Carowinds, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
I finally made the seven and a half hour drive up from Orlando for my second trip to Carowinds. The first was a quick trip back in 2012 and I really liked the park then. I like it even more now after a full day.
It was striking to me how similar the new entrance is compared with the new Cedar Point entrance. They both have a B&M statement coaster with similar colors, yes, but the layout and main entrance buildings and overall look of things is nearly identical.
Fury 325 was pretty fantastic. It was different enough from Millennium Force that I really don't feel that I can compare or pick one vs the other for a favorite. It definitely is a backseat ride, and the best ride I had was in the back at night. It also had one of the greatest crews I have ever seen on a coaster, they had trains ready to go in what seemed like seconds. And with a block stop available prior to the lift, it works to their advantage. It's definitely a back seat ride, and it was just awesome after the sun went down.
Intimidator is still awesome, and during the day I was still giving it the edge over Fury. The airtime on that thing is just insane, and despite me not really being into the Nascar theming, this coaster is just wonderful from start to finish. I give it the edge over Diamondback and Apollos Chariot - the only other B&M hypers I have ridden. Unlike Fury, the front seems to be the place to be on this one.
The one-two punch of Fury and Intimidator is reason enough to come to Carowinds.
Afterburn is great, but as I get older I notice these old school B&Ms are a little much for me. I know many people say they are the best and bitch about how the new ones are forceless and boring. But rides like Afterburn, Kumba at BGT, the Batman: The Ride clones, honestly are so forceful and intense that it can feel like work riding them. Not a knock on them at all and I know for many that is the appeal. I just don't get the enjoyment from the intensity that I once did. I guess as I get older I'd rather ride something that is just fun and doesn't feel like I have to brace myself from the intensity.
Vortex sucked. I remember somewhat liking it back in 2012. And I was always a big Mantis fan. But my two rides on Vortex yesterday were awful, and the first generation stand up trains don't do it any favors. With a park that has Fury, Intimidator, and Afterburn I can't imagine the layout is worth keeping for a floorless conversion like they did in California. The ride (as a floorless or a standup) could fit in at a smaller park much better than keeping it around here.
Carolina Goldrusher is a fun mine train, and I love the smell so many of these old Arrow mine trains have. A much more solid ride than Cedar Creek Mine Ride. If only they could get some more comfortable seating in these things.
Hurler was boring and also would be a nice chunk of land behind Fury that could be repurposed.
The new county fair area was really well done, and the new flats have great lighting packages. Is the Music Express new or was it picked up from another park? I took two rides on my beloved Geauga Lake Mind Eraser. Those new trains make all the difference in the world. I wonder how easily some of the older Arrow loopers could be salvaged with those.
Speaking of old Arrow loopers, I really do like Carolina Cyclone. It's as if the old Geauga Lake Double Loop had a baby with a standard model Corkscrew. It rides smoothly and has a good chunk of intensity coming out of the loops and then in the final helix. I would be sad to lose this one someday. It brings back fond memories of Double Loop, and makes me wish the CP Corkscrew was this good.
I was surprised to see the old Geauga Lake Yo Yo, stripped of all its lights and its tilting cycle, still back near Afterburn with the new wave swinger here. I can't imagine it is long for this world, it looks rough. Heck, it looked rough ten years ago when it was still at Geauga Lake. Still, it was nice to be able to ride two rides from my childhood with this and the boomerang.
I skipped Nighthawk. Everything in the park was a near walkon the entire day, except this. Apparently it only ever runs one train (even though there is a second on the transfer) and the line was never less than an hour. I rode it back in 2012, and I remember it being rough and worn back then. I stuck with the walk ons for Fury and Intimidator. I also skipped the wild mouse.
The park is so nice and clean. This is the park I had so wished Geauga Lake could have been when Cedar Fair got its hands on it. I walked through the waterpark and it looked great. The plan was to spend a few hours there in the afternoon, but we wound up napping back at the hotel and then went back in for night rides.
The employees were great, although ride crews were a little slow (except Fury, which cranked out trains like Magnum before safety gates). Food options were in a whole new level over what I am used to at Cedar Point. Forget RMC Mean Streak, let's just get a Harmony Hall in there. I had solid BBQ for the same price that I am used to getting crap at CP. I also finally tried crab fries, and they were quite tasty. I also appreciated the fact that in the heat of the afternoon, food stands had trays of free water cups already poured and ready for the taking. A nice move.
It was a fantastic day. Crowds were light, and the only real waits were in the last hour or so when the waterpark closed. Even then, Fury maxed out at about a 20 minute wait, and to ride it in the dark in the back row was absolutely fantastic. It was absolutely worth the seven and a half hour drive from Orlando. Today we will explore the area a bit before heading back. I really would like to return for sCarowinds - I just worry about insane Halloween crowds. Any tips from those who have done it before?
Glad you had fun! I will agree, the park really has upped their food game. Granted, often I get Culver's outside of the park (and many other times I eat at one of the many great places in Charlotte before/after going as I'm there a lot), but I have no problem dropping cash in the park for food any more as its no longer crap. And when they have an event centered around food, it's even better.
As for SCarowinds, if you hit the park up in September on a Friday night, it won't be that bad. I often go the first friday of SCarowinds and it's fairly dead, but I will say, as the largest Halloween event in the region, it's starting to get packed earlier. Even though it'll never be on the same level of Scary Farm, SCarowinds is just as popular around here and tends to draw large crowds. If you have a platinum pass, I'd suggest coming up for a weekend, and hit it up on Friday nite and Saturday nite if its too crowded. Sundays aren't generally as crowded either, but the last two years I've went during my normal times and they've been much busier.Last edited by Tekwardo, Saturday, June 10, 2017 9:01 PM
You're from Orlando, and have only ridden Diamondback, Apollo's Chariot, and now Intimidator? I hear Mako is fantastic...
I'm sorry, but did you mean Mehko?
I kid, but although it's good, I'd put it somewhere around the middle of the pack.
I'm glad you liked Intimidator. I read a surprisingly high number of reviews for it that are pretty mediocre, but I'd say that its placement high on the Coasterbuzz top 100 are closer to my opinion of it. I think it's a rather exceptional ride, and of that Cedar Fair trilogy of hypers that got built from 2008-2010, it's definitely the most exhilarating. It has some quality airtime, but I feel like it throws in some speed moves for good measure (I find its turnaround with the zig-zagging to be a particular highlight), and that gives it a bit of an edge in my eyes.
I also agree with your Afterburn assessment, and I feel like I'm in the group who likes it precisely for its brutal intensity. Nothing tops the B-TR clones in my eyes, but Afterburn was the closest B&M ever came with its inverted coasters. It's such a fantastic ride.
As for Fury 325, well, it's just the best ride in the universe as far as I'm concerned, so I find your enjoyment of it highly unsurprising. ;)
I still haven't ridden Mako. I have two Sea World comp tickets sitting in my desk drawer that I just haven't gotten a chance to use yet. I will get there one of these days - I drive by the thing at least once a week and always kick myself that I still haven't ridden it.
I also agree that one of the best parts of Intimidator is the "zig zag" finale. The transitions and the airtime are just insane. I will admit that my first ride on Fury when I arrived in the morning had me just a little "that's all?" but as the day wore on I liked it more and more. And my night ride in the back was just insane. I really can't pick a favorite from one or the other - they are different enough where I was just thrilled to have such short lines to reride them both so many times.
I had a BBQ pulled pork sandwich and mac and cheese from Harmony Hall that was a few dollars more than it would have been at a standard casual restaurant. But it was solid and absolutely the kind of food Cedar Point needs. I have Culvers here in town, but I also got myself some Cook Out and Jack In The Box tacos while I was in town.
The next morning we went to the Carolina Aviation Museum. Tons of cool stuff to see, with the centerpiece being the US Airways jet that was "The Miracle on the Hudson" - absolutely worth the $12 - and the museum staff was outstanding.
edit: Also, thanks for the SCarowinds tips. I would likely do an early in the Halloween season Friday night, and then hit the park again Saturday for the daytime stuff until it got too crowded to enjoy and then head out.Last edited by BrettV, Sunday, June 11, 2017 2:15 PM
Because of 6pm closings for SCarowinds, Saturdays around that time are rarely busy.
I was there on Tuesday and rode Fury325 a half dozen times during the day. The first half of the ride was really good but after the tunnel you hit that trim brake and the rest of the ride is meh. IMO after burn is the best coaster in the park. Fury is a top 10 coaster but not my #1, not even close to it.
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