a straw maze, pumpkin patch, a Native American experience, tomahawk toss, a barnyard, and so much more.

You can purchase a ticket for just the fall extras or add on the rides and attractions too. You can even rent a fire pit for the day!

Fun Land of Fredericksburg – All new for 2019 is Fright Land at Fun Land! In prior years, the evening hours transformed the laser tag into a creative haunted attraction, but this year, you will find a full transformation. Fun Land was recognized as the second best family entertainment center in the world at the recent Golden Ticket ceremony presented by Amusement Today. Some may be wondering if this is a move to take first place next year!

This year features a total of three attractions: two mazes and an escape room. One of the mazes takes advantage of the large grass area in the outside area custom built just for Fright Lane. Fun Land has worked intently to offer a unique, complete experience with theming and lots of staff brought on just to scare you.

Attendees at this year’s ACE Mid-Atlantic event Play Like A Kid will get a look behind the scenes, so don’t miss out and register today. Registration is available through October 6th.

Fright Land operates Thursday, Friday, and Sunday nights through October 27th and is not designed for young children. Special passes are available during Fright Land and you can save by buying online before going.

Volcano Arrives at National Roller Coaster Museum and Archives

by Elizabeth Ringas

Volcano, The Blast Coaster, has made its last trip, to its final home with some other Mid-Atlantic favorites like Big Bad Wolf, Apocalypse, and the large Hypersonic entrance sign. A car, some track, and signage arrived at its new home at the National Roller Coaster Museum and Archives in Plainview, Texas, this week. As sad as we were to lose such a treasured, iconic ride at Kings Dominion, it is comforting to know that it will be preserved and remembered for its contribution and significance in roller coaster history.

Volcano cars at the National Roller Coaster Museum and Archives (Photo courtesy of the National Roller Coaster Museum and Archives)

Volcano, The Blast Coaster, offered many rides and some momentous roll-backs at Kings Dominion from 1998-2018 before it was dismantled this season. We in the Mid-Atlantic certainly miss our ERT sessions on this special coaster. Manufactured by Intamin, it was the world’s first linear-induction (LIM) suspended coaster and the world’s only roller coaster to blast you vertically through the mouth of a volcano. Volcano held two records 1) the world’s fastest inverted coaster at 70 mph until 2002 when Wicked Twister, an inverted impulse coaster opened at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, opened, and 2) the world’s tallest inversion at 155 ft until Gatekeeper opened in 2013, also at Cedar Point.

Parts of Volcano arrive at National Roller Coaster Museum and Archives (Photo courtesy of the National Roller Coaster Museum and Archives)

The volcano that partially housed the ride was originally built in 1979 to house three rides – The Land of Dooz (later Smurf Mountain), The Voyage of Atlantis (later The Haunted River), and The Time Shaft. When these rides were removed, it was a remarkable reuse of a signature skyline to create a unique ride experience.

Not familiar with the National Roller Coaster Museum and Archives? It offers roller coaster history a place to be seen and enjoyed in the future. The museum is currently undergoing an extensive expansion that will offer additional display space and advance it towards being more visitor friendly. If you are in the Plainview area, visits can be arranged, so please reach out to your regional rep to make plans.

May Volcano, The Blast Coaster, ride on in our memories!

ACE Mid-Atlantic Celebrates America

by Corey Brown

On Saturday, August 24th, 51 ACE members attended Celebrate America at Six Flags America. This late-summer event gave members one last chance to experience the park before it transitioned into weekend-only operation. Members had the opportunity to bask in a nice August day, with clear skies and mild temperatures.

Check-in began early before morning ERT commenced. This year’s offerings were Firebird and Roar. Firebird has been running with its new trains for a few months, allowing them to break in and provide a smooth ride. With an hour of ERT, members could try out all six rows of the train or they could bounce on over to Roar, which was running two trains.

Once everyone got their fill, most members rushed over to Superman to get the coveted first ride of the day, or as many call it, the morning zen ride. There is something about cresting over that first drop while the public starts to dwindle into the park. Wonder Woman was also open at this point and many took the opportunity to get a zen, breezy ride on the starflyer.

Group photo for Celebrate America 2019 at Six Flags America (Credit: Nathan Brown)

Once the park fully opened, members had the option to do what they wanted to before an informal lunch at the Chop Six patio just after noon. Members opted to use their dining passes: many went for pizza and chicken tenders, while others went for Macho Nacho, one of the newer options on the dining plan. Those entering the funnel cake competition later on in the afternoon chose to eat light, to save room for the challenge.

Park Q&A (watch it here) occurred in the middle of the afternoon, in the Grand Theatre. Rick Howarth, Park President; David Johnson, Director of Marketing and Communication; Denise Stokes, Communications Manager, and a bunch of other executive staff joined ACE to answer questions. Information about the upcoming FrightFest and Holiday in the Park were given, as was useful career advice about how to get involved in the amusement industry. Elizabeth Ringas, Regional Rep., facilitated a live auction of Six Flags memorabilia while also handing out door prizes to lucky members. Items for grab included pieces of Wild One wood.

Right after the Q&A, Six Flags America provided the opportunity for six members to participate in a funnel-cake-eating contest. The rules were simple: whoever ate the most funnel cake while not using their hands won. For many of the contestants, the first set of funnel cakes went down fine, while the second batch was much harder (literally). The whole thing was a lot of fun and allowed for some good laughs as members scoffed down hundreds of caloric goodness in about six minutes flat. The winner received four free tickets while the other five received two.

After the funnel-cake-eating contest, members were free to roam and get dinner with their dining pass, before an early evening showing of the stunt show, Battle in the Badlands. As the evening progressed and night fell on the park, members took more spins on their favorite rides while others watched the remaining shows at the park. Once the park closed, it was time for night ERT.

One of the highlights of Celebrate America is the ability to ride Superman in the dark with no lines. This fan favorite delivers a fantastic way to end a day of fun. Many members took the opportunity to marathon the coaster by sitting in their favorite seat(s), getting at least a dozen rides in before ERT ended. For those who preferred the inverted aspect of Joker’s Jinx, it was also open for ERT.

Thank you to the park staff and regional team for organizing this event. With a new pendulum ride coming next season, Celebrate America will only continue to get better with time.

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