Not long after we returned from CoasterCon, it seemed clear that we were going to be allowing our ACE memberships to lapse. National events werent something we wanted to do anymore. Knoebels PPP doesnt requre a membership, and theres cheaper clubs to join to get entrance at Holiday Worlds Holiwood Nights, and most other events allow non-members to join at a slightly higher price if they so desire. The publications are often late or feature outdated info. ACE was a decade late to social media and it shows in their endless spamming of my Facebook as well as their lack of a utilized message board space.
ACE has made business mistakes. But I could forgive those mistakes if I was having fun at the events. As my wife and I sat on a bench over by Maverick, waiting for our tour of the new Cut Throat Cove walkthrough, an obese coaster enthusiast in a motorized wheelchair slowly creeped by. We recognized him from CoasterCon. My wife remarked, And that could basically have summarized our CoasterCon experience right there. I would argue that it would be a good general summation of our experience as ACE members in 2012. That, in turn, is a summation of our Shocktoberfest experience.
We woke up fairly early Sunday morning. We had planned to be more rested, having gone to bed some 10 hours prior, but the Comfort Inn Port Clinton lived up to our low expectations for a Choice Hotels property with concrete beds and sheets that bunched up constantly. Breakfast was good and the deck area overlooking Lake Erie was pretty difficult to complain about, but the rooms themselves left a lot to be desired. That it was markedly better than most hotels I stayed at in my youth is more an indictment of the industry at that time and my taste.
Shocktoberfest had a number of different morning activities there was a video taping on Maverick as well as an hour of Millennium Force ERT to enjoy. Over at Maverick, the 300+ attendees slowly lurched into line as only one pen had bothered to have been grabbed for everyone. Not that it mattered filming started a half hour late, and when it did, riders were instructed to take of jackets and sweatshirts and pretend it was summer. Joined by our regular partner at Cedar Point (Bob), we kept somewhat sane under difficult conditions. While we waited, I noticed an enormous freighter sail past Cedar Point. Id not been able to recall such a thing being seen with my eyes before there.
Aside from being freezing cold and worrying about my name badge stabbing me, I got the karate chops on the neck that I hate. We rode Maverick once this entire year. Typically Id be upset to not have been on something more, but with Maverick, the inconsistency of how riding the damn thing goes is a big issue. Ive said this a million times about it, but the restraints are not exactly the greatest design ever and it hurts the ride in my book. We bid adieu from our friend Bob for a couple minutes while he stayed to simulate a nice June day and headed over to Millennium Force.
Whilst we were in line for Maverick during the half hour or so delay before boarding, we seriously discussed skipping it for a trip over to Millennium Force. We discovered once arriving at Millennium Force that we had actually made the right choice to go stay at Maverick. M-Force was down and delayed to open for ERT, and didnt get up and going until about 20 after 10. After a couple rides, the wife chose to opt out of more rides, and I took a third with our friend Bob, who had made his way over after staying at Maverick far longer than I was willing. As the gates lurched ever closer to opening, we moved to the front for some QT with Raptor and a purchase of some Subway 6 sandwiches before wed meet the masses head on.
With the event taking place and the park having surprisingly high attendance, we werent looking to go too crazy with our ride selection. Wed ride the Giant Wheel to admire the new Gatekeeper construction and walk about things, but none of our pack of three wanted to do a ton. Bob wanted to go back to his car and we decided to do the same just to get off our feet and enjoy some candy and drinks wed had stored away in the vehicle. Theres no reason to go wild. Wed all been down this road and to this park a million times.
Upon returning to the park, our first order of business was to go grab food from the free lunch. Options given were baked beans, hot dogs, potato salad, and fried chicken. Meredith being a vegetarian, this didnt offer her much outside the realm of starch for food. Anything else would have been nice, but hey, I guess thems the breaks. The hot dogs and fried chicken werent outwardly bad, but they really werent anything I was super stoked about eating, and our choice of running over for Subway was a wise one. The cookies and ice cream set out for dessert were probably the best options afforded to us. However, the most vile thing Ive been served at an amu***t park was also presented in the form of a lukewarm and watery beverage I believe was intended to simulate hot chocolate. There were the usual speeches from the representatives of ACE and the Greater Ohio Coaster Club, also known as GOCC, and then it was back out into the general populace for a short time before meeting up for yet another function.
Our logic behind attending the event to begin with was that of taking tours. There was a backstage tour through a haunt area that I alluded to back at the opening of the trip report. There was also a walk back into the construction area of Gatekeeper. Given the nature of both, that sounded good on paper. With 300+ people and one rep from the park to lead people inside the Haunt, the reality was less tour and more or less an opportunity for photos and videos of Maverick. Fine for some people. Our friend Bob had a field day taking photographs. Meredith and I were bored. I was able to manage finding a pack of Skittles left behind by the scare actors for a brief candy snack, but seeing stuff from the Pirate Ride left out in a random setting like, say, being underneath a western themed coaster just didnt work for me. Meredith asked the question I think a lot of people should: Who exactly thinks pirates are scary? Arent they camp? We arent talking Gulf of Aden here.
Bob split from us for some picture taking and videography time and we made a visit to the arcade to cash in our years mild ticket haul and also to visit some shops. Bags of ***in hand, we again joined a massive pile of people and waited for entry to the backstage areas where we could see Gatekeeper construction take place. Unlike a lot of more hands on tours, those brought to check things out got to stand in a fenced in area looking outside the parks backstage onto some dirt and some holes in the ground while we were given some basic information about the rides construction plans (the front gate will be moved ever so slightly, ticket sales pushed to a side, a picnic shelter taken down; things like that) and we were treated to the sounds of autistic children asking endless questions to park personnel. If I had lived my dream as an 18 year old, I could be the guy fielding those questions. Yeah. We bid Bob adieu for the season and left early, headed for the car, and back home to Michigan.
As a final trip for 2012 to Sandusky, this was not the most inspiring and memorable of visits. More time in this trip report is spent describing our displeasure with participating with the coaster nerdery, and theres a reason for that. Back after CoasterCon in June, we would reconsider doing another ACE event based on certain conditions. After some time has passed and some perspective has been gained, I can pretty confidently say that wont happen. The rose colored glasses of what a good thing events in this hobby which I doned again after Holiwood Nights of 2011 are stripped from my eyes. It just doesnt match up with what I want any more. Theres a lot of reasons privately that Id give and some Ive made publicly too. If there was a chance that could be a part of our lives, the chance has gone and died. It has past. Our love of this hobby has not. They are now very, very separate things.