It really had been a great coaster season for me in 2016. Not only that, but my friend Isaac also likes waterparks so we did hit up Carolina Harbor one Sunday after it opened, and it was great. Then the following weekend, the two of us went to Wet & Wild Emerald Pointe with my friend Stefan for my first time, and it was fun as well. After Memorial Day weekend excursions to Ohio and Pennsylvania it was time for another trip.
Though already planned, after the couple weeks I’d had I needed to get away really bad. Having recently just been in an accident in which my car was totaled (not my fault) and then fighting with the insurance company, I needed to get far, far away.
My friend Isaac and I had planned to hit up Kentucky Kingdom, Holiday World, Kings Island, and Stricker’s Grove for July 4 weekend. There were talks of changes because of everything that happened to come up in both our lives, but we pressed on and on Friday evening we were on the way to Kentucky, where we stayed about an hour and a half from Louisville for the nite. We woke up early Saturday morning and headed to Kentucky Kingdom.
My previous trip to Kentucky Kingdom was back in it’s Six Flags days and it was very meh. Faded paint on the coasters and buildings. Rides not open. A nasty looking waterpark. I rode the coasters and the large Shoot the Chutes and called it a day, not to return again until now. I figured we’d be there for a couple of hours and head on to Holiday World. But Kentucky Kingdom of today was much different than Kentucky Kingdom of over a decade ago, and I had an open mind.
There was a special running that if you were from out of state you got in for $30 for 2 days with a free drink wrist band. We weren’t going to be there 2 days in a row but it was still a great deal so, after parking and heading to the crowded gate, we got our tickets and headed directly to Lightning Run, something I’d been looking forward to for the last couple years.
Lightning Run–Okay, so Phantom’s Revenge showed that Morgan can make great coasters from an old Arrow. Lightning Run shows Chance (Morgan) can make a great coaster from scratch and not even hit 200’ tall. In fact, it’s 100’ drop height with a great drop angle that starts the coaster off right. Even though ops weren’t that great (a theme for the weekend), we were in the front row after a 20 minute or so wait. The train, which I’d heard was not comfy for us larger guys, was fine. The first drop was amazing. Then you hit that first ejector hill just before the overbanked curve. After that, the ride is a mess of oddly banked and turned airtime hills, bunny hops, and ejector air. It was so amazing and a lot of fun. Many more parks need this kind of ride. And I’d love to see Chance try their hand at a larger and longer version. Even Phantom falls short in the length department. But Lightning Run is a hit, and landed very high on my ratings.
After that we headed over the bridge and across the park. There is a wooden coaster that is highly underrated, recently retracked, and full of potential. I’m talking about Thunder Run. And while I’m thinking of it, I like that three of the coasters are all weather themed.
Thunder Run–This is the ride I wish both of the Hurler coasters were. And I hope that one day Carowind’s Hurler will follow the lead. The first drop was really great and the next set of hills, including the banked/corkscrew Hill), gave major airtime. The ride was smooth and chock full of wooden airtime. And I had to move it up in my rankings. I loved it. And it looked great.
I have to say the park looked amazing. It’s not a brand new park by any means, but with the closing and reopening, all of the rides and buildings were freshly painted without any looking faded. They’d done a great job of making the park look really nice. There were some parts that could use more sprucing up. But right now, lets talk about 2016’s new addition…
Storm Chaser–Another year, another chance to chase down and ride a new RMC coaster. I’d heard good things about this ride already. Sadly, they were only running one train. But that’s okay as we didn’t wait very long for the front. That lift hill was blazing fast, and then you drop, turn, turn upside down, and drop again. And it is SO sweet. It was great. Hang time straight in to a drop. Then an amazing airtime hill like RMC is known for. Next its up into the overbanked turn, a turn around, airtime, another overbanked turn into a corkscrew, and then bunny hill bliss with a double up. RMC is making great, amazing, hard hitting coasters, and Storm Chaser is another amazing creation. I may end up with a top 10 of just RMC coasters, and that would be okay.
We hit up T3 next. I didn’t think I’d like the all red paint job, but it pops. The new KumbaK trains without OTSRs were fairly comfy. And that’s about all I can say. The ride isn’t so bad without OTSRs, but it was very herky-jerky. You notice how the train jerks and slows and jumps without the OTSRs. It wasn’t terribly bad. It didn’t hurt. But it just wasn’t that fun.
We went out and changed clothes so that we could hit up some water rides. They really did a great job on expanding the waterpark, and it showed that its the park’s bread and butter. We went over and up the 12 (!) flights of steps to the top of Deep Water Dive, the drop floor body slide. It was still a little hard to walk up that many steps after losing part of my lung, but it was worth it. Carowinds added the drop floor style tube slides this year and they’re great. I’d done a 70’ body slide at Wet & Wild Emerald Pointe the previous month and it was scary, so I was excited to try this one. Isaac went first, and then I went. I love the drop floor. And at least this time I knew what to expect with such a tall body slide. A great thrill and a lot of fun.
Next we went over to Kilawaya their Tantrum slide having multiple small funnels throughout the course. The operations on this were horrendous. But the ride was worth it. I liked that in each funnel we got some airtime going up the sides. I just wish the wait wasn’t so long.
We went and got in line for Deluge, the water coaster next, but the line was soooo…long and our time was starting to run short, so after a bit we got out of line and headed over to the Ferris Wheel instead. This was my first time riding since this was my first visit with someone else to the park.
We looked at the line for the Calypso Run, the funnel slide, but decided not to wait for it. Then we looked at the lines for Storm Chaser & Thunder Run which were both too long, and Lightning Run, which was the only one running two trains and had the least wait. We opted for that to be our last ride, riding in the back, and it was amazing again.
After that, we headed out of the park and headed to Holiday World. Even though we didn’t get to ride Kentucky Kingdom’s watercoaster, we would be getting some amazing rides on some others soon enough.