There are events, and THEN there are park events. Sure, any good theme park is happy to host you and your group. They will help you set up a great event and add some extra perks for you along the way. Those events are fun. However, for the major roller coaster aficionado, there are some events that seem to trump the rest. Nine times out of ten, the events you will not want to miss are those events hosted directly by the parks. In many cases, these events are exclusive to members of the top five or ten roller coaster clubs and organizations in the world. Among those great events, there are five that you need to add to your list! If you love roller coasters, exclusive ride time (ERT), extremely great value for the price to attend, added park perks, and anything else in between, you’ll want to attend these five events as soon as possible. In no particular order, the five park events that you must check out are Coastermania, HoliWood Nights, Coasterstock, Coaster Campout, and Lone Star Coasterthon.
For many, Cedar Point is the roller coaster capital of the world. What’s better than going to Cedar Point? Well, that might just be going to Cedar Point for Coastermania! Held on the first Friday every June, coaster enthusiasts get quite the bargain. While the park does not open up to season passholders until 9am and regular park guests at 10am, Coastermania attendees will start checking in at 6am and begin ERT on a number of roller coasters at 7am. During the day, lunch and a number of perks will be provided to enthusiasts. Once the park closes to the general public, more ERT will commence on other world-class roller coasters. Starting in 2016, the attendance for this event will be capped at 1,200 people, so it is a first come, first serve deal. Get your coaster club cards ready, and sign up early!
Also held around the same time as Coastermania, roller coaster fanatics love attending a great two-day event called HoliWood Nights. In Santa Claus, Indiana, there is a great amusement park called Holiday World. For those of you who have not heard of it or been there, well… shame on you! Not to be harsh, but this place is a hidden gem of sorts, and it offers four great roller coasters in addition to one kiddie coaster and a world-class water park. This event is also for members of twelve popular coaster clubs and their guests. The park provides a number of hours of ERT and some highly-coveted night rides on The Voyage [wooden roller coaster] and Thunderbird [launching wing coaster] that you often cannot get at any other time in the summer.
For the second straight year, Kings Island has hosted its Coasterstock event. Filled with hours of ERT and behind-the-scenes tours, this event is a great new tradition that so many enthusiasts are partaking in. For those coaster enthusiasts who have never made the trip to Kings Island, Coasterstock is the perfect opportunity to go to the park. Whether it is the amazing rides or the extra perks that the park throws in for enthusiasts attending this event, Coasterstock is a great event that no enthusiast should overlook.
A few years ago, Cedar Point tried something new. They invited coaster club members to come hang out and camp out in the park after it closed to guests. Cedar Point added some ERT, some food, and a few other extra perks and teasers. In the inaugural event, the park filled up all camping spots really quickly, and they then extended the event to non-campers. While that was an option during the first year and while that event was free, the success of that event led to some improvements to the event. Sure, it now costs $200 per camping spot, and each camping spot holds up to four park guests, it is still an experience every Cedar Point fan loves. Can’t get to Cedar Point to camp out? No problem! Cedar Fair saw the success of these events at Cedar Point and has since hosted other Coaster Campouts at their other amusement parks.
Last but not least, there is the Lone Star Coasterthon! This two-day event is held every year at Six Flags Over Texas for American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) members. Now held during Fright Fest, the park really goes out of its way to make this event more memorable than one might imagine. Six Flags offers great balance between offering ERT, down time, and special perks (i.e. Q&A’s with park leadership). The price of this event is typically very reasonable, and event guests get a lot for their money.
So, do these events interest you? Surely, they do! These five are some of the best events an enthusiast will find at a theme park. Did we miss any of your favorites? Certainly, there are other noteworthy events too, and we will examine them soon. Just know that any event that is directly hosted by a theme park, especially for those in coaster clubs, is one that you will want to check out. Club events are spectacular, but park events planned and hosted directly by the park are a can’t-miss!