Three Parks in a week

Sunday, September 9, 2012 1:50 PM

I had my 16 year old nephew, Chris, for a little over a week during the summer, so I thought I’d take him to a few theme parks. He’d get to go ride roller coasters, and I didn’t have to go by myself, so it was a win/win.

The first park we went to was Carowinds since it’s only about an hour away from my house. The plan was to go after 4 for 2 reasons. One, its cheaper admission for him (I have a Platinum Pass). Two, crowds tend to die out around 6, so I thought we’d have a decent evening of short lines and many rides.

I was a little off on both, however. First, it was bring a friend for $19.99 day at Carowinds, so the good news was my Platinum Pass got Chris in for that price. The bad news is, the promotion worked. The park was packed. It took us 20 minutes just to get thru the parking gate since the VIP/Season pass parking was full. We parked near the south gate since it was so packed.

The first plan was to ride Afterburn since it was closest to the south gate, but the line was long so we went over to Thunder Road instead. Thunder Road was running well. Smooth. It’s getting harder to tell where the renovations begin and end, and that’s a good thing. When running well, Thunder Road has some nice airtime. Chris liked it. He’d ridden it last year and it was running better this year.

We walked around the back of the park and I think we did Cyclone next after seeing a line for Windseeker. Cyclone wasn’t running terribly bad either, but I’m just not a fan of aging Arrow loopers (Statement not valid in Tennessee). We may have ridden Goldrusher too, I don’t remember as I know I’ve ridden it this year, but can’t remember if I rode it with Chris or not.

We did walk back to Hurler and got a decent ride near the front. People complain about Hurler, but if they’d maintain it better and turn off the trims, it could be a decent ride. We toyed with riding Ricochet since Chris didn’t ride it last time, but the line stayed long. I got a supreme Funnel Cake and ate that while we rested before going up to Intimidator. I love Intimidator. It’s not the best Hyper Coaster out there, but its good and it’s close. And it can give a great ride. The line was decent, but they were running it well, so the wait wasn’t too bad.

After Intimidator we went to Windseeker since the line was barely there. Really, with 64 people per cycle, the capacity on this ride is great. Though I don’t find the Windseekers to be nearly as frightening as I thought I would, I do find them enjoyable, and people seem to like it.

At some point we did the park’s Shoot the Chutes. I hadn’t ridden in a while, but since we didn’t take our phones in, we decided it was okay to get wet, and we did.

We went over and rode Afterburn in the front row. This is another coaster I’m happy to have an hour away. It’s always consistent, forceful, and fun. Chris liked it too. He wasn’t interested in waiting in line for Nighthawk, nor did he feel like riding Vortex as he wasn’t a fan last time. We did hit up Boo Blasters, though. My gun was barely working.

After one more Intimidator ride we called it an evening. It was dark and we got to wander thru the Starlight Spectacular. It’s really a nice atmosphere that I wish they’d extend to the parts of the park that have no night time atmosphere. I took Chris to uptown Charlotte and we ate at Aria, a Tuscan restaurant that had really great food before we headed home.

I took the following Friday off to take Chris on his first ‘coaster trip’ with me. We woke up at 4:45 on Friday, well, I woke up, as Chris was up all nite. We stopped by Sheetz to gas up and get breakfast and we were on our way. The drive to Doswell wasn’t bad, and driving with someone in the car is so much better than driving alone (Don’t get me wrong, I still like going by myself often, but it was a nice change of pace). I had expected to get to Kings Dominion closer to 11, but we actually got there before 10am.

Another perk of my Platinum Pass was a decent discount on Chris’ single day admission (Score!). We ran to an out of the way restroom before getting in line. After the National Anthem played (I really think that Cedar Fair parks should have an opening Ceremony like Six Flags parks tend to), we were let in. The crowd was very light going in.

When the park opens at 10am, Berzerker, Dominator, and the Eiffel Tower open with it. We chose to go to the top of the tower to look around and get some picture. We lined up to head over to the Congo section of the park since Volcano gets a long line even on lightly crowded days. After the rope dropped and we were allowed down to Volcano we noticed a trashcan blocking the entrance. Everyone was standing and looking bewildered. Suddenly, two kids came running thru the crowd, they had already been on the ride and rudely pressed thru. I guess it was our fault for stupidly paying attention to a trashcan blocking the way.

Chris and I headed to the front of the train and it was about a 3 train wait. I didn’t tell him much about the ride. He knew that it launched, but that was about it. Once we got on and were off running, I looked over and could tell he loved it. The launch on this ride is always powerful and fast. I love Volcano for what it is. We hurried back around for another ride before the line got long and rode in the very back seat this time.

Next up was Intimidator 305. I only rode it one time on my visit back in June. I liked it, and wish I had ridden it a few more times. Unfortunately, they were only running one train, but the wait still wasn’t bad. The first drop is amazing after that fast lift. I started to black out going into the turn and didn’t come to until we were being flung up on the hill under the lift. That was pretty awesome. Chris liked it too. We sat near the front of the train.

We got back around and rode again in the back. The airtime is more powerful back there, but I didn’t seem to black out as long. I305 is definitely a winner, and one of the more intense coasters I’ve ever been on. I’m glad it’s only about 4 hours away.

Next up was Flight of Fear. We rode in the front. Chris had ridden Joker’s Jinx, so he kind of knew what to expect. The music and lights were on. I’ve always liked these rides, and with the lap restraint, they’re really some of the only intense positive G force rides I like. Chris liked it too. But I swear I wanted to punch the annoying pale tween behind me yelling "YOLO!" the entire ride. I think he was trying to sound thuggish or something, with his shirt over his head to show off his ‘abs’(?), but he used some weird voice. It was annoying. He just sounded more like someone with Downs Syndrome who was congested.

After that we went over to Stunt Coaster. Chris had seen this advertised when it came out as The Italian Job, and he loved that movie. Sadly, the effects don’t work anymore at all, so nothing really happens at the dead stop. Still a decent coaster, but the themed aspect could use some work. It was okay. We went back to ride Ricochet next and were greeted with another short line. I like this Ricochet better than the one at Carowinds and I think Chris liked it too.

Hurler is right there so we went there next. It was running okay. About the same as Carowinds’ Hurler. I always ride near the front for less rattling. But this park has much better wood, so after we had lunch at the café by Hurler, we went over to Grizzly. They only ran one train, but the station was empty. We rode in the back. Chris loved it. It was running really well, and I don’t know why we didn’t go back and ride it more because it had so much airtime. Grizzly must get a lot of love from the maintenance team here. It always runs good on my visits.

We hit up Windseeker since I skipped it back in June, then we went out to get our swimtrunks. Chris had never been to a water park before, so I was going to take him. Unfortunately, the Tornado slide was closed (BOO!!), but we did get to do all of the non-body slides and spent some time in the wave pool and lazy river. I love water parks. Chris enjoyed it, but he decided he’s not much of a water park person.

So we changed again and went back inside. We got a ride on the Ferris Wheel since I couldn’t on my last visit as I was alone, and also hit up Drop Tower. I’m really starting to get used to the terrifying ascent on these rides. Chris rode Shock Wave. I told him it was fun, I enjoy it, I just have a hard time fitting in the restraints with my bodily dimensions.

Only one side of Rebel Yell was running so we got a back seat ride on it. Running just as good as, if not better than, Thunder Road. We also took another ride on I305. The wait was slightly longer as the line was bigger and they were only running one train, but we waited maybe 20 minutes before heading back towards the front. I hadn’t ridden the park’s Boo Blasters, so we did that. I like how it’s secluded. Layout is similar to the others. My gun worked this time!

I took Chris on the Jr. Wooden coaster, Woodstock, and we enjoyed that before going over to Dominator. Maybe a 1 train wait here. Gotta love B&M capacity. We headed over Avalanche and got a quick ride on that as well. It was getting late in the day, and we could have stayed to close, but we were both tired. We walked around and made sure we didn’t miss anything else. Anaconda was down or we would have hit that up. Then we headed to Newport News, VA for the nite. I got a sweet deal at the Omni Hotel there. Dinner sucked, but the hotel was nice and our beds comfy.

Around 5am the thunder and lightening outside woke me up. It was storming pretty hard. My only thought that morning was I hope it stopped so I could go back to sleep. At 7am it seem to have let up a little when I woke up shortly, and by 9am it was just drizzling outside. I had ordered breakfast from room service and after I got ready, ate while Chris took his shower.

We checked out and made our way to Busch Gardens. Of course, as soon as we got to the park, it started pouring. I went to the self service kiosks to get Chris’ ticket and we headed inside. They were making automated announcements that park ops were suspended until the weather broke. For the first hour or so we walked around as it switched between sprinkling to a heavy, steady rain. Eventually we got in line for DarKastle. Once they let us in the queue, Chris and I were the first ones in line, and after a 30 minute wait, some rides started to open up as lightening moved out of the area.

Chris had been on Spiderman before, so I told him it was basically a clone of that with a different story line. He liked it better than Spiderman, as do I (Though I have yet to ride with the newer, crisper video, something DarKastle could benefit from).

We made our way over to Verbolten next. Some flats had opened up, but the coasters and Mach Tower were still down. After another 30 minute wait, they opened the line for Verbolten. We ended up getting on pretty quickly. I really like Verbolten. Sadly, I got the same sequence I had on my only other ride in May. We rode in the front, and Chris liked the surprise in the building. My only complaints about Verbolten is that you’re slowed down so much on the bridge before the drop to the water, and the last little hill has zero airtime. After we got off we rushed right around to get another ride before the line got too long. And as we were 2 trains away from riding…the rain and lightening came back.

We waited it out for quite a while. The line dwindled. The rain poured. After a little over an hour, and after seeing to adults argue like children because they were both trying to maneuver the line so they could ride with their family/friends, and after seeing everyone else in front of us get out of line so that we would have been next, I got tired of waiting. I was hungry and needed a restroom, so we left the line and headed to Festhaus.

The food was good, Chris enjoyed his sausage platter, but I really hope they change the show soon. I’ve seen it twice now and it’s terrible. No offense to the people acting out on stage, but the show just sucks. It rained for quite a while, and we sat for quite a while and I sneezed uncontrollably for most of the time. Finally I decided we should go see if anything else was running yet, so we purchased ponchos and headed outside.

We walked thru the horse stalls and over to Ireland and right into Celtic Fyre. It was actually pretty good. It was cold in there, but the show wasn’t bad at all, which makes the show in Festhaus even more terrible. Oh, and I sneezed a lot more.

When the show was out, the rain had let off a bit, so Chris and I walked up to Griffon. The line was closed, there were a few people in the station, and so we waited out front. I sat in the test seat for probably 20 minutes or so. Eventually, after much sneezing, and much less rain, we were let in as Griffon began to test. I told Chris the original plan was to leave at five, but if the rides were running at 5, we’d stay till 7. At this point it was around 3:30. I also said we were going to quickly hit all of the coasters while they were open and opt for re-rides after.

I kind of lied about that last one. The clouds were starting to clear as we got in the front of Griffon and were on the second train dispatched after re-opening. I like Griffon. It’s definitely a fun coaster with a great first drop. Chris didn’t know what to think, but Griffon ended up being one of his favorite rides of the weekend.

We ran right back around to the line since there was literally no line as soon as we got off, even though we said we would head to Alpengeist. We got in the back of the train where the airtime is stronger this time. Once we were at the top of the lift, the rain started back. Boy does rain hurt when you’re speeding along on a coaster! It wasn’t raining hard enough to shut anything down, nor was it lightening anywhere, so the rides stayed open. We headed to Alpengeist next, right for the front row. My eyes were closed due to the rain most of the time.

I still love this ride, and the parts that most people complain about, I actually enjoy. We were going to go over to Loch Ness Monster next but the sky really started to clear and the sun came out, so instead we got in line for Verbolten. This time I got a different sequence, and it was actually more interesting. The more I ride that ride, the better I like it.

We headed over to Italy for Apollo. Chris loved the back seat. It was running well, but I swear, the kid yelling "Yolo!" in my ear the entire time looked and sounded just like the kid the day before. I wanted to punch him in the face. We went back around for another couple rides before heading to get me a beer and a churro. Then we rode Nessy. I wish the monster was still visible in the helix, not sure why they took that out. The ride is fun and definitely a classic.

We headed back over to Verbolten, but the line was long and we didn’t want to wait. I think we rode Griffon again, but I do know I got a Sundae that was out of this world. We wanted a few more rides on Apollo, but it was having technical issues so we headed out of the park.

Most of what we did was condensed to 3 hours of no rain. Thankfully the park wasn’t that busy. Busch Williamsburg is one of the better parks out there. It’s beautiful, the food is really great, and the rides are a lot of fun. I’m glad I got that season pass this year, and I’m glad I got to take my nephew on his first multiple park coaster trip.

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Sunday, September 9, 2012 7:48 PM

Good stuff, Tek. Two questions:

1. Did you see any clues/signs at KD of what they're hinting at on their site? You know,the "Breaking Records...Again! Countdown begins Sept. 12th!"

2. Where in BG did you get the sundae?

Glad you and Chris had a good time!

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Monday, September 10, 2012 8:15 PM

Was Anaconda running at KD? When we were there Aug 26 & 27, it was down. Heard from several people that it is coming out.

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Monday, September 10, 2012 9:39 PM

Will they be painting it pink or rainbow?

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Thursday, September 13, 2012 8:38 PM

Mike Gallagher said:

Good stuff, Tek. Two questions:

1. Did you see any clues/signs at KD of what they're hinting at on their site? You know,the "Breaking Records...Again! Countdown begins Sept. 12th!"

2. Where in BG did you get the sundae?

Glad you and Chris had a good time!

Little late on the first one...

I got the sundae at an icecream shop near Griffon in the French village.

And anaconda was down when I was there. I can't wait to see the new rainbow paint scheme with pink trains.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012 9:08 PM

Not sure how I missed this before...nice TR, Clint.

The back seat is what makes Apollo the second-best B&M hyper for me...

Carowinds Hurler has given me exceptional rides...but that was years and years ago.

I need to get on I-305 again....and on Verbolten period.

You're a great uncle! :~)

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Friday, September 14, 2012 1:43 AM

Awesome TR!

I frakking hate the whole YOLO thing. The sentiment is nice, but mostly everyone yells it out with that terrible ghetto fabulous twang, and it makes me borderline homicidal.

I can't wait for next season already so I can hit the central and southeast parks. Your trip report has just reinforced my will to get down there!!

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