May 14, 2004
I’d known for months that I would be visiting Carowinds in May as I would be in NC for the weekend of the 14 so I made plans with my good friend (and then roommate) Jon to go again as we had the year before. It had been announced that the park would be adding the world’s first Star Trek themed ride, which would be opening in May and as a Star Trek fan, I was excited. That I had ridden a near clone of the ride already and had enjoyed it made me even more excited to ride.The original plan called for Jon to head out to NC and spend the week with friends, and he and his friends would meet up with me on Friday at the park, after which he’d head back to Salisbury with me for the weekend.
As the beginning of May rolled around, though, Jon realized that he lacked the funding to travel to NC for a day, much less a week, so I was without a riding partner as all my other friends weren’t going to be able to make it till Friday evening. That same week Andy Wong messaged me on CoasterBuzz to let me know that he too would be at Carowinds on the 14th, and wanted to know if I wanted to meet up to meet in person and hang out, and of course I said yes. We spent the 2 weeks before making plans over instant messenger and phone. Finally it was the day before the trip. I called and made final plans to meet Andy at the front gate. We were to meet at the park, but if one of us got there signifigantly early, that person was to get in line for BORG, and we’d meet up after we both rode.
That morning at 4 AM I woke up, got ready, went in to town to gas up, and at 5 AN headed out from the tiny town in WV where I reluctantly called home for the North Carolina sun. I had planned to stop around 6 AM for breakfast in WV, but the place I had wanted to get breakfast at hadn’t opened yet. I put off breakfast for a while, and decided to head for the interstate.
After a couple of hours I was heading into NC way ahead of schedule. The park hours listed on the website were 9:30 AM to 5 PM, and I had wanted to be at the park no earlier than 9, but arrived at Lake Norman around 8. Since I was so early I decided to get breakfast at McDonalds, figuring this would kill some time. This must have been the fastest, most efficient McDonalds I’d ever been to. I had wanted them to take their time so that I wouldn’t be so early, but the McDonalds was very fast and I was off in just a couple of minutes. I guess I should have just eaten inside.
Even when I got past some road work that slowed me down a bit I ended up at the park around 8:30, so I called Andy as I was pulling into the parking lot. After making final morning plans to meet I paid to park and parked near the front gate. The flyers given to me at the gate were advertising the months concerts, and the other was a list of closed rides. The flyer appologized for the inconvience, but stated that since school was still in they still didn’t have a full staff and, as such, Frenzoid, Thunder Road Backwards, and a few other kiddy rides wouldn’t be open.
I had gotten my ticket online for $12 less than gate admission. Once at the entrance they checked my bags and I entered the park at about 20 minutes before 9. I was informed that the park actually opens at 9 with people lined up on the entrance side of the bridge, waiting for staff to let them in the rest of the park. One of the first things I noticed was how nice the park looked, and how friendly the staff were. Call it southern hospitality, but its always welcome. Walking from my car to the entrance, I kept hearing something very eerie, and soon realized that I was hearing the BORG talking on the lift hill of the new ride, which was very cool. While waiting for Andy, I watched BORG and Vortex testing. Both looked amazing together in the front of the park, Vortex with its new paint job.
I finally saw Andy at Will Call outside the park (they had a bit of trouble getting his tickets). I could tell it was him because of the ‘Raging Bull’ T-shirt he wore, which is the same as in his profile picture from online. When he finally got his ticket and into the park we headed straight to BORG for a mornings first ride on the new coaster.BORG looked good with it’s new paint and in its new home.
The theming struck me first, and looked incredible with the BORG sphere and wreckage flung all over the place in the middle of the lake and under the ride. The line wasn’t very long but it was the coaster that was on everyone’s list to get on first. We hit the single rider line in hopes of a shortened wait and it paid off. I had heard that the single rider line was a joke, but hitting it first thing in the morning got me and Andy both in the front row at the same time. They do, however, make you take off your glasses (unless, like Andy, you’re smart and bring a strap) so I was to be blind during the ride. Riding in the front was great.
Star Trek BORG Assimilator (50)- The coaster, while shaky, was fun, exciting, themed, and a great way to start the day. It was also my 50th coaster. It was a bit different than Batwing. The first 2/3 (drop, loop, overbanked turns) were the same, but instead of ending with a double inline twist and helix, you end with 2 corkscrews and hit the brake run. The coaster was running 2 trains, but the load times were a bit slow. After our first ride we ran around and hit it up again, hoping this time for a back row ride. The exit is under the lift hill, and you get a better look at the theming, which was cool. Another thing that I noticed, that was very cool, and done very well, were the BORG voices, now louder than when I was at the front gate. The greatest thing was that there were more than just one voice speaking, and it made it feel much more realistic, since I’m such a BORG fan anyhow.
Trip two was fun as well, but Andy got assigned to row 3, and I got our coveted back row ride. They had TVs in the cue with Star Trek playing, and the lift had a speaker giving the whole spiel about assimilation and resistance being futile. Flying around the sphere was great, and going down near the water made this coaster unique, and very fun. Overall a great addition to the park.
Next we walked thru Nick Central and I told Andy a bit about the park before all the re-theming that had taken place in prior couple of years. Walking over to Top Gun we saw that Reptar had no line, and since Andy had never ridden a Vekoma Jr. Invert we stopped for a ride.
Rugrat’s Runaway Reptar-On my trip the previous year this was the new addition and I really enjoyed the rides I had on it, but this time it seemed a little rougher. Nothing too bad, but a difference. We rode in the front row with fast dispatches and little load time for a fun, fast, and family friendly ride on Reptar. The section over the midway was so fun, as was flying back thru the course.
Next we decided to head over to Top Gun for a ride and noticed no long line once we arrived at the station. Unfortunately the ride was experiencing difficulty as we got in line for the front. But as with every other coaster in the park the queue had had TVs added. We waited 15-20 minutes and the ride ops kept announcing that they were sorry for the delay and that they would have the coaster up shortly. Finally they ran a couple of test trains, and eventually we were at the front of the line ready to board.
Top Gun The Jet Coaster-It had gotten just a tad bit rough, and could have used a paint job, but Top Gun was still one of my favorite inverted coasters. It was fast and intense, with good inversions in rapid succession. The mist under the walkway was on full blast and cooled you off at the bottom of the batwing element. I still loved this coaster, and it will always hold the distinction of being my first inverted coaster.
After Top Gun we walked around the midway a bit before heading over to Thunder Road. I rarely got to ride this coaster backwards, and its much better backwards. The station was filled but the wait wasn’t long. We got in line for the back.
Thunder Road-The ride out was great, with some good pops of air. Andy and I both enjoyed it, but the trip back, though still fun, was really nothing to brag about. I liked Thunder Road, and it was always more fun to race. But this early in the season, I was just happy they had at least one side open.
I had told Andy that the most air he’d probably get in the park was probably going to be on Scooby so that was where we headed next.
Scooby Doo’s Ghoster Coaster-This had the best air in the park. I personally think the one at Kings Dominion also had the best air in that park. They’re short, sweet, and full of hills. There were two trains and we decided to ride in the back of ours.
The only other coaster at the park that I’d never ridden was Taxi Jam. It was running, and there really wasn’t a line so Andy talked me into trying to get a ride. But after getting in line, and being let thru, the woman wouldn’t let us ride together, and there were no single kid riders. Heart broken we went over to Chopper Chase instead.
Chopper Chase-I’d seen this but never ridden before, and since I always put them in my RCT parks, thought I’d better take a spin. Its cool that you go faster when you peddle harder. It was just a smooth, fun ride, with no wait.
Next we decided to wait around the queue of Taxi Jam to see if we could ride with someone. After waiting a few minutes Andy succeeded in selling his soul to the devil, got a ride on Taxi Jam with a single kid (No worries, the parents were fine with it), and his credit. I almost backed out, but then met the cutest little girl named Murphey who’s mother didn’t want to ride and said it was fine if I rode with her.
Taxi Jam-(51) Most enjoyable because of Murphy, my riding partner. She proceeded to tell me that we have to raise our hands, and I told her that that was the only was you were allowed to ride a coaster. Taxi Jam was actually quite fun, with a couple good hills. This was the only time I’d ever done what many in the coaster community do in borrowing a random kid to ride with. Usually I’ll either pass if adults can’t ride alone, or ride with the kid of a friend.
After this we were going to go get something to eat, but ended up just getting water instead. We walked around Carolina Boardwalk and this gave Andy time to look around the park a bit more. They’d definitely cleaned up the park in the last few years, and with the painting this year it looks good. TVs were added to most major queues, which I’m sure would make a long wait less painful. Instead of eating then we noticed that Super Saturator had a small line, and Andy to ride so that was were we headed next.
Nicelodeon’s Flying Super Saturator-The line is just as much fun as the ride. We were soaked before we even got to the station. Setpoint knew what they were doing, as can be seen by the lines that were always around this coaster. It was fun and cools you down on a hot day. We waited about 15 minutes and they had 3 of 4 trains running, with fairly fast dispatches. When it was our turn we took the back of the car, as I had never ridden backwards and you don’t seem to get as wet that way. Andy and I both released our water bombs over the queue drenching the crowd waiting to board. This was more fun from the back, and definitly more fun than last years ride.
Next we went to see about Vortex, but the single rider line was closed and the line was longer than I had seen it in years so we skipped for now. I had told him that Cyclone was fairly smooth for an Arrow so we walked over there next. I hadn’t seen the line for this coaster that long in a while, but it was still fast moving and we waited about 10 minutes for a back seat ride.
Carolina Cyclone-Definitely the smoothest Arrow I’d been on up to that point. The trains looked beautiful, newly painted and put together. They looked brand new. There was a bit of roughness into the first Corkscrew, but this is still a fun, nicely landscaped, and fast paced coaster.
I wanted to ride Drop Zone next but the line was way too long, so we walked around the area, took a bathroom break and then headed to Hurler. They’d stripped all the theming from Hurler, from Wayne’s car at the queue entrance, to the Kewpie doll stuff in the station. This is the only coaster where they actually removed the TVs.
Hurler-This was the longest I’d ever waited for this coaster. The line died down later, but we didn’t wait more than 15 minutes for this front ride. WOW! What got into Hurler this year? The previous year it was running better than it had been, but the front row ride we got was chock full of airtime. I came completely out of my seat on the first hill after the drop. I had never had such good rides on this coaster before.
After coming off our great Hurler experience we headed to Ricochet as it had no line. This coaster could have used some paint, but it did’t look bad. The line was fast moving.
Ricochet-Only 1 brake was working on the course. This was definitely previous rides and Andy said this was possibly his new favorite mouse I’m almost inclined to agree, but Ricochet at Kings Dominion had a great first drop.
We went and got something to drink. I had a lime slushy and Andy had water as we headed to Goldrusher. I’m not a huge mine train fan, but I wasn’t going to let Andy ride alone.
Carolina Goldrusher-Not my favorite mine ride, but they did paint it. It was a fun ride, and I got to finish my lime slush in the queue. The dispatches were slow, but it was running better this year with the new paint job. Plus I got some good views of BORG.
We decided to wait out Vortex as the line had gotten smaller. This was the last coaster we had to ride for Andy to get his credits today. It would turn out to be a mistake for me to ride.
Vortex-Boy, it looked pretty. Really pretty with new red and black paint. I just wonder why they left the rails unpainted. Even the trains looked new. But don’t let the new paint fool you…The line moved fast and we were able to ride in the front row. This thing was rough. Definitely the roughest B&M I’d ever ridden up to that point. This was the worst ride for me on this visit because as we are waiting on the brake run at the end, I start heaving. I threw up the lime slush and water all over the front of myself, all while going into the station as everyone in the station watching started yelling “Ewwww!” I’d never gotten sick on a coaster, but the day was hot, and I was not feeling well all day. I don’t know if it was just the hot day or what. I was sick all weekend afterward.
After getting off the ride I needed to change clothes. We went to the restroom, I changed, and then we went for a spin on the Sky Tower. Since I felt a bit better we headed back to Top Gun for more rides. I went on once in the back, got off, and dry heaved again for a few minutes. I didn’t feel up to another ride right then, so Andy went at it alone for a front row ride, as I laid down and waited. Finally feeling a bit better, I took my final spin on Top Gun from the middle with Andy.
Next, we went back over to BORG, but the line was too long. Then we went over to Drop Zone which had no line what-so-ever. Andy and I debated on whether or not we like drop rides, but since there were no lines, we took 2 spins. The ride ops were having fun and being very friendly with us. We could have taken a few more rides as there weren’t any people in line, but decided to ride Hurler again instead.
The Park’s website said the park closed at 5 PM that day to get ready for Grad nite, but they changed it to 6 instead. We rode Hurler again in the second row. We could have ridden more, but I knew that I wouldn’t be doing any more coastering after getting slightly sick again. There weren’t any people even waiting to get in the front when we pulled into the station.
The park started to empty out. I was getting tired and had almost an hour ride back to Salisbury. We went over to see about BORG, but they were having a temporary delay and had taken one train off the tracks. We walked around BORG to look at the theming. They hadn’t been letting anybody in the queue, but then the coaster started testing. I wanted one of the cool BORG shirts the ride ops were wearing, and was told I could get one at the gift shop.
There were quite a few cool shirts, but I got a tan version of the ones the ride ops wore on BORG, as black tends to fade too much. I also got a BORG shot glass. After this I told Andy it was time for me to go. He decided to stay in the park till they kicked him out, so we shook hands and went our separate ways. He asked if I had wanted to go to Six Flags over Georgia, a park I’d never been to, on Saturday with him, but I couldn’t as I already had plans. After I exited the park I went to the Customer Relations window and told them I had had a great day at the park. I think its important to let businesses know when they’re doing a good job. I apologized for getting sick on Vortex, and they just joked with me that they didn’t have to clean it up, so it was okay. I filled out a comment card telling them how much fun I had, and that I thought the park looked great.
Andy was the first CoasterBuzzer I’d met in person. I had a great time with him, and hope I didn’t bore him to death. It was nice to have someone else who spoke fluent Coaster Geek. I just wish I hadn’t thrown up on him. But I thank him for putting with me for the day.