ACE Spring Conference 2014

Associated parks:
Kings Island, Mason, Ohio, USA

Saturday, May 24, 2014 9:16 PM

In all my years on Coasterbuzz, I realized I've never posted a trip report....

...so here goes.

My friend Mark Russell (not the octogenarian political comedian) and I decided to take in the ACE Spring Conference. It would be his first visit to Beech Bend, and for both of us a first visit to Kentucky Kingdom.

I picked up the rental car on Thursday, a Chevy Spark. It was my first time driving a Spark. They're very tiny. Very, very tiny. Took me a few times to get used to parking such a small car -- I'd pull into a parking spot the way I usually do and would find myself three or four feet from the curb.

Because of his work schedule, we left Chicago on Thursday evening and drove to Indianapolis where we stayed the night. Friday morning, we continued our way south, arriving at Beech Bend around 1 pm.

I've always liked Beech Bend Park. I like that it's more or less at the end of the road, I like that it's largely a collection of flat rides spread out in no particular order. I like that I can pass a while sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of Rumbler Cafe. And I especially like Kentucky Rumbler.

You can gauge how much I enjoy a coaster by how much I laugh, and Rumbler always has me laughing maniacally. Mark and I rode and he was impressed as well; I rode it again after dark and it was running wild. Loved it.

We skipped the breakfast and morning ERT on Saturday morning; Mark slept in. We headed off to Kentucky Kingdom.

Turns out ACE's "Pit Stop" at Kentucky Kingdom during the Spring Conference was piggy-backing on a park buy-out by Amazon Fulfillment and by Integrity, a freight brokerage. We weren't expecting to share the park with 15,000 people, but since the buy-out allowed KK to expedite construction on Lightning Run, we had no complaints.

Still, that many people seemed to be a challenge for the staff. Most rides had long, long lines. Mark and I rode Thunder Run and thought it was a great, fast paced ride. Noting that Lightning Run was dispatching trains every 10-15 minutes, we decided to pass on riding -- we'll hit the park some other time -- and took photos of this very photogenic park.

(side note for Kentucky Kingdom... if you're going to indicate a public restroom on your park map, it should be in a building that is accessible whenever the park is open. We nearly had a crisis when we arrived at what the park map indicated as the nearest public rest room, only to find it was inside a restaurant that would only be open for dinner....)

On to Kings Island! Mark didn't feel well and stayed in the motel room, enjoying a Taco Bell feast...

The park laid out an impressive looking spread for ACE's meal on Saturday evening. They even had the catering staff wearing chef coats and hats, serving ACErs on the buffet line using real china, real silver and cloth napkins. The food was okay. (Maybe I'm being picky, but if you're going to call a dish "seasoned green beans," then the green beans should actually be seasoned.)

I took a ride on The Bat, still an enjoyable Arrow suspended coaster. And having finally taken a close look at the logo -- kudos to the designer. I hadn't realized the "A" in the logo was a bat inside of a bat.

What was far better than okay? Diamondback and Beast. This was my first chance to ride Diamondback. WOW. Loved it. Smooth, fast, and I loved the "floating" airtime.

And there are few things finer than a ride at night on Beast. Decade after decade, it is still an incredible ride in my book.

Having ridden Diamondback and Beast, I made my way over to Banshee. I learned that there is a point at which most ACErs will abandon ERT, and that point is 43 degrees. I walked through the queue in the 43 degree air, climbed the steps, walked over to the gate for the front seats, walked through the gate for the front seats and hopped into my seat in the front row.

Banshee is amazing! Cedar Fair has every last detail just right on this ride. And the ride itself is -- well, I've never gotten disoriented on coasters. Until I rode Banshee. I rode it twice that night and I still can't tell you the sequence of elements on the coaster.

Sunday, Mark and I headed off to the park. We hit Diamondback -- his first ride and my first daylight ride -- and agreed it was a great ride. Raging Bull goes into the woods.

That was followed by a ride on The Beast. That was followed by lunch; Kings Island served up Skyline Chili, one of the best things ever.

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