Carowinds 2-24-10

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Trip Report: Carowinds Sat. 4-24-10

Janis and I and some friends from Coaster Crew went down to Carowinds yesterday to try out their new Intimidator. Janis’s and my last visit to Carowinds was about 3 years ago on Labor Day weekend. It was the last year Paramount had the park, and I had not been there for about 4 years prior to that. So a lot has changed in the last few years since our last visit.

Of course the big reason why we went was for the new B&M hyper coaster, Intimidator.
The weather forecast was very iffy; they were calling for isolated t-storms all day. When we got to the park around 9:30am it was cloudy, but no rain. Around noon the sun came out and had some clouds. By about 3pm a light rain started that never let up, but it was light and no storms, so all rides remained opened. They did remove a train from all of the coasters when it started to rain; I guess this is a Carowinds policy?

We used our platinum passes and entered the park and we took some traditional “I’m in South Carolina and North Carolina” pics on the state line. We made a left and headed straight for Intimidator. We have only been on 2 other B&M hypers, my beloved Apollo’s Chariot and the powerful Nitro at Great Adv. This was the first time we have gotten to ride B&M’s new seating configuration trains for hypers. It was about 20 mins to 10am and the park let us in line, but didn’t open the ride until 10am. Once the ride opened, we were on about the 3rd train out for the day, and they were running all three trains. The trains are interesting, but honestly I don’t see where they add to the ride at all and it seemed to take a little longer to load than the standard four abreast train they had used for a decade on their hypers. Some people had told me that the train seats are a tad more narrow, which I found to be true and that they required the restraint to be locked at a slightly lower position before the train can be dispatched, which I also found true. I don’t mind the new trains, but I didn’t see the need to redesign them, they were fine before and now some people have to be removed from the rides because the seats and restraints are not quite as forgiving as the other original style.

Our first ride I was in the front car in the back right, so it was a front seat ride since our vision was blocked. When the train was cleared we heard the familiar “Gentlemen, start your engine” come across the loud speaker. Now at Kings Dominion, you hear, “Gentlemen, start your engines.” This makes more sense to me than “engine…” There are multiple engines being started at a NASCAR race. Anyway, up the lift we go on the world’s tallest B&M coaster to date, standing at 232 feet high. We climbed the lift slowly, like most B&Ms and crested the lift; the drop was nothing special, felt similar to Apollo’s Chariot and Nitro. Next you climb up the 2nd hill and at the top of this hill is the rides unique feature, the train gets airtime and then turns to the right and while you are popped up out of your seat, the train turns and you land in a slightly different spot in your seat. Then before the train climbs the third hill you are turned left slightly, so you are making a rather large S turn while dropping down the 2nd hill. After that the ride is pretty much a standard B&M hyper, a few tall hills with trim brakes going up the hills to control speed and then it has a nice hammerhead turnaround, though its not as affective as Nitro’s, which is a bit steeper. The ride takes a few more straight hills before coming to the midcourse brake, which seems late in the ride. After you exit the brake run you take a tilted right handed helix. This helix looks so much better than what it actually is. It’s very slow and forceless. The ride takes one more small drop before popping up into a downhill brake run. Over all the ride isn’t bad, but it seems very tame. Now at the time I rode Carowinds version of Intimidator I had already been on Kings Dominions over 100 times. I am used to its relentless ride and speed. To be very honest, you can’t really compare the two Intimidators, its like apples and oranges. There will be people who prefer one over the other; I know I prefer Kings Dominions due to its pure power. But Carowinds got a nice ride and it fits the park well. Like with Dominator at Kings Dominion in 2008, Carowinds Intimidator was built in the parking lot, but to both parks credit, neither coaster looks like a parking lot coaster, the park put ripped out the concrete under the rides and landscaped and put grass in to make the areas look like the rest of the park. They just both happen to be built near the parking lots. Some people like that and some people don’t. Personally I LOVE pulling into an amusement parks parking lot and being greeted by a HUGE roller coaster. I love it to dominate the skyline, and Intimidator at Carowinds certainly does that. Overall during the day we had 13 rides, I got to ride in the front a few times, and the back a few times and the center a few times, each area was very different experiences and as I do “most” of the time, I preferred the back of the train. We even got about 3 or 4 re-rides at the end of the night and got to be on the last train dispatched for the evening, I always love being on the last train out.

After a few early spins on Intimidator we went across the walkway to Knighthawk, the last time I rode this it was the Borg from Star Trek. I have been on all 3 Flying Dutchman coasters from Vekoma and just like the last time I rode this, it is still the worst of the three. It just shakes and shimmies throughout the entire course. I am usually not one to like “gimmicky” coasters but I DO like flyers, this just happens to be the worst of the six flyers I have ridden. (B&Ms Manta being the best). . . The line was long for Nighthawk and it crawls so very slow.
After a spin on that we headed over to After Burn. I rode this multiple times over the years and its not a bad inverted, but just seems slow to me, the best thing about this ride is its placement in the park. I think we rode 2 times during the day.

Next we walked over to Thunder Road. I had read that last year they replaced a large portion of track and structure on the far end of Thunder Road and you can clearly tell its new wood there. The ride is glass smooth on that section, but very rickety everywhere else on both tracks. Now I love wood coasters (prefer them to steel actually) and I like them to be a little rough, but this coaster is just not designed to be that way and it’s a little uncomfortable. We rode one side at this time and later returned for a few stay on rides on the other side in the rain. The train was flying pretty fast in the light rain later in the day.

We moved on to Carolina Cobra, this was the one that used to be in Ohio, and Janis and I rode it their prior, so we didn’t count it as a new track record (we don’t count a relocated coaster if we already rode it previously). This is the first time I got to try out those new soft harnesses. I wish all Arrows and Vekoma loopers could have this style of harness, they were comfy and safe. We only rode one time, even though it does have a nice harness; it’s STILL just a Vekoma boomerang…

Next we waited for the Carolina Gold Rusher. This line really moved slow, being that it’s a family ride many parents seem to FORGET to get their kids measured before getting to the station and every train a child or two had to be pulled out of the train, measured, given a wristband and finally placed in the train. This made the slow dispatching by the operators even slower. The ride itself is as it has always been, a decent mine train but with the older style smaller trains with one t-bar for both riders in a row.

After this we strolled over to the former Wayne’s World area and took a spin on the Hurler. The Hurler added TWO trim brakes to the bottom of the first drop, right where the first drop flattens out. This hurt the rides speed and it didn’t help its roughness that both Hurlers are known for. It was still a very uncomfortable ride. And I went to Kings Dominion today to check out our Hurlers status, which is still closed until mid to late May and it too has now added the two trim brakes in the same exact spot. So expect a slower Hurler this year at KD as well…
Next it was time for the Carolina Cyclone. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Arrow Loopers and this one has always packed a punch for its size. Its three different track color scheme is quite interesting. And I noticed they have removed the roof that used to enclose the ending helix. We only waited about 10 mins for this ride.

We then ate at the former Stan Makita’s in the former Wayne’s World. I found the food to be avg at best and like all Cedar Fair and Six Flags parks WAY over priced, EVEN for an amusement park. I got chicken tenders and fries. (It came with four tenders and an avg serving of generic crinkle cut fries) and added a large Coke for a whooping $13.96. For something that costs only about 5 bucks at a local Bojangles, I think a 200 % mark up is insane.

After lunch we moved on to the Vortex, while in line it started to rain and as we got to the top of the stairs to load they pulled a train, so the line slowed after that, but I only wanted my one ride, nothing special to report on the ride, just another ho-hum small B&M standup coaster.

After that we moved back to Indimidator and took a few more spins before moving back in the park to try out their version of Boo Blasters on Boo Hill, it’s a bit longer than KD’s version, but had the same new gimmicks KD’s has. And like KD’s it includes our good friend Clint Novak’s look a like, complete with beanie hat.
After the ride on Boo Hill we took a spin on After Burn and a few on Thunder Road. At some point during the day Janis and I took a ride on the Vekoma kiddie inverted and we rode the Scooby Doo junior woodie, I don’t care what they call it, like KD’s it will ALWAYS be the Scooby Doo…

We took a spin on the sky tower to view the park and Intimidator and finally for the last hour stayed at Intimidator riding over and over. After we took the last train dispatched for the day we shopped briefly and then got on the road home to Richmond, VA.

This was the first time I had been to Carowinds since Cedar Fair took over. I must say the park looks nice, like the other former Paramount Parks, I think Cedar Fair is doing better with landscaping than Paramount did. The park was clean and very colorful. The actual park land wise is pretty small, but Carowinds now packs a very large coaster collection, just one under KD. The coasters all seem very close to each other and everywhere you look there is coaster track, that’s my kind of park, coasters everywhere.

Danny Biggerstaff

Last edited by Danny Biggerstaff CoAsTeRDaN,
Danny Biggerstaff CoAsTeRDaN

"Anyway, up the lift we go on the world’s tallest B&M coaster to date, standing at 232 feet high. "

Pardon... I should have said tallest in North America.... Silver Star is about 7 feet taller.


Danny Biggerstaff CoAsTeRDaN
DaveStroem's avatar

"Carowinds 2-24-10" I didn't know the park was open in February. :)

Sounds like a great day at the park.

I too have found that after riding I305 that most everything else seems quite tame. While I am not a big fan of I305 it sure does deliver on the intensity scale.

Before you can be older and wiser you first have to be young and stupid.

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