Chromeo Head over Heels Tour at The Fillmore. Charlotte, NC 9/28/2018
Chromeo Head over Heels Tour at The Fillmore. Charlotte, NC 9/28/2018
Chromeo Head over Heels Tour at The Fillmore. Charlotte, NC 9/28/2018
Future Islands The Far Field Tour at The Fillmore. Charlotte, NC 9/27/2018
Miguel Ascension Tour at CLT Metro Credit Union Amphitheater. Charlotte, NC 9/7/2018
This gallery contains 6 photos.
Janet Jackson State of the World Tour PNC Pavilion. Charlotte, NC 8/3/2018. Photo Album Video Album
Janet Jackson State of the World Tour Walnut Creek Amphitheater. Raleigh, NC 8/1/2018
This gallery contains 7 photos.
Carowinds’ Great Carolina Fest 2018. Photo Album
We woke up and were out just before nine on Sunday morning. Breakfast was had from Duncan Donuts, and because we were in an AirBnB south of Cedar Point, our drive to Kings Island was only around 3 hours. After getting close to the park we stopped at Burger King for Blake and Isaac to get some food. We were all hungry, but I had a meal plan so was planning on getting lunch in the park. I did cheat a bit and get a small hamburger though.
Pulling up to the park I immediately noticed that the parking lot wasn’t really full. This would be my first visit to Kings Island on a holiday weekend and I didn’t know how it would be. This was a good sign. We arrived just around 1pm and headed to the front gate. After getting thru the front gate I suggested we head straight back to Mystic Timbers in case the line was long, so we went straight back. To my delight and surprise, the line was short, maybe about 15 minutes, so after putting our stuff in a locker we got in line.
Mystic Timbers–I have to admit, when it was being built, I wasn’t impressed with the ride, but as people started to ride it last year it became clear that Mystic Timbers was a hit. I started to get excited about finding out for myself. And it definitely is a hit. The first drop reminds me of Thunderhead. There is airtime on the hill over the lift. Then the ride really hits its stride as you head out in to the woods with massive amounts of GCI airtime. It isn’t severe ejector air, but it is really good. Then you have the turnaround and tunnel which is also a lot of fun. The return trip is just as insane, and then of course you hit the shed. Now, I knew what was in the shed, obviously, and had heard mostly negative comments about how it just wasn’t what people expected. I honestly thought it was a clever trick for stopping on the brakes at the end of the ride, and wish more rides would do something like that. Overall, though Mystic Timbers is an amazing creation by GCI.
Our next destination was Diamondback. This is one of my favorite B&M hyper coasters. It delivers in ways most of their others don’t. There were some dispatch issues, then a protein spill, but eventually we made it on. And it was just as good as its ever been. We were on near the back, and unlike the last time I was here with Isaac, Diamondback did not eat his keys to the car.
We wandered around the back of the park for a bit and then headed over to The Beast. The line wasn’t incredibly long, but the attendant said the wait was about 45 minutes. We waited maybe 30, sitting in the back of the train. I know that The Beast doesn’t get a lot of love anymore, and I get the reasons why. But taking the ride for what it is, I really like it. It still gives an out of control feeling thru the woods, and even more so at night, which we didn’t get to do on this visit. I really like The Beast, regardless of the lack of any real airtime.
I wanted to get lunch so that I could time my next meal pass meal for dinner, so we hit up LaRosa’s so I could get some pizza and bread sticks while Isaac and Blake chilled for a bit. Then we headed up to Banshee. This has solidified itself as my number one Inverted coaster. I was able to get better pictures today since the sky cooperated. It did not on the last visit. The first drop without the dip at the top is great and the whole course delivers. I’m not huge on positive g forces and often don’t like inversions, but Banshee delivers them the right way.
Since we were in the area we hit up The Bat next. I’m not a huge fan of suspended coasters, but this one seems to be the best of the batch that is left. The orange paint scheme looks much better, and I’m glad they decided to rename this coaster from Flight Deck. And since we were already close to Invertigo we headed to that line next. For a mild crowd day we waited about 30 minutes for our ride on Invertigo. I sat facing up the first spike. Its sad that this is the last one left in the U.S. I think this is a much better version of the boomerang ride, though I’ve as of yet ridden a Giant Inverted Boomerang.
We had seen the advertisements for Cirque Gravity, which was at the theater in this particular area, and decided to head there next. These Cirque shows are very well done. I’ve enjoyed the ones I’ve seen at Carowinds and Kings Island, which now totals, I believe, three different shows. After we were let out of the show we headed over to the kids section so that I could get some blue ice cream. Then because Blake’s phone was losing it’s charge, we went to the free charging station by the Diamondback gift shop before eventually having dinner at Red’s Hall of Fame Grille, since Isaac and I had a good experience the prior visit. This visit, however, was not so great. Blake and I got our food in decent time, but Isaac had to go ask for his and at that point it was cold. So he took it back and we left.
One thing I don’t ever recall riding was the park’s remaining log flume, Race for your Life Charlie Brown. I’ve seen it themed to several different things over the years, but I don’t think I ever rode it and since the line was so short, we decided to give it a try, and boy was it a lot of fun! It was kind of a mixture between Carowinds lost log flume and Kings Dominion’s.
After that we took a spin on the KI & Miami Valley Railroad around the park. There was about a fifteen minute wait for a train, which gave us a nice break. Then we headed to Racer, which was running very well. I do miss having a backwards train though. And while we were in the area we hit up Adventure Express, which was running surprisingly really well, so much so that I could totally forgive the anticlimactic ending. Isaac still hadn’t eaten, so we tried a few different places, eventually settling on the Festhause.
But once again, he had a bad experience, so he had to leave without food again. Not sure whats going on with their food services, but it really wasn’t good on this trip. Walking around the park took up some time. Eventually we decided to hit up Flight of Fear for our last ride of the trip. Although the mid course brake hasn’t been off like it used to be in quite some time, this its still the superior version to Kings Dominion, where most of the queue has been left to rot and there isn’t usually lights in side. I’ve always preferred the Kings Island version, and it was a great way to cap off the night.
Once we were finished, we decided to forgo Best night rides and head to the front to see the lights and fireworks show, which was really pretty great. The use of LEDs and fireworks throughout International Street was spot on, and we enjoyed it quite a lot.
After that we headed out to a nearby Walmart to stock up on some stuff and then headed to our really swell suite at the Doubletree in Blue Ashe. Score one for Hotwire. The next morning we woke up and had breakfast at the Bistro at the hotel, and it was surprisingly very good. Then it was a long drive home through Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, and finally North Carolina.
May 25 & 26, 2018
If you can’t find a way to go to Cedar Point during dead week, Memorial Day Weekend has proven to be a great time to head to Cedar Point and find moderate attendance and lighter lines. In the past four years I’ve spent 3 Memorial Day weekends at the park, and have had a great time on each visit. Even with the long drive from North Carolina to Sandusky, the trip is worth it to visit America’s Roller Coast, and having followed the transformation of Mean Streak into Steel Vengeance over the last 2 years, I was determined to get to the park this year to ride. My friends Isaac and Blake joined in, and on Friday morning we headed north.
Isaac found a nice AirBnB about 30 minutes south of the park and, after stopping off there to drop off our stuff and freshen up, we made our way onto the peninsula. We parked in the Cedar Point Shores parking lot since the Magnum lot was closed, and headed in to meet up with Bryan Bird. After introductions and salutations, we walked towards Dragster, which was testing after being closed. The line opened as we walked by, so we quickly got into the queue as the wait wouldn’t be this short all weekend most likely.
Dragster is always a great experience, even if it isn’t a great coaster. We waited about 35 minutes or so to ride near the back of the train. Dragster always makes me anxious because of that launch. This was Blake’s first time at the park and first time on anything like this. As always, the launch was super fast and intense and I really still like Dragster as a ride. This was our only ride all weekend because it was being cranky both days.
We walked around the front of the park and headed over towards Millennium Force. I noticed when driving by that the line started at the end of the ramp and was happy to see that was still the case. It only took about 30 minutes to get on the ride. I know the coaster gets a lot of ‘hate’, but I actually really like it. The first drop is already amazing and the setting can’t be beat. There is airtime on the two hills hopping back over from the island, and even the small hop by the station gives you a rise out of your seat. Blake once again loved it.
After that we headed across the midway to Rougarou, which was nearly a walk on, and we got on in the back. The ride packs a punch and is so much better than Mantis ever was. We walked around for a bit and thru Frontier Town. Steel Vengeance had a very long line, so we walked around the park and finally hit up the burger joint back near Steel Vengeance as Bryan said the food was good. And the food was decent. The customer service, however, was severely lacking. It took way too long and they kept messing up orders, but eventually we did get our burgers. After that we headed to the entrance to Steel Vengeance to get in line to end our nite. The wait was about an hour and twenty minutes with them running one train.
Steel Vengeance-I can’t even give a proper rundown of the ride. Its just as good as everyone said, no overhyping here. The first drop was amazing. We rode in the back seat. The 90 degree drop was amazing. After that you have the two outward banked ejector airtime hills. Then I can’t honestly tell you much about what happened because it was a big convoluted mess. And I mean that in the most awesome way possible. This coaster has the intensity of Voyage (the only ride I can say is in it’s category), but without the rattle (however slight) that any wooden coaster can have. I was weak in the knees and dizzy afterwards for a good thirty minutes. Instant number one. It delivers every thing. All of the things. It has them. Airtime, floater and ejector. Sideways airtime. Inversions. Insanity.
So that was the end of the first evening. I was in total ecstasy. And it shown thru for the entire ride back to the AirBnB thirty minutes away. Once we got there we got our stuff together and I took a shower and quickly fell asleep.
The next morning we got up and got ready to head out. There was a McDonalds down the street that was good for breakfast. We pulled into the parking lot right around 9am and headed in for Platinum Pass early entry. We had planned to go straight back and get on Steele Vengeance, but once we got back there the line was already full. We decided to forgo that till the end of the day once again and get some other early rides in. And the closest early ride was Maverick. I still love Maverick in every way. I’m glad they’re restoring effects. Thusfar some of the lights in the tunnel are working. I can’t wait till the LED walls and more of the effects are added back in in the tunnel. It really helps an already amazing ride.
It was getting close to park opening so we headed up to Valravn thru Frontier Town, stopping by the closed petting zoo for a brief visit with some donkeys. On our last trip, Isaac and I got a back row nite ride because it was the debut year and the line was really long, and the ride barely ran the next day. This was my first daytime ride, and we rode in the front row this time.
Valravn-That first drop on any dive coaster is great. The view from Valravn though, is really beautiful. While not a huge fan of dive coasters I do think this is the best layout, even if Sheikra has better theming. The inversions are smooth and that zero g roll has great airtime, which was hitting much harder on this visit. I really like the coaster more on a second go round.
As we were in the area we hit up Blue Streak, which was (and has been for some time now) running phenomenally along the track. Great airtime and such a classic coaster. Then we walked over towards the front of the park. I mentioned at some point that I wanted to ride Ocean Motion as I never had, and it has such a cute, quaint setting.
Though I’m still trying to get back down to my pre-surgery weight of 2015 (I’ve lost 20lbs since December!), I’m not skinny enough to ride Wicked Twister. And that’s fine for now because I know I’ll be back down. But I didn’t want Isaac nor Blake to miss out, so after getting some Starbucks I told them to get in line while I sat and watched and had some coffee.
Since we were already in the area and close to Gatekeeper, that was what we got in line for next, which was basically a walk-on. Maybe a one train wait. I know this coaster gets a lot of flack for being big and snoopy and boring, but I like big and snoopy and don’t think it’s boring. Plus it’s very stunning to look at. After Gatekeeper I took Blake to see the top floor of the Coliseum, knowing that he’d love the big band era art deco.
We decided to have lunch, and with Isaac having some food allergies, and Blake being in the mood for it, we decided to hit Panda Express. Oh, and since I have the dining pass, I was fine with it too. We walked over to Melt first as I wanted to try it out at some point and decided to have dinner there. Then we walked to the main midway and followed a marching band. As we walked across the park we were able to see some of the rehearsal for the new show on the former Luminosity stage. Meh. I liked Luminosity. Once we were done eating we got in line for Iron Dragon. This was actually one of the longer waits of the day, clocking in at around 20 minutes. But thats okay. I can give or take Iron Dragon, but didn’t want Blake to miss out.
I wanted to see what the wait for Steel Vengeance would be like so our next stop was back in that corner of the park, but sadly the line was well over 2 hours. We walked back to the main midway and hit up Derby Racer. I love this thing. I really need to ride the other 2 at some point. At that point we were on our way out the front gate to move the car and hit up the water park for a bit. The lines were even lighter at Cedar Point Shores. I never visited Soak City. The current waterpark looks outstanding. Much better than what it used to be. We weren’t planning on staying very long. After changing into our swim trunks we headed over to some random slide complex and did a pink slide.
Isaac and I had wanted to do the drop slides, as we love them at Carowinds, but we passed for the moment and went to the big family raft slide. As we neared the top, we could see a storm coming our way. The large raft slide was really a lot of fun, and I got some good airtime up the side of the trough. At the end it was starting to sprinkle, so we went for a dip in the older lazy river. I wish Carowinds’ Lazy River was this long (Or that they had 2 like CPS). As the rain got heavier we decided to call it a day at the water park after about an hour and a half just as the bottom dropped out of the clouds.
We went into the bathhouse and changed while basically being stranded in their for around 30 minutes. Then once the rain subsided enough we headed to the car then drove over to Hotel Breakers for a drink at their bar. I also had a cinnamon bun from Starbucks whilst drinking my Long Island Iced Tea.
The sun came out while we were hanging at Breakers so we headed down the boardwalk and entered the park by Windseeker, which I contest is still the best one of the group thus far. Then I wanted to get some pictures from the Ferris Wheel, so that was obviously next. We had looked at the line for Raptor before going to Shores, but it was still long. At this point, however, the line was maybe 20 minutes so we hit that up next. Blake and Isaac were then going to get their credits on Corkscrew as I took some photos, but the line was really long so we headed to Melt for dinner. This was my first (and hopefully not last) Melt experience. Our server was great and so was the food. I like all of the nostalgia Cedar Point pictures in the restaurant.
A ride on the CP & LE railroad was our next stop. Had it not been getting late we’d have rode the entire circuit but Blake still needed some rides and we hadn’t ridden two of the best rides in the park, so we took another look at Steel Vengeance’s line, then headed over to Gemini. At this point it was only running the red side, but the ride was still super fun as always.
By this point it was a little past twilight and we headed to Magnum. I couldn’t take my small nap sack on so I waited for Blake and Isaac to ride, then Isaac took all of our stuff to the car while Blake and I rode in the front of the car at nite. Magnum is as glorious as ever, even if I didn’t get trim free rides this time. But that’s…okay.
Blake still needed the mine train, but I needed a bathroom, so I told him to go ride that since I knew it would be a walk on while I went to the restroom, then we headed to Steel Vengeance to meet up. The fireworks were going off as Blake and Isaac arrived and we got in line just before the point we had the nite before. Again it was somewhere between 70 and 90 minutes to ride, but I lucked out and got a ride in row 8 as a single rider. And it was still so amazing. As we walked to the Magnum entrance to the park, I saw my first Dragster rollback.
My only main issues with the visit was that obviously they’re only running one train on Steel Vengeance, otherwise I’d have ridden a few more times as lines were light all weekend. Cedar Point nearly every year is starting to spoil me as I’ve been 3 of the past four Memorial Days. I think I’ll likely skip next year, but I will definitely be back for more of America’s Roller Coast soon.
We headed back to the AirBnB and we were all wiped out, so I fell asleep pretty soon after closing my eyes, ready for the drive the next morning to Kings Island.