6:30 came way too early, but after a Red Bull and a mini-bagel from the continental breakfast, we walked over to the park and got our badges and anxiously awaited our morning ERT on Top Gun (from 8:30-9:00) and on Thunder Road (from 9:00 until the park opened).
After a short walk to the back and a 2 train wait, I hopped into the front of Top
Gun. WOW! This B&M is very fun, and has similar elements of other inverts, yet they have a completely different feel. The Immelman had a smoother, floatier exit than those on Fire Dragon or Montu, and Zero-G Roll had some crazy leg choppers, and the mist tunnel in the Batwing was a total surprise! I personally can only stomach B&Ms so many times before I need a break, so after 5 rides or so, we headed over to Thunder Road as the Top Gun ERT was coming to a close.
Our first choice for Thunder Road was the backwards front seat (which is really the back of the train). Something about watching the track behind you (well, it’s technically in front of you) is such a great visual, but made us disoriented after getting off the ride. Both sides were running REALLY smooth, and it seemed the backwards side was providing a little more air. This ride definitely needed to warm up a little, so after 4 rides we took a break and got some water, and waited for the rest of the park to open.
After listening to Sam Ulrich rave about the Super Saturator, we decided to head there next, as we had prepared for water rides and planned on returning to the hotel to change after getting wet. There was no line, and we got to have a mini-marathon on the Super Saturator for 6 or 7 consecutive rides! This is one of the most fun rides I have ever been on, and it is highly underrated. The interaction between the riders and guests off of the ride makes it even more fun. We were completely drenched, and were going to head off to the rapids, but we were met with a long line, and needed to be at the Carowinds Theater for an information session about their new/old coaster.
The PR department did a great job of letting us know all about the relocation of Stealth to Carowinds, and even answered some questions about the differing track lengths and placement of the ride on the former Smurf Island. The park seems really positive and excited about this ride. I think it will add a great view as you enter the park with the horseshoe turn looming over the midway. It is also going to travel over water in a few different places, which will be very cool! After this slide show and Q&A session, we headed to the hotel to change.
When we got back to the park, my friend decided to get a pass upgrade for the 2004 season (what a deal at $40 – but I would probably have gotten it and never used it), and decided to wait and chat w/ the other Acers waiting for lunch to begin. The park was fairly crowded, and the heat & humidity were rather unbearable, so sitting in the shade felt good. Lunch consisted of a large selection of chili-dogs, ribs, fried chicken, ice cream, cookies, several side dishes, and an ACE 25th Anniversary cake! They also had a SE ACE version of Match Game, but we were eager to get back to riding, so we skipped out early.
Next stop was Rocket Power Airtime, a Chance Falling Star that was re-themed to some sort of Nickelodeon show. It was run VERY poorly, and did not provide any airtime as the ride name suggested. Next was Scooby Doo’s Ghoster Coaster, which was not as good as I remember the PKD version being. The airtime was good on the 2nd drop, but the removal of the last bunny hop made the finale fizzle out too soon.
Next up was the Rugrat’s Runaway Reptar. We had heard the line was long earlier, but it didn’t look too bad. There was one train operation (since there is only one train on the ride and no transfer or anything), but the crew was flying, and the wait wasn’t bad at all, even in the heat! Unfortunately, it is still a Vekoma. There are a few spots that cause your head to get rammed into the OTSR, and there is very little padding. Why does this ride need an OTSR anyways? Wouldn’t a restraint system similar to the Super Saturator be more ideal? Oh well – got the credit.
We decided to head over to the other side of the park and check out Vortex. We opted for the single rider line, which landed both of us in the back row next to each other. There was some standing air found on this ride, similar to the spots on the Georgia Scorcher. This ride was actually fun, except for the corkscrew. I normally like the snapping motion on B&M’s, but it’s not fun when you are standing up. Other than that, the ride was fun, and has definitely aged VERY well, being one of the early B&Ms.
After riding the Scream Weaver (Enterprise), which had a cycle which rose up and down fast, but stayed vertical for quite a while (SFOG, please take note), we headed to the Carolina Goldrusher. This mine train caught me by surprise!!! The semi-tunnel portions were amazing, and the ride didn’t have the same jerky motions found on other mine trains. It was definitely one of my favorites at the park.
Drop Zone was next on the list, and this was where we encountered the scariest thing ever! A man & his wife in front of us, both missing teeth, were telling us that the “real ride is over that that Richard Petty Driving Experience.” Apparently, there’s an attraction in NC where you can drive a racecar up to 180mph or something. No thanks. Anyway, after listening to that, the man was not allowed to ride because he was too big for the restraint, and proceeded to complain to the ride op asking for a refund since he ate too much. Oh well. We went up, and we went down. My first 2nd generation Intamin tower and it wasn’t that bad. After riding Acrophobia, however, nothing quite compares.
Then, the rest of the ACE peeps met up to turn in scavenger hunts and win free prizes. We didn’t turn one in, but everybody who did walked away with a bag of goodies. We were disappointed, but hunger was calling and we had left the park in search for fast food. After driving over the state lines several times to find a Burger King, we made our way back to the park for some last rides before night ERT, which included an hour on Hurler, Cyclone, and Ricochet.
We took a spin on the Skytower (great view and A/C), and spent about 20 minutes spraying riders on the Super Saturator before heading over to Thunder Road. We wanted to see if it had warmed up and it had! The forwards side was running SO well that we got ejector air in 2 spots, floater air on the way out, and nothing spectacular on the way back because the lap bar stapled me in and I was in pain. Oh well, the drop off the turnaround was amazing, and we took another spin in the back/front of the backwards side and it was running just as good.
Next was the Wild Thornberry’s River Adventure, which is just a log flume with a couple of cut outs towards the beginning and end with a themed station. Well, I was the only person all day to get SOAKED on the log flume! A wave went into the front of the log and got me really wet. Oh well, it felt good because the humidity was about 110%.
Right before the ERT, we decided on a whim to take some night rides on the Carolina Goldrusher, and this turned out to be the hidden gem ride of the day! The partially covered helices were really cool in the dark, and the lights were off in the tunnel, and most of the course for that matter, with the exception of the lift hills. If you are ever at this park at night, I strongly suggest taking a spin on the Carolina Goldrusher in the dark.
ERT had arrived, and our first stop was 4 consecutive rides on Ricochet. It was running great, with the breaks just barely kissing the cars at several spots, but not before the end of the switchbacks which were out of control. We headed over to Hurler, and took a back and front seat ride. I didn’t like this ride at PKD, and I didn’t like it at Carowinds. The back was WAY too rough, and the front was pretty boring (the fact that my seat belt was twisted and wouldn’t extend and was cutting off my circulation didn’t help).
The last credit of the day was the Carolina Cyclone, and we got rides in the front and back. The first loop caused my neck to snap backwards in both seats (entering the loop in the front, and exiting the loop in the back), but the tunnel at the end was a nice surprise I wasn’t counting on. I seriously could see a problem developing if this neck-snapping thing is a common occurrence on this ride.
After 2 more spins on Ricochet, the ERT was over and we went off to drink more beer and get some much needed rest before the drive back. It was my first visit to Carowinds, and I will definitely visit again in the future. The highlights of the day were the Super Saturator, Carolina Goldrusher at night, and Ricochet. I had so much fun on the Super Saturator, I’m pretty much dead set on a trip to Hershey next year, and the new Intamin rocket is making it much easier to justify!
Special thanks to Robert & Max for making it all happen, Sam for folding all of those blue flyers, and Bill for coercing me to make the trip up there.
Help!! I'm addicted to Friendster.com and it's taking away from my pathetic online roller coaster message board time!!!
*** This post was edited by Matt D 8/25/2003 11:38:29 PM ***
It sounds like the event was a blast. I had a great time there earlier this year. I agree with what you said about the water coaster. That was the hit of the day when I was there. Hmmm. Perhaps there will be one coming to a park new me in the future. =:^)
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