National Roller Coaster Museum is Golden Ticket Awards backdrop
PLAINVIEW, Texas — As it has done with practically everything, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted even the Golden Ticket Awards. In 2020, Amusement Today knew voting on food and roller coasters and waterslides wasn’t in tune with the sensitive struggle for survival within the amusement industry. Instead of expecting voters to participate in a survey on its core categories, AT observed what was going on during the circumstances of last year and created a special set of awards geared toward leadership, innovation and momentum.
As 2021 progressed, it was clear that parks and facilities were emerging from the global crisis. To celebrate the revival of the industry, AT knew it was time to bring back the traditional Golden Ticket Awards. The question was … is it too soon for a networking event? The immediate challenge of 2021 became staffing. Then a shortage of parts and shipping delays compounded the progress of parks getting back to normal. It was decided that this wasn’t the year to attempt to bring everyone back together for a weekend of networking — and the recent surge caused by the delta variant is indicative that it was the right move.
As AT did in 2020, the awards were to be announced online. The backdrop for this year would be the National Roller Coaster Museum and Archives (NRCMA). The opportunity to bring awareness to the artifacts and the facility that contains them was a wise move. The complete program of Golden Ticket Awards announcements can be seen at goldenticketawards.com.
Many people are not aware of the NRCMA. Board member Richard Munch says, “The idea of a roller coaster museum was something discussed during the founding of the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) in the late 1970s. There were already circus and carousel museums around the country, but nothing to house collections of artifacts, vehicles, photographs, models and other items pertaining to the largest ride in the parks. The growing complex in Plainview gives us an opportunity to preserve this important part of American recreational history, establish a permanent home for artifacts and save our amusement park legacy for future generations to enjoy. What could be better than that?”
Munch was the initial ACE president, and those who were elected to fill his shoes in the years following began to nurse the idea of a potential museum. By the time Bill Linkenheimer III took the role as ACE’s sixth president, funds were already being collected to go toward a potential museum.
“At the time [late 1990s], ACE had a lot of moving parts and a lot of things going on,” said Linkenheimer. “The idea of operating a museum involved financing it and having a tangible piece of property. It seemed big, so my concern was the financial aspects could potentially bring down ACE. It is a common practice for corporations to set up separate corporations, so the liability doesn’t affect the main corporation.”
Linkenheimer helped craft a set of bylaws, and by the start of the new millennium, a board of directors was established. A focus was to get the industry involved.
A pivotal time was the involvement of Larson International. Initially, they agreed to store many artifacts and collections in warehouses they owned. With the donation of a portion of the company’s land, the first building was erected in 2009, again thanks to the donated labor from Larson. Using the funds primarily raised by ACE, this building became a receptacle for major acquisitions. It filled quickly. Cliff’s Amusement Park stepped up with a donation that allowed for a second building, doubling the size available, plus a climate controlled room for storing blueprints and important historical documents. A third building funded by Knoebels Amusement Resort allowed donations that kept coming to find a home.
It was decided at that point that to move forward, a new museum and exhibit space needed to be erected. Dedicated to the memory of Mark Moore of Uremet, funds were raised to begin on a major expansion. In a silver lining to the global pandemic, Larson management kept workers on the payroll and working, and the 10,000-square-foot addition was built. It now houses a theater, a bar/hospitality room, restroom facilities and an expansive exhibit hall capable of showcasing tall structures. A mezzanine for further displays was included in the design.
Remarkable progress has taken place. Efforts by Rocky Mountain Construction, Skyline Attractions and Great Coasters International have added to the successful momentum in the new expansion. There is still much to accomplish. To help support this preservation of industry history, interested parties can donate at rollercoastermuseum.org/donate.
All stories this issue
by Tim Baldwin
unless otherwise noted