Carowinds Opening & Ricochet Media Event 3-23-02

Associated parks:
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Saturday, March 23, 2002 2:36 PM
After going coaster-less for about 5 months I was hungry to get a little thrill. I ate a quick breakfast in the car and arrived at Paramount's Carowinds at around 8:35. After driving around taking some photos I headed to the employee parking area where I was to meet CoasterDave, SadieCarp, and Sadie's sister Jamie (coasterbuzz screen name ?) for the Ricochet media VIP event.

After meeting up with the other 3 we were escorted through a back area by a Carowinds employee into the new area. I must say, I was impressed. Carowinds really does know how to make a wild mouse look nice. The area had some nice theming and the coaster looked great. At around 9:15, after everyone had time to get in and gather around, two radio personalities from Magic 96.1 (forgot their names; were from the local classical radio station) went up to the podium and talked about the ride. Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory and Rock Hill Mayor Pro Tempore Jim Reno were introduced along with Carowinds GM Walt Burris. They then brought to the state a few Nickelodeon characters along with Carolina Panther's kick returner Steve Smith, Charlotte Sting basketball player Charlotte Smith, and Olympic bronze medalist Mike Kohn (for some reason Patrick Jeffers did not show up). The radio hosts cut the ribbon and the local celebrities made their way for the opening ride.

The athletes, mayors, and Walt Burris took the first few rides and then the coaster was opened to the other guests. A group called the Catalinas played beach music and we got in line. According to Ken Rutherford, a group of contractors from the park went to check out Hershey's mouse because they intended for it to run identical to it. I am glad they did. With the exception of a brake near the end of the ride, all brakes were off, and the cars were flying. It was a very smooth ride and the turns were very fast without the brakes. This is easily my favorite of the 4 wild mice I have been on.

We headed over to Top Gun at about 10:10 and met up with PatCat and his father. CoasterMike16 was supposed to meet us but he didn't show so we went on to Top Gun. Top Gun was running as amazing as it was last year, and I can tell its going to be yet another wonderful year on my favorite little looper. We rode twice and then headed to the County Fair.

Thunder Road was closed on both sides, so we hit the lineless Dodgems. Needless to say, its still the same dull bumper cars that it has always been: drive in the same direction at 2 mph for 5 minutes then get off. We headed over to check out the new simulator film, Meteor Attack, which was definitely no 7th Portal. I really couldn't figure out a plotline and there was nothing new in the movement of the seats.

Due to the cold weather and perhaps the fact that Carowinds opened a week or two earlier than usual, crowds were light. With that in mind, we figured a ride on the Carolina Goldrusher wouldn't hurt. Its still the same thing its always been: a slightly jerky 2-lift Arrow mine train. Pat hadn't been on Ricochet yet, so we waited a good while for it and took another spin. I thought I detected an extra brake on somewhere this time, but hopefully that was imagined.

The Carolina Cyclone was closed at the moment, so Dave, Pat, and I headed for Drop Zone (the girls and Pat's dad chickened out :P). The ride had a mishap with a car not lifting up 2 cycles before us, so that added a good 15-20 minutes to our wait. We were supposed to be able to eat free at the VIP picnic, but a slight mishap with the meal tickets (won't go into detail) nixed that. We ate at the Country Kitchen, which I haven't eaten at in years.

Pat wanted to do the skycoaster, so we rode Hurler and Vortex while he did. Hurler is running as well as last year also, and the kink after the first turn appears to have been smoothed out. It still provides massive airtime, and Vortex is still my least favorite coaster in the park. It wasn't unbearable this time and I didn't find it that rough either, but it just seemed so pointless.

Pat finished riding the skycoaster and we rode Hurler again, this time Dave and I grabbing a ride in what I consider to be the ejector seat (1-2). Sadie and Jamie left to head home, and we decided to try and hit Thunder Road since it was closed earlier. On the way, Pat and I rode the Kaleidascope (scrambler). Both sides of Thunder Road were running, but both were only running 1 train. We rode backwards near the front of the train, and it was a fun ride as usual. A lot of retracking was done on the coaster in the offseason.

Top Gun's line was still inside the loading station, so we grabbed a quick ride near the back. Dave and I decided we needed to head home, so we left Pat and his dad to enjoy some more of the park. Carowinds had a slight *DOH* involved with the VIP event, as anyone bringing a camera was directed to park in the employee lot and ushered in through a back area as I mentioned. The problem arose in how to get BACK to the employee lot, since we obviously couldn't waltz back behind the fence and stroll out. A security guard, appearing to have no idea about the VIP event, led us out through the employee entrance and our day at the park ended.

I had a great time at Carowinds as I always do, and it was a pleasure to meet some new people. While the loading effeciency was low and the gaming people were aggressive, they will get lazy and the ops will get faster. I have photos of Ricochet and a feature that I will post at Starcoasters.com this weekend, and a video of the new coaster will follow. I got a lot of general park footage, and I will hopefully combine it with some footage I'll get on April 1st to mix a Carowinds video.

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|| Jonathan Hawkins ||
http://www.starcoasters.com
http://www.thrillspot.com

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Saturday, March 23, 2002 2:44 PM

You're lucky you went today... but then again, I get to go to California in a week. ;)

Your pictures of Ricochet are very nice... indeed, it looks very nice in that area. Wish I'd have been there. The station's lighthouse is pretty creative, no?

Did you get to "ride" CyberSez?

Will

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Saturday, March 23, 2002 2:45 PM
No, we didn't really think about doing it, but it looks interesting. Its funny watching people wave their arms and stomp their feet :P

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|| Jonathan Hawkins ||
http://www.starcoasters.com
http://www.thrillspot.com

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Saturday, March 23, 2002 2:46 PM

"Waving their arms and stomping their feet," hmm... Weird... Wonder what the heck goes on on the screen?

Anyone know? :)

Will

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The Jet Coaster ROARS!
Will Johansson, Webmaster of Xtreme Paramount Parks
http://xpp.coasterbuzz.com/

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Saturday, March 23, 2002 2:47 PM
Nice TR Jonathan, wish I could have gone today. Monday then?

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800,000 years in 7 seconds: Time Machine the movie or next S&S creation?

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Saturday, March 23, 2002 3:36 PM

I saw Cyber Sez at PKD. It looked hularious watching them flail around. I wanted to do it, but we are gonna save it for later

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Bouncing Back on Ricochet PKD!OoOoOo...Rolley Coaster!

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Sunday, March 24, 2002 10:37 AM

I just got back to Indiana from a mad dash trip to Carolwinds, I had a great time. It was my first visit and I really enjoyed this park. I was supprised by Vortex, for its size its a great little standup. Ricochet is a great mouse, really enjoyed the brakeless run. I really enjoyed Top Gun, its now my second favorite foot dragger, to Raptor. But why do they stack a two train operation so baddly?

I ate at the Chicken place across from the Haunted Mansion, a great country fried steak and fixin's for less than 10.00

All in all it was a great trip, but too short, as I had to drive all night to get there. I was gona spend the night Friday somewhere between Charleston WVa, and the park, but all the hotels were full, So my night consisted of 4 hours in a rest area. I think the longest I waited was for my backwards ride on Thunder Run.

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Whats life if you never get to the Po!nt?

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