Carowinds CoasterStock 2010

10StockBanner.jpgCarowinds | Photos | Videos

July 24, 2010
Charlotte NC

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.

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Carowinds 2010

10CaroBanner.jpgCarowinds | Photos | Videos

April 2, 2010
Charlotte NC

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.

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Freestyle Music Park 2009

09FreestyleBanner.jpgFreestyle Music Park | Photos | Videos

May 24, 2009
Myrtle Beach SC

The next morning we woke up, got ready, and headed out to Mammy’s Kitchen for breakfast. After breakfast we headed to Freestyle Music Park, a new park credit for both of us. There was a decent amount of cars there for a slow Sunday morning when almost everyone else was leaving the area. After slathering ourselves up with sunscreen (Matt is very sensitive, and I was burnt from Saturday) we paid for a ticket and headed inside. Only one ride was listed as closed, the Soak’d water coaster.

The park was very nice. I immediately noticed things that were missing from pictures from the previous year by the new owners. We walked thru Myrtle’s Beach first skipping the biggest coaster there, The Time Machine. Both of us were far more interested in Round About. So we headed to the Across The Pond area and got in line for Round About getting a backseat ride.

Round AboutThis was the coaster that gave the park a lot of problems in it’s inaugural year but we never saw it have any issues all day as it ran very consistently. The Ferris Wheel lift mechanism was novel and kind of unnerving, but in a fun way. Once you’re at the top you head down the first drop, which was rather steep and loads of fun. Sadly, this was mostly a one trick pony roller coaster. The lift and first drop were great, but the rest of the ride, while smooth and gentle, didn’t do very much. Fun, but I’d really like to see what an established park looking for a thrill ride and not a family coaster could do with one of these. Sadly the onboard soundtrack was not working.

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Myrtle Beach 2009

09MBBanner.jpgFamily Kingdom | Photos | Videos

May 23 & 24, 2009
Myrtle Beach SC

Day 1

The last time I was at Myrtle Beach prior to this trip was in September of 2006 for the final operating day of the classic Myrtle Beach Pavilion. A sad day, and a large part of the reason I hadn’t been back since. However, 2008was the inaugural season for Hard Rock Park, a new theme park which I’d been following the planning and construction of for quite a while. I had wanted to go in it’s first year of operation but never made it down to Myrtle Beach in 2008. Imagine my surprise when, after just a few months into its first season, the park abruptly closed and declared bankruptcy.

This could have been the end of the park, but thankfully a new owner stepped in for the 2009 season, even if they had to change the name and much of the theming as well as rip out lots of other theming. I didn’t want to miss my 2nd chance at visiting the park.  Unfortunately the second season would be the last season for the park which has since had all of it’s rides moved to other parks and the site has since been demolished.

I decided to take off on Friday just before Memorial Day Weekend and offered to take my grandmother down to her house in Salisbury NC since I would be staying there overnight on Thursday. The trip to North Carolina was quick and uneventful and on Friday morning I was up early and ready to head further south. The ride to Myrtle Beach was pleasant. I did get slightly turned around a couple of times but still made very good time even with stopping for gas and a few pictures at the infamous South of the Border tourist trap.

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Carowinds Media Day 2009

CobraBediaBanner.jpgCarowinds | Photos | Vidoes

March 27, 2009
Charlotte NC
Carolina Cobra Media Day

Every March Six Flags over Georgia and the American Coaster Enthusiasts hold their annual Spring Fling event. I’d never been to the park and it was on my short list of weekend trips to visit soon, so that seemed like a great time to go. I requested Friday off and started making plans while sending in my money for the event, and making reservations, using Hotwire for the first (of now many, many) time(s).

As the date came closer and closer my plans changed significantly. Add in the fact that the weather was not cooperating and I ended up with a totally different trip than the one I had originally planned. So on Thursday March 26, 2009 I headed south to North Carolina to stay at my grandmother’s second home to help break up the trip. The fact that I’d been invited to Carowinds’ Media Preview Day by my then online, but eventually personal friend Max, who has now passed away, on Friday was another deciding factor for my stop over in Salisbury for the night.

On Friday I woke up in Salisbury and got ready. It was dreary outside, which was what the weather forecast called for all weekend. I made my way to Starbucks and then headed towards Charlotte. I was afraid I’d run into rush hour traffic, but instead cars were moving at a decent pace all the way down to Carowinds Blvd. I found my way to the employee entrance and parked, made a few last minute adjustments, and headed towards the park. This was a first as I’d never entered from behind the park before.

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Carowinds & Weird Al 2007

CARO07BANNER2.pngCarowinds | Weird Al | Photos | Videos

August 4, 2007
Charlotte NC
Straight Outta Linwood Tour
Palladium Amphitheater

Having a season pass and a drive to travel more in 2007 had gotten me to a host of new places, and not just theme parks. My grandmother had wanted to North Carolina to check up on her house the week of August 3-12, and since I had a season pass, I opted to spend some time on Saturday at Carowinds. After arriving Friday nite we had breakfast with my Aunt at IHop on Saturday, rode around Salisbury, visited friends, then had lunch with my aunt, a friend, and my cousin & her husband, who had recently gotten married.  After we got back to my grandmother’s home I changed and headed out to Carowinds.

I missed my exit to I-77 to Carowinds, and ended up on 485 around to Carowinds. I was trying to figure out how far from Carowinds I was, but once I got back on I-77, I was right there. I realized quickly that the parking lot was WAY TOO CROWDED. Add in that it was really hot & humid, and I knew I wouldn’t be doing much riding. But that was okay; I had other plans to fill my time. I had noticed a while back that Weird Al was going to be in concert at Carowinds this weekend, and flirted with the idea of going, but decided it wasn’t to be since I had plans the next 2 weekends after the concert. But when my grandmother wanted me to take her down, and since driving Ms. Lucy means she always foots the bill, I decided I’d sneak away to Carowinds anyway. Just before we left for the trip, I got a season pass email ‘reminding’ me of the concert, and that I could get tickets as a Season Pass Holder for $10.

So I got to the parking space, alllllll…the way over at the other end of the parking lot by the south gate and went in. Top Gun was right there, but the line was at least 2 hours long, so I decided I’d head over to the box office, buy my concert ticket, and ride some other rides I didn’t get on earlier in the season. EVERYTHING had a line. Restrooms, rides, shops, food stalls. The only thing I had instant access to was an ATM. Then I arrived at the front gate. No line to get in the park as everyone was already there, but the line to get a ticket to the concert was around 30 minutes. Yikes. Oh well, I got my ticket and was surprised at where they put me. I would have paid $14 for closer seats if there were any, but I ended up in the second section back, isle seat. Good enough for a total of $20 to park and get in the concert. My next stop was near the back of the park, so I re-entered Carowinds and headed for Ricochet. Man, the park was crowded. I picked up water on the way, which was a good thing, because the line for Ricochet was around 40 minutes. I figured I might as well wait.

RicochetWhen I did finally get on, I was in a full car. I still get frightened on wild mouse coasters. I always feel like I’m going to go over the edge. It’s unnerving. But at least it still has some affect on me, unlike many other coasters. I wish I’d been by myself only because I didn’t want to crush the tiny teen beside me.

Next I walked over to to Hurler, but it was down. So I decided to head over to Top Gun instead, since Thunder Road was also closed for maintenance. The line was way shorter than when I arrived. Top Gun is one of the best inverted coasters out there so I got in line, which was at the bottom of the stairs into the station.

Top Gun The Jet CoasterThe last few times I’d ridden Top Gun, it was running very well.  There was amazing airtime on the hop over the station, and the ride is paced very well, I love it. Theres good hang time in the loop. I still can’t believe they sent this ride to Carowinds.

I wanted to ride another coaster ride, but I also kind of wanted to watch the Nickelodeon Celebration Parade at 7 PM, which was just before the concert was scheduled to start. I got a Jolly Rancher drink and eventually got some food, but when I got up to the front of the park they were allowing people into the Amphitheater, so I headed in to my seat instead. Then I waited. And Waited. And WAITED.  The concert started at 8pm and lasted 2 hours. Weird Al was really great. He did ‘Fat’, ‘Eat it’, ‘White & Nerdy’, and many, many more. This was my first Weird Al concert, and I knew I’d see him more in the future.


Carowinds 2007

Car07Banner.jpgCarowinds | Photos | Videos

May 12, 2007
Charlotte NC

My original spring plans included a visit to Carowinds on Friday the 11th, but due to circumstances beyond my control that didn’t happen. The main reason for the trip was my Season Pass processed. This was the first time I’d ever had a season pass to any amusement park in all of my 26 years. I considered stopping by Carowinds in March of 2007 while heading north from Florida, but decided to wait.

I knew I’d be in Salisbury in May and needed to get my Maxx Pass processed before June so that I could use it at other Cedar Fair parks. So on Saturday evening I visited with friends for about 15-20 minutes and then drove back to my grandmother’s house to change clothes and head out. The closer I got to Carowinds, the darker the clouds were. It wasn’t pouring, but it was sprinkling. I wasn’t super enthused about the trip and honestly, with the rain, I kept thinking “I’ll process my pass and leave. Maybe I’ll ride Top Gun before I go if the weather isn’t terrible”.

I had similar thoughts when I went to Kentucky Kingdom a couple of years prior, but that ended up being a really fun, short trip. This trip to Carowinds would prove to be just as enjoyable. After arriving I parked and noticed that a LOT of people were already leaving due to the light rain.

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Myrtle Beach 2006

MB06Banner.pngFamily Kingdom | Pavilion | Photos

September 28 & 29, 2006
Myrtle Beach SC
Pavilion Last Ride

Waking up on Thursday morning I got my things together, ran some errands, and headed south. This was my only major trip planned for the year, and it was a mixture of excitement and sadness because this would be the last time I would visit the legendary Myrtle Beach Pavilion. The drive from my home in southern West Virginia to Myrtle Beach was around 7 hours. Thankfully Janet Jackson had released her then latest album that week, so I planned to give it a full listen on my way south. The weather was rather dreary, but I knew that reports were for sun in Myrtle Beach thru the weekend.

About 90 minutes in to the ride I stopped in Wythville, VA since gas was only $2.08 to fill up and get some food. I wouldn’t stop again until North Carolina to get some directions, and then South Carolina for gas. Just outside of Myrtle Beach, on US 501, something in the other lane caught my eye. The Wacky Worm station and train from the now closed Grand Prix was on the back of a truck being transported elsewhere. I had seen pictures of the track packed up. I guess someone bought it. I had left around 10 AM and expected to arrive in Myrtle Beach around 5 PM and surely enough, at about 5:30 I was pulling in to the parking lot of the Hotel. I had spent the last 3 hours looking forward to arriving and relaxing in the room for a bit. That, however, would not be the case once I arrived.

Once I arrived it seemed as though everyone was having some type of problem with the staff. Sea Crest is a very nice ocean front property where we have stayed for at least 10 years. My parents would be arriving there the day I was leaving, and my mother had made my reservations as well since we were going at almost the same time. Unfortunately, there was an issue with the reservation.

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Family Kingdom 2004

September 20, 2004
Family Kingdom Amusement Park
Myrtle Beach, SC

The sun had set, which was great because I haven’t ridden Swamp Fox in almost 10 years and couldn’t remember the last I’d had night rides. A Chance Slingshot, a Log Flume that looked like fun, and another Sally Dark ride had all been aded since I’d been to the park. For those of you unfamiliar with the Family Kingdom, or for those that haven’t been there in a long long time, let me give you a bit of history. What was once known as both the Grand Strand amusement park as well as the Swamp Fox Pavilion has undergone a lot of changes over the years. I don’t even remember the park before it re-opened after Hurricane Hugo, but Hugo did major damage to the Swamp Fox in 1989, and the coaster was rebuilt.

This is a classic John Allen Figure 8 seaside coaster with 2 PTC trains, though one must’ve been hidden for the off-season, as it wasn’t in the station. Even though they have 2 trains, the park only ever runs one. I can still remember my first ride on Swamp Fox. It is a really great wooden coaster. The park has been opened consistently since the early 90s, and has added and switched out some of their other rides. It has mostly all fair style rides, as well as Sally’s first interactive Dark Ride, a nice carousel, and a decent selection of flats. The park used to sit beside what was once known as “The Fun Spot Fun Park”, a very carnie feeling go-cart park that had a couple kiddy flats and a Ferris wheel, but Family Kingdom bought them out and expanded across the little river. This area is now mostly the kids section, with the Chance Slingshot, Pistolero Roundup (the Sally Dark Ride), Go-Carts, and the Log Flume.

I walked in and bought my all day wrist band then headed straight to Swamp Fox. If you’ve never been on this coaster, it has the oddest station. I guess they never get really long lines as there isn’t anywhere for a long line to go. It has a load and unload station, and on this nite, only had one operator running the ride. As I was getting in line for the back there were two twentysomething girls getting off of the ride and telling me that the back was “Just Brutal! The front is nothing compared to the back”. I smiled and said I knew, and then boarded the ride.

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Myrtle Beach & Grand Prix 2004

September 19-22, 2004
Myrtle Beach, SC
Photo Album

Myrtle Beach 2004

For many years Myrtle Beach was my favorite place to visit for vacation. It had everything I want to do; roller coasters, swimming, restaurants, night life, you name it. As a kid my family went every year. My most recent visit had been in 2002. As it was late in the season, it was much different visit than I was used to but I had a lot of fun. I decided to take some time from my new job and head to the beach with my family. Because of a previous engagement, we would be leaving for Salisbury, North Carolina on Friday, September 17 and staying the nite.

Because of Hurricanes Charlie, Francis, Ivan, Bonnie, and Janeen, I was very afraid we were going to be rained out as it started raining late Thursday evening at home, and continued thru our trip to NC. I was happy, though, to see beautiful blue skies when I woke up Saturday morning. We left Salisbury around 4:30 pm and headed south. It was about a 4 hour trip including our stop at Pizza Hut in South Carolina for dinner, but we made it to the Holiday Inn (now Sea Crest) Hotel we were staying at around 9:00 pm that evening.

After checking in and taking our luggage up to the suite, I promptly changed clothes and headed out for a nite on the town. I hadn’t really been out since moving back home, so I was happy to finally be getting dressed up for a reason. I cruised around downtown for a bit which, though it was the off season, was still fairly active as it was the weekend. I didn’t want to arrive at the club too early, so I cruised some more around Myrtle Beach. Then at around 11:30 pm I headed for Club Kryptonite, the hot new club at Broadway at the Beach. I forgot my flyer to get me in for two bucks, so I ended up paying $10. It was “Coyote Ugly Night” so there were loads of girls on boxes and up on the bar dancing and pouring drinks. The DJ was great, loads of good music, and the crowd fun. Getting back to the room, I took a shower and went to sleep.

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