Carowinds Opening Weekend

Monday, March 26, 2018 3:32 PM

We road tripped from Orlando to Carowinds for the weekend, stopping in Savannah for a night on the way up. The weather in Savannah was gorgeous - low 60s and bright sunshine. It was perfect jacket weather for us Floridians who never can quite get enough of it anymore. Savannah is a cool little town (we had been before) and although I can't imagine spending several days there on vacation, it is a great stopover for anyone doing the I-95 drive to or from the Sunshine State.

Friday night I made use of my Platinum Pass for the first time in 2018 and went into Carowinds for passholder preview night. I hadn't been to an Opening Day in so long, but my coaster geek side is coming back and I had a great time. I didn't make it in the park until almost 8pm (hours were 6-10), so the Camp Snoopy flag raising and opening ceremony was long over. For those of us who have dealt with the hit or miss Cedar Point Opening Day, if I hadn't known it was preview night I would never have known. The entire park (minus the rapids ride) was up and running, coasters were running multiple trains, and the place already felt like a well oiled machine. A few coaster crews were running a tad slower than they likely will in a few weeks, but I was absolutely amazed at how well prepared the park was, especially given the reputation of Opening Day at other parks. It was comfortably crowded, waits for Fury and Intimidator were about 10-20 minutes (both running two of three trains) and everything else was a walk on. Camp Snoopy was a madhouse all night.

Saturday was the official Opening Day and I felt like I was at a Cedar Point Closing Day weather w. Temps started in the high 30s/low 40s and didn't make it to 50. There was an on and off drizzle throughout the day, although it didn't close any rides. Fury and Intimidator weren't warmed up and open until about 10:30 (not bad at all) and Nighthawk, Flying Cobras, and the mine train didn't open until late afternoon due to cold temps. I *may* have wondered if they just weren't ready for the season yet had I not seen them all running the night before. I don't think I ever saw a train on Fury or Intimidator full, but they ran all three on both coasters all day. I attended the morning flag raising for Camp Snoopy and it was a great little show that I honestly think they could run at park open all season. The crowd was sparse, but the kids who were there loved it.

For a drizzly, cold Opening Day, Fury and Intimidator were running as good as they were in the middle of summer last year. I still say the front seat is the place to be on Intimidator and the back on Fury. I had plenty of rerides on both and couldn't believe how well they were running despite the weather and not having time to break in for the season. Intimidator did start to feel a little slow as the temps dropped at the end of the night, and visually it looked like it was *barely* cresting some of the hills on the return trip. But that didn't stop them from running three trains with only a handful of riders on each. Around 7 they made an announcement that the park would close early, at 8, instead of the posted 10. Anyone who had a single day admission could exchange it for another free day to be used before May 19. I spent the last 20 minutes or so in the front seat of Intimidator without having to leave my seat as the temps dropped and the rain started. It was the kind of marathoning I haven't done on a coaster in probably 15 years and I had an absolute blast. I still go against the popular opinion and think front seat Intimidator gives the best ride in that park. But the back seat on Fury is such a close second.

All of the rides were running great. Vortex, which sucked last year, actually gave as good of a ride as it is probably capable of. I have always liked Carolina Cyclone, and it was smooth as glass this weekend. I had on an old Worlds of Adventure windbreaker and wound up running into a fellow former Ohioan who had worked at Geauga Lake and operated Mind Eraser/Head Spin and we took a ride on it as Flying Cobras and both agreed it was the best ride either of us had ever had on the thing in 22 years of riding it between the two parks. Afterburn was its super intense self as well. The old Geauga Lake Yo Yo looks rather pitiful tucked in that corner of the park, long stripped of its lights. I can't believe they still have it with the brand new Zephyr wave swinger in the county fair area.

Ride crews on Saturday were either feast or famine. Fury, Intimidator, and Afterburn were cranking trains out, but Hurler was dispatching maybe once every 6-7 minutes. The worst was Woodstock Express, which would go almost 8 minutes at a time without a dispatch. Running two trains, that is a lot of brake run sitting for guests.

I still would love to see Cedar Point get something like Harmony Hall in the next few years. It's better than average food at a price I am willing to pay in a park. I also would say a good 95% of the food stands in the park were open and operating at midseason levels, which leads me to further believe that it is just hard for Cedar Point to get staffing in Sandusky during the fringe seasons of May and Halloweekends. Never for a minute do I think they want the less than stellar experiences that can occur during those times, nor are they apathetic about them like a Six Flags park.

I debated heading in on Sunday morning on our way out of town for a quick ride on Intimidator and/or Fury, but when we woke up the temps were at a chilly 37. Reports on social media looked like Fury and Intimidator never opened due to temps.

I like Carowinds more and more every time I go. The coaster lineup is solid, the guest experience is top notch, and it is a great road trip for us. We have found a few great places to eat and explore in nearby Pineville, NC and love heading up to the area a few times a year. This is the third time in less than a year we have done this trip, but I haven't been to Busch Tampa now in nearly two years. If I had Carowinds an hour away from me, you wouldn't be able to get me away from the place. Not sure when we'll get back, but I am sure it will be at some point later this season.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018 2:23 AM

Were the Flyers up and running yet? I heard rumors that they were taken down and maybe relocated, but no promises.

Sorry to get so specific, but I did enjoy the TR. Carowinds is on our list this year, as it's been way too long and I need to get on Fury!

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018 9:46 AM

No sign of the Flyers, which I have enjoyed in the past. Talk is they will be back in 2019. As much as I love the fact that the old Geauga Lake Yo Yo is still around, they could easily go there and would probably be a much better draw.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018 5:32 PM

Flyers likely not returning till next year which will likely see a large new addition and area refresh. The park has given conflicting answers but the flyers are moving closer to county fair.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018 8:29 PM

I know I should just check a park map, but did the new kid space and rides dictate the removal of the Flying Scooters? Really, I always thought it was in a weird spot and should’ve been somewhere else. (Like Kings Island?)
And Tek, how’s the new carousel plaza? That ride always seemed kind of sad in a way and sure needed some attention.
I spose I could look that up too...

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018 9:55 PM

The new carousel plaza looks great. It's near the entrance to Vortex and fits in very well with the area.

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Thursday, March 29, 2018 5:59 PM

Great TR! We've only been one time two seasons ago, but are planning to visit in the fall on our beach vacation. Maybe twice on the way in and out depending on how much we like Fury325. ;-)

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Monday, April 16, 2018 11:16 AM

Last Wednesday, I decided I needed a mental health weekend. (Separation and probable divorce sucks.) Delta would fly me round trip from DTW to CLT and give me a halfway decent hotel room for two nights, $510 all in. It was my first visit in maybe 10 years. Friday was great; good weather, moderately low crowds. Lots of performing arts school groups, but very well behaved. Fury is as advertised. That crew was the only one that had any urgency at all, but that wasn't really an issue due to sparse crowds. Several things were down for a good chunk of Friday. Saturday and Sunday most everything was up, and Sunday was a ghost town but even so the park ran two trains on everything, which probably wasn't strictly necessary. I was at the airport ready to come back when the tornado warning was called in; that was some serious rain.

One odd thing: the locals do not call them "trains," they call them "carts." As in: "Are they only running one cart today?" "I was here last year and had to wait for them to put a cart on the track."

As above, Harmony Hall's food is decent, and not horribly priced. I liked the self-serve yogurt place for a semi-healthy snack (they have fresh strawberries and a bunch of sugar-laden crap.) The burger I had in Camp Snoopy was bad. The character meet-n-greets were a nice touch.

There's a place in the airport with a salmon dish w/ a mustard sauce served with roasted carrots, arugula, and shaved radish. Great detox from park food.

Last edited by Brian Noble, Monday, April 16, 2018 11:17 AM
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Monday, April 16, 2018 11:42 AM

Mental health weekends got me through my divorce. Best of luck!

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Monday, April 16, 2018 7:52 PM

Funny, my mental health weekends have been the cause of all my divorces...

Anyway, gotta love a town where everyone goes to church instead of their local park.

And I believe it’s “cawrt”.

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Monday, April 16, 2018 8:18 PM

It might have been Sunday services. But it also might have been the threat of nasty weather (which definitely came to pass).

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Saturday, April 28, 2018 11:13 AM

I've heard that Fury's dispatches have drastically slowed this season; reading your trip report gave me a sigh of relief. How was Fury running?

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Sunday, April 29, 2018 11:54 AM

On Opening Day Fury was dispatching while the previous train was about halfway through the course. And the ride itself was hauling. Impressive for Opening Day, even more impressive when it was 45 degrees and rainy.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018 9:53 AM

I’ve been to the park three times and haven’t seen any issues with Fury’s dispatch.

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