Coaster101 Takes on ACE Southeast’s Winter Warm Up

Earlier this month, two members of the Coaster101 team headed to Six Flags Over Georgia for the American Coaster Enthusiasts Southeast Chapter’s Annual “Winter Warm Up” event. There, we learned what several parks in the Southeast (and beyond!) are planning for 2018 from new rides to new coats of paint. Keep reading for a quick recap and our thoughts on the various presentations:

“Kitchen Sink” Presentation (ACE Southeast Representative Josh Herrington)


  • Carowinds sent along a video from Digital Marketing Manager Chris Foshee, highlighting some of the new rides coming to Camp Snoopy, and showed some behind-the-scenes off-season maintenance in their coaster shop.

Andrew: Some may call me a Carowinds “homer,” but they wouldn’t be wrong.  I’m not the target demographic for Camp Snoopy, but I love that Carowinds continues to receive a ton of love for Cedar Fair. Any video that combines clips from Anchorman, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Rihanna and Etta James is a-OK in my book.

Flying Ace Aerial Chase will be reborn as Kiddy Hawk at Carowinds in 2018

John: The Carowinds video was one of my favorites from the event — Chris set the bar quite high. Carowinds is clearly one of Cedar Fair’s favorites, and it’s so exciting to see the park make such well-rounded investments in the park.

Kings Dominion

  • Kings Dominion provided a presentation that had lots of Twisted Timbers Construction — both still photos and video, including a timelapse of all of the construction on KD’s webcam.

Andrew: Is it March yet? I’ve said this was my most anticipated ride for 2018, and I stand by that prediction!

John: I rode Hurler in 2014, and to say it was a rough ride would be too kind. I’m amazed (yet not necessarily surprised) by what RMC has managed to do with Hurler’s old structure. If this was plopped down in the middle of nowhere, I don’t think I’d ever guess that I was looking at remnants of Hurler.

Silver Dollar City

  • Time Traveler presentation

Andrew: I had no idea that Time Traveler had such an in-depth back story. There’s a lot going on with this coaster, and that doesn’t even take into account the countless broken records and statistics that will come with the coaster.

John: Yeah, Herschend parks tend to go all-in for their rides’ back stories. And that’s yet another reason why I love the parks. I really want to be more excited about Time Traveler. But I really don’t care for spinning — controlled or not — so Time Traveler may very well be a one-and-done ride for me. Hopefully that won’t be the case.

Pigeon Forge Area Attractions

  • Anakeesta
  • Pigeon Forge Snow

John: The Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg areas are growing at a rapid pace. Each time I visit the area, it seems like another new attraction has opened: a new alpine coaster, restaurant, or as we learned at the event, Pigeon Forge Snow: indoor snow tubing:

Andrew: I’ve been to the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area exactly one time, and that was for a single-day at Dollywood. These attractions may not be on the top of my list to get to, but it’s clear that there’s way more going on the area than I previously thought.

Alabama Splash Presentation: Byron Hughes, Rides Manager

  • Five New Rides (Train, Scrambler, Yo-Yo, Tilt-A-Whirl, Rockin’ Tug)
  • New Dive Show, Infrastructure Improvements

Andrew: I know next to nothing about Alabama Splash, but when we posted this on twitter, people seemed to love the additions to the park. I’m not the target audience for any of these attractions, but their video was great, and I definitely want to get to Alabama Splash if I’m ever in the area. Seems like a really unique little park, and having the Koch family at the helm can only help that park as they move into the future.

John: I love the Koch family. Pat and Dan Koch are amusement industry legends. Their video was also another one of my favorites. It was cheesy and lighthearted, but Dan and Pat’s passion for their little Alabama park was contagious. It’s impossible not to root for the park’s success. And I think they’re making all the right moves to grow the park.

Dollywood Presentation: Pete Owens

  • Entertainment Lineup

John: As a Dollywood Insider (shameless plug), I was most excited to see Pete Owens from the park share with us everything the park has in store for 2018. The park is making one of its largest investments in live entertainment.

But of course, the elephant in the room was the “subdivision size” (as Pete put it) land clearing underway at the park. While he couldn’t give away any details about what’s planned for that land, he did tell us that we would know sooner rather than later in the 2018 season. And that it would be the park’s biggest investment in the park’s 33 seasons of operation as Dollywood.

Andrew: I’ll defer to John’s expertise here. The new entertainment venue looks great, and big capital investments are always exciting.

Lunch: The Varsity Food Truck

Andrew: Whatdyahave? I had two chili dogs and onion rings. The only thing was missing was one of The Varsity’s signature Frozen Oranges. That was my second time in about 5 months having the Varsity’s chili, and luckily I live far enough from Atlanta where they’re still a treat.

John: While none of the park’s rides were operating, my arteries got a ride from the deliciously greasy food from Varsity, an Atlanta staple. Cheeseburger, chili burger and onion rings. No regrets. None at all.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas Presentation: Sydne Purvis, Communications Director

  • Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster opens in March.
  • Sydne answered a ton of questions like a champ.

John: Sydne was thrown a myriad of tough questions from the audience, specifically the younger ACE members in attendance. She handled them well, answering questions or promising more information on various subjects including load times, capacity and height requirements.

Andrew: Sydne was on her game for sure. The first question she faced was about the marketing of “first single rail” coaster, and she had the perfect answer. (Something along the lines of “well, why do you think we’re opening this in March?”)

Wonder Woman Golden lasso is the RMC Raptor coming to Six Flags Fiesta Texas, probably the most anticipated ride of the announcements.

John: I get more excited each time I see photos of the “world’s first” single-rail coaster (it is due to open in March before its counterpart at California’s Great America). And I like the attention to detail the park is giving the station, queue and ride area.

Andrew: I’m not sure I’ll get to Six Flags Fiesta Texas this year, but I can’t wait to try one of these RMC Raptor tracks.

Six Flags Over Georgia Presentation: Gene Petriello, Communications Director

  • Twisted Cyclone
  • Park Improvements and Changes (British to Coastal, French to Piedmont, Johnny Rockets Remodel)
  • Great America Scream Machine will run backwards this spring for a limited time using the former Georgia Cyclone trains.

John: While Twisted Cyclone is the star attraction of course, I’m very impressed by the TLC the park is giving the area around the coaster and beyond. I love the retheme of the area from British to Coastal. Kudos to the park for realizing there wasn’t much British influence remaining.

Andrew: The “secret” announcement of Great American Scream Machine running backwards was a pretty exciting surprise. It apparently ran backwards in the early 1990’s, which pre-dates my coaster riding. It does remind me when the Cedar Fair racing wooden coasters (Rebel Yell, Thunder Road, Racer) ran one side backwards — and that was a really unique feeling riding a coaster. I think Six Flags Over Georgia has a sneaky winner on its hands with this experience.

Twisted Cyclone Construction Tour

The event concluded with a tour of the Twisted Cyclone construction site.

Overall, it was a great event. Congratulations to ACE’s Josh Herrington on organizing this fun-filled day. And many thanks to those parks who sent representatives to speak with us (and the gifts and park swag they brought with them!).