Paramount's Carowinds 9-20

Associated parks:
None

Sunday, September 21, 2003 10:10 AM
Yesterday I had to the chance to return to Carowinds after a five year absence. Although the park is only three hours from my house, nothing that new and exciting has been built since I was last there (Top Gun had just opened the last time I went!).

It was Christian Music Day so I went with my church and we arrived about 11:00 and got in a little while later. I knew I was in trouble when I saw A TON of cars in the parking lot, it was going to be a day of waiting in line. I haven't had one of those in a while so I guess I'm due, but it sucks just the same.

After getting in the gate we made a bee-line to Top Gun, ate an expensive lunch, then rode Vortex, Carolina Cyclone, Drop Zone, Goldrusher, Thunder Road, and Runaway Reptar. Not too bad considering the park was busier than I have ever experienced anywhere outside of Disney World.

The Rides:

TOP GUN - Hands down, this is Carowinds' best coaster (IMO that is)! I did this first because it was my favorite last time and I knew it would be packed, and it was. The line extended through all the queue and out into the midway by the exit. After waiting in line for exactly an hour, I boarded the far right seat in the back row. This ride really did deliver! I love the drop and inversions, with the batwing being my favorite (the "cloud" is a nice touch, glad to see its still around). This ride is still nice and smooth, but is a little more intense than Talon was. After the tight final helix, our train cruised back into the station. I just wish I could have ridden again later in the day (more on that later). ****1/2 (out of *****)

VORTEX - This grandpa Beemer was next on my list and needs some serious attention! The paint job on this thing looked absolutely terrible. I guess it hasn't been painted since '92 and I hope that this offseason will see some Red and Black being put on that! The ride looks all faded and the rails are completely rusted, it makes a neat looking ride look like junk. As for the line, it was snaked through all the queue too, so I was excited to see that there was a single rider line. Much to my disliking I found it full as well, many being families and friends. (THIS REALLY TICKS ME OFF!) I only had to wait about thirty minutes, and the real line was an hour so it wasn't so bad, but the ride-op even let two "single" rider friends sit together. I boared the far right in row five and headed off up the noisy lift. This ride still packs a punch and is a nice little thrill. The ride is especially fun because it was made before B&M decided trim brakes are a nice addition before any loop. The only rough spot on the ride was the corkscrew, where the train shook abit. ***1/2

CAROLINA CYCONE was next, and a "short" twenty minute wait was what I found. I rode near the back and I didn't like this ride as much as I remembered. It was fairly jerky and just not that great (I don't complain about Arrows either, Anaconda and Vortex are the best!) ***

DROP ZONE - After waiting for about forty-five minutes I boarded car 2 and took a drop on this smaller Intamin tower. I love the view and the release but it pales in comparison with the new ring seating drop towers. ***1/2

GOLDRUSHER - The crappiest crew in the park worked on this baby and someone puked and they just let stay on the floor in the station. The ride itself was pretty neat, and it will provide some nice views of Stealth (or whatever) next year. ***1/2

I wanted to ride Top Gun again next as a single rider, but I found out that they don't do that on this ride. I made me so mad because as I was leaving the area, I counted at least seven empty seats that I could have sat in.

THUNDER ROAD forwards was next, the backwards had a lot longer line, and needless to say "I didn't really bear the load and enjoy my ride on Thunder Road!" This thing has gotten rough since the last time I was here. I felt like my spine was going to snap over every hill. Yikes! **1/2

It was almost time to go but I knew I couldn't miss out on some of my favorite manufacturer, Vekoma. The RUNAWAY REPTAR looks nice from the ground but for a kids ride, this thing is brutal. I guess they are preparing them for SLC's, but my head banged more on this coaster than any other in the park! Kids did seem to like it but I don't see how it didn't bash their heads around too. **

Unfortunetly, that was all I had time for due to the horrendous lines that day. I still had fun but overall, Carowinds ranks behind King's Dominion and King's Island and about equal to Great America. In my opinion, most of the coasters in the park are just "average" and none of them have great capacities. Them getting Stealth next year is nice, but it is another low-capacity ride and the park really needs a ride that can handle a good number of folks.

PROS:

TOP GUN

GOOD STAFF IN GENERAL

FAIRLY CLEAN

CONS:

EASILY OVERCROWDED

LOW CAPACITIY RIDES

MANY RIDES NEED PAINT (VORTEX AND DROP ZONE)

NOT TOO MUCH SHADE

Overall, I did have fun and Carowinds is a nice park with a few things that need to be fixed. The park gets ****

Finally, STEALTH is in the parking lot in the grass area. A lot of track is there and there is also some construction equipment. The track is straight from PGA and I am going to be very disappointed if it doesn't get painted because it looks a bit shabby. I am really hoping for new trains and at least a new coat of paint. The area it is going in is pretty neat and I can't wait to see how it looks and how they are going to reroute the steamboat.

+0
Sunday, September 21, 2003 10:23 AM
Last I heard the boat isn't being rerouted, it's being permanently docked and turned into a restaurant or something of that sort.

And yes, Vortex is in dire need of paint. Glad you enjoyed the park.

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Shaggy

+0
Monday, September 22, 2003 4:18 PM
That will be kind of neat I guess, but it's not that big. It looked like they were working on it as there were saws and some tools on the deck, which I saw from Runaway Reptar. Drop Zone needs paint badly too, and I was amazed at how nice Top Gun looks after being open since '99.
+0

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