The second and third days of the American Coaster Enthusiasts preservation conference was to be held at Michigan’s Adventure. After a quick photo of the group on the bridge at Indiana Beach, most of must jumped into our cars and headed some 200 miles north to the shores of Lake Michigan.
As I was driving I had thoughts of the old 1980s movie, The Cannonball Run staring Burt Reynolds, Farrah Fawcett, and Dom DeLuise. Here was 80 or so of us trying to get to the next park before the night time ERT. We coaster geeks are a rambunctious bunch!
I arrived at the motel in time to drop my bags and headed to the park. When I first arrived I was awe-struck. Here was this massive coaster with what looked like ten dips! I have never seen anything like it. That was going to be my first coaster in the park. My first ride was the ferris wheel to get a lay of the land. It took forever to get on but the view was worth it.
I headed over to the massive woodie that I saw coming in. It was Shivering Timbers. I waited for about a half hour before it was my turn in line as I waited for the front car. I have been on about 350 coasters in the last three years and my goodness this was one that I will never forget! It literally took my breath away. It was a constant up and down, up and down and it felt like we were flying. I know now what people are talking about when they say this is one of the best woodies in the world.
I still had a couple hours to kill before the ERT so I jumped on another woodie, The Wolverine Wildcat. I would later find out this coaster has an interesting story. It opened in 1988 and really put this park on the map. It was such an important opening that one of the daughters of the family that owned the park back then, was forced to skip her own college graduation because of the coaster’s reveal.
I also rode Zach’s Zoomer which happens to be named after that same daughter’s eldest son. It was a fun little woodie and hardly no wait to get on. I jumped on corkscrew and the big dipper in the kiddie section of the park. Since I had ridden four coasters in less than two hours I decided to skip the ERT and just grab my free ice cream cone on the way out just as it was getting dark.
Sunday morning I arrived early and in time for ERT. I jumped on the Mad Mouse after the requisite group photo in front of Shivering Timbers. It looked like most of the group had made it north in time for the day’s activities. We were alone in the park so I headed over to Thunder Hawk and waited in the shade for it to open at 11. I was the first, and only one on when it opened. It was fun to have a front row seat on a train all of your own.
Our picnic lunch was fun. We had pulled pork, hot dogs and cookies while the daughter that missed her own graduation back in the day–remember her, who is now the vice president, talked about how the park came to be and a few questions from the group.
This was only my second ACE event with my first being last year’s preservation conference in Alabama and Georgia. The only reason why I was able to make this one was because it was held right after our trip in the Northeast. I like the ACE events and it is fun to talk to members who you chat with on social media. I look forward to the next one and hope my wife, Michele can come too.
Lastly, I want to thank ACE for all that they do and of course the host parks. It is awesome that they are keeping these older coasters alive for all of us to enjoy. I can’t wait to see what 2019 brings!