Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Monday, September 06, 2004

Coasterville Con '04 - Day 4 - Paramount's Carowinds

Trip Report
Coasterville Con '04 - Day 4
Greenville, SC -> Charlotte, NC

Paramount's Carowinds

We woke up at our hotel in Greenville, SC a little bit later than expected, and after looking up a shortcut, we were soon on our way to Carowinds with a little drive through Wendy's to keep us satisfied.

We made our way onto the park grounds shortly after noon, and parked in the South Lot, and entered by the South gate. The stop by Guest Relations to pick up a courtey ticket with my PKI season pass was quick and painless, and soon we headed into the park.

Coming in the South Gate, we headed up the hill and right to our first ride, Top Gun. Top Gun was a walk on, and soon we were walking onto the back seat. Top Gun is a B&M Inverted, however this Inverted ha sa unique inspired layout, and you gotta love the mist filled tunnel under the park entranceway. It was a wonderful way to start the day.

We soon headed into the county fair like section where I noticed they still have Days of Thunder playing with Spongebob. Makes sense as this is NASCAR, USA. Speaking of auto racing, they have Thunder Road. As in Thunder Road from Grease. Here, Paramount has the perfect coaster to tie-in with Grease, and they failed to do it. We won't even get into the Grease themed trains the coaster had before Paramount arrived.

I like the fact that they have the entrances on the outer sides of the station, watch out for that last railing. Soon we were taking a backseat ride on Racer forwards, but first, what a surprise when I sat into the well cushioned train. Thunder Road has a profile very similar to Rebell Yell with the track split not happening until the turnaround. Unfortunately it runs just like Racer at PKI, which is not a good thing, as the train jackhammers its way though the course. We exited, and then took a backwards Thunder Road ride. Hmm, just like Racer, the backwards side runs noticeably better. At least both sides still seem to have all their dips, witht he last dip being tunneled. It looks nice, it just doesn't run so great. Unusual choice of train colors, blue and gray. I also liked the Burma Shave style lift hill sign: "Grit Your Teeth / Bear the Load / Enjoy Your Ride / On Thunder Road" I wonder if they really want to stress that Grit Your Teeth part the way the ride is running. We also got our first taste of Carowinds ride ops. In short they are worse than the stories you hear about Six Flags ride ops. For example a dispatch on Thunder Road was held up so they could bicker about whose turn it was to man the control panel. They have no sense of urgency, and act like they would rather be anywhere than running that ride.

We exited Thunder Road and it began to rain. We made our way past the looping ship and the Dodgems (which look awfully similar to PKI's, building and all) and head to an indoor ride. Nearby was Scooby Doo and the Haunted Mansion. Its an indoor ride, but unlike PKI, the queue is mostly outdoors, but at least shaded. The canvas cover provided enough shelter to wait out the brief rain, and soon we were getting into the backseat of a Mystery Machine. The backseat of a Mystery Machine is NOT where you want to be, as you have to aim and zap targets while dodging the heads and arms of those in the front seat.

Overall Scooby Doo has most of the same sets, just in a different order, and with traditional dark ride crash doors, and a more traditional dark ride system. Neither of us had a working gun anyway, as at the end of the ride the score was 0000-0030, but we didn't know if that was cause of a gun malfunction or from trying to work around the person in the front seat.

At least the sun is out now, and we headed along the back of the park and made our way to Super Saturator. Overall it was a good day to ride Super Saturator as the water curtains were off, and the push button operated water geyesers were off. This just left the assault-weapon like water canyons to dodge. Super Saturator has an agonizingly slow moving queue, particularly when they only load the forwards facing seats, and then make no attempts to pre-load or two stop load.

So after much longer than the queue suggested, and getting waterbombed a couple timnes while waiting, we were loaded onto the front seats of a car, the lapbars locked, seatbelts fastneed, then the nasty surprise happens. They wait to fill the water tanks on the car until AFTER you are loaded into the car. As the mechanism automatically dispenses enough water to fill all 4 water tanks, and they were only using two seats, that meant the water for the other two water tanks comes unceremoniously pouring down on the front seat riders. I mean the wetest part of the ride is in the station. I noticed the warning that I only had one shot, so use it wisely. The layout of the coaster is quite interesting, and the ride could probably stand as a family ride by itsself even without the water effects. Did I mention we unloaded both water tanks as we went over the queue area? Of course we did! Though I am surprised at how many riders fail to activate the water dump. We did get a nice spraying from the water canyons, but that was nothing next to the dousing in the station. We then waited in the brakes for an extra long period of time due to that super ineffecient loading, all the time having excess water rain down on us from the roof of the car. Well, at least I have the Super Saturator credit now.

We headed around into the Carolina Boardwalk to dry off, and came to the Goldrusher. Goldrusher is an old Arrow mine-ride that retains the ultra cool train engine fronts on the cars. After crossing ankles the lapbar went down. After crossing ankles I wondered how anyone could stand up, and standing on this ride must be a problem cause they have a rule posted on this ride that states "1 year eviction from park for standing on this ride" It's a rather neat layout for a minie ride, and it looks like they may be in the process of tunelling (or retunelling) the helix. Not a bad ride.

We next stepped over to Ricochet. Ricochet looks to be a Mack wild mouse. Paramount does not run their Wild Mice very well. Not only was the constant-movement loading system disabled, they have coned off all but the center loading position, and they both load and unload from that one position. Another example of super effiiciant operation, not. Most mice rides have a car being unloaded, a car being loaded, and a preloaded car waiting to go out onto the lift the moment the block system says its okay.

Ricochet, it you get to sit up front you get advance warning of which brakes to worry about, those would be the grease covered ones. Those would also be most of them, including all the brakes on the turn to go to the lower level through to the end of the ride. Yawn. I hear the cha-ching of a credit meter.

We went over to where we though a show was being staged to learn it was merely karaoke, and then laughed at the rather slim selection on the song list. We then took a walk on ride on Carolina Cyclone. Carolina Cyclone is there Arrow Multi Element. It was built in that era when Arrow multi-elements were very functional but did not have any artistic merit to them at all. This one features two vertical loops and two corkscrews., and the older style small trains. That was, uhm, rahter uninspired. I hear the cha-ching of a credit meter. Do watch out for the steps both up into and down out of the train.

After riding Carloina Cyclone, we passed the Coca Cola Cool Zone, where I noticed they have equipped their soft drink machines to accept credit cards. I'll leave the sad commentary alone.

We headed into what used to be the Wayne's World section of the park where Stan Mikita's sits closed, and we take the rediculously long walk to walk onto Hurler. We take a back seat ride on Hurler, where we watch the train before us arrive back on the back brake before they even THINK about checking lapbars, then they goof off with each other, talk on the phone, and finally realize that maybe they want to disptach the train.

The ride starts, and the train shuffles its way over to the lift, we go up the lift the train shuffles over to the drop, I comment "This isn't going to track well, is it?" Then Whamo, down the brutal first drop into a shuffling, jackhammering MESS. This ride has roughly the same layout as Thunder Run at SFKK. Whereas SFKK has taken great care to make Thunder Run a smooth, fast airtime filled ride, the folks at Carowinds have exerted no such care for Hurler. As long as the train completes the circuit, they don't seem to care that it runs horribly. Talk about a ride with no redeaming qualities, I think I would rather ride SOB.

We next headed over to Drop Zone. We got around in the queue to the big umbrellas. That was fortunate cause for the next hour, we would have to survive a heavy downpour. The big umbrellas while they didn't keep us totally dry, kept us mostly dry until the weather lightened up enough for us to make a run for the Rock Shop, by way of the game joints. The Drop Zone opes were at least nice enough to open the station gates so people could exit through the ride area rather than the long way back through the queue.

We waited in the Rock Shop until the storm died down enough to walk around in it, and saw a trian move on Vortex. We got in line for Vortex but were son informed it would be down for an extended period of time. From the Vortex station we say Reptar run. We headed clear over to Reptar. Please, oh please, I have less than 3 hours and 4 more coasters to ride here, and its still raining.

We made it around to Reptar. I was frankly quite shocked to see this one running in the rain, but Ill take it. I like the over the lake settng here much better than the setting at PKI, and witht he added space the station isn't near as cramped. We took a front seat ride, and soon enough, we had this standard Vekoma Junior Inverted under our belt.

I took a look at their log flume, which also got the Wild Thornberrys's River Adventure theme package, and I noted they have a Space Spiral type ride in place of an observation tower.

We started to wait for Borg Assimilator until we saw that Vortex was actually running. We made our way around to the walk on Vortex, and took a ride in the front row. Now I just rode a B&M stand up at SFoG and had no seatbelt problems, however I just barely fit into Vortex. Vortrex as a stand up is rather lame, not one of B&M's better efforts, in fact it doesn't even have a proper vertical loop.

As we were finishing our ride on Vortex, we saw other park guests being assimilated. So we backtracked back over to Borg. Borg wound up to be a 30 minute wait, and they were not offering single rider. The line slowly crept along as is usual for Vekoma flyers, and the sky kept looking worse and worse. Knowing they don't run this in any kind of foul weather, it became a race to see if we could get on before the next storm rolled through. I am happy to report we did make it on, in fact the next storm wave would not come till after we exited the park.

I like the hydarulic system used to activate the seat recline function, rahter than the high tech on baord computers. It at least seems more solid. WE sat down, fastened the shoulder vest, and the operator fastened the lapbar. No problem. Out of the station, up the lift, flip over and into the ride. Ya know, Superman Ultimate Flight is far superior to this, and X-Flight is superior to this. The corkscrews on this kind of ride just seem a bit too brutal, and the ride exhbits the usual Vekoma roughness. While by no stretch a bad ride, it pales when set next to its peers. At least you won't be stuck out on the brake run in the hot sun. Yes the train does stop on the brake run for a long period of time, but said brake run is covered, and every row has two fans blowing cold air on riders faces.

We exited Borg, I looked at the Falling Star style ride, or I tried to look at it. It seems the area in front of the ride is the staging area for their Meet the Nicktoons show, and they close the ride while the show is in progess (1 show daily). Heading into Animation Station I noticed a familiar looking carousel pavilion, then we headed to the last coaster I was eligible to ride, Scoobdy's Ghoster Coaster. In this case the Ghoster Coaster was the standard PTC kiddie woodie. This one however still has no mid course brake, but no tunnel either. It also has an odd sounding alarm as the train leaves the station. As is usual for a paramount park, the junior wood coaster easily runs far superior to the big full size models.

We looked over at the closest thing the park has to a train ride, which is a kidddie train, which is closed for preparations for the haloween event. I also noticed the park had a pedal copter ride, just like PKI, and that their Taxi Jam is much more interesting.

Their Taxi Jam coaster is the longer Miler complete with a helix, similar to the Python Pit family of coasters. No, I did not get a ride on the Taxi Jam. In the back of Zoom Zone they have a car ride, with the same cars as Dollywood (Morgans, electric drive, bump proof, working headlights, working horn), however the ride had very minimal theming, a rhater plain layout, and no on board audio throught he car 'radio' All in all Road Rally seemed to be missing something.

We proceeded through the rather sparse kiddie area, which deosn't seem to have that many kiddie rides, though it does have a neat Spongebob fountain. Eventually we came back around to Top Gun where we took several more rides on the best coaster in the park.

We next headed back to Scooby Doo;s Haunted Mansion to try to get a fair game. We tried to ride several times, but never did we get a car where both of us had functional guns. A non-functioning gun really takes the fun out of this ride.

Before headng out we took the new path accross the former Smurf Island to take a last ride on Borg. The queue was still 30 minutes, though that did not stop them from cuttng it off with an hour of operating time. When we boarded at 6:25 there were only two trains worth of riders left, when we exited they were loading up the last train. Hmm, someonegot cheated out of a chance at a last minute Borg ride.

We ended the day with a couple more Top Gun rides before heading out.

On the way out, we drove past the former Heritage USA project that is actually very close to Carowinds to see the rotted remains, then headed up towars Concord Mills Mall. We chose to eat at Tsunami's - a Japanese steakhouse close to Concord Mills. A drive past NASCAR, USA, then it was off to an undisclosed location for the night.

Coasterville Con '04 - Day 5
Charlotte, NC -> Cincinnati, OH

It rained all through the drive from the undisclosed location to the Charlotte airport. The weather was looking nasty all morning, but I was able to have an ueventfull, if crowded flight back to Cincinnati, OH.

Thus endeth Coasterville Con ''04


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