Twelve Park Tour - Part 8 (Carowinds)

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Tuesday, July 20, 2004 9:45 AM
We spent most of the day driving from York, Pa. to Charlotte, N.C. with a quick stop in Gettysburg. We arrived in time to meet Paramount’s David Mandt for dinner at a Chinese restaurant.

Wednesday morning (6/30) we rose early and got to Paramount’s Carowinds before opening. We immediately headed to Borg Assimilator, but were informed by the attendant that the ride would not be open for at least another hour.

Both of us had been to the park when Top Gun opened in 1999, so there were a few coasters new to us; Borg being one as neither of us rode it when it was known as Steath at PGA. Rugrat’s Runaway Reptar is right next to Borg so we headed over there for the credit. We then started looking for Richochet, the Wild Mouse coaster. On our way we stumbled across Scooby Doo’s Haunted Mansion. This was a surprise to us, as we didn’t remember Carowinds getting a Scooby-themed Sally dark ride. It was a good thing we found it when we did because the line was still short, and these things usually have long waits during the day. This was very similar to the Scooby ride at Fiesta Texas, but we both think it was a little longer and had a few more scenes. Tim’s gun didn’t work, so he just sat there and enjoyed the ride. As always, these are great fun and very popular with families.

On our way to Ricochet we passed by the Flying Super Saturator but decided we didn’t need saturating so early in the morning. After a little thought, Tim gave it a go while I chose to remain dry. At the time, there was not a crowd of “attackers” to shoot back, so Tim fared well while riding. He actually got the wettest in the boarding area.

We eventually came upon Ricochet and noticed this is a smaller Mack model, unlike the two models at Canada’s Wonderland and Kings Dominion. We enjoyed our ride even without the big first drop.

I can’t recall our exact order but we hit the Carolina Goldrusher, Hurler, and Drop Zone next. For some reason the Goldrusher took an extremely long time to dispatch so they were stacking two trains. This is a pleasant mine train with a couple of helices, one with overhead supports that helps give it a “mine” feel. Hurler was kind of rough and running very slow and didn’t produce much in the way of airtime. I’d always heard that this was the better Hurler, but I think I enjoyed my rides last year at PKD more. The trains had retracting seatbelts that tightened automatically, killing even any chance of airtime. I noticed all of the Wayne’s World themeing had disappeared. Drop Zone is a little on the small side, especially compared to the two Kings parks, but it still packs a punch and is very enjoyable.

After those three rides we headed over to Vortex. Generally I like standups, but this one started to bother the inside of my thighs like Mantis did. It’s also was kind of a headbanger--I bopped my ears a couple of times. Loading here was pretty slow too, so we had to stand outside the station on the brake run for quite a while.

As we exited Vortex we noticed that Borg was cycling empty trains so we headed over there. They still weren’t letting anyone in to the queue area but a line was forming outside the entrance, so we got in line. We waited there for a few minutes and then they started letting people in. The themeing is kind of neat. A crashed borg sphere lies partially submerged in a pond and is surrounded by track. There as an audio system playing various voices and sounds associated with the borg, and the coaster is painted in borg green and black. They were running two trains, but each train had one row tied off. We timed our arrival pretty well, making it on the seventh or eighth train out. We both have ridden the other two Vekoma flyers as well as the B&M versions at SFGAd and Alton Towers. The other two Vekomas are identical to each other and similar to this one, which is the very first model. The ride starts out the same but the corkscrews are taken on your back on this model, and there is no final helix. I’m not sure what to think of these types of rides. I feel much more comfortable in a B&M train, but I think I like the layout of the Vekomas better. None of them really wow me, I’d prefer to ride just about any other type of coaster over a flyer, except of course an SLC. The one thing I didn’t like about these trains was the lack of handles to grip. I prefer to hold on and keep some of the weight off my chest, but there was nothing to hold on to. By the time we left, the queue was almost full.

We met David for lunch, and he suggested the CBS Café. Tim & I both had a spaghetti and meatballs platter that was pretty good, and contained a generous amount of food. While we were eating we were able to watch a country and western show that was taking place on the stage right next to the diner. The performers were pretty good and I think more people would have stopped to watch if more seating was available. David was off for the rest of the day so he spent the rest of the day with us.

We picked up our cameras and took some photos even though the skies were kind of gray. When we got over to Borg we noticed it was down to one train and the queue was full. I can’t imagine how long the wait must have been. While we were photographing it broke down, stopping before it got to the lift. Just as we were ready to give up, it started back up again—then stopped again. After a couple of stop and goes it finally made it over the lift.

We also took a couple of spins on Top Gun – The Jet Coaster. As I mentioned we had ridden this before, and as far as B&M inverteds go, I think this is one of the best. It had been so long since we were both on it that some of the elements caught us by surprise. It was refreshing to ride a B&M when we didn’t have the entire layout memorized. I like the fact that it has a batwing element instead of the all too common cobra roll. I don’t think this ride gets the credit it deserves.

We also took a spin on Thunder Road, and to our surprise it was racing. They were running just one train per track, and we waited in the station for about ten trains before we were able to ride. The ride was nice and smooth, but for some reason it is my least favorite of the Paramount racing coasters. Like Hurler it also had retracting seatbelts that killed any airtime.

Souvenirs were kind of weak. I don’t think Tim found any good magnets, and I bought a Borg shot glass and a Borg mug. We were staying in Gatlingburg that evening so we had long drive ahead of us through the mountains, we decided not to stay too late.

We had a nice time at Carowinds. The park wasn’t overly crowded and the ride attendants were pleasant. With the exception of Top Gun, none of the coasters here are that big of a draw. It will probably take a couple of more coasters before we make the effort to get back here again.

Photos.

Next stop Dollywood.

*** Edited 7/20/2004 1:48:08 PM UTC by Jeffrey Seifert***

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