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July 24, 2010
I’d been to Carowinds already a lot in 2010. Not that I’m complaining, but with CoasterStock coming, and me having not spent a full day there in a while, I really didn’t know if I’d want to be at the park from before opening to after close, especially since I’m not a morning person.
I slept a bit later than I’d intended, and I missed my exit because I wasn’t paying attention, so I got to the park later than I meant to but it wasn’t a big deal. The only morning ERT I wanted was on Afterburn so after arriving I headed there first. I rode in the 2nd row and it was really good. Once I got off I headed out to find Bill and Jill. I ran into them close to Afterburn, so we went back for 2 rides in the front. The ride is so different front to back, more intense, and I can’t take much of it. This early, and this hot, I wanted nothing to do with the back seat. But I can power ride in the front all day.
We walked over to the Flyers. I can’t remember if they rode that or not, but I knew I wasn’t going to be in the mood for spinning with it this early and this hot out. Once we made it to Intimidator, though, we got in line to wait for the park to open. We were on about the 3rd train of the day, near the front, and the ride was great as usual.
Next we headed over to Boo Blasters since they were having a tournament. I sucked with my score of 450, but whatever. I’m glad the mist was on for the face projection. I’m glad they got that back to working; it really does make a difference in the ride. Next we went over to ride Thunder Road. My last ride on the blue train was pretty rough, so I wasn’t looking forward to it. Jill and I sat in the very front with minimal wait. We asked to race, but the guy running the silver side didn’t race. The ride wasn’t quite as bad as my July 4th visit, but it was jackhammering in all of the non-refurbished sections. We headed over to the silver side and got the ops to race it. I rode in the front with Bill and the ride was actually very good.
Ricochet was our next destination, with a stop for water first. Bill decided he wanted to ride Goldrusher and since I hadn’t ridden it in quite a while, I got on with them. Boy, are those trains uncomfortable. However, this was actually the best ride I’d ever had on Goldrusher. It seems really fast and fun. We got in line for Ricochet, which was about a 10 minute wait. Good ride, not overly braked. I still freak out on wild mice. I thought we were going to eat at the picnic area in the back near Afterburn, so we headed there, but I was wrong. We ran into some other geeks after looking at a map, and led them to the right pavilion.
The park had invited a representative from Bolliger & Mabilliard to give a presentation and do a Q&A. Jill & Bill left to go nap at their hotel after while I’d planned to head into Charlotte to wander around, but it was too hot. After Jerry Helms got up and started to talk, I heard him say he’d worked at Star Trek The Experience in Vegas, so once he was finished I asked him about it and told him how much I enjoyed it.
He started there in 2005 when it was still under Paramount and took over as General Manager with the intent of turning the property around. I must say, it was a great experience when we went. He asked if I got to do the backstage tour, but it didn’t start until after we went. He said it really took off, and mentioned that he felt that if the last Trek movie had came out earlier as they intended, that he thinks people would have been more willing to re-up the contract.
I visited twice under his leadership, and I have to say, he ran the place well. He mentioned how they upped the food quality, but we did eat there on my 2nd visit. Plus the staff at Quark’s were very happy and loved working there, so I’d say that Mr. Helms must have been quite popular. I’m personally glad he’s at Carowinds. He did mention that Intimidator wasn’t intended to be placed in the front of the park, but he lobbied to put it up front. Definitely the best decision, and what better billboard for the park that a huge red coaster facing the highway?
After lunch I went to my car to get my swimming trunks. I paid for a locker (man I wish I’d have gotten one in Boomerang Bay!) and changed clothes, then headed to the newer wave pool. I spent about 3 hours between wave pools; the kinds play area, and even took a turn on the lazy river. The older wave pool was actually too warm, so I headed back to the newer one. I hadn’t been to the water park since 1998.
I left the park around 3:30 PM and headed over to Plaza Fiesta. I hadn’t been since they changed it over to a Latin themed shopping mall. I hung out there for a while and enjoyed being indoors in the air conditioning. Then I sat in my car and tried to nap for about 30 minutes, but as soon as I fell asleep thunder started rolling in and woke me up. I ended up going over to the park and heading in to dinner.
I must say, dinner was very good. The chicken and prime rib was much better than I’d expected. As I had done the Intimidator construction tour with ACE I opted out of the backstage Intimidator tour. Jill, Bill, and I instead went over to ride some more. We hit up Gr8 Skate, they rode the flyers again, and we planned on riding Woodstock Express, but the line was long. Instead we headed over to Hurler, but because of lightening in the area we stood in the station for a while to see if it cleared up.
It didn’t, so we headed to the theater for Snoopy Rocks on Ice, which was a decent show. Jill & Bill headed out to ride, and I ran to the restroom before heading back for Q&A and Park Jeopardy. Both were fun and informative and we got to watch the 3 videos, 1 that the staff made, and the other 2 that were in the contest that the staff held.
Once it was time for ERT on Intimidator we all headed over and waited for the park to clear out. ERT was great. The crew was riding, the marketing team was there, everyone was having fun, all three trains were running, and it was just a lot of fun. Plus did I mention the ride was just really incredible? I like that they had a sign on one of the maintenance boxes as you leave the station showing that the 2nd trim was turned off. Nice touch.
CoasterStock, aside from the heat, was great. I really enjoyed it and after hearing that the park had plans to expand and really become a resort destination in the coming years, I really have confidence that Carowinds will grow and that they have a good foundation for a great management team. Everyone was a class act all day and went out of their way to make 120 coaster geeks happy, and I didn’t hear any major complaints, outside of the heat.