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Our 2019 celebrating 20 years of chronic coaster craziness

Posted: 9/19/19 at 12:30:35 AM
Views: 927

Hello URC! It’s been quite a while, and I figure I’m long overdue to pop in around here and see what’s going on. So to invalidate my lurker status, at least for a little while, here’s a recap of our 2019 celebrating 20 years since diving head first into coaster enthusiasm.

It was 20 years ago today, Sgt Pepper taught the band to play …

Well it wasn’t 20 years ago today, and there wasn’t a band involved. But 20 years ago this summer, Colleen and I joined ACE and NAPHA and started traveling seriously going to different amusement parks. That fall we attended our first enthusiast events, one being park-sponsored in some far-flung place, and the other being the ACE Fall Conference here in our SF Bay Area home. Shortly after that I started posting on and off here at URC (mostly off lately), and the rest as they say is history.

You’re never too old to rock and roll, if you’re too young to die …

So here I am, soon to turn 65 (yep, just filed for Medicare). Been at this hardcore for 20 years now, though I’ve always loved amusement parks and coasters. And I realize now that when I started, I never considered that I might be at this for 20 years or more and still riding a lot in my sixties. Mind you, I feel that age is starting to take its toll and I don’t power-ride like I used to. But I do still enjoy the travel for the most part (yeah, maybe not the flying so much), and I still enjoy the parks and rides. So I guess for now we keep on keepin’ on for as long as we can.

Lately it occurs to me, what a long, strange trip it’s been …

Over the last 20 years, we’ve ridden coasters at countless parks in 37 states. We’ve also traveled to 16 other countries, mostly as part of ACE, ECC, and other groups in 2001, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018 (twice). Our coaster count stood at 38 when we started all this, and now stands at … well, a ridiculously high number. It really has been quite a long, strange trip that’s taken us to places we never thought we’d visit (seriously, Budapest?). But the whole thing started because we wanted to meet some new friends that shared our love of amusement parks.

All I really wanna do, is baby be friends with you …

And the best part of this whole crazy journey has indeed been the friends we’ve made along the way. All kinds of people, all walks of life, from all over this country and some others as well. People who share our passion for parks and coasters. We don’t see you often enough, but we love it when we do. And we still don’t do the Facebook thing to stay in touch, but we still think of you. So here’s to all of you, whether we met you through URC, ACE, NAPHA, ECC, DAFE, or just somewhere along the way. It’s the people that have made all of this so enjoyable, interesting, and rewarding. So now without further ado, let’s recap our 2019 celebrating 20 years of madness.

Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends …

We started our year as we have the last several, with a trip to SoCal in February to meet up with some friends from Arizona for their annual visit to the Disney Resort. The highlight was our lunch reservations at the Blue Bayou, where I enjoyed my Monte Cristo sandwich as the boats floated by (what can I say, no Galaxy’s Edge yet). This was followed in April by another trip to SoCal to visit Knott’s Berry Farm for their Boysenberry Festival. It was our third year for the Boysenberry Festival, and it has quickly become a favorite. What could be better than making your way around Ghost Town and Calico, sampling all kinds of delicious boysenberry-laced food and drink. Add the return of the long-running melodrama at the Bird Cage Theater and some fine music by Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies (formerly Billy Hill at Disney) in the Wagon Camp, and we’re in heaven. Our favorite dishes this year were the boysenberry pot roast, boysenberry dry-rubbed flank steak, and boysenberry bbq chicken skewers. And of course the tasty boysenberry lemon drops available at the bar in the Chicken Dinner Restaurant.

But I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more …

In early May it was time to get down to business. Our first trip back east was for the ACE Preservation Conference at Kentucky Kingdom and Camden Park. And we not only celebrated 20 years with ACE, but also that ridiculously high number of coasters I referred to earlier. Our 1000th coaster was the new Kentucky Flyer, another wonderful yet modestly-sized creation from Gravity Group. It was also good to ride the airtime-filled Lightning Run again, and also finally get to try Storm Chaser. But the other highlight of this trip was our long-awaited return to Cedar Point after 16 years. And what a return it was! First of all, a standing ovation for the remodeled Hotel Breakers. Man it was gorgeous, and the passholder rate was quite reasonable. I’m sure being there weekdays on the first week of operations helped. And speaking of their first week, you’d never know it by just how good those operations were. Two or three trains on all coasters (more on Maverick), and reasonable dispatch times. The only ride we had long waits for (40-60 min) was Steel Vengeance, and we still managed 5 rides over our 2 days. And man, what a coaster!!! The best Rocky Mountain wood-to-steel conversion we’ve ridden yet. But kudos to the other great additions since our last visit as well, especially GateKeeper and Valravn. And a special shout-out for Blue Streak, which was running beautifully and always a walk-on.

Would you like to go on the Coney Island Steeple? Go and have a good time …

At the end of May, we embarked on our second trip back east which would end at Morey’s Piers for the NAPHA Milestone Celebration. But there was a lot of ground to cover first, starting with Colonial Williamsburg and Go-Karts Plus on Friday May 31 and the ACE Dives event at Busch Gardens Saturday June 1. This following days featured visits to Jolly Roger Ocean City and Funland Rehoboth Beach, Six Flags Great Adventure and Casino Pier, Camelback Mountain and Dorney Park, Adventureland and Deno’s and Luna Park, then Sesame Place and a Philly Cheesesteak throw-down (Pat’s vs Geno’s). After resting up earlier in the day, the NAPHA event was at Morey’s (50 years) Friday evening and Saturday, followed by Playland’s Castaway Cove (60 years) and Gillian’s Wonderland Pier (90 years) on Sunday. Okay, I guess that was a busy week or so! Highlights were the Busch event (dodging thunderstorms) and the wonderful Haunted Mansion dark ride (celebrating 40 years) at Funland Rehoboth Beach. And our Wednesday in NYC was a blast visiting Adventureland for the first time (slammed with well-behaved school groups), as well as a return visit to an uncrowded Coney Island for Deno’s Wonder Wheel (99 years young) and Luna Park with the marvelous Coney Island Cyclone (running great). The surprise of the trip was Oscar’s Wacky Taxi, another of those fun little Gravity Group coasters (and we only went due to a half-price flash sale on their pricey admission). Then the trip wrapped up with a bang at the NAPHA event at Morey’s. They treated our small group of 30 like royalty, with loads of ERT, behind-the-scenes, freebies, and a discounted rate at their Pan American Hotel. Quite the generous package!

I’ve been down this road before, I’ve felt like this somewhere before …

Believe it or not, just 6 days after flying home from the last trip we loaded up the car for yet another drive to SoCal. This time it was for the ACE Coaster Con at Six Flags Magic Mountain and Knott’s Berry Farm, with add-on days at Castle Park Riverside and Sea World San Diego. And yes, we are certifiably insane at this point! We booked this one figuring it was just a driving trip and we could always cancel if we felt too tired. Yeah, like that was going to happen! And we are very glad we went, because this was a great example of running into people unexpectedly. We saw some blast-from-the-past URCers there. First were Ed (Chillforce) and Mike (Riverview Mike), not totally surprising as we have seen them now and again. But it blew us away when the guy in the loading gate next to me says I look familiar and asks aren’t you AirBear? It turns out to be John (Shaggy) who we haven’t seen in I don’t know how many years (but it’s a lot). That was quite the unexpected pleasure. Other highlights of the week were great meals served by both Magic Mountain and Knott’s, and the Tuesday evening ERT that included every coaster at Magic Mountain (and therefore no lines).

In the summertime when the weather is hot, you can stretch right up and touch the sky …

Since we did the 2 other ACE national events, we figured we might as well go for the trifecta. So we flew back east again for the ACE Summer Conference at Funtown ME, Story Land NH, and Santa’s Village NH. What the heck, we had a whole month off between trips this time. In addition to the parks of the event, we also made stops at Canobie Lake and Six Flags New England (only 4-5 hours each due to heat those days). We also set aside time to do the mountain coaster and alpine slide at Attitash, the Conway Scenic Railroad to Crawford Notch (including lunch in the dining car), and the Mount Washington Cog Railway. The days spent riding the rails were certainly the highlights of the trip. As for coasters, we particularly enjoyed night ERT on Excalibur at Funtown (still running well after all these years), Roar-O-Saurus at Story Land (what an absolutely charming park), and Wicked Cyclone and Superman the Ride at SFNE. Lowlight was the 4-hour flight delay out of Boston coming back home due to severe thunderstorms. At least we were able to ride it out in the terminal bar :-)

Last thing I remember I was running for the door, I had to find the passage back to the place I was before ...

So are we done traveling for the year? For the most part, with the exception of one last trip back east. One more celebration of these last 20 years, at the park we’ve visited more than any other outside the state of California. We want to bring these last 20 years full-circle and go back to the scene of our first enthusiast event, back to that park-sponsored event in some far-flung place. So we are very much looking forward to our return to Phoenix Phall Phunfest at Knoebels. I know we will run into some of the many friends we’ve made over the years, and you just couldn’t ask for a nicer setting than the beautiful fall colors around Elysburg. So if you’re going, look for us and say hi. I’ll be the one with the white hair and beard with the goofy grin on my face :-)


Re: Our 2019 celebrating 20 years of chronic coaster craziness by CenturyFlyer CenturyFlyer Profile at 9/21/19 5:32:38 PM
Wow, you really nailed it this season! Congratulations on 1000 coasters... I just made it to 99 this year (If only Top Thrill Dragster had been open at Cedar Point!). I hope to still be going as strong as you at 65, which is 50 years in the future for me.

My season isn't quite finished yet either, as I'll be heading to Conneaut Lake Park next week and if I'm lucky, Kennywood one more time.

Re: Our 2019 celebrating 20 years of chronic coaster craziness by mugen828 mugen828 Profile at 9/26/19 4:59:18 PM
Wo! Congrats on so many things!

A long coaster career still going, your 1,000th coaster credit, and an amazing sounding year of riding!

Enjoyed the read, and hope you have an amazing time at Knobels!

- mugen828
157 Coasters -- Favorite Coaster -- Nitro (SFGAdv)
117 Steel -- 40 Wood -- Home Park: SFGADv
Re: Our 2019 celebrating 20 years of chronic coaster craziness by SirWillow SirWillow Profile at 9/30/19 7:37:32 AM
Sounds like it was an awesome year, and love the write up.

Congrats on the 1000! I finally (!) topped 300 this year. 1000 is a heck of an acheivement.

Looks like it was an awesome year for you.