Taste of the Carolinas
August 16, 2015
So I was kind of tired of Carowinds. Sure, they had the big new amazing Fury 325, and it *is* amazing. But I went so much after the park opened that I’d not went nearly all summer and hadn’t been back. This was actually my first visit during the summer in 2015. My friend Isaac had been in North Carolina a few years and had yet to visit the park so we picked a date, which just happened to be the final day for the Taste of the Carolinas event 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’d just passed them by as I have my season pass. Once we got inside and got situated we headed back to the monster that now dominates the park.
Fury 325–Our first ride was in row 4. The ride was running well for just having opened that morning. It still packed a punch and was very intense. I still couldn’t believe this ride was here at Carowinds. Once we finished, I asked Matt what he thought, and he liked it.
Kennywood | Photos |
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.
Conneaut Lake | Photos |
May 24, 2015
Conneaut Lake PA
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 for the long haul. 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 to make it so much better. After walking thru the front gate area, there were 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 4th wristband of the trip at $10, which was actually kind of a steal, and I do feel good 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.
May 23, 2015
On Saturday 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 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 were really comfy. My love for Maverick never waivers. That first drop really was great and the airtime was amazing. I felt the ride was running a bit slow on this trip, but that’s okay. I missed the lights in the tunnel launch. But it was 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 had Fast Lane, so we knew we could come back later so we headed front entrance so that Doug could see the rest of the massive park by way of the Sky Ride. There were tons of school bands in the park performing, which was also nice. We took pictures and then headed out the front gate for more pictures. There was such a shift in people flow now that the front gate had been renovated and it was so much better, and way more photogenic. We headed back in and used Fast Lane for Gatekeeper.
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, and 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 6 AM on Friday, May 22, and off we were on our 9 hour drive to Sandusky.
This was the first time I’d 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 4 PM we finally arrived in Sandusky. We had to make a few stops as I needed a new battery for my camera. I’d planned on getting a newer, better camera, but for now, this was what I had 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. Never book below 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 5 PM.
March 27-28, 2015
In 2015 Carowinds had their first big Season Pass Preview nite. I say for Carowinds, because 2015 was not only about the new coaster, or the mostly overlooked new slingshot, or the new front gate, or any of that. The weekend was about the reinvention of my home park. And Carowind’s reinvention was poised to be relevant for years to come.
Even before the official announcement, the local geeks had all been foaming at the mouth, myself included. When the rumors that something 300’ was coming as well as other major improvements to the park started to pop 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 looked great when you get past 2014’s addition of a new toll plaza. Then you get into the parking lot and head to the front gate. It was amazing. A beautiful plaza. It was familiar but different. It was modern and fresh, evoking the newer front gate at Cedar Point. It worked and was far easier to navigate. Once inside I headed to find the line for 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.
March 19, 2015
Walt Disney World Resort
On Thursday I slept in a little and then headed back down to Orlando to Rob’s apartment for more Disney fun. We 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 for the day was Epcot. I wanted to try some different Coke products so we went to the Club Cool pavilion to try everything. I still loved 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 line behind us. Normally I don’t complain, but these kids were obnoxious and 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 liked the changes they made as the update looked very modern and very obviously Tron-esq. I’m glad the ride was updated instead of altered. I didn’t get to do any major customization to my ‘car’ because we were limited in the single rider line, but oh well, I’d rather not have waited the extra hour. The experience wasn’t much different, but it did feel much more futuristic.
March 18, 2015
I loved Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Since my first visit I’d been back a few times, and I love the theming, the rides, the food, and the overall atmosphere. I really liked Sea World San Antonio as well for having the same type of atmosphere. And so I was really excited to finally visit Busch Gardens Tampa. On Wednesday Morning my parents drove me to Rob’s apartment complex in Orlando and we headed out from there, getting to the park sometime in the early afternoon.
Once we got thru the gate I was struck by how similar yet different this was from the park in Williamsburg. It had the familiar semi-claustrophobic, but really awesome entrance. And it was very nicely done. The park wasn’t very busy, which was great. I definitely wanted to get back there sooner rather than later already. Our first ‘attraction’ was a bird sanctuary. We walked thru and looked at the themed topiaries around the park, and eventually came to the first credit, Air Grover.
I’m not going to to a rundown for this, it was your basic Zierer kiddy coaster that I’d ridden plenty of times. It was a cute theme, and it was a credit so ‘nuff said. We walked around the park even more trying to decide what to do. I definitely wanted to ride the new drop tower, Falcon’s Fury before I chickened out. But our first major coaster ended up being Sheikra.