Carowinds and Kings Dominion, April 22-24, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011 11:35 PM

(I posted the first day at Carowinds previously.)

Vortex - looks great (matching Intimidator?!) and smoother than other B&M stand ups.

Night Hawk - Still running one train. The previous night, we asked Guest
Relations if the 2nd train would be on - after a few minutues of calls,
the answer was YES. But it wasn't. We let them know we were dissapointed with a one train operation, and multiple empty seats goin out on EVERY train - with over an hour wait. The manager offered to walk us up the exit, which was very nice.

Getting into the station, I pointed out the 4 empty seats on the train coming in the station, and the constant backwards flow of people leaving the line (due to the long wait!) The ride was ok, better maintained than the one at Six Flags America. Upon leaving the ride, we saw the manager (and 2 more coming up the exit) telling the ride ops that EVERY seat needs to be filled. (Pairing up people, communicating with them, etc., isn't very hard to do - especially when you have dead time whent the single train is out - but this seems a 'lost art' with many parks today.)

Taxi Jam - I love these little Miler coasters. I threw a minor jevenille
fit b/c Brian (my entry level coaster geek friend) would not ride with me.
I get a joy out of kid stuff sometimes - so I let him know he missed
quite a ride!

Woodstock Express - this was Brian's first coaster when he was a kid. One of the best rides in the park! Real airtime where I was ejected out of my seat and into the lap bar. The addition of individual seat belts, while
keeping the old buzz bar is a great compromise to keep an old woodie as a 'classic'.

It was rainy, so we decided to leave in the afternoon and start our trip
to Kings Dominion.

Saturday afternoon we arrived at KD. This was going to be my first time
at KD since 1984, and Brian's first time since the late 80's/early 90's,
so we were pretty excited about it.

The park looked GREAT walking in! The trees around the entrance fountains were big and grown up. Everything was cleaner than ever and still had a charm (in the front area...)

Shock Wave - a dissapointment after remembering how much I liked King Kobra at King's Island. Maybe it's the age (of the ride AND me!), but it seemed to roll very bumpy and rough.

Intimidator 305 - One train was on, maintenance was working on the second - and soon announced they would add the second train to decrease our wait in line. I was impressed with the quick transfer and they didn't even need to run-through the first train before people were allowed to ride. We took the 2nd to back seat.

The crotch bump thingy is bigger than ever, and was not comfortable pushing up against my boy parts. Ugh! The ride was pretty much what I had read, well kinda... it was VERY fast, Very intense (not my kind of intensity) but otherwise completely underwhelming and some how totally lacking any excitement. More rides on this later....Rebel Yell was racing, but by the time we got over there, one side was down. The employee at the entrance didn't know why or if it would be back up? Is it down for the day? Is the crew gone? He didn't know.

Avalanche - pretty excited to get on this unique (to the USA) ride. Much
more aggressive and (unfortunately) bumpy than I thought it would be.
Still a good ride, I really love how each car is a different country. I
was also surprised at the flexing of my seat!

Ghoster Coaster/Scooby Doo was my first wood in 1983, and seems to be running and looking better than ever. Air time and that last fast turn giving that 'gnur gnur gnur gnur gnur' sound/feeling that I love so much about a fast curve on a woodie.

Volcano had a 1 hour and 40 minute wait. Watching single seats going out empty... have to come back to this one.

Anaconda - I have a special spot for Arrow loopers. It was good until
after the first loop. The knotted, wire-designed mess of track was
somehow not as bad, yet worse than I expected. What were they thinking? The corkscrews were nice, with some cool hang time over the water.

Flight of Fear - Kids were walking in front of us in line, cutting - a
couple times. I asked them not to cut ... and folks around me commented
that they shouldn't cut and I was doing the right thing. But why was no
one else speaking up? After 35 mintues, not even into the space ship, we
frustratingly got out of line. No ride ops to be seen in the entire que area...

Intimidator 305 - got in line and had continual problems with line jumpers. I was told shut up by some kid, and security wasn't much of a help either. Sure the line was short - but why wasn't anyone else saying anything? So we left the line, ran into a manager who found another manager who we vented our frustrations to.

It was almost closing, near 10pm and the manager said he could get us on Volcano quickly. He told us to take the front row, very nice. When the train pulled into loading, I apologized to the folks who were next to have our seat, they smiled and said it was OK.

Volcano at night in front was GREAT. Short but very sweet.

One quick ride on the Scrambler before closing - nice to see a flat ride so hounded in trees.

On the way out of the park, we ran into 2 tie guys. We let them know the issues we had with line jumping (with no ride ops/security present or seemingly able to do anything), one train operation on rides (with empty seats going out on nearly every train), etc. We also complimented on the friendly, very attentive employess (sluggish, but nice anyway). We were also dissapointed the drop tower was closed. They told us to visit Guest Relations the next morning and they would give us ride exit passes.

Sunday (Easter) we picked up our passes and headed into the park. Rode the wing-flyer thing, then headed back to Rebel Yell. One train on one side only. The tie guys the night before assured us the ride would race today, but oh well. A 5 train wait with one train amounts to a good chunk of time in the hot sun.

Hurler was pretty much the same as Carowinds - perhaps slightly better maintained.

Grizzly sure looked nice tucked away in its solitude (we knew the ride would be closed, but really missed riding anyway!)

Ricochet was fun, nice big drop. It seemed like they stacked all 8 cars, then started the ride up.

We decided to use a ride exit pass on Volcano - 2nd to last seat. Not near as fun as the previous nights front seat, and much rougher with some head banging.

Back to Avalanche again, then over to Intimidator. It left me really wondering the day before - but had to ride some more. I had to find something to like about it. Same seat - 2nd to back. Same experience. 2 more times in the front of the 2nd car/3rd seat. Only difference was noticed air time on the 2nd hill. 4 rides on this thing only made us think more and more what's the point?

I thought of I-305 like they do on RCT (Roller Coaster Tycoon - coaster video game). On RCT, a coaster gets 3 ratings: Intensity, Excitment and Nausea. I figured I-305 was about a 9/10 on Intensity, but as close to a 0/10 as you could get. No inspiration, dull yet weirdly neck jerking layout. The grey out was not a good sensation (I clenched butt and legs 2 of the 4 rides, still got the grey out).

Could they have put in some tunnels, trenches, obsticles? Maybe some sort of water something - a splash down, fountain, anything? Brian's opinion was that even with all that, the ride would be blah. The layout had so many possibilites - run out along/under/over/through the Rebel Yell, etc., etc., ... I don't get it. Even on the huge lift - you cannot see much as you are heading away from the park.

The pictures showed a great, cool, innovative looking lift structure - but where it is, you cannot see it. Can't go under it, up to it.... We concluded, as Mr. Horse would say: "No Sir, I don't like it." Unfortunately ... I really tried to find something to like about it - all that money, concrete and steel.

We were ready to leave, and head back to Chicago. Hungry too! With a large cheese fry costing $9.50 and a pop close to $5, we got the heck outta there.

We made sure there wasn't anything we wanted to do/do again on the way out. Took another spin on Volcano - same, kinda rough in the non-front rows. This is one ride that would hugely benefit from the new Intamin soft restraints. It would also be like a backpack and you are on an expedition to a volcano - fit into the theme.

Eiffel Tower looked great, but that was closed down.

Over all, we had fun, but wasn't one of the best trips. The parks were average for a big park, firming up how much I prefer smaller traditional places like Holidayworld, Kennywood, Indiana Beach, Hershey.... But I'm glad I got back to KD and Carowinds for the first time.

Last edited by CoasterDemon, Thursday, April 28, 2011 11:39 PM
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Thursday, April 28, 2011 11:57 PM

CoasterDemon said:
Intimidator 305 -

Ugh! The ride was pretty much what I had read, well kinda... it was VERY fast, Very intense (not my kind of intensity) but otherwise completely underwhelming and some how totally lacking any excitement. More rides on this later...

No inspiration, dull yet weirdly neck jerking layout.

Could they have put in some tunnels, trenches, obsticles? Maybe some sort of water something - a splash down, fountain, anything? Brian's opinion was that even with all that, the ride would be blah. The layout had so many possibilites... I don't get it.

Yep. Pretty much. :)

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Thursday, April 28, 2011 11:59 PM

It always annoys me when an amusement park doesn't seem ready to be open early in their season. It seems more and more like the first few weeks of a parks season is a "soft opening".

You seem like me in that you will complain if you see something is not right at a park.

Great TR. Short, sweet and to the point. I'm happy that it worked this time around.

Last edited by LostKause, Thursday, April 28, 2011 11:59 PM
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Friday, April 29, 2011 12:20 AM

^Me too, thanks Travis :)

I also wanted to note - the Cedar Fair employees, overall, were quite friendly and seemed genuinely interested in actual communication with guests; very attentive. Still sluggish though... a huge step above Six Flags parks, but way behind Dollywood, Holiday World...

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Friday, April 29, 2011 12:33 AM

I find that to be true at the CF parks that I have been to. They are usually friendly and care about the guest experience. The only CF parks that I been to though are Kings Island, Carrowinds, and Cedar Point (where I worked three seasons). Kings Dominion doesn't count because that was two decades ago.

Why can't they all be as nice as Dollywood employees? :)

As far as sluggish goes, they should build fast employee standards into their training like Cedar Point does (or used to).

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Friday, April 29, 2011 12:34 AM

CoasterDemon said:
I also wanted to note - the Cedar Fair employees, overall, were quite friendly and seemed genuinely interested in actual communication with guests; very attentive. Still sluggish though... a huge step above Six Flags parks, but way behind Dollywood, Holiday World...

I must live in some Bizarro world.

Last SF park I went to (SFA even!) ops were high fiving people and busting it out. Easily better overall (maybe not the fastest, but having fun, moving trains steadily, etc) than any of the parks you listed. In fact one of the reason I say the SF experience compares favorably to the CF experience is ride ops. CF ops seem to have been in a steady decline the last 4 or 5 years while I find the opposite true at SF parks.

Dollywood's old folks are pleasant. I always though the HW ops were severely overrated. Indifferent at best. The management at that park is what's special. The hourlies, not so much. But I've only been there twice, so what do I know?

I'm starting to wonder how much of what we see (on all sides) is what we want to see?

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Friday, April 29, 2011 12:36 AM
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Friday, April 29, 2011 12:40 AM

^Good point... Plus, my review was based off of a few hours visit at each park.

On my favorite ride at Carowinds - Carolina Goldrusher - the ride ops would chant and chant about how the train needed to be louder before the ride op "pushed the button!" And he was saying "you gotta tell me to push the button!" Kinda fun stuff, which I have also seen at Six Flags parks - but when there is a line of people waiting, and the trains are stacked - I mean, push the damn button already!

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Friday, April 29, 2011 2:30 AM

Maybe no one else called out the line cutters because they figured it wasn't worth it? As much as it annoys me I never say anything for 2 reasons. I have heard some stories of people getting hit (at one of my home parks as well as others) by people when they stop cutters and more importantly, I have seen line cutters reported to security a few times at certain parks and never once have they gotten in trouble. They are supposed to get kicked out according to park policies but they were even allowed to stay in line. One time the people who reported the cutters were threatened by the cutters. I haven't been to King's Dominion in a while so maybe regulars there have the same problem of the park not really caring so they just let it go.

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Friday, April 29, 2011 2:48 AM

I had security threaten to kick me out of the park for politely pointing out the line cutters at Cedar Point, and that was when I worked there.

My friend and I almost got beat up once for telling these very large gang-member types that we didn't want them to cut in front of us at SFA, many, many years ago. It's the only time I have back off from a fight due to fear of getting killed.

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Friday, April 29, 2011 7:17 PM

^There was definitely a racial side of things, to the events that I encountered at CW and especially KD. It's the kind of thing no one wants to talk about but is like the big elephant in the room - or something like that.

Maybe it's the big scar on my face - I tell myself the likelihood of that happening again are almost zero. Maybe it's the big mouth I inherited from my family. I figure it's not going to hurt to at least kindly ask people to not line jump - and I've had to learn how to do that.

A big part of it is that people are socially inept these days, and it's getting worse. No spine, no courage. It's the same mentality of people filming and watching a crime/someone getting beat down, and doing nothing about it. There is a term for that, it escapes me.

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Friday, April 29, 2011 7:33 PM

I don't get out as much as you guys, but I must say that over the last 2 summers I got to both SFNE and SFGAdv, and at both places the employees were stellar. SFNE, particularly seemed like everyone across the board genuinely wanted to be there and was enjoying what they were doing.

At both parks I actually filled out forms commending particular employees for their enthusiasm and attitude, and I don't usually waste my time with crap like that.

Last time I was at CP, it wasn't so much that I got any negative vibes from the employees, but it was more of a "meh" attitude. No one seemed to give a crap either way.

Last edited by kpjb, Friday, April 29, 2011 7:35 PM
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Saturday, April 30, 2011 1:46 AM

It's pretty sad that people (mostly immature children/teens) feel they can do as they please. Yeah, it's just one or two people more in front of you, but what if everyone felt they were entitled to cut in front? How would you feel waiting patiently for a long time just to be passed by some inconsiderate person? Some people need to get real. That's unfortunate to see at King's Dominion, because the only place I have seen it as a chronic problem was on weekdays (less busy days ironically) at Cedar Point.

I agree with you on KD's ride-ops. They were friendly, but largely inefficient. 2010 Anaconda Crew on Memorial Day was terrible. They didn't make an effort to keep things moving at all. Talking amongst themselves, not assisting those guests who feel the need to bring everything with them in bookbags, and overall slow movements was sickening.

The biggest goal as a ride-op for myself this summer is to move the guests friendly and efficiently, crack down on line jumpers, and take an active role against smoking in lines.

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Saturday, April 30, 2011 2:17 AM

AJFelice said:
Yeah, it's just one or two people more in front of you, but what if everyone felt they were entitled to cut in front?

What about just 10% of the people in the park. Would that be okay?

I better not go there. lol ;)

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Saturday, April 30, 2011 9:55 PM

^I didn't have that issue at these parks, as they don't have a pay-to-cut option, thankfully.

I always tell line jumpers "have your friend come back HERE" but that doesn't seem to make much sense to them. Whatever happened to "line jumping is not a sporting event at this park" stuff?

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011 3:54 AM

I've noticed most parks have gotten pretty lax on enforcing any kind of line jumping policy lately. At most when ops/security are forced to get involved, the offenders usually just get scolded and allowed to carry on. It doesn't help that most of the guests who are waiting patiently in line refuse to complain about it for fear of retribution.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011 9:47 AM

CoasterDemon said:
^I didn't have that issue at these parks, as they don't have a pay-to-cut option, thankfully.

Except the manager exit ramp special which you took advantage of.

As for the employees, it really seems to matter what day you go and what time you ride. You can have a different experience on the same ride in the same day in the same park. I have had some of the most miserable people working rides in every park. I always chuckle when I see someone compliment a ride crew at Kennywood as they are some of the most grumpy people working a summer job as I've seen.

Sounds like a good trip though. Thanks for sharing.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011 7:31 PM

eightdotthree said:
Except the manager exit ramp special which you took advantage of.

And I felt dirty doing it :) There were 4 empty seats on many trains out - sometimes more - on a 28 passenger single train operation. If the crew were filling seats, and getting trains out quickly, I would have said "no thanks" to the exit walk-up.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011 9:12 PM

I always found it funny when a park manager's solution to a line-jumping complaint is, "Here, you can jump in line too". lol I usually say, "No thanks"... usually.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011 11:28 PM

^Yes, me and my friend discussed how ironic it was that their way of making up for line jumpers (well, at Kings Dominion anyhow) was to in fact, have me jump in line!

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011 12:50 PM

If only you could have jumped in front of the people that jumped in front of you. How sweet it would be to steal their seat right before they step on. And then explain to them why you get to take their seat. :)

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