Monday, April 09, 2012

Carowinds: Revisited (Literally)

On Saturday, we met up with my brother's side of the family in Charlotte and went to Carowinds.

I've blogged about Carowinds before, so no need to go through that again. But that was a while ago (September 2007), and I think this was the first time we had been back since. What's changed since then?

As far as I could tell, they've added two new coasters since 2007: the Intimidator and the Carolina Cobra. The Intimidator is my favorite type of coaster: fast, tall, and no loops! Yeah. The Carolina Cobra, on the other hand...well, I'll talk about that one later. (There were some other new non-coaster rides as well.)

The names of a lot of things had also changed since 2007. Our last visit was after Paramount had sold the park Cedar Fair, but still, much of the movie theming remained; that's pretty much all gone now. For example, the "Top Gun" coaster is now known as "Afterburn". (But it'll always be "Top Gun" to me.) The kids area was Nickelodeon-themed back in 2007; now it's Peanuts-themed. (Which, if you ask us, that's WAY better!) Most everything outside of "Planet Snoopy" is actually pretty generic now, which I guess is okay...

So, anyway...yes, we brought Marla to Carowinds with us.

That's the Intimidator coaster in the background. Marla obviously can't ride any of these things yet, but Amy (my sister-in-law) volunteered to watch Marla while Amber and I went roller coasting, which was nice. We did get to take Marla on a couple of Planet Snoopy rides, though, such as the carousel:

In two more years, Marla will be old (and tall) enough to ride on many of the "Planet Snoopy" rides. Then, after a few more years, she'll be able to ride on some of the big coasters with Mommy and Daddy! Yeah!

That is...if I can still handle roller coasters by then. One reason I like the Intimidator-style, no-loop coasters, and also pretty much any wooden roller coaster, is that unlike rides such as the Carolina Cobra (which takes you through loops forward AND backward), they don't make me feel sick. I don't mean "puking all over the place" sick - I'm pretty sure I've never thrown up at a theme park - but I didn't feel too great after riding the Cobra. I handled Top Gun (which also has loops) okay, though, so I think the key is just to do the "spinny" sorts of rides in moderation. But the list of rides I won't go on at all is growing. I can now add "backwards looping roller coasters" to that list. (Already on that list: swing rides, pirate ships that go upside-down, stand-up coasters, and these hellish beasts, among others.)

Not that it really matters, because I imagine next time we go the majority of our day will be spent in Planet Snoopy. But that's fine; I'm looking forward to being able to enjoy theme parks vicariously through our children.

Finally, for those interested in the stats, here are the thrill rides that Amber and I rode on Saturday, along with the wait times: (The wait time starts when we reach the back of the line, and stops the moment the ride starts moving once we've boarded.)

1) Intimidator (wait time: 29:30). We got this one out of the way early, and good thing, too.
2) Thunder Road (wait time: not quite a walk-on, but close). Being an old wooden coaster, this was Amber's favorite. I enjoyed it, too, and as a map geek, I can always appreciate a coaster that crosses a state line.
3) Carolina Cobra (wait time: 27:42). Crowd starting to pick up now...
4) The ride formerly known as Top Gun (wait time: 50:00). I should note that being early in the season (this was Carowinds's second open weekend of the year), the park hasn't really reached peak efficiency yet. The crowd was decent, but things weren't exactly running smoothly. And, they didn't even have wait times posted at each ride! I really feel like Carowinds had that last time we were there. Or maybe not?
5) Drop Tower (wait time: 27:27). We were up against the clock by this point, so this was actually "Plan C" for our final ride, behind the Nighthawk and the Hurler, both of which appeared to have long, sluggish lines. But how long was the actual wait at those rides? We'll never know.


Laura said...

I was at Carowinds a couple of summers ago (I've been about 11ty billion times in my life), but one thing that we all commented on during that visit was how much the ride technology has become so much better that even roller coasters that are super fast are not nearly as jarring as they were 10 years ago. The Carolina Cyclone (built in 1980) used to be the smoothest roller coaster there was at Carowinds and now comparing it to The Intimidator or Top Gun (or whatever it is), there is absolutely no comparison. Much more enjoyable not being jarred back and forth!

Adam said...

Not a big fan of Carowinds...then again I have been spoiled from years at Kennywood Park. There's a park I know the three of you would really enjoy!

smarchit said...

Kennywood is my home amusement park. And to make it better, a recently completed section of the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail that I rode for the first time Saturday runs directly behind it, and gives a backdoor peek at 2 if their most noted coasters. Of course, the only missing link now on the Pittsburgh to DC trail goes through their sister park, Sandcastle, about 5 miles away. With how they've dragged their feet on granting the needed right of way there, I wouldn't expect a bike accessible entrance to Kennywood anytime soon.

amber said...

I'm a little biased, to be sure, but I still have yet to come across a park that compares to Cedar Point in terms of variety and quality of rides, park layout, and park cleanliness. And that's not because I've only been to a couple big parks. That said, I think Carowinds is a pleasant little park :)