Carowinds, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
Spring has sprung. The air smells sweet. And in the southeast U.S., that can only mean one thing…Seasonal Parks are starting to open! I have to say, shutting down Carowinds last year was very bitter sweet. It was the weekend before I was going in for major surgery to have part of my lung removed, and there’s always a chance that I may not make it thru that alive, so the impact of the park closing, and my impromptu visit on a Saturday to get what could have been my final rides ever on Fury was not lost on me. But here we are, the end of March, 2016/beginning of April and I’m alive and still kicking (hash tag sorry bout it).
I’d really wanted to go to Dollywood because Lightning Rod looks so flipping amazing. My friend Isaac and I planned to go opening weekend, but obviously the ride is (as of this writing) not quite ready, so we decided to delay our trip till it is up and running consistently. We had also planned on going to Season Passholder Preview night for Carowinds since we both have platinum passes, and it was the Thursday night before Good Friday, which I had off with pay, so why not make a weekend out of it?
I was really getting excited to get back on Fury. Seriously, one year later, and the ride is just so amazing. And to think it’s just a 45 minute jaunt from my house! We planned for Isaac to meet me at work since i’m on his way to Carowinds and we’d leave my work at 4, which gives plenty of time to get to Carowinds…under normal circumstances. We avoided getting on I77 because it’s always busy, but it took us over 2 hours to go 40 miles. We went thru uptown Charlotte, we hit back roads, we did everything to avoid traffic, and yet we always seemed to find it. Bummer.
The park was open from 5pm to 10pm. We got there, hungry (with me a little grouchy), and walked over first to Fury to see what the line was like. It wasn’t a terribly long line, but longer than we wanted to wait on before eating, so we went back to Harmony Hall. They’d made some changes in there, moved the Coke Freestyle machines, and made a weird ‘bar’ blockade that looks very hacked together and messed up. The food was as good as it has been since the new eatery opened. I recommend the Brisket.
They were having major opening nite issues with the registers, though, and we were in line for that quite a while.
After we ate we headed over towards Fury for a night ride. It’s just so amazing. The ride has airtime, sideways airtime, and a great first drop. I can’t gush enough about it, really. And at nite. We headed back over to Intimidator and did that as well. It’s running well, as usual. I think Intimidator and Fury compliment each other very nicely.
Friday morning we got up (later than we’d intended) to head to Virginia for the weekend to ride coasters, but those are stories for another trip report.
The following weekend, Rob Willi, whom I’d talked to years ago on AIM, and who is a frequent CBuzzer was coming thru with his kids, and I told him I’d meet up and help him with the little ones while he got his ride on. We were only there for a couple hours at nite for him and his oldest to get a few rides, and the younger 2 to get a ride or two in as well. The younger ones hung with me and we had a blast once I got over my fear of them doing something to hurt themselves (I’m clumsy and am not always the best around children).
Sunday Isaac and I went back to Carowinds for a few hours. It was a very light crowd. We rode Fury and Intimidator a few times. We hopped on Afterburn, and I finally got a chance to check out PvZ: Garden Warfare.
Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare-The queue and building look great. I wish they’d do *something* with the unused side, but the side that is in use was great. It looks fantastic, and the games are fantastic. Unfortunately, my gun wasn’t working, and I hope to go back soon with a better gun, but it was really a lot of fun, and very popular. Hopefully I’ll get to see the one at Great America soon to try that out as well, but for now, I think Carowinds has another hot property hit on it’s hands.
The third open weekend for the park saw me headed back down on Sunday again as Rob Willi, Kyle, Lisa, Nicole, and others were heading to the park from Dollywood’s now cancelled event. It was great hanging out and riding the rides. We got on Fury a few times, Intimidator, Afterburn. But this time I actually focused on eating. First, I had a great sundae at Ritas. But since I missed the Taste of the Carolinas last year, I wanted to do it this year. The prices are really good and the food is good. I had 2 of the Asheville Goat Cheese popovers, I tried the tomato pie, a Son of a Peach beer, chocolate bourbon pie, a spring roll, and more. I ended up going back to the Taste of the Carolinas with Isaac to get some more food and some more rides in, then on Friday evening before Mother’s Day, I met him and another friend for a couple hours on Friday with no waits on anything. PvZ is getting better already.
I can’t wait to get back to the park after the new water park opens. I really think Carowinds is turning into something special and amazing. The new Starbucks at the front looks great. I hope other buildings follow suit and change to a more Carolinian Feel (Hint Hint, winky wonky). Otherwise, I’m glad the park is open. Here’s to another great season!
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