Carowinds, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
A trip to a park I’d never visited was a toss-up between Carowinds and Six Flags Over Texas. What won the coin toss was finding a roundtrip fare for $105 from Philly to Charlotte. So I flew to Charlotte and saved myself the expense of renting a car by using Uber for the first time and made it to Carowinds for $21, a bargain. I knew that in order to get in a decent number of rides I would have to drop $75 for Fast Lane Plus so was determined to economize in other ways.
On the way I could see Fury 325 towering overhead and what a glorious sight! Once inside the park I could see it in action and couldn’t wait to ride. Of course my prediction came true about needing Fast Lane Plus so I bit the bullet. 20 minutes later I was on my way up the lift hill and ready to rock and roll. What a ride! Astonishing! If I thought that Leviathan was intense, this one tops it for sure. Such relentless intensity. After my 2nd ride I debated the advisability to going for a 3rd too soon, for fear of greying out – but decided to do it anyway and it was OK. However, I don’t think that I’d want to ride Fury 10 times in a row. (I’ve done that on El Toro but this is a beast of a different color.)
From there I went to Intimidator, about which I was really curious. I never understood why this coaster is consistently rated higher than Intimidator 305 and after riding it I still don’t understand. Intimidator is unquestionably an exceptional ride but I’d take I-305 over it any day. Maybe I’m becoming jaded when it comes to B&M hypers. Also, because I’d just ridden Fury, this ride seemed tame by comparison but that was probably inevitable.
Next up was Nighthawk. This was my second Vekoma Flying Dutchman (2 out of 3 ain’t bad) and although I think I prefer the corkscrews on this one to the inline twists on Batwing, Batwing comes in ahead b/c I found the headrest on Nighthawk to be distinctly uncomfortable.
I knew that I was going to love Afterburn and I did. The whole ride, especially the zero-g roll and Batwing element, was a blast. It all went by so fast that I couldn’t believe we were already back at the loading station. And of course I went for a re-ride.
Time to tackle a woodie so I went to Thunder Road. Nice, relaxing ride! I thought that it had some good pops of airtime and was relieved to find that it’s not at all rough. I’ve ridden some brutal woodies so this was a pleasant surprise. What struck me as odd, however, is that this is supposed to be a racing coaster and the ride ops did not always dispatch the two trains simultaneously. In fact this did not happen on either of my two rides; I was not even aware of the other train.
Carolina Cyclone would be a wonderful ride if it weren’t so rough. I liked the elements a lot but found it punishing. As to Hurler, this was pretty good but rougher than Thunder Road.
I did not ride Vortex or Carolina Cobra b/c these are simply not my types of rides. Nor did I do any flat rides. With the time I had left, I returned for 2 more rides on Fury. One thing I don’t like about the Fast Lane protocol at Cedar Fair Parks is that you don’t usually have a choice as to where to sit; the ride ops direct you to a specific row. I’d ridden Fury in the middle and back of the train but somehow ended up in the front row on my last ride. This felt somewhat different from the other rides not only b/c I was hanging over the initial drop but b/c I was being blown to bits! But it was fun, and on the next-to-last ride I was riding with some fellow Pennsylvanians – from Pittsburgh – who were telling me about Kennywood, which I’ve never had the opportunity to visit.
After a cheese flatbread and beer – bliss on such a hot day – it was time to leave and b/c I’d reserved a room at the Econo Lodge at Carowinds, all I had to do was walk out the south gate of the park, take a 10-minute hike, cross the street and walk up a hill to get to my accommodations. Never before had I had the luxury of staying anywhere so close to a theme park. The Econo Lodge, while hardly fancy, was clean and hospitable, my Uber drivers were awesome and Carowinds was amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better trip.
You must be logged in to post