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.
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.
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.
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.