Carowinds, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
This past weekend was supposed to be a Cedar Point trip, but with the nasty forecast, a last-minute change was made and the Carowinds trip I had scheduled for mid-October got moved up and Cedar Point got moved back. The weather in the Charlotte area was the complete opposite of CPs forecast, with blinding sun and scorching heat. It felt just like home here in Orlando!
The parking lot was the most crowded I'd ever seen on my Carowinds visits save for one Halloweekends Saturday I grabbed a few years ago, but save for Intimidator and my second lap on Fury 325, waits were still pretty light. The waterpark was where the action was happening, apparently.
To start on the rides, I want to reiterate just how much I love Fury 325. That ride is bananas, with not a dull moment to be found. There's a great variety to the maneuvers, and the ride executes pretty much every potential sensation better than most any other ride in existence. There is sustained ejector air, rapid transitions that generate airtime of their own, exceptional high-speed maneuvers, and strong positive g-forces. The ride never feels repetitive and it really makes the best use of the train's energy level as it traverses the layout. The speed maneuvers come early when the train is full of live, and the ride concludes with great, snappy airtime that fits in well as the train runs out of steam. It's simply the most brilliant ride I've ever experienced, and I can't wait to go back. My last ride of the day was in the front row, and holy smokes, for a ride that's unreal in any seat, it's beyond spectacular up front. It made me furious in all the right ways, haha.
Flying Cobras is proof that a Boomerang can actually be an excellent ride with the right rolling stock. This was only one of two roller coasters at the park outside of its three good B&Ms (sorry, Vortex) that I rode, and it wasn't because I needed the credit or anything. I just think that Boomerangs can be pretty fun rides, and this one didn't disappoint.
Afterburn is so very close to being my favorite invert, bested only by the original. I feel like it's the only "mega-invert" that comes close to matching Batman - The Ride's relentless intensity, and its size affords it the ability to rock some spectacular inversions. I'm not usually a fan of the inversion-inversion-inversion-etc. layouts because I feel like at least as far as above-the-track B&Ms go, they aren't overly intense, but at least in the case of Afterburn, it's the back-to-back inversions that really make the ride as great as it is. This ride never had a wait, and, as is the case with most rides in my opinion, front row is where it's at.
Intimidator was so-so on my first lap, which was a shame because I generally put it high on my B&M hyper list. I got the outer seats of the front car on my second lap, though, and I was reminded why I loved the ride so much. I know it isn't substantially different from Behemoth and Diamondback, but there's something about it that makes it the vastly superior ride of the three and one of the best roller coasters out there in the 200-299 foot range. I think its criss-crossing turnaround helped a bit, giving more energy through that than the usual hammerheads.
Hurler was the only other coaster experienced simply because I wanted the before-and-after (well, after-and-before, I suppose) experience in the same year. I got the front row of the second car on my one lap, trying to wind up in the most comfortable seat I could without creating a wait where there didn't need to be one, and I found the ride to be okay. I think if it got the right care and better rolling stock, it would be a pretty solid ride. It certainly wasn't terrible, but I feel like the jackhammering saps the train of energy and kills airtime.
Oh, and I still love WindSeekers. I always will.
What I really wanted to talk about in this TR, however, was not the rides. I included my reviews for those unfamiliar with my stance on those attractions, but what I wanted to discuss was how much parks like Carowinds keep my passion for this hobby and industry alive. Really, I think it's Cedar Fair, who they've become, and what they've made their parks, that keeps the flame burning. I appreciate their concern for generating a quality experience, and the way that they're improving the overall experience and not just the ride collections. Sure, they have their flaws, with Carowinds falling a bit more toward the hit-or-miss side of operations, but their employees have never really struck me as apathetic in any department, and I just love how I can go to a Cedar Fair park and not really worry about what kind of day I'm going to have beyond the crowd levels. I know many on this site have moved past the point where this hobby is really a driving force in their quest for entertainment, but I've never lost my love for it, and it's because of days like this past Saturday that keep me coming back. I have a particular soft spot for Carowinds as I've had a never-ending string of great experiences there, but in general, Cedar Fair pretty much has my lifetime repeat business because I feel like they keep getting better every year. I feel like they make every addition count (bless them for not adding hordes of Larson Loops), and it's impressive to see them even do things like turn the area around the Boomerang into a bustling county fair-themed area. Instead of having the Boomerang kind of off in its own little world like it used to be, it now anchors an active section of the park, and I felt like their execution of that area gave the ride an impact and presence it never used to have.
I feel like I could go on and on about how a day at a Cedar Fair park, and Carowinds in particular, always feels special, but for the sake of brevity, I'll just commend them on really pushing themselves as a company to be the best at what they do, and I look forward to many future memories to come at their parks that I can add to the plethora of great memories they've already given me.Last edited by sirloindude, Wednesday, September 12, 2018 5:54 PM
Nice TR. And I agree, the Cedar Fair park experience is consistent and high quality. When I took my multi park trip this summer, the best staff, park operations, and overall cleanliness came from CF parks each time. Minor hassles I encountered at other parks that weren't a big deal typically aren't issues at a CF park.
I agree with most of what you said about the Cedar Fair experience. I look forward to an update after Cedar Point in October. I’ll be there next weekend, hoping they pulled a rabbit out of their hat and found some staff for the fall.
Nice TR. Fury in the front row is a good way to be blown to bits, but in a good way. Afterburn was most unfortunately closed during my visit in mid August. I agree about the Cedar Fair experience although there is one anomaly. I've been to 4 out-of-area CF parks this season - Kings Dominion, Kings Island, Cedar Point and Carowinds - and the only one at which there was an issue is CP. For out-of-area parks I fly to the nearest airport and get Uber to take me to the park. I didn't have a problem with the other 3 CF parks, which allow Uber drivers to drop off passengers near the park's entrance, but CP would not allow my Uber driver to go through the tollbooth unless he paid $20. We were told that the $20 was refundable on the way out but why should he have to pay to drop someone off in the first place? It was an unnecessary hassle so he ended up dropping me off some distance from the entrance. (It didn't occur to me until after the fact that I could have simply handed the driver my platinum pass to get through.) The Uber tag is displayed on all vehicles covered under that umbrella and at every other park I visited that didn't have an easily identifiable passenger drop off point all I had to do was explain that I was being dropped off by Uber and the folks at the parking booths let him or her through. I understand that CP might be concerned about people getting in without paying but to refuse entrance to a vehicle clearly marked as Uber strikes me as unreasonable and shortsighted.
Best seat on Fury is fourth row far left. The sideways airtime is amazing from there. I’m excited for the next couple years st Carowinds.
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