March 22-23, 2019
Copperhead Strike Debut
I’ve lived in NC for nearly a decade now.In that time, my home park of Carowinds has added 3 major steel coasters, 4 new thrill rides, a slew of new kiddie rides, and have renovated and refurbished nearly the whole park. And they don’t seem to be finished yet. But in 2019 the park followed up their 2015 addition of Fury with Copperhead Strike, a Mack dual launched inverting coaster. I’ve been excited for months to check it out, and finally it was time.
I hate Season Passholder nite. I wanted to get off work early, but that didn’t happen. I knew it would take me at least 90 minutes in Friday evening Charlotte traffic to get from work to Carowinds. Its like that every year. I had flashback to Fury, though, and even though the line was super long, the capacity on a 3 train B&M Giga is pretty good, so the line lasted about 90 minutes or so. That was not to be the case this time.
I arrived at the park around 7 PM. The parking lot was packed. There is a strong Season Pass base in Charlotte. Once I finally got parked in the nearly full parking lot I made my way to the front gate since South Gate wasn’t open. Then I waited in line again to get through security. THEN I finally got into the park and ran to the restroom before heading towards the newly added Blueridge Junction. Coming around the corner I could hear the entertainment and see the entrance to the new area. It flows so nicely from the recent addition of County Fair.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Working in local government I had Good Friday 2010 off with pay. I had company coming and so I had to clean house. But I also needed to get to Charlotte because I had 2 major things to accomplish. After Time Warner came over to hook my 2nd cable box up, I left.
I arrived at South Park Mall in Charlotte around 4ish and headed to the Apple Store. As I walked thru, an attractive young woman was standing by with an Apple shirt on and I said “You look like you’re just waiting to help someone”. I told her I wanted the 500gb 21’ iMac and in less than 15 minutes I was walking out with one as well as a cover and dock for my iPhone and a MobileMe subscription.
Then I headed to destination #2. It didn’t take long to go in and get my Gold Pass at Carowinds and after parking in the season pass lot, which was almost full, I headed to Intimidator. Thank goodness for single rider lines. The wait in the single rider line was about 10-15 minutes. I was assigned to row 11 or 12 when my turn to ride came. The crew hustled. The park was mildly busy and the stand by line was about a 45 minute wait. Three trains were running. I sat down and soon we were off.
March 12, 2010
Intimidator Construction Tour
I was invited to go on my first construction tour, so with my new camera strapped around my neck, a sore throat, and some comfortable walking shoes ( I headed to my new home park early on a Saturday morning to meet up with a bunch of other salivating coaster geeks. As soon as I’d gotten out of the car I saw Jonathan Hawkins, who I hadn’t seen in person since 2008. We chatted till we got to the back gate and then ran into a bunch of other people, some I recognized, some I didn’t.
We stood around for a while as Max, the Assistant ACE Rep for the region, and the park got things together, and then we headed in to the park. There were a lot of really important things going on with Carowinds for 2010 so we got a good overview of everything new. Our first ‘destination’ was a walk behind Carolina Cyclone. It was sporting a new paint job for 2010, its 30th year at the park. I wasn’t a fan of the new color scheme but it was definitely in need of some painting.
Bart, the new-ish General Manager, likes slim trees and line of sight to the rides, Dani said, so some trees had sadly been removed, and some had been thinned down, and some new thin trees had been planted in new areas. As we walked from the back of the park to the new Planet Snoopy section much work was being done with painting, landscaping, construction, destruction (they just cut Sponge Bob off of the fountain recently) and more going on. Everyone in the park was very busy.