American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) invited Morey’s Piers to present at their annual mid-winter regional gathering known as Eastcoaster 2008. So on Saturday, February 2nd, our Director of Pier Operations, Dino Fazio, and I (along with Dino’s dog Buddy and two large WAWA coffees) left our homes here at the shore at 6:00 AM to make the three-hour drive up to Northampton, PA for the event (which is from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM).
Now, for those of you who aren’t familiar – Founded in 1978, American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) is a non-profit organization of nearly 8,000 members from all 50 US states and more than a dozen other countries. ACE members commonly refer to themselves as “ACEers.” ACE is the world’s largest ride enthusiast organization, and its members are the most educated, dedicated, and passionate amusement park guests. Ultimately, ACE’s mission is to promote and enjoy roller coasters everywhere, regardless of type or size. (www.ACEonline.org).
And, a little background on this popular event – Eastcoaster “brings together 350+ roller coaster and park enthusiasts, and is the largest midwinter gathering of ACE, for a day of presentations, lively discussion, sales tables, auction and displays”. And lively it was!
OK, now that we’re finished with the background info, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
Neither Dino nor I are typically early morning people, and apparently Buddy is not either. So leaving at 6:00AM was slightly difficult for all of us, however the coffee helped somewhat (NO, we did not get coffee for Buddy, he slept in the back seat). As a side note: Buddy was with us because he was going to visit for the day with his “grandparents” (Dino’s folks), and their house was on our way. And I might add, he was much better behaved for the car ride than many human children would have been (he never once asked “Are we there yet?”)! In any case, the ride to the event was relaxing (for me, since I wasn’t driving), and enjoyable conversation, quite un-eventful, with the exception of the GPS rudely interrupting our conversations with directions. Oh, and Dino asked me at some point of the ride up to remind him on the way back, that we needed to stop for gas….just telling you now, so you’ll understand the trip home!
When we arrived, we were welcomed enthusiastically by the hosts of the event and many of the members as well as reps from other parks and ride manufacturers. ACE invites amusement parks to this event that are introducing a new coaster or rides for the season. So, of course we here at Morey’s Piers, not only have two new rides this year, but there is that major transformation of a favorite coaster ….you know, the one where we invite our guests to FLY – The Great Nor’Easter and experience new Freedom Flight Seats!
Dino and I weren’t scheduled to present until after lunch (which was graciously gifted to us by our hosts), so we sat back to take in the other presentations for the morning. Cedar Fair, Six Flags, Hershey Park, Delgrosso’s, Waldamere, Great Coasters International and PTC interspersed with door prizes, auction items and some entertaining “coaster” humor. Now, sadly, the presentations didn’t start off well, with the first one having severe technical difficulties with power point and video (I am not using names here, because I felt bad for them and was just hoping it wouldn’t happen to us), but I must say that all of the presenters had an incredible sense of humor and survived the tech issues with flair! Some were just downright entertaining, and all were very informative (from a marketing standpoint). The hosts of the event Joel Styer, Cliff Herring and B. Derek Shaw, were absolutely a pleasure to work with, organized, professional, and simply wonderful! Mark Davidson, who is the man behind the ACE newsletter, and one of the ACE members who kindly helped us out with the testing of the prototype seats for the GNE, gave a perfectly glowing testimonial of that experience. I never could have written a testimonial that good…he really spoke from the heart and we appreciated that tremendously!
Let’s fast-forward to the end of the day….the event ran over about and hour, as these things usually do, so we didn’t leave until 7:15 PM. Here we were facing a three-hour drive home, but first we absolutely needed to stop for dinner, as we were starving half to death and then pick up Buddy, and then continue home to the shore. Which brings me to the adventure for the day. Approximately 30 minutes into our journey, it occurred to me that I was supposed to remind Dino about the gas thing. Now I do not know what made him think that I was going to remember 11 hours later that he would need a reminder, but alas, I guess someone had to remember! I tried to spy the gas gauge before I said anything to him, but I couldn’t see it from the passenger seat… so the conversation goes like this:
Angel: “Dino, didn’t you say we needed to stop for gas on the way home?”
Dino: (looking at the dash now) “Yes, it says we have 0 miles until empty.”
Angel: “Doesn’t it have a warning light or beep or something before it hits empty?”
Dino: “Usually, but not today. We’d better stop at the first gas station we hit.”
Angel: “I wonder how many miles we can go on the fumes?”
At this point we both look ahead at the miles of highway in front of us, that shows no signs of an exit anywhere in the distance (and I mean, for miles!).
Dino: “Well, it’s about 5 more miles to the exit for my parents house, and I know there’s a gas station there, let’s just hope we make it.”
Angel: “Do you have AAA? It would only take them about a day or 2 to get here with a gas can.”
Dino: “No. We have Ford Road Service, so we will only have to wait about a week for them to get here with a gas can.”
Angel: “You do know we would freeze to death on the side of the road if we run out of gas?”
Dino: (taking note of the “falling rock” sign) “Oh great, and a rock will fall on us.”
Angel: “At least we won’t freeze to death. Being crushed by a rock is much quicker.”
Dino: “You know you are not helping the situation. This is the longest 5 miles of my life.”
Angel: “Dino, you seem to be losing your sense of humor.”
Four miles, and much nervous laughter later, the darned thing started beeping informing us that we are low on fuel! We see in the near distance, an exit ramp, with what looks like a mall, and a gas station! Hurrah…..we are now coasting down a hill (which there are many of, in this part of PA). Ok, so if this can’t get any more absurd, the exit ramp does not go to this gas station (or anywhere else) it takes us to another highway and past the mall, etc. We drive around in a circle for about another mile, get to the gas station, pull up to the pump….and yes, you guessed it, the car begins to sputter lamely, at which time it is finally put out of it’s misery. Amazingly, the 18-gallon tank took 21 gallons of gas.
And so, our little adventure ended quietly, and we didn’t freeze to death or get crushed by falling rock. I apologize if you were expecting something more exciting, but Dino and I are very happy that the car actually didn’t die until it was within smelling distance of the gas station, and we were able to find a restaurant since starving to death wasn’t on our list of things to do that day either. We picked up Buddy, who was tickled to see Dino, and made our way home, exhausted, to Wildwood finally arriving sometime around 11:00 PM.
Anyway, we had a great time at Eastcoaster 2008, we met and made lots of new friends and we thank ACE and it’s membership for the entire day (except the ride home part)! I don’t know about Dino and Buddy, but I for one, got home and fell asleep immediately.
Public Relations Manager