Carowinds: Visit #1
By: Kevin Michaels
Click here for photos from 6/22/15!
This is our first visit to Carowinds during the 2015 operating season. We had visited Carowinds in 2014 and we were told; "Don't visit this year, visit next year." I said screw it, let's visit both years. Why not, right?
All new entrance to the park!
As we pulled up to the park, it looked completely different. Even the toll booths to get into the park were updated and relocated. The main entrance to the park is an awesome sight as Fury 325 (The park's newest roller coaster) not only goes above the entrance, but below it in a tunnel! This place has really stepped up it's game and it actually has a Cedar Point feel to it as the entrance is similar to that of Cedar Point's. Looks like we're in for a good day!
Harmony Hall for Lunch
As we were entering the park, a woman handed us her All Day Dining pass because she was leaving for the day, so we took it and got 2 meals with it during our visit. We didn't get to the park until 4pm today and we headed right to Harmony Hall to get our first two meals of the day using our All Season Dining Plan. They changed up the meals a little bit at the Italian Pizza Place. Last year, it was a "build your own pizza" -- this year, they have the pizzas already made, but you can get a Baked Pasta Bowl. That sounds good, let's get that. The food could have been better. It wasn't bad, but it didn't taste as good as it sounded and the breadstick was bland. I should have asked for some dipping sauce.
First order of business; Woodstock Express
There are two coasters here that we didn't get on last year because we really didn't think we could ride as adults. Because the other Cedar Fair Parks have the Woodstock Express Coaster and we started Credit Whoring this year, we knew we could get on this ride. It wasn't much different from the other two Woodstock Express coasters we've been on, but we got our credit.
Lucy's Crabbie Cabbie, DENIED!
The other coaster we didn't get our credit on was Lucy's Crabbie Cabbie and we were denied. This is a children's coaster and if you don't have a child with you, you aren't riding. I think this rule is ridiculous. It is understandable to a point, but if there's no one in the park they should just let you ride. There was no line at all, and we were turned away just like the Great Pumpkin Coaster at Kings Island. Oh well, it doesn't matter because in reality this isn't much of a coaster. In fact, the Ring of Fire "loop coasters" at Six Flags Parks are more of a coaster than these little rides. Yet, the Coaster Enthusiasts won't count them.
Intimidator; empty station
The station was completely empty here at Intimidator. This is a B&M hyper coaster, not to be confused with Intimidator 305, the giga coaster from Kings Dominion! There was a 3 train wait for the front row. They had two trains in operation but they certainly didn't need to have the third train on the track because there was no line at all for this one. While we were waiting on line, I had asked a couple people in front of me if they had been on Fury 325 yet and they said they have been and it's awesome. It makes Intimidator look like a baby.
They also noted that you cannot bring anything into the station, not even a sports bottle for your drink. Well that stinks. We had brought our Kings Dominion cup into the park so we could get water in it but we can't even bring it into the queue line? We have to get a locker? I hate when parks do that, especially when the weather is as hot as it is. I understand they want to keep the lines moving and want to avoid people from wasting time by putting their stuff down but on a really hot day, people need to stay hydrated. In fact, they had an announcement over the loudspeakers to stay hydrated and they were offering free water at all food stands.
Fury 325 is up NEXT...
Because we weren't allowed to bring our Kings Dominion cup into the station, we decided to just bring it back to the car and mooch the free water off of the food stands. We then headed to Fury 325. Can't wait to check out this bad boy!
The line was very short, and they have a loader at the top of the station telling people which row to go in. When it was our turn to be loaded, I had asked if we could wait for the front row and they said absolutely not. The girl had loaded three people into the front row and since there was an extra seat, I had just told Anne Marie to go to the row that we were assigned, and I would ride in the front. No big deal, right?
Well that turned into a big deal. A big enough deal to the point where I was pulled off the ride. I was arguing with the ride operators because this is a jerkonian policy and we are treated like Kindergarteners. The supervisor of the ride pulled me aside and spoke to me about it. They didn't like that I went against the ride operator and went to the front row, even with the open seat available.
I had explained to the supervisor there that I know they have rules and they have rules for specific reasons but on an empty day like this, there is no reason not to let someone ride in a row they wish to ride in. The girl agreed with me, but she did say that if I asked for front row, they would let me ride the front. She added that it would have been easier for me to get the front row if I put myself aside as a single rider. The problem was, the girl that was doing the loading did not want to let me ride in the front row, period.
After discussing the situation with the ride supervisor, I explained that I came all the way from New Jersey, I run a website where I review the parks, the rides and whatnot and I just wanted one ride in the front row just one time; after that, I don't care what row I'm in. She said OK, she would get me in the front row. She allowed me in the front after a few trains went by. It did get a little hostile up there, but the supervisor apologized to me for the misunderstanding and I told them we're all good, I didn't mean to make a big deal out of such a thing.
I just cannot stand when we are told what row to sit in and this goes for all theme parks around the world, not just Carowinds. When you make a long trip to a theme park, spend a lot of money to get here, you should be able to wait for the front row. I completely understand that if there is a two hour line and they have everyone wanting to get in the front row that they have to use the loader for crowd control but this ride had a 5 minute wait and there was no excuse for that.
Anyway, the ride itself? Just awesome. I absolutely loved it. It brings you up the lift hill pretty fast and once you hit that drop, it's all speed from there. Off the top of my head, I can recall two very good airtime hills on the ride which brings you right out of your seat. I loved the fact that you went over and underneath the entrance to the park. Another cool thing was seeing all of the airplanes flying by as you're on the ride. Just an amazing ride. It puts most of the other B&M rides like this to shame. I'm still up in the air about whether or not this is better than Leviathan or not. I might just say that it's a tie out of respect for both coasters.
Riding again... Back row, left seat
I had sent the General Manager of the Park, Mike Fehnel a tweet that I would be coming down on Monday. He mentioned that Fury 325 is an awesome ride and his favorite seat is in the back row on the left seat. Conveniently, we were loaded in the back row, so I hopped in the Mike Fehnel Seat. It was a good ride, but for some reason I liked the front of the train better. I think some of that may be my fault because I have so much stuff in my pockets that I'm trying to be careful on the twists, turns and airtime hills as not to get my stuff crushed on the ride. We went for one more ride while we were here before we decided to hit a few other rides in the park.
Hurler; station completely empty
Fury 325 is right next to the Hurler and I figured we'd get a ride in on that. In looking at the ride in action, it looks and sounds much smoother than the Hurler at Kings Dominion. The station was completely empty and it was a walk on to get on the ride. In fact, it was so dead that the workers were just goofing off, throwing cups back and forth. When our train came back into the station, the supervisor of the ride threw a cup and it landed on the track. Obviously, they couldn't hop down and get it because our train was coming back in.
This is something that I don't care about; the workers goofing off, but the next person would be like "Oh that's so unprofessional." Sometimes you have to find a way to have a little fun at work. I know I do. Anyway, the Hurler was a MUCH better ride than the one at Kings Dominion. It was actually enjoyable and it wasn't painful at all. The people who sat behind me said that it was a painful ride, but compared to the one at Kings Dominion, it was like a brand new coaster.
Drop Tower, the small version...
Next, we headed to the Drop Tower which is right next to the Hurler. This is a much smaller version of the Drop Tower compared to the ones that are found at Kings Island and Kings Dominion. It doesn't have a round gondola that fits 56 people at a time. Instead, it has four small gondolas and the catch cars are very similar to the ones on Zumanjaro. Restraints are way different, but the catch cars are the same. It's a fun little ride, but it only brings you up to 174 feet in the air with 100 foot drop. This is the baby version of the Drop Tower. A guy sitting on the gondola next to us let out a pretty good scream when we got to the top and that made for some good entertainment during the ride!
Carolina Cyclone; Arrow Dynamics
I knew this wasn't going to be a very good ride at all because it's an Arrow "piece of garbage" as Danny Binetti calls it but we rode it anyway. It wasn't a very good experience but it wasn't nearly as bad as Vortex from Kings Island! Just like the other rides we've gone on, it was a walk on. They had one train running and it was only a 1 train wait for the front row.
Ricochet & Carolina Goldrusher
After the Cyclone, we grabbed a quick ride on Ricochet. This had a small line, but it was only a 5 minute wait. These rides always beat you up on every sharp turn but it is what it is. Carolina Goldrusher is a mine train ride at Carowinds and this is another one that beats you up. This ride is very tight for me as my knees hit the wall in front of me. I worried that the restraint wasn't going to be able to fit past my legs, but it did. I'd love to see someone taller than me fit into this ride!
Vortex; no front row for you...
Up next was the Vortex. This ride destroyed us last year. Between the extreme heat and extreme humidity and the nature of this ride, it destroyed us. We walked up to the station and asked if we could ride in the front row. The station was empty, they had the first two rows filled up with 4 people each and they told us that we couldn't ride the front row. Wait, so you have a loader, denying people of the front row on a ride that has absolutely no line? This coaster does not have a threat of a roll back of any sorts to the point where you need to balance the weight. There was absolutely no excuse not to let us wait for the one train cycle to get in the front row. Because this is a crappy stand up roller coaster, I said whatever and went to the row they put me in but that is such a jerkonian policy at the parks, especially when the park is empty.
Time to relax and eat
We decided to relax for a little bit and use the All Day Dining that the woman handed us as we entered the park. We went and got two slices of pizza that came with two breadsticks at the pizza place near Vortex. The pizza was really good, but only because I had asked for fresh slices. The slices that were sitting there didn't look very appetizing, so I asked for fresh pieces. The kid said no problem, but as he made us fresh slices, it looked like his supervisor had a problem with that. It is what it is; we got our fresh slices of pizza and sat down for a while and chugged a lot of water and ate.
Back to Fury 325
We headed back to Fury 325 because Mike Fehnel had told us that we had to get a night ride in on this one. With the way the lighting is set up on this ride, it looks really cool. Plus, many roller coasters are always better at night and in the dark when you cannot see what is going on. We got 5 more rides on Fury 325 and that just tells you how empty the park was on this Monday night.
It was funny, when I was seated in the back row, one of the ride operators remembered me from last year because she worked at Intimidator and we marathoned that ride like crazy and had some awesome "Yes, Yes, Yes!" chants going. We recognized another lady that worked at Intimidator and they told us that a lot of the Intimidator crew were moved over to Fury 325 which is a good thing.
I have to say that the crew here is awesome. They are really good at keeping the trains rolling and there is probably a good reason that they were moved from Intimidator to Fury 325 and that's because they are experienced on this ride. The trains are the same deal; they have seat belts and the clamshell lapbar, so they know what they are doing to check the trains fast.
As it got darker out, the line got a little bit longer as everyone looked for their night ride on the awesome Fury 325 but the wait time was still no more than 10 minutes to get on. We sure came to the park at the right time. Last year, we did a Saturday, a Sunday and a Monday. On Saturday, the park was mobbed and they had a ton of people using the Fast Lane to get on the rides and this was something I didn't like last year; Fast Lane gets automatic priority to the front row. If you don't have fast lane, you aren't getting the front. I hated that entire concept, but it is what it is and it didn't matter because Sunday and Monday at the park, it was completely empty so we got all of our front row rides then. I can only imagine how this park is on a Saturday now with the new Fury 325!
Harmony Hall for Food n Leave
It was well after 9pm and I wasn't sure if we were going to be able to snag dinner on our meal plans before we left because most of the food places were closed but we rushed over to Harmony Hall and we were still able to get meals. That's it for tonight. We had a pretty good day at the park and we were only there from 4-9:45pm. If we really put the petal to the metal, we could have gotten on a lot more rides but we are here for the next three days so no rush; especially with this heat.
Have a great night everyone and thank you for reading!