Carowinds Spring 2016

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Spring had sprung. The air smelled sweet. And in the southeast U.S., that can only mean one thing…Seasonal Parks had started to open! I have to say, shutting down Carowinds in 2015 year was very bitter sweet. It was the weekend before I was going in for major surgery to have part of my lung removed, and there was a chance that I may not make it thru that alive, so the impact of the park closing, and my impromptu visit on a Saturday to get what could have been my final rides ever on Fury was not lost on me. But here I was, spring 2016, and I’m alive and still kicking.

I’d really wanted to go to Dollywood because Lightning Rod looked so amazing. My friend Isaac and I planned to go opening weekend, but the ride was not quite ready, so we decided to delay our trip until it was up and running consistently. We had also planned on going to Season Passholder Preview night for Carowinds since we both had platinum passes, and it was the Thursday night before Good Friday, which I had off with pay, so why not make a weekend out of it?

I was really getting excited to get back on Fury. Seriously, one year later, and the ride was still so amazing. And to think it was just a 45 minute jaunt from my house! We planned for Isaac to meet me at work since it was on his way to Carowinds and we’d leave from there at 4, which would give us plenty of time to get to Carowinds…under normal circumstances. We avoided getting on I77 because it’s always busy, but it took us over 2 hours to go 40 miles. We went thru uptown Charlotte. We hit back roads We did everything to avoid traffic and yet we always seemed to find it.

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The park was open from 5 PM to 10 PM. We were hungry when we arrived and I was a little grouchy. After getting in the park we walked over to Fury to see what the line was like. It wasn’t a terribly long line, but longer than we wanted to wait before eating, so we went back to Harmony Hall. They’d made some changes in there by moving the Coke Freestyle machines, and made a weird ‘bar’ blockade that looked very hacked together . The food was as good as it had been since the new eatery opened. I recommend the brisket.

They were having major opening nite issues with the registers, though, and we were in line to pay for quite a while. After we ate we headed over towards Fury for a night ride. It’s just so amazing. The ride has airtime, sideways airtime, and a great first drop. I can’t gush about it enough, really. And at nite its even better. We headed back over to Intimidator and rode that next. It was running well, as usual. I think Intimidator and Fury compliment each other very nicely.

Friday morning we woke up later than we’d intended to head to Virginia for the weekend to ride coasters at Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens.

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The following weekend Rob Willi, whom I’d talked to for years on AIM, and who is a frequent CoasterBuzzer was coming thru with his kids, and I told him I’d meet up and help him with the little ones while he rode the coasters. We were only there for a couple of hours at nite so that he and his oldest son could get a few rides while the younger 2 could ride some kiddy rides as well. The younger ones hung with me and we had a blast once I got over my fear of them doing something to hurt themselves.

Sunday Isaac and I went back to Carowinds for a few hours. It was a very light crowd. We rode Fury and Intimidator a few times. We hopped on Afterburn, and I finally got a chance to check out Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare.

Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare-The queue and building looked great. I wish they’d do *something* with the unused side, but the side that was in use was great. It looked fantastic, and the games were fun. Unfortunately my gun wasn’t working, and I hoped to go back soon to play with a better gun.

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The third open weekend for the park I headed back down on Sunday again as Rob Willi and our friends Kyle, Lisa, Nicole, and others were heading to the park from Dollywood’s now cancelled event. This was during the Taste of the Carolinas event. It was great hanging out and riding the rides. We got on Fury a few times, Intimidator, Afterburn. But this time I actually focused on eating. First, I had a great sundae at Ritas. But since I missed the Taste of the Carolinas last year, I wanted to do it this year.

The prices were really good and the food was good. I had 2 of the Asheville Goat Cheese popovers, I tried the tomato pie, a Son of a Peach beer, chocolate bourbon pie, a spring roll, and more. I ended up going back to the Taste of the Carolinas with Isaac to get some more food and some more rides in at a later date, then on Friday evening before Mother’s Day, I met him and another friend for a couple hours on Friday, which tend to be very slow evenints at the park.

I was able to go back and enjoy the water park and, man, it’s really great with room to grow.  The new slides and entrance were nice, and I can’t wait till its all grown in. I really think Carowinds is turning into something special and amazing. The new Starbucks at the front looks great. I hope other buildings follow suit and change to a more Carolinian Feel.

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