So, I've gone about traveling to different amusement parks as I would like to see what else is out there. That, and to up my coaster count. Last Thursday and Friday, I took my wife and son to both Carowinds and Kings Dominion. Before I get into the rides, I must say I learned an important lesson... at nearly 51 years of age, I need to schedule a day of rest in between visits as my old butt can't handle it like I used to ;) Having said that, I will give my overall review of each park and opinions on what we rode each day. Side note, we did buy Fast Lane at both parks to avoid long lines. However, even on a Friday at Kings Dominion, we really didn't need one and not much in the way of long lines at Carowinds outside of Fury 325.
We arrived at Carowinds about 30 minutes after opening. This would prove to be the more tiring day as temperatures ended up being 95. As I grow older, I find myself less tolerant of the heat. Once inside, we stood on the NC/SC state line, trying to decide which way we should go. SC it is and we headed off. You'll have to forgive me as I cannot recall which rides are located on which side of the state line (I know of one that crosses over). Carolina Cyclone ... Classic Arrow with typical Arrow elements. A fun ride, but also reminds me of how technology has really improved over the years. Not sure what order we rode anything else, so I'll just review each ride. Afterburn is a great invert. Not my favorite, but some really cool elements and the trees in the area were placed really well. Carolina Goldrusher...a decent mine train, but in my mind nothing seems to top Adventure Express.
Copperhead Strike...what can you say about this ride, but whew! The roll out of the station which makes you feel like you will fall out for certain, to the 2 launches, to the insane hang time in multiple inversions. This is something that I firmly believe should be taking the spot where Vortex was. Hurler...holy cow, this has to be the worst wooden coaster on the face of the earth. Between the jackhammering and shuffling, it was one painful moment after the other. It is literally the only coaster that when we hit the brake run, I shouted," tear it down". For reference, I rode Son of Beast several times and was never that uncomfortable. I would marathon SOB for 14 hours straight before ever stepping foot onto that abomination of a coaster again. It was closed for a good bit of the day, but we gambled on it when it finally opened late in the day. My back hurt so bad, it literally made me uncomfortable for the rest of the day.
Intimidator (hyper) was our 1st ride of the day and I think it gives Diamondback a run for its money on the awesome ride it delivers. Unfortunately, Nighthawk was closed. I really wanted my son to experience a flying coaster for the first time. He was never tall enough for Firehawk before it was removed. We also rode Vortex, and I am personally glad most of the B&M standups are gone. Last (but certainly not least), is Fury 325. This coaster is insanely good from beginning to end. Lots of floater airtime, plus, just when you think this ride may be close to being over, there's plenty left to conquer. Easily the best coaster in the park, imo. Copperhead being a very close 2nd.
Thankfully, we purchased a souvenir bottle and drank Powerade for a large majority of the day. My wife cannot have anything with sugar in it, so we bought her multiple bottles of water. Should've paid for a drink wrist band (something we did at KD) as it pays off quickly. We also paid for a 3 hour locker twice. We wound up doing a transferrable locker for only $1 more (well worth it) at KD. Overall, great park with mostly good rides. My only gripe is placement of entrances and exits were not well thought out. Also felt a little cramped. I suppose with KI and Cedar Point, other parks that I've been to give me this feeling. We also bought preferred parking (as I'm getting too old to walk long distances to a parking space).
Day 2 was Kings Dominion. We also had preferred parking there as well. We went straight to Dominator as it is closest to the gate. I had not been on it since it was moved from Geauga Lake. A truly great coaster still. Our day was cooler overall, so more pleasant weather. I think what I love about this park is being there really felt like home. So very similar to the feel of KI. The biggest difference outside of some of the ride choices is at KI, you can go directly behind the Eiffel Tower for more to do whereas the path is located to the side at KD.
So, outside of Dominator, let's review the others. Anaconda... I actually really enjoyed this one. Some great unique elements, like going through a tunnel under the water. Apple Zapple... a pretty fun wild mouse that did not punish me like the one at Hershey. Back Lot Stunt Coaster... same experience as the one at KI. Nothing different at all about it. Flight of Fear is the same, however, the ride op launching it was nothing short of hilarious with his banter. He was even taking requests from guests if they wanted him to say something. We had to take a spin on Bad Apple and Delirium. Shake, Rattle and Roll is one of my favorite flats at KI. Delirium was a nice changeup and the breeze I was getting from it was the highlight (old people thing ). Grizzly was an ok wooden coaster. I liked the seclusion, but it's not very long and it needs re-profiled.
Racer 75 is pretty much like our own Racer. The only differences I noticed was they vary the chain lift speed on each side, each train overtaking the other for the lead and it had a nice drop into the final tunnel with brake run. The new coaster, Tumbili, is a fairly neat coaster. It was pretty fun, but a terrible wait as there are only 2 cars with 8 riders each. I'm glad we caught it early in the day as the line grew longer and I felt like the wait we experienced was nearly too long for such a short ride. There's no Fast Lane for it either. I did really like how they painted the supports to appear like giant bamboo. Later on in the day, we passed by and saw they had a cool show that tied the jungle theme in nicely.
Twisted Timbers...wow, what a coaster. Not as fun as Steel Vengeance, but a quality ride none the less. I'm assuming the former Hurler was likely as bad as the one at Carowinds, which is why it received the RMC treatment. Lastly, by far my favorite of the entire trip, was Intimidator 305. Granted, Fury325 is a great experience, but the intensity of I-305 is absolutely insane. The turn out of the 1st drop had us all graying or blacking out until you started ascending the 2nd hill under the lift hill. For some, maybe that's not something they enjoy, but dang was it ever for us. Outside of that, it had some great floater airtime and the Intamin transitions from left to right or right to left are some of my favorite elements.
We really enjoyed our first trip to Carowinds earlier in the year as well.
I agree with you that Fury is the best coaster there, but Copperhead isn't far behind. I never got to ride Intimidator because it was closed, but Afterburn was also great and I also agree that the tree placement really enhanced that ride.
The one thing I will disagree with you about is Hurler. Although it wasn't a great ride and it was a little rough, Son of Beast is one of the 2 worst coasters I ever rode in my life. I would leave that ride with my head hurting from my brain bouncing around in my skull whereas Hurler I was prepared to ride again the next day to try out the front row.
I enjoyed your trip report and hope to make it to KD soon myself since we have the Cedar Fair passes this year.
Same here as I visited Carowinds back in April for the first time and really enjoyed it. The park was much nicer than I anticipated and the big 4 coasters (Fury, Copperhead, AfterBurn and Intimidator) were all outstanding. The one thing I wish they had though was a flume of some sort. I know they had one at one time and you can still see the defunct rapids ride from the SkyTower, but it does seem to be one ride the park is lacking.
As for Hurler, I agree with extremecoasterdad. It's absolutely horrendous. I am going on 52 and just found it to be uncomfortable and not fun in the slightest. That being said though, I also rode Mighty Canadian Minebuster at Canada's Wonderland and Wolverine Wildcat at Michigan's Adventure this year and I'd have to put Minebuster ahead of Hurler as worst wooden coaster I've been on recently. That old square wheels joke really applies to Minebuster. I had to take a break after riding it as it just beat the snot out of me. Wolverine Wildcat at least had a smooth first drop thanks to the GCI track, but that one sucked too. The sad thing is, I'd rather see these rides retracked with the GCI Titan Track than RMC'ed. But hey, that's just this old man's opinion!
Now I just need to get back to KD! Thanks for the TR and glad you had a good time.
Hats off to us older riders! (Though at 51, you are still a LONG way to go before looking for a senior discount!)
I also get the need to look for shade and taking days in between parks. Perhaps it would be practical to one day visit "Charmland." (I wonder how Lampy is doing...)
I have not been to either park, but I also enjoyed your review.
Here's To Shorter Lines & Longer Trip Reports!
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