Carowinds CoasterStock 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010 9:36 AM

CoasterStock 2010

I’ve been to Carowinds already a bunch this year. Not that I’m complaining, but with CoasterStock coming, and me having not spent a full day there, I really didn’t know if I’d want to be at the park from before opening to after close, especially since I’m not a morning person.

I slept a bit later than I’d intended, and I missed my exit because I wasn’t paying attention, so I got to the park later than I meant to, but it wasn’t a big deal. The only morning ERT I wanted was on Afterburn. When I got to the park, that’s where I headed first (Well, 2nd, I had to make a potty stop). Rode in the 2nd row and the ride was really good. Once I got off I headed out to find Gator and Jill. I ran into them close to Afterburn, so we went back for 2 rides in the front. The ride is so different front to back. It rides very intense (but not really rough) in the back, and I can’t take much of it. This early, and this hot, I wanted nothing to do with the back. But I can power ride in the front all day.

We walked over to the Flyers. Can’t remember if they rode that or not, but I knew I wasn’t going to be in the mood for spinning with it this early and this hot out. Once we made it to Intimidator, though, we got in line to wait for the park to open. We were on about the 3rd train of the day, near the front, and the ride was great as usual.

We headed over to Boo Blasters and did that next since they were having the tournament. I sucked with my score of 450, but whatever. I’m glad the mist was on. Is it me, or did the ride open with just a set of eyes and a mouth projected into the mist? I seem to recall that and not Boocifer, which is there now. Glad they got that back to working; it really does make a difference in the ride.

So next we went over to Thunder Road. My last ride on the blue train was pretty rough, so I wasn’t looking forward to it. Jill and I sat in the very front with minimal wait. We asked to race, but the guy running the silver side didn’t race. The ride wasn’t quite as bad as my July 4th visit, but it was jackhammering in all of the non-refurbished sections. We headed over to the silver side and got the ops to race it. Rode in the front with Bill and the ride was actually very good.

Next we headed over towards Ricochet, with a stop for water first. Bill decided he wanted to do Goldrusher, and since I hadn’t ridden it in quite a while, I got on with them. Boy, are those trains uncomfortable. However, the ride was actually the best ride I’ve ever had on Goldrusher. It seems really fast and fun.

We got in line for Ricochet, which was about a 10 minute wait. Good ride, not overly braked. I still freak out on wild mice. I thought we were going to eat at the picnic area in the back near Afterburn, so we headed there, and I was wrong. We ran into some other geeks after looking at a map, and led them to the right pavilion. The lunch ‘mix-up’ or whatever of hot dogs and chicken was fine. I was hungry and really didn’t care what was to eat. I know that there were some vegetarian issues that cropped up, so I’m sure that the park will be able to fix that next year.

Lunch was fine; listening to the guy from B&M answer questions was interesting. Jill & Bill left to go nap at their hotel after he finished. I’d planned to head into Charlotte to wander around, but it was too hot. After Jerry Helms got up and started to talk, I heard him say he’d worked at Star Trek The Experience in Vegas, so once he was finished and I had gotten more to drink in my new Intimidator cup, I asked him about it and told him how much I enjoyed it.

He got there in 2005 when it was still under Paramount and took over as General Manager with the intent of turning the property around. I must say, it was a great experience when we went. He asked if I got to do the backstage tour, but it didn’t start until after we went. He said it really took off, and mentioned that he felt that if the last Trek movie had came out earlier as they intended, that he thinks people would have been more willing to re-up the contract.

I visited twice under his leadership, and I have to say, he ran the place great. He mentioned how they upped the food quality, and we did eat there on my 2nd visit, and were highly impressed by the food (and I was there with a chef, who heaped praise upon our lunch). Plus the staff at Quark’s were very happy and loved working there, so I’d say that Mr. Helms must have been quite popular. I’m personally glad he’s at Carowinds. He did mention that Intimidator wasn’t intended to go where it is in the park, but he lobbied to put it up front. Definitely the best decision, and what better billboard for the park that a huge red coaster facing the highway?

After lunch I went to my car to get my swimming trunks. Paid for a locker (man I wish I’d have gotten one in Boomerang Bay!) and changed clothes, then headed to the newer wave pool. I spent about 3 hours between wave pools; the kinds play area, and even took a turn on the lazy river. The older wave pool was actually too warm, so I headed back to the newer one. I hadn’t been to the water park since 1998 here. I think they need a couple of newer slides, but otherwise it’s very nice.

I left the park around 3:30 and headed over to Plaza Fiesta. I hadn’t been since they changed it over. I hung out there for a while and enjoyed being indoors. Then I sat in my car and tried to nap for about 30 minutes, but as soon as I fell asleep, thunder started rolling in and woke me up. I ended up going over to the park and heading in to dinner.

I must say, dinner was very good. The chicken and prime rib was much better than I’d expected. Nice job Carowinds staff! I had done the construction tour for ACE so I opted out of the backstage Intimidator tour. Jill, Bill, and I instead went over to ride some more. We hit up Gr8 Skate, they rode the flyers again, and we planned on riding Woodstock Express, but the line was long. Instead we headed over to Hurler, but because of lightening in the area, we stood in the station for a while to see if it cleared up.

It didn’t, so we headed to the theater for Snoopy Rocks on Ice, which was a decent show. Jill & Bill headed out to ride, and I ran to the restroom before heading back for Q&A and Park Jeopardy. Both were fun and informative and we got to watch the 3 videos, 1 that the staff made, and the other 2 that were in the contest.

Once it was time for ERT on Intimidator, we all headed over and waited for the park to clear and for them to get the ride ready. And get it ready they did. ERT was great, they had the 2nd trim basically off (I think at one point I felt it hit slightly), and much airtime was to be had. The crew was riding, the marketing team was there, everyone was having fun, all three trains were running, and it was just a lot of fun. Plus did I mention the ride was just really incredible? I like that they had a sign on one of the maintenance boxes as you leave the station showing that the 2nd trim was turned off. Nice touch.

CoasterStock, aside from the heat, was great. I really enjoyed it and after hearing that the park has plans to expand and really become a resort destination in the coming years, I really have confidence that Carowinds will grow and that they have a good foundation for a great management team. Everyone was a class act all day and went out of their way to make 120 coaster geeks happy, and I didn’t hear any major complaints, outside of the heat. Still not sure why they had the heat on all day in July.

Couple points they talked about at the 2nd Q&A-

They really are trying to turn the park into a destination park. I asked about the addition of a hotel, and was told that it could definitely come in the long term.

They've done their research when it comes to areas that are still growing even in the poor economy and Charlotte (as well as Phoenix and other areas) is one of them.

They just finished up their 5 year plan, and depending on what Intimidator does will kind of set the bar for what they're going to do.

The park IS getting something next year (announcement will come in August). The Marketing Director (who was really a lot of fun) said that they are getting something, but that it won't be huge (obviously after getting back to back coasters).

Kinzel wants Carowinds to be the CP of the south. That comment has been made by the park on numerous occasions.

The park is 122 acres. The have a 100 acre car park, and about 300 acres overall (this came from the VP during lunch).

Next year they're going to take a big step in moving the park towards being a resort destination. They're hoping to extend weeknite hours to 10 for 7 weeks during the summer. This hasn't been done in the park's history, IIR, and they're very excited to see the results.

This is SCarowinds' 10th anniversary, and they're changing it too. A new huant is coming this year and they're chaning the pricing structure to reflect Knott's. Speaking of Knott's, they're trying to grow SCarowinds' event into something more like Knott's Scary Farm.

There was definitely more to be said during the day, but those are some of the big notes.

Last edited by Tekwardo, Monday, July 26, 2010 9:39 AM
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Monday, July 26, 2010 11:49 PM

Thanks for the report. My wife and I are going to the park for the first time in August. Anything we shouldn't miss besides the obvious?

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010 1:46 AM

Since it was CoasterStock, I'll rate everything in terms of "stock price" versus most recent rides (mostly from late-June visit).

Scooby Doo (wooden junior of some name): Unridden on Saturday due to long lines. Previous visit showed how well the former PP parks do with their junior woodies. Unchanged.

Hurler: July was the first ride with the trims right after the first drop, and I wasn't too thrilled with the roughness then even at the slowed pace. Saturday night's front-row ride was fast and smooth (in large part due to the rain that came shortly after dinner). Stock up considerably.

Thunder Road (right): Unchanged. Runs well in the recently re-tracked/re-structured area near the turnaround.

Thunder Road (left): Stock way up. The previous trip was pretty brutal, and I had low expectations this time around. But wooden coasters are what they are, and the front ride was really nice.

Important note: Racing is imperative now that the trains all run forwards across the chain. REALLY enhances the experience.

Top Gun (After Burn): Unchanged, always uber-impressive. Still one of, if not the finest, of the B&M inverts. Really miss the misted tunnel under the walkway. A lot.

Carolina Cobra (Head Spin): Unchanged. The new restraints were/are a *huge* improvement. Convinced Jill to ride, she normally skips Boomernags since she doesn't do credits and doesn't like the headbanging normally obtained. She says the ride is too intense regardless of restraints and that she still hates all Boomerangs and will resume skipping them whenever encountered. Hard to argue against that kind of logic - but it's not too intense for me and actually somewhat enjoyable now that I'm not getting beaten.

Stealth (Borg, Nighthawk): No ride this time. The ride in June reminded me just HOW much I prefer the Vekoma layouts to the B&Ms (esp. those other than Manta/Tatsu).

Vortex: Hadn't ridden in many years, now I remember why. B&M learned a LOT about stand-ups between Iron Wolf/Vortex and Georgia Scorcher.

Flying Skooters: Anthony (morning ERT op) was awesome. Two ops are needed now that the ride has those key-lock restraints, though. I got one really good set of snaps early, Jill scored heavily on the last two rides while I somehow totally lost the hang of it. If I could become a more *consistent* pilot, I'd be very happy. I think Jill has "the flyer bug"... :)

Boo Blasters: Stock way, way up. Boocifer projected like that was truly impressive, adding a LARGE traditional dark ride element to the interactive. Scored MUCH better the second time around while they were holding the contest stuff post-Snoopy.

....and I-232....stock way up. Those last few front-seat rides to close out the ERT had a really strong, sutained, float. Trimlessness is the only way to go with this ride (all the B&M hypers seem to resemble that remark though).

Carowinds is in a strongly growing market, and I don't think it was a stretch for them to make the prediction that the Charlotte area could double again in ten years (7% annual growth). Bart K. got a plum park, and if they keep doing the right things (waterpark, wood-coaster maintenance, a new mega-flat to throw a lighting package toward the interstate)...it really could become "the CP of the South". Perhaps most importantly, it doesn't have the competition that KD has... ;)

Many thanks to ACE Southeast and to Carowinds for hosting a tremendous event. :)

Last edited by rollergator, Tuesday, July 27, 2010 1:48 AM
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010 8:47 AM

rollergator said:
Top Gun (After Burn): Unchanged, always uber-impressive. Still one of, if not the finest, of the B&M inverts. Really miss the misted tunnel under the walkway. A lot.

Is it gone for good? And did they just get rid of it this year? I was there late last season and it was on, if I remember correctly.

Totally agree that this is one of the best inverts around. I was seriously impressed--best ride at the park (at least last year...haven't ridden Intimidator yet).

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010 9:30 AM

Vater, it just wasn't on. It's been hit or miss all season, Not sure why it hasn't been on with as hot as it's been, but early in the year I'm quite sure it was on a few times.

@8.3 I know you'll probably do all of the coasters, so I won't mention them, but if you can get a seat in row 4 on Intimidator, do it!

Don't miss Boo Blasters (and I hope the projector is working).

Don't miss the sky tower, great views of the park.

Don't miss both sides of Thunder Road, both sides can be hit or miss, so a bad ride on one doesn't mean a bad ride on the other.

No major flats to speak of, though, even though there are enough to keep you busy. It's a great park, and is looking very nice since they put so much capital in it this year.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010 12:15 PM

How about good food? My wife and I are vegetarian so I am looking for good fries, pizza, etc.

We are hitting two new parks to us on this trip, been awhile since I have been to a new park. Can't wait!

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010 1:00 PM

Outer Hanks has decent fries. There is Pizza near the scrambler. Do you have a platiunum pass? Park in the Pass Parking lot when entering.

If you can't find acceptable food, Plaza Fiesta (you'll pass it) has a food court where I'm sure you can find non-meat stuff, but really there isn't a lot to talk about when it comes to any CF park and food.

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