Carowinds, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
Carowinds has been on my list for a while now after hearing some of the love for Afterburn, and Intimidator moved it towards the top. I'd been considering renewing my ACE membership after 3-4 years of not getting around to it, and after checking on events, I saw the Carolina Coaster Classic. By the time I remembered it and intended on registering, it was about an hour before the deadline. For whatever reason, membership wasn't required, so that's gonna wait 1 more paycheck, but I wanted to head down and check this event out.
I flew down early Friday afternoon as I was on a space-available ticket and I wanted to have multiple chances if some of the flights were full. My first attempt, a 10:40 departure went out full, but I caught the 12:05 and it all worked out. I chilled at the airport in Charlotte for a bit, fulfilling some of my airline geekness before heading to the hotel.
I chose the Sleep Inn right across the street from the park and had to suffer for the remainder of evening, staring at two of what I would later declare some of the finest rides ever made (Afterburn and Intimidator).
Anyways, the rest of the night was uneventful, so I'll spare the details. I got up the next morning and headed over for morning ERT on Afterburn and Thunder Road, which I did ride, and Lucy's Crabbie Cabbies and Woodstock Flyers, which I did not. I enjoyed the two I did ride (thanks partly to expert seat choices on Thunder Road which spared me almost certain pain), and would go back for more later.
10 AM brought the group photo by the Carolina Cyclone. As one attendee was waving everybody to get together, his shirt, being a little small for him, kept riding up, giving a view of the kind of thing I'm happier not viewing. People keep telling me I wear shirts that are 1 size too big, but I don't apologize for being proactive. ;)
One of my cousins' cousins lived in the area, so he joined me for much of the day. We went around hitting up all the rides we could. We started with Vortex, which I actually enjoyed in the front row. We then went around and hit up everything else in the area. Ricochet was your standard, unnerving Wild Mouse. Carolina Cyclone was classic Arrow looping material painted in hippy colors, and was one of several one-and-done rides. We took a quick aside to Drop Tower, which was fun, and then got back to the coasters. Hurler in the back row followed, which was an experience I'm quite content not repeating. I'd have ridden elsewhere, but the back had no line, I'm a doofus, and only one train was running. That right there, dear friends, is a trifecta of suckage, and alas, I paid dearly for it.
Leaving that for more pleasant memories, we headed to the Carolina Cobra. It would become my favorite Boomerang, as those new trains were excellent. It still shuffles like they all do, but there's nothing close enough to ones skull to bang one's head on, so it didn't really matter. I'm starting to really enjoy them again, so that was fun. Last up of the morning run was Gold Rusher, which was done mostly because I'm a credit whore.
We broke around 11:30, with me heading to the event lunch and him heading off to ride Thunder Road and play some arcade stuff. I got to lunch a little late and pretty much sat down in the first open spot I could find. I would later discover I was with some of the "big wigs," or whatever you would like to call them, of the event. You know, an Assistant Regional Rep and such. I didn't really make my presence known since they were talking about some of the activities for later in the evening, but nobody bothered to even say anything to me, so that kinda sucked. Oh well. I tolerated some horrendously bad jokes (one which involved referring to the tch-tch sound the soda machine kept making as a trim brake, which got laughs from all at the table except me, even though yes, I did get it). Q&A with the GM and some other guy followed, and then door prizes and a raffle for an Intimidator walk-back took place. All that concluded, I met back up with my cousin's cousin and we got back to riding.
Intimidator was the first up, as I'd been itching to do it the entire day. The line looked a little long, but even with two out of three trains running, it moved pretty quickly. They were assigning seats and no requests were fulfilled, so it was row eight (4th car, 2nd row) for us. I was slightly bummed at first, but all would be forgiven moments later.
Up the hill we climbed, enjoying views of the park and the parking lot, and then we crested the top, diving into the layout of what is, in my opinion, quite possibly the greatest ride ever built. Intimidator is simply outstanding. The airtime was mind-blowing, especially in the middle, with several seconds of floating air over each hill. Even the trims didn't do much to mitigate it, though I can only imagine the ride with those turned off. We were blown away by the excellence of it. We jumped off and headed right back in line. Our 2nd lap would place us in the very last row, which, while still simply amazing, didn't seem as air-laden as the middle. No worries, though, as it was still epic. We followed up with a ride on the observation tower, with its great views of everything, and then headed back to Afterburn. Passing Nighthawk along the way, I was bummed that it wasn't running as it's the only one of the three Vekoma flyers I've not ridden (or worked on as a ride op, for that matter). Oh well. It's another reason to go back.
Afterburn was running only one train, so that line took a little bit, but we eventually worked our way to the back row for another outstanding ride on what may be the first invert to tie B-TR in my eyes. The jury's still out on that, but either way, it is a phenomenal ride.
We hit up Intimidator again before heading out of the park for an early dinner at Crackerbarrel. That concluded, we went back to the park yet again for a few more rides. Thunder Road, Afterburn, Intimidator, and a painful 2nd-row lap on Vortex were repeat rides from earlier in the day, and we also rode Flying Ace Aerial Chase for some quality credit-whoring. After the 2nd lap on Vortex, which was actually the last thing we did, we parted ways as I headed to the Carowinds Theater to meet up with the event group and he headed out.
In the theater, I endured what can at best be described as a painful rendition of Coaster Match Game, which was less humorous than it sounds (oh, and I'm assuming you already don't find it that humorous). A shortage of weapons with which to knock myself unconscious left me suffering for about an hour, counting down the seconds to Intimidator ERT. As the game drew to a close, two attendees became the first group members to actually talk to me, so I really appreciated that. Again, I know I can be shy and as such take some responsibility for not really meeting anyone earlier, but still, if everybody else knows everybody else, at least say hey. I actually tried to start conversation with one attendee who headed to the rides during the morning ERT with me, but it became apparent quickly that any attempt I made was probably doomed from the start. But alas, kudos to the two folks who were nice enough to say hey at the end of the game.
The end of the game was not the total relief one might suspect, though. Oh no, my dear readers. As we stood up to head out of the theater, one nearby attendee stood up at a rate apparently his pants couldn't quite keep up with, so I caught a rather unfortunate glimpse of...unfortunateness. I know that's not a word, but I'm trying not to relive the moment, so forgive me for it.
Alas, it was time for Intimidator ERT. Upon arriving there, we had to wait a couple trains as the last of the regular line was clearing out. However, that was taken care of in short order, and ERT began. I, having missed out on front-row rides earlier in the day, decided I'd wait a couple trains for what is usually my favorite seat on a ride. Intimidator would be no exception. More mind-blowing than it had been earlier in the day, it seemed to take on a new life up front. Simply amazing.
Intimidator ERT, however, would prove to be one of my don't-try-this-at-home moments. Remember, I'm flying on space-available tickets. Sundays are generally crowded days for flying, and US Airways had a 10:20 PM departure out the night of the event. I had my listing changed upon arrival at CLT on Friday, and the 10:20 flight was my ride home.
ERT, however, didn't start until after 8 PM.
This is where frequent flying pays off. I work for an airline, so I figured in the unlikely event that security was crowded, I could head to an employee-only line and breeze right through. Despite only being inside the airport for the 3rd time the night I flew out, I was very familiar with the layout, and CLT is rather well-designed, in my opinion, so I knew I could move quickly.
I originally planned on two or three laps, but decided I'd stick it out for six. I wanted to keep going, but I couldn't wait any longer. It was about 8:45 PM at this point, and I still had to return the rental car and put gas in it.
Long story short, I'm at the gate before boarding started, relieved that I made it but kicking myself for passing up a couple extra laps. Oh well.
All in all, it was a great visit, and I can't complement Afterburn and Intimidator enough. Kudos to the park and ACE as well, as they put on a really good event, lame jokes and disturbing views aside.Last edited by sirloindude, Sunday, September 12, 2010 1:54 PM
In the theater, I endured what can at best be described as a painful rendition of Coaster Match Game, which was less humorous than it sounds
Just a quick note, the Regional ACE Rep had to cancel his trip to the event, and Max (the area's assistant rep) had a bunch of people cancel on him for the Match game, so the panel and host and everything was thrown together at the last minute. He texted me on Thursday to ask if I could help (I didn't even attend the event other than the match game), so it was kind of thrown together.
I've heard past match games have been a lot of fun, but there was a lot that had to be changed last minute because unfortuantely a few people had to cancel for different reasons as real life stepped in and got in the way.
Oh, it wasn't that I thought it was poorly thrown together. He had the panel down and everything, and I actually thought the production of it was quite well-done. I just didn't find the jokes as hysterical as everybody else.
Yeah, the funniest jokes got rejected. That's why the host kept 'running out' of questions, because there were so many that were probably not going to get any family friendly answers.
Plus half the panel, the host, and a bunch of people in the audience were from Carowinds Connection, so a good portion of the jokes ended up being kind of inside jokes that weren't funny if you didn't know the back story.
Most of the things we were laughing at on the panel were answeres that were marked out that WERE hilarious, but had to be edited. And not because they were perverted or anything, but they definitely would have been on the NO list.Last edited by Tekwardo, Monday, September 13, 2010 11:25 AM
You were on the panel? Who were you? The guy on the far end from the contestants?
I was in the blue Cookie Monster shirt, far right (from your direction) on the end.Last edited by Tekwardo, Monday, September 13, 2010 1:04 PM
LOL! I wish I'd have known! I'd have introduced myself.
Regarding the answers, I wish you'd have gone with the original idea for the buyer of HRP. That was the highlight of the night right there. I still laugh when I think about it. I'd love to know what some of the other originals were as well.
Another excellent trip report. Your trip reports are definitely at the top of my must-read list now. Simply funny and outstanding stuff!
I'm glad you liked Intimidator and Afterburn. For my money it's the best one-two B&M punch out there. I can't wait to get back there for some more rides on those two rides (and the flyers, which are just fantastic).
I would have stuck around to be sociable, but I didn't get to the park till 6pm to 'prepare' and read over the questions, and then I left after the match game (I didn't register for the event because I got some dates mixed up and thought there was a concert that nite that is actually next weekend, among other stuff, so no ERT for me).
Some of the stuff that was mentioned by the panel (Mr. Dependable, the whole TPR card stuff) were total inside jokes (I even had to have Mr. Dependable explained to me) that were mostly from the fact that a bunch of CarowindsConnection people were there. I had a couple of (non perverted) answers that people laughed at, but I marked out, and I can't remember what they were, lol.
Plus there were quite a few jokes that were said off mic that people in the audience didn't hear, and I think all of us on the panel knew we were having way more fun than the audience :). I discussed a few non-used answers and jokes with the people beside me, and it got a laugh, but we didn't use them.
I can't remember which question it was, but Max, the Asst. Rep, had marked out like 2 different answers before he wrote his answer down, and the 2 he marked out were funny.
The whole HRP answer that I gave, I had written it down, and everyone was laughing on stage, but I was affraid people wouldn't 'get' it and be offended. And then of course, Max reminded me yesterday what Saturday's date was, so I almost wish I hadn't said it all all, but it did get a few laughs.
I think the funniest thing that I said was actually off mic after the introductions, and my 'Patch Vest' comment.
We had a ton of fun on stage, but since it was an ACE event AND had to be family friendly, AND the fact that some of the jokes we wanted to make were current events stuff that I think would go over people's heads, it was more fun being up there knowing what was going on than watching it.
It's all good. I enjoyed the patch vest comment as well, but I haven't had run-ins with the subject of that joke, so sadly, I didn't get quite the kick out of it that others did. Nonetheless, though, thanks for doing your part to keep it entertaining.
Now, what you should've done was added "Or Maverick" to one of your answers. But then, I think I might have been the only one laughing at that.
And Gary, I'm glad to hear you enjoy my TR's. In my opinion, I thought this was one of my least entertaining, so it's relieving to know at least someone got a kick out of it. Regarding your comments about the Intimidator/Afterburn combo, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I'm jealous of those who have Carowinds for their home park based solely on that duo.
For those who weren't there, here is video of the Match Game.
I was dreading watching it, but it turned out to be not as bad (I hate watching myself on Camera). The camera picked up some of the stuff we said off mic (Like my last comment ;) ).Last edited by Tekwardo, Wednesday, September 22, 2010 2:06 PM
I must not have ridden the same Intimidator then. It was OK, but nothing special. Glad I rode it, but have no overwhelming desire to make the trip back down here to ride that. I like Charlotte, so we'll go again one day, but I won't care if I don't get to ride Intimidator again. After Burn, however, was excellent and would definitely do that one again. Carowinds is nice little park, far and away better than that miserable excuse for a theme park just north of DC.
I think it boils down to whether or not you like B&M's particular brand of graceful, smooth airtime. If you don't mind the fact that you aren't getting launched out of your seat but rather lifted somewhat, Intimidator is great.
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