Janet Jackson Unbreakable Tour
Walnut Creek Amphitheater
Beers, Brews, & BBQ
August 16, 2015
So I was kind of tired of Carowinds. Sure, they’ve got the big new amazing Fury 325, and it *is* amazing. But I went so much after the park opened that I’ve missed almost all summer and hadn’t been back. This was actually my first visit this summer. My friend Isaac had been in North Carolina a few years and had yet to go, so we picked a date, which just happened to be the final day for Beer, Brews, and BBQ, an even they were having on the weekends.
We got up early Sunday morning to head down and get there at opening. They seem to have gotten better at using the hand wands for metal detectors, and didn’t have places set up out in front of the beautiful new plaza. I knew that going on a Sunday would afford us a slower day with shorter lines. Thankfully the weather was wonderful too.
We got Isaac at ticket. This was actually the first time I’d used the new ticketing booths. They’re really nice. Mostly I’ve just passed them by as I have my pass. Once we got inside and got situated, we headed back to the monster that dominates the park now.
Fury 325–Our first ride was in row 4. The ride was running well for just having opened in the morning. It still packs a punch, and is very intense. I can’t believe this ride is here. Once we finished, I asked Matt what he thought, and he liked it.
We left Fury and went over to Hurler, which had not wait, and hopped on near the front of the ride.
Hurler–It was running very well. If the trim at the bottom was on, I never felt it. I do hope the park has GCI complete the rest of the retracking and any other structural work that can be done, because when Hurler runs good, it runs really, really good.
We headed around towards the back of the park. We were going to hit up Ricochet, but the line was a bit long, so we walked around to Goldrusher instead
Goldrusher–My legs are long, but since I’ve lost weight, I can more easily fit in the train, so yay! Gold rusher is what it has always been. It can be kind of fun, but rarely something I ride unless I’m with someone else.
Isaac has a nostalgic tie to boomerang coasters, one of which happens to be at Carowinds. It was his first looping coaster, among other things, and he was excited to try Carolina Cobra. While I never wait long for it, I will ride it with the newer trains.
Carolina Cobra–I do like the concept, even if there are a ton of these things. That first drop is really great, especially if you’re further in the back. The positive G forces kind of do me it, but it wasn’t so bad today.
After Cobra we walked around and got some water, then went over to Afterburn. I always look forward to Afterburn. This was my first inverted coaster, and it still ranks among the best.
Afterburn–Of course we rode in the front seat. And again, I can tell the difference in comfort losing 30 pounds makes because I had no issues with the shoulder restrains. Afterburn always gives an amazing ride. That first drop on the hill over the parking lot looks massive from the top. I love it. And you can see the old PTL hotel from the top.
After this we walked over and took a spin on Woodstock Express. Still the best wooden coaster in the park #ripthunderroad. Then we headed over to the former tallest coaster at Carowinds. I’m wondering if the rumors about a name change will come true. I guess we’ll find out next summer.
Intimidator–For our first ride, we ended up in the middle. The ride was running well and fast. Neither trim hit very hard and there was decent airtime on all of the hills. Intimidator is a solid ride. I really like it.
After that we hit up the Sky Tower and walked around a bit more. I think we may have hit up Ricochet at this point, but don’t remember, as it may have been later. Oh well. It still scares me.
We went to Harmony Hall for lunch. We both had brisket sandwiches, which were good. Got there just in time to catch some of the Peanuts Lunchtime show. It was cute. We sat and talked for a while. Harmony Hall was packed. Good. The food is consistent, and the service is good as well.
I know we gave up on riding Fury immediately after lunch, but I don’t really remember what we did. Actually, I do know we spent time sitting at various points and just hanging out, which is nice. If I’m at Carowinds, I don’t mind slowing down and talking while people watching.
I know at some point soon after we did go over to Fury. And we got a coveted front seat ride. Wow. It was running so well, and the airtime was amazing. So was having all that wind in your face, haha. The guy sitting beside me was hilarious at the end. I can’t quite quote what he was saying, but he was really funny. We walked back around and rode again. I’d wanted to ride on the left hand side of the train, and this time we got a second row left side ride. It was really great. I love that ride, and I need to get back down to the park one lazy evening just to power ride it.
We just kind of hung out and walked around. I know we hit the Sky Tower and Windseeker up. Plus I got some Italian Ice at Rita’s over by Thunder Road’s old entrance. Seeing the entire ride torn down from the Tower was sad. But I’m over it.
We got more rides on both Intimidator and Fury. In fact, we finished on Fury, and it was great. So much airtime that you don’t expect. Sideways!
It was great taking someone who had never been to Carowinds before. I had a great time, and I’m sure Isaac did too. We never ended up trying any of the special BBQ or Beer but did hear a little of the first band playing. All in all, the day was a win. No lines over 30 minutes and lots of fun.
June 19, 2015
Weird Al Mandatory Fun Tour 2015
Ovens Auditorium Charlotte, NC
May 24, 2015
So we left Conneaut and headed towards our next stop, which, unfortunately it seemed to take longer than anticipated to get to and get started. This was the first time I’d not gotten lost on the way (and the first time I didn’t see any of those darn yellow arrows) to…Kennywood! It had been ten years since my last visit and the park has changed in many good ways. It was a nice evening, and this was my first time getting the ‘true’ night time Kennywood experience (my only other nite experience at Kennywood was during Fright Nights, so that was much different).
After getting into what I’d forgotten was a beautiful park (and this was I believe my first time seeing the new gate), we headed first to purchase Kennywood’s version of pay to cut. It’s a little different, and I really just wish you could go at whatever time and ride everything without waiting once, because the times really kind of set us back. Then we headed to the Bayern Kurve. Unfortunately it broke down just as we arrived, and both of us were really looking forward to riding the ride, so we knew we’d check back later. Since that was a bust, we went to what was for a very long time my favorite coaster ever, Phantom’s Revenge.
Phantom’s Revenge–I was blown away by this ride every other tim I rode it. The only thing I didn’t care for was the first drop, actually. I know they’ve replaced all of the track on the first drop, did some tweaks, undid some tweaks, and added a trim. Would it still be amazing? Our first ride was in the front of the ride, a first for me. That first drop was actually better, and the straight track after had some positive forces I didn’t remember. Then you head up and into roller coaster bliss. That first hop up and into the ravine is magical, as is the rest of the ride. Aggressive, powerful, and chock full of airtime. It’s still as amazing and insane as ever. Phantom still holds up after a ten year absence. It’s just that good.
At this point it was time for our first scheduled ride so we headed across the park to Thunderbolt.
Thunderbolt–That first drop out of the station is so much fun. I really like Thunderbolt. We rode in the very back seat for the ride. It has great airtime, and going in and out of the ravine is really cool. I love Thunderbolt, and the lights on it at nite are great too. The whole park is great at nite.
We walked around the back of the park to see what what the lines for Racer and Jack Rabbit were like, which were kind of long. We had a time for Phantom, so we walked around the park back towards the Kurve, which looked to be down for the count, and then by Noah’s Ark, which also had a line. So we headed on back for more Phantom instead.
After Phantom we hit up the Whip. I love these rides. Once we were done, it was actually time for our Exterminator appointment, so we did that next.
Exterminator-Honestly, this was the spinniest ride I’ve ever had one one of these, and with it being indoors, it was really disorienting. It was a lot of fun! Great way to take a basic clone and make it fun.
So we walked back over to get some rides on the last two wooden coasters. Jack Rabbit’s line was the longer one, and I figured we’d be able to do Racer last minute once we got Rabbit out of the way. This just happened to be the ride’s 95 birthday.
Jack Rabbit–For such an old ride, it sure gives a great thrill. The first part of the ride is really good and then you get to that double down. I made Doug hold his hands up and not put them down. I love that element. One of the best things ever on any thrill ride. Jack Rabbit still looks good for being in his 90s.
Next up was the only new credit in the park I was worried about (I still haven’t ever tried for Little Phantom). I love Premier coasters, and this was a much newer offering. I’d heard meh things about it, but I was still very eager to ride.
Sky Rocket–To me, this is the definition of underrated. This coaster delivered a great launch into an amazing airtime filled tophat. The you drop off and hit the cut back. The inversions are smooth with great hang time. There is airtime on every hill. Why aren’t more people talking about this? I really thought it was great.
We rushed over to Noah’s Ark and on the way…the Kurve was running! Yay! This ride means a lot to me because it’s one of my mom’s favorite rides and we always rode it together as a kid at parks like Kings Dominion, Carowinds, and the ones that came around to fairs. I hadn’t ridden one since my senior year of high school 16 years ago, so this was a treat. It was great. Then we went over to Noah. I don’t remember much of it from 2005, but it seemed very different, with the ending obviously closed off.
At this point I had to make a decision. Doug needed the Racer credit and we didn’t have much time. I’m not a huge Racer fan, and I wanted Phantom night time rides, so I told Doug with the little time we had left that he should have no problems getting on Racer, but I was going to Phantom and we’d meet up after. The decision was a good one. I rode in the back of the train in the dark and it was great. And then they sent us around again at the end of the nite.
I love Kennywood. I will not wait 10 years to return. It’s a wonderful park, and next time I’m going to go to the park all day and stay till the evening. It’s so great, and I need time to enjoy it.
After that we headed off to the Hyatt Regency at the airport. Definite upgrade from the previous lodgings. I went out a little late as Doug stayed at the hotel. Monday morning we started the long journey back to North Carolina. The trip was really great.
May 24, 2015
Doug and I got in to my car and headed across Pennsylvania to a place I’d never been, but had toyed with stopping by on my last trip this way. I knew I’d better stop thinking and just go, because it’s a park that just may not be with us much longer. After what seemed like an eternity driving thru the countryside of Pennsylvania, we finally arrived…at Conneaut Lake Park.
The front of the park actually shows what kind of potential the park has (had?), but it is totally unused. This is one of those parks that I just wish I had some money, time, and labor. After walking thru the front gate area, there are 4 pads with rides, and some empty or half empty pads. We walked around all of that and headed back towards the middle of the ‘park’ (I use that term very loosely) and got what ended up being my 4 wristband ($10 was actually kind of a steal, and I do feel better about supporting a small park, even one struggling).
There were actually a decent amount of people in the park, and everything that could be running was up and running. The only thing I wish I’d ridden that we skipped was the Tumblebug. After the $10 band purchase, we went to Devil’s Den.
Devil’s Den-This reminded me so much of the Haunted House at Camden Park. It was fun. After the first lift you turn and drop down the ‘Infamous GUM WALL’ drop, then up and into the darkness, which is basically a Wild Mouse type layout in the dark. It was fun.
Then it was time to hit up the reason we’d came to the park, the infamous Conneaut Lake Blue Streak.
Blue Streak-Okay, this ride has so so so much potential. The trains were actually comfy with padding. Going up the lift, I knew it was going to be something, I just didn’t know what. The first drop is kind of good, but the crunch and hurt at the bottom just isn’t pleasant. Every hill was crunchy, painful, and not that fun. It could be. The ride has an aggressive layout, and if it had a nice long renovation to retrack and replace wood, it could be an amazing coaster. Plus, it really is neat to go thru the trees like it does, and the beginning tunnel is different.
I was in too much pain to go for another spin. Sad. The Blue Streak has potential. Hopefully this park can eventually get turned around. It’s just a sad little business, listing hopelessly too and fro. At least I won’t feel the need to return in the mean time.
We left Conneaut and headed towards our next stop, which, unfortunately it seemed to take longer than anticipated to get to and get started. This was the first time I’d not gotten lost on the way (and the first time … Continue reading
May 23, 2015
We got up early and after some motel issues we were off to the park. After stopping for some breakfast at McDonalds, we headed down the causeway. After parking back by Gemini we headed into the park which wasn’t actually open yet except to platinum passholders and hotel guests. Walking down a mostly empty Gemini Midway in the early beautiful morning was nice. And we had a great day ahead of us with Fast Lane. We headed over to Maverick to see about getting in line once the park opened, but because I had a Platinum Pass, they let us both get in line for the ride.
Maverick–The wait was maybe 15 minutes. I’d never had a front seat ride on Maverick that I could remember, so we got in line for the front. First the obvious, the new restrains are really comfy. My love for Maverick never waivers. That first drop really is great and the airtime is amazing. I felt the ride was running a bit slow this trip, but that’s okay. I miss the lights in the tunnel launch. But it’s still such a well rounded ride and I wish there were more rides like this in the states. It seems like if parks aren’t interested in Intamin that Mack can make something just as good.
Next we were going to keep the magic going by heading to Millennium Force, but it was stuck on the lift for quite a while. We have Fast Lane, so we knew we could come back. Instead, we headed up to the front of the park so that Doug could see the rest of the massive place by way of the Sky Ride. There were tons of school bands in the park, which was nice too.We took pictures and then headed out the front gate for more pictures. There is such a shift in people flow now that the front gate has been redone, and it is so much better, and way more photogenic. Next we headed back in and used Fast Lane for Gatekeeper.
Gatekeeper–Most people are very ‘meh’ on Gatekeeper, but I like it. There’s amazing hangtime on the first drop/inversion, and airtime on that hill heading to the front gate. And the Zero G roll is really great. The other roll is great as well. I like Gatekeeper. I think Wild Eagle is better, and X Flight was really good too. I’d probably rank Gatekeeper 3 of the wing riders. It’s a fun ride. I still really like the plaza around Gatekeeper. The ride is really well done and I love the sign and how you face out into the lake.
Since we were already close by, we decided to take a chance on Wicked Twister. I’d never had a problem with the ride before, but when I went to Coastermania a couple years ago, the ride op was rude and didn’t even let me try and fit before he threw me and another person off for not fitting. This time, though, I had no issues.
Wicked Twister–These rides still kind of scare me. I love them, but they scare me. I always feel like we’re going to go off the tracks going forward, and then you never know when you’re going to stop going backwards. But it’s all great fun. I wish more of these had been built.
We headed over to MaxAir next. Again, score one for Fastlane. It didn’t take but one cycle to get on, and I really love these rides. Carowinds NEEDS a pendulum ride of some sort. Then we headed over to ride Millennium Force.
Millennium Force–We opted to sit in the second row since there was little to no wait. One thing I do like about the Intamin giga coasters is the quickness to the top. That first drop is still amazing. I really like MF, even if many people think it’s overhyped. But I like speed, and there is airtime on the hills, even the small one by the station.
After MF we walked around to the park’s classic Blue Streak. Man, I know they’re building new stuff in that area, but that particular dead end needs opened up. Hopefully it will be opened soon.
Blue Streak–My first time riding Blue Streak I thought it was okay, but after they did some work to it a few years ago, it’s been running amazingly well ever since. Blue Streak was running very well. Every hill had good airtime, and the turn around throws you around a bit. The return leg is just a tad rough, but really aggressive in a good way.
Apparently everyone with a Fast Lane headed to Raptor next. The line for Fast Lane wasn’t obnoxiously long, but still longer than I’d imagined. World Famous Coaster Enthusiast Josh Wozny was also in the park and I saw this on my Instagram account while waiting for Raptor, so we planned to meet up after.
Raptor–This ride has always been good stuff. It’s no Afterburn or Montu. I even like Silver Bullet and Talon better, but it’s a very solid ride. I love the mostly straight drop. The sequence of inversions and lack of stopping on the mid course makes the ending really intense, but in a good way.
We walked back to Frontier Trail to meet up with Josh, Amber, and the kids. They were sipping moonshine, but instead of getting some drinks we discussed food. We were going to go to Chet & Matts since I’ve heard so much, but then we decided that since I, and of course Doug, hadn’t seen the Breakers renovation yet, we’d head over to there.
We walked back to leave out the Magnum gate and around to Breakers. I’d never actually been over by the hotel before, so this was all new to me. I’d seen photos, and obviously wanted to see the renovations. Wow. I can’t even tell you how beautiful it is. I’ve only heard about what it was and should have been, but seeing what it is now is amazing. First, I love the boardwalk area leading up into the hotel area. Then you get to the grand entrance of the hotel facing the beach. The fire pits with the carousel horses are amazing. Walking in, it looks so charming. A true seaside resort, but very modern and well done. I love the rotunda. It’s just amazing.
We explored the inside all the way thru to the car entrance in the front. That’s where we found out for sure that Thunder Road at Carowinds was going bye-bye, so I’ll always remember that. Then we went to eat at Tomo, which was fantastic.
After being entertained at Tomo, we walked over to the new bar, which was nice. I had an Old fashioned. It was very good, and then I think I may have had another drink, but I don’t really remember, as we sat and talked at the bar and then outside. They’ve really made a nice gathering area outside. Someone in charge finally knows how to bring in guests for long stays, it would seem. #goodriddancedick
We headed back in the gate by the new beautiful picnic pavilion. They were setting up for Brews & BBQ, which I’ll get into in a bit.
We walked over to Windseeker next, which was very cold at the top. Then Josh took me up to the top of the Coliseum, which I’ve always wanted to see, and never knew it was open. I took a few pictures and then off we were. My phone was starting to die at this point, and I considered going back now to charge it. Josh and clan went to ride Blue Streak after we stopped for a bathroom break, and Doug and I went to the Ferris Wheel for a quick spin. Then it was time to go to the Brew & BBQ festival.
This was exceptionally nice and the new pavilion looks great. There were 146 beers to try, and I tried many of them, as well as almost all of the different food (I didn’t try the catfish). Although the meats I had were good, as were the sides, the BBQ sauces all seemed to be out of a bottle. My only other complaint is the lack of knowledge about the beer that the people handing out samples had. A little training would have went a long way here, but otherwise, it was great fun, and we spent quite a bit of time trying different stuff. We left from there and went to put our phones in the car to charge.
When we got back into the park, I headed to Dinosaurs Alive, not so much to see Dinosaurs, but to get some pictures of MF since I’d never been on the island before. It took me just a few minutes to go thru and shoot pictures while Doug when to ride the kiddy coaster. After we finished up with that, Doug still needed his Corkscrew credit, so I waited on him to ride. Then we decided to Fast Lane our way on to TTD. Another thrill, but man is it just not much of a coaster. You do get to see a great view at the top though.
After that we headed back over to finish up drinking and eating at the Brew & BBQ. I met a nice guy that worked at CP that had a Fury 325 shirt on, someone from the park had picked it up for him whilst in Charlotte for Media day for that. We left the Brew & BBQ and walked over to the Derby Racer. This is such a fun ride and I really want to do the one in New York some time. After that we took a stroll back to Maverick for a night time ride. And of course, it delivered once again.
I will comment here on the state of Cedar Point’s operations. Big difference from the past. And not in a good way. There’s the familiar scanning and all clear junk from Six Flags, and it wasn’t needed at Cedar Point, a park that I felt had capacity and operations down to as much of a science as (almost) Disney. It is ridiculous. They were so slow loading Maverick that, even with a Fast Lane, it felt like they were loading soooo… slow. It was way too slow compared to how safely and efficiently they used to do it. So because of that, we stood and waited and waited and waited before they let people in to ride. It was annoying. Plus, I really wanted a nite ride on Millennium Force, which would have been way easy to do seeing as how we got in line (with Fast Lane) for Maverick 30 minutes before the park closed.
So we got our nite time Maverick ride, which was great (but it’d be better with tunnel lights), then we got off and started huffing it with 5 minutes to close over to Millennium Force. I didn’t know if we would make it, but I’d never had a nite ride and really, REALLY wanted one. So I power walked while Doug kind of scurried behind me. I was sweating and kind of ticked off that we were having to do this when in the past it wouldn’t be a problem. Thankfully, we made it just in time.
Millennium Force at nite was really very different. It was nice and cool, and, much like Magnum, there’s so much darkness when looking out at the top. After we got our nite ride in, Doug and I slowly meandered back to the Magnum gate to close out the nite. We headed to the motel that I’ll never stay at again and went to sleep. The Brew & BBQ festival was a great success, and the park wasn’t too busy. Having said that, had they not decided to get their operations in line with the industry standard that Six Flags has in place, I think things would have been better, especially having a Fast Lane. But we got a decent amount in. I love Cedar Point, have since my first visit. I didn’t expect to get back up there again so soon, but the possibility of not having to stand up and ride Mantis, while having a more comfy Maverick ride was too good to pass up. Next time, though, I may have to stay a nite or two at the Hotel Breakers.
May 22, 2015
I was just at Cedar Point in 2013 for my first ever Coastermania event. I didn’t expect I’d be going back again so soon, as I rarely get to visit one of my favorite parks being that it is such a long drive. When they announced the conversion of Mantis to Rougarou, I knew I wanted to get back, because I really hated Mantis. And with Maverick’s new restraints, it was just too tempting. Then the stars aligned, I asked another coaster geek if he wanted to go, since this would be his first visit, and I tacked a few other parks on to sweeten the deal, and viola, we had a trip planned. Doug got to my house just before 6am on Friday, May 22, and off we were on our 9 hour drive to Sandusky.
This was the first time I actually made the drive with someone else, which was nice, because I had someone to talk to. Somewhere in West Virginia I stopped and introduced Doug to the amazingness that is Tudor’s Biscuit World. It was so worth it. Then, around 4pm, we finally arrived at Sandusky.
We had to make a few stops as I needed a new battery for my camera. I plan on getting a newer, better camera, but for now, this is what I got, so we stopped and I picked up one of Kodak’s stupid proprietary camera batteries for $40 (And they wonder why they went bankrupt).
Then I realized that I forgot to grab a memory card, so we went from the battery store (yes, we went to a battery store) to Target, where I picked up a $10 8GB card. Afterwards, we checked in to our Motel for the next two nights. Disclaimer: Never stay at the Roadway Inn in Sandusky. Always book a 3 star room on Hotwire. Even if the reviews are good. Anyway. We headed over to the park. It was a little chilly, and honestly, I wish I’d packed a hoodie, but I didn’t. Doug, on the other hand, brought his brand new warm hoodie with him. I knew the breeze on the lake would be cold. Oh well. We got to Cedar Point just before 5pm.
I always tend to park in the Gemini lot, so we circled around so Doug could see the park and then got ready to head inside. The day was beautiful, if a bit cold. We got to the counter to pick up a ticket for Doug. I presented my Platinum Pass, and much to our surprise, it was only $10 to get Doug in. Then, when I asked how much the ticket would be for all day Saturday, we were even more delighted to be told $10. It was a promo that apparently wasn’t promoted very much, but Platinum Passholders could get tickets for $10 for other people for the weekend. I actually toyed with spreading some love and giving the people behind us the discount, but they had already prepaid for their ticket. Oh well.
The park wasn’t extremely busy, which I figured would be the case. Fridays on Memorial Day weekend are rarely that busy at parks.First up we headed over to Magnum.It had a small line, and stopped running for about 5 minutes, but quickly picked back up.
Magnum XL 200–I love me some Magnum. We sat in the infamous 1-3 seat for Doug’s first ride. Magnum was running very well. The third hill always delivers airtime, and the return trip is always fun. The trim before the turn around wasn’t too strong, so no discomfort there. Every time I ride, I’m reminded of the time it hit so hard and sent me into my seat so hard that it knocked a kidney stone loose. But I still love me some Magnum.
We walked around to Dragster, which had about an hour line. Then we walked over to Iron Dragon, which may have had a 20 minute line, so we hopped on there to get Doug’s credit and get it out of the way.
Iron Dragon–It is what it is. It’s certainly not the best, but it is a fun ride, and kids tend to like it. You get some good views of Dragster and Rougarou, plus the pretzel turnaround is fun. There just isn’t much to say about the ride that hasn’t been said of it during its lifetime.
Next we headed over to the park’s newest attraction on an old track, Rougarou (Where are you?!).
Rougarou–The ride looks so much better with its new paint job. And the station looks neat as well. I think our wait was about 30 minutes. This part was so much better than Mantis, as they were hauling getting people on the train, and not sending out half empty trains like they always tended to do on Mantis. This change has made a world of difference for an otherwise unimpressive coaster. The trim on the first drop is no longer on. This layout is really made for a floorless. Very re-ridable and very smooth. Everything Mantis was not.
After Rougarou we walked to Millennium Force but it was down so instead we headed over to the Red Garter Saloon for dinner and drinks. I’m not a fan of country, and the show was going on, but whatever. I had a sub (included with my Dining Season Pass, score) and a RougaBrew. We headed back thru Frontier Trail to check out the line for Maverick, which was way too long and we were going to have all day with Fast Lane on Saturday, so we went over to Mean Streak instead.
Mean Streak–Everyone says it’s rough. I’ve contended for years that it isn’t rough, it’s boring. Doug agreed. The trim kills any excitement it may have had, but the ride literally just meanders around. In fact, I didn’t even bother riding on my last visit, and this visit was really only because Doug had never ridden. I know it’s not on the plans at this point, but in the future, an RMC makeover of Mean Streak would, in my opinion, fix the last ‘bad’ coaster in the park. And by bad, I mean absolutely boring.
I took Doug thru the Town Hall Museum. Now that I’ve discovered it, I always make it a point to visit; I love it in there, looking at all the old pictures, models and what not. It really does have great atmosphere. Next we walked over to Gemini midway which has changed significantly since the last time I was there, and it looks absolutely amazing. I love the string lights overhead. I love the LED light packages on the rides there. And I really, REALLY hope Carowinds takes notice of this. A few nice flat rides with great light packages would really make that park pop. Since we were there, we got on one of my favorites.
Gemini–We rode both sides. They weren’t synching up to race for what seemed like most of the weekend tough we did get one or 2 racing rides. The ride was running as good as it ever has, smooth and fun, airtime in all the right places, some hand slapping. We rode both sides of the ride before moving on, but honestly, I could have marathoned it. And there was no line so it would have been easy to do.
We walked over to Pipe Stream and gave it a spin. It made me a little queasy, but I’d still love to see one of these at Carowinds. We walked around and saw that Dragster didn’t have but about a 40 minute wait, so we got in line.
Top Thrill Dragster–It’s such a great thrill ride. Such a terrible coaster (But way better than Kingda Ka). We opted for a back seat ride. When I first rode Dragster, it terrified me up till the actual launch. Then I loved it. Again, not as a coaster, but it’s a great ride. Doug agreed with me. And it’s running as good as ever. I love the launch and how it literally takes your breath away. And if you can see it, that view…IS…AMAZING.
By this point the park was near closing time and it was dark which meant that Magnum was sitting darkly across the midway beckoning for us to come and get some end of the night rides in the dark.
Magnum XL 200–There was still a hint of sunlight in the corner of the lake, while the rest of everything else was pitch black. Magnum is already a great ride. My first nite ride cause me to have a kidney stone (I kid you not). The last time I was here, we did the last few rides on Magnum for Coastermania ERT. But I’d never had rides like the 2 we took this time. It was already breathtaking that you look out on the second hill to see nothing before you and then you drop and turn. The third his is amazing, but then, something happened that I’d never had happen before…No trims! Oh My Goodness! I already loved Magnum, but these 2 rides pushed it up in the rankings because that second half is brutally fantastic without the trims. Amazing! Ejector air! In the Dark and pitch black tunnels! It was amazing! We ran around for another ride (or was it 3? I don’t remember) because it was so amazing.
The evening was really wonderful. I absolutely love Cedar Point, and really wish it wasn’t so far away from me. We finished the night with some pictures and headed to grab a bite at McDonalds then back to the hotel to rest up for a full day at one of my favorite parks.
March 27-28, 2015
In 2015 Carowinds had their first big Season Pass Preview nite. I say for Carowinds, because 2015 is not only about the new coaster, or the mostly overlooked new slingshot, or the new front gate, or any of that. The weekend is about the reinvention of my home park. And unlike Madonna, Carowind’s reinvention is going to be relevant for years to come.
Even before the official announcement, the local geeks have all been foaming at the mouth, myself included (you know this if you’re reading this and are a local). When the rumors of something 300’ were coming, as well as major improvements to the park popped up, the speculation was wild. Too wild at many times, and very annoying at other times. But that’s done. This weekend was it.
The park looks great when you get past last year’s addition of a new toll plaza. Then you get into the parking lot and head to the front gate. It’s amazing. Beautiful plaza. It’s familiar but different. It’s modern and fresh. It works, and is far easier to navigate. Once inside I headed to find Fury. It was overcast. Because I’d been on vacation the prior week, I wasn’t able to attend media day, so this was my first time in the park this year. And because of Charlotte traffic I was 30 minutes later than I’d wanted to be.
For those of you familiar with the park, the line STARTED at the covered walkway just beside the scrambler. I had visions of Banshee’s opening day, but, thankfully, it wasn’t like that. The whole line, which went into the action zone, then down an access road close to the queue, then into the queue took about an hour forty. Not bad, actually. And it moves. Constantly. A full queue would take an hour or less to move.
Some nice touches, since it was getting dark, they have color changing lights shining on the lift structure like MF. And there are color changing LEDs under the sun shades that pulsate as well. Oh, and the lift hill motor, which is right by the last section of queue, is really loud. So my first ride was at nite in row 7 (of 8). The crowd was VERY psyched in the station, and the crew was very good. They assign seating, but I didn’t notice them asking for single riders, which would have been a big help from what I saw.
The ride dispatches and starts going swiftly up the lift. About a third of the way up, you speed up. Really fast. Then it slows just at the top. 325 feet in the air. The first drop is amazing. Much what you would expect from any Giga coaster. You speed up into the first overbanked turn and for what it is, it’s intense. The speed is amazing, you get some positive G forces in the turn around, and the drop off has airtime. But what surprised me was the odd sideways flojector air that you get (sideways!) on the next two banked ramp hills. Honestly? It’s like exaggerated trick-track with airtime, all at very high speed.
Then you fly up and around into the turnaround at the end of the ride. I kind of knew what to expect here as Goliath that debuted at Six Flags Great America last year had similar elements, and this one did not disappoint. Again, there is flojector airtime, all while you’re sideways. Then you drop off and it’s amazing. Scary even. Flying under the bridge and then up into the next banked hill, there is more airtime.
After that, you hit the first big hill. There is a trim there, magnetic, and the 2 rides I got really slowed the train down noticeably. Having said that, much like the trim on Diamondback, I really didn’t mind, because it has the added effect of ejecting you out of your seat going over the hill.
The last two bunny hops have ample flojector air. If you go in expecting Intamin or RMC-esq airtime, that’s not what this is. But it is some of the strongest airtime on a B&M hyper. Just as good as Nitro, Goliath, and Diamondback. Better than Intimidator across the park (a solid ride in it’s own right).
This is the best B&M coaster I’ve ever ridden. It will most likely fall in my top 20 (of 312). Solid coaster. It interacts with the front amazingly. It has what it takes to help transition Carowinds to the next level.
Me and some guys (including the mods) from Carowinds Connection had a chat with Mike, the GM, in Harmony Hall (Don’t worry, he came up to us, we didn’t bug him). He’s great. Having him and Jerry running that park as it moves forward is what needed to be.
Carowinds has a very bright future. I can’t wait for it.
On Thursday I slept in a little and then headed back down to Orlando to Rob’s apartment for more Disney fun. Should have went to Animal Kingdom for a bit, but I was planning to go on Friday. Unfortunately I overslept Friday as I was going to have my nephew drop me off on his way to work, but oh well. Our first stop today was Epcot. I wanted to try out some Coke so we went to the Club Cool pavilion to try everything out. I still love mezzo mix, and I still don’t hate Beverly. Up next was Test Track.
This was my first time riding since they completely redid the inside of the ride. We got in the single rider line. That was all fine and dandy, but unfortunately a large group of obnoxious teens got in behind us. Normally I don’t complain, but these kids were obnoxious, spend the 30+ minutes in line bumping up against everyone else in line, among other things. It was annoying. Finally, Rob and I got to ride.
Test Track-I really like the changes they made, very modern, obviously very Tron-esq. I’m glad the ride didn’t make a huge change. I didn’t get to do any major customization because we were limited in the single rider line, but oh well, I’d rather not have waited the extra hour. The experience isn’t much different, but it does feel much more futuristic.
We walked around Futureworld for a bit before heading over to World Showcase. Epcot was all in bloom and as usual looks amazing. Our first stop was Mexico. Rob got a drink and we then headed inside to ride the boat ride and shop around. The thing about Epcot is that you can just walk around and not do much but still have a very good time.
I just love walking around. One day I’m just going to go to Epcot and eat and drink around the World Showcase. It’s so bustling with people and I really should take one day for each side of Epcot and explore. I know they have that game where you’re solving clues and such, I really should do that too. There’s just too much to do at Epcot! So we went to O! Canada! It’s the same as last time, but it’s really neat. We left World Showcase and headed back to the front of the park, stopping by Spaceship Earth for a ride.
We drove over to Magic Kingdom for the rest of the evening. Our first stop was of course, Carousel of Progress. After that we went over and rode Buzz Lightyear’s shooter dark ride. It’s fun, but it’s no Midway Mania for sure. The clouds were coming in and we went over to ride Seven Dwarves Mine Train. It wasn’t time to ride just yet, we had a little wait, so we went to Mickey’s Philarmagic instead first. I really like that show. But again, 3D doesn’t do well for me.
So it was sprinkling when we left back to Seven Dwarves. We went in the Hundred Acre Goods store to wait out the rain for our ride time. By the time we got on the ride, it was POURING. And dark. Which, even though I would have rather stayed dry, gave a really good ride. After that we went over to the Jungle Cruise in the rain. The guy doing it really loved his job and did a great job. I had 2 much better guides on this visit to Disney than my last trip. And then, because we were already there, we went to Pirates. Another ride I love.
It stopped raining by this point. Fireworks in the rain behind the castle are really awesome. So is Haunted Mansion at nite, which we did as the rain stopped. I love that ride. I also love walking around at nite. We walked around a little more, but I honestly don’t remember if we rode anything. And then my Disney trips were over. I love Disney parks. I say every time I go to Florida that I need to go to another set of parks, but I always end up with Disney. It’s like Magic…