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Carowinds Opening Day 2k3
Charlotte, North Carolina
Ah yes, the day North and South Carolina coaster enthusiasts look forward to all winter: Carowinds opening day. After a quick breakfast (microwave breakfast pizza, oh yeah), I was on my way to the park. I arrived slightly before 9 AM, and was pleased to see that unlike last season, the parking lot was open so that season pass ERT could actually start at 9 rather than the parking lot opening at 9. Hopefully that trend will continue throughout the season. The most obvious changes at the entrance were that the South Gate is now a season pass only gate, except on very busy days, and of course the installation of metal detectors. The scanning process seemed to work very well and efficiently, and hopefully it won't be too much of a slowdown when there are lines to enter the gate.
The last coaster I had been on was Top Gun on closing day in October of 2002 (unless you count that Incredible Hulk simulator ;)), so I was pretty excited about getting to ride again. David Drake (Coasterdave) called me as I was climbing the stairs to the station to let me know that he was on his way, but was being held up by parking attendants trying to make him park at the wrong gate. Top Gun was running very well right from the start, and it picked up as the day went on. I don't have a completely exact count, but I think I got my 400th lap on Top Gun on Saturday (here's to at least 400 more!). Dave joined me for some laps and then one of the ride ops released our restraints and told us we had to get up, even though there was no one in our line. I guess we had taken one ride too many... Since we had to get back in line anyway, we took the time to try the front seat, and at that point Jay Miller (JamminJ) arrived. After 11 morning laps for me, we met up with Tim Federal (RCmuzikGuY) and Andrew Campbell (nascartheridein05?), and it was on to...
SpongeBob Square Pants 3D!!!!!!!!!11111111 Seriously though, this is the simulator film that has replaced 7th Portal, and I hear another film will be coming later in the season to be shown in the other side of the theater. It seemed like it would be something cool to watch while on a heavy amount of drugs, and some of the 3D effects were pretty well done I guess. Some of the comments on SpongeBob:
Dave: "Thought it sucked."
Me: "It's better than James Bond..."
Andrew: "I'm nauseous"
Tim: *stared blankly
We intended to head straight to Reptar and the new Nick Central, but how could we (or at least I) pass up a ride on Scooby Doo's Haunted Mansion? As always, I completely 0wnzed everyone with my 1000+ score. We were all very saddened to see the removal of the shooting gallery, which means no more causing mass chaos and hilarity by setting all of the sensors off at once with a camera flash. The new Nick Central area looks quite nice I will admit, and when some of the trees they've put in grow out the area near "Rocket Power: Air Time" should be nicely shaded. I noticed that the Runaway Reptar height limit did indeed turn out to be set a bit high, as guests have to be at least 44 inches to ride with a chaperone, and 54 to ride alone (!). The queue was placed beside a beautiful pool of muddy stagnant water, where all of the fish are long dead. Aside from that, I really thought the ride looked nice, and for some reason it is just a cool ride to watch. I took a seat in the front car beside Jay, and cha ching... credit!
Coaster #92 - Rugrat's Runaway Reptar
The ride itself was a bit slow, and it seemed pretty rough for a coaster that had only been open for less than an hour, and I heard that from some other people throughout the day. It was pretty fun though, and I think it will turn out to be an excellent addition to the park. The Gauntlet, a falling star, has been renamed 'Rocket Power: Air Time,' and has undergone some changes. Aside from a new paint job, the station covering has been removed, a new queue placed, and it's been given a 'Nick-ish' look. Dave ended up being the odd-man-out, so instead of waiting for a single rider to happen along, he spectated. It would be really nice to see the speed of this thing cranked up a bit so that it could actually live up to it's name, but it is pretty fun nonetheless, and we need all the flat rides we can get. The new area has come complete with a new Nick store, a nice-looking restaurant, some other eating facilities, and of course the obligatory re-theming of the Power Keg Flume. What they have done in transforming it into Wild Thornberry's River Adventure looked VERY good, and I will admit that I was impressed. We didn't ride, but I was told that no theming was added once out of the station.
Our stroll took us past the main entrance and past Vortex, which we hurried by without a second thought, and on to the Carolina Cyclone. Cyclone seemed to be running the same as usual, which is better than most Arrows, although Jay expressed his discomfort with the blunt statement ",Ow, my knees." Cyclone is always a ride that can be counted on to be quick and fun with a short line.
We were supposed to be meeting some more people at 12:00 at Hurler's entrance, so that is where we headed to next. There we met up with Chris Tyson (BeastFreak) and his friend, who's name I completely forgot for some reason.... So sorry about that man... I'll add it in if I remember or someone tells me. I noticed instantly that Hurler was barely even making it over the final hill onto the brake run, and I could tell before even getting on that it wasn't running up to speed. Riding in the ejector seat, it was easy to tell that there wasn't a ton of 'ejection' to it that day. I'm hoping and assuming that it will get faster, and eventually give the awesome rides that it was giving last summer.
Next we headed back toward Cyclone where we met up with Corey Jessup (rOLLocOASt), Dave Johnson, Kurt Borowiak, and Kyle Johnston. We picked up another ride on Cyclone while we were there, then headed back over to Hurler. Hurler had been on one train op earlier, and still was, so Jay, Dave, and myself decided to ride again later when the second train was added. We parted with the others and headed to...
Steak 'N Shake! Dave and Jay were first-timers, and myself a seasoned veteran, and as you're reading this it's probably pretty obvious that I really like this restaurant. It may not be as cheap as fast food, but then again it's cheaper than park food. With some Weezer blasting on my awesome car's (sarcasm) incredible sound system (sarcasm), we headed back to the park. After having an attempt to smuggle a Cookies 'N Cream Milk Shake and a Chocolate Malt into the park thwarted by security, we made it inside.
Thunder Road forwards was running pretty darn well, and seemed to glide smoothly and quickly over every hill. Heading over to Vortex, we met back up with Chris and I-forgot-his-name again, and also ran into Travis insertlastnamehere, former Hurler operator (and a good one at that), who was getting off from his shift on Vortex (you should have stayed on the Hurler crew ;)). We watched him remove his Carowinds employee shirt to reveal a Six Flags Over Georgia Great American Scream Machine shirt, and then took a spin on Vortex. No need to comment here, as it was the same as usual.... uneventful. We met back up with Tim and Andrew again, but they were headed out to go home. Dave had decided to bail out just before we took our ride on Vortex (probably a good idea).
Hurler at this point was in two train op, so we rode once, then Travis decided he wanted to go ahead and head for Top Gun. Down to four, we rode the Scream Weaver (enterprise). The Carolina Goldrusher (fastest ride on rails!!1!!!!111) seemed completely abandoned, so we walked on for a ride. Goldrusher is a coaster that I never mind riding, as it is just simple fun.
You are probably wondering at this point where the obligatory game of DDR comes in at, and the time for that is now. Even though he has only played a few times, Jay didn't protest when I chose 6 and 7 foot songs, so it was an interesting sight. After that Jay's little brother showed up in the arcade, so everyone got a kick out of watching the two of them play (and fail "Boys" on beginner mode :P).
Progressing on, we rode the always-fun Scooby Doo, and saw Corey, Dave, Kurt, and Kyle in the back of the train before us. After that Jay and myself left the other two and went to get our season passes processed. I like the option to use last year's photo to get the pass made without having to go through the hassle of the photo-taking process. After some photo and video shooting from the Skytower and in Nick Central, we headed over to Top Gun for another ride. Top Gun's waited was never outside of the station, and it is clear that the newness of this ride has worn off (not that that makes a difference). We hit Thunder Road backwards, which I thought was a bit rough, but maybe I was just worn out by that point. I was about ready to leave, but I hadn't hit Ricochet yet, so we headed back to Carolina Boardwalk. Ricochet was fun as always, and really didn't seem to be trimmed bad at all. Super Saturator was closed all day with all of its cars on the transfer track. On the way out we were passing by Top Gun anyway, so we took another ride (13 on the day for me). I got in my car and headed for home, and Jay went back into the park to stay until closing.
I was impressed with most of the things I saw in the park on Saturday, and I don't feel that anything has changed for the worse since last year, except for maybe the removal of the shooting gallery and Hurler, but I expect Hurler to get better. Thanks to everyone for an awesome day!
BTW - do you have any photos of Nick Central or an '03 park map you can email me or know where I can find one? It would really assist me in the RCT recreation I've currently been constructing. Thanks, and good TR.
I should have mine up in a bit, everything will be pretty much exactly the same, just in a 'different' perspective, except I have about 30 pictures already online.. that I can link to.. damn I love this digi cam.. Oh.. and you'll get to here about what I did till closing..
Junkie.. I can scan mine in.. they cartooned the hell out of it, and now it looks very similar to PKI's.. I guess I'll get that up in a bit..
Good thing he had on a GASM shirt. ;)
RR minimum heigh of 44 inches? You might as well get a standard SLC (since the roughness sounds about right, too). Or better yet... get something else!
Is that a Q-bot in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?
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