I really hate to start off my roller coaster birthday road trip posts on a bad note, but our first park was not great, Bob.
(Fun fact: I have never watched a single episode of Mad Men* but my friend Sandy would always quote from it when I sat near her in the office.)
(*I have always been interested in watching it though!)
Anyway. As I mentioned in the live blog from Day 1 of this trip, we did pop into Carowinds on Saturday evening after we arrived in the Charlotte-esque area and checked into our hotel.
The first thing you see from the parking lot and as you’re walking through the entrance is Carowinds massive, hulking giga coaster, Fury 325. This is 100% the sole reason we came to this park.
Now, I knew it would be crowded since it was a Saturday night so that is not a thing I will be complaining about here. My issue was that the ride operators and attendants on *most* of the coasters were slow and acted bored, the lines were a fucking mess because people were cutting left and right, the app was worthless as far as wait times go, and the park aesthetically was nothing special to look at.
The line for this piece of shit ride was actually relatively short but no one was checking Fast Lane, the two ride attendants were stuck in “meander mode” took anywhere from 3-6 minutes to get a train ready to send, and the queues in the station were a straight-up cluster fuck. We waited nearly an hour FOR AN ARROW CORKSCREW COASTER.
We came back the next day right before gates opened in an attempt to join the running of the bulls to Fury.
There were many annoying families with humungous strollers, and since we were in THE SOUTH, people were really giving a shit about singing the National Anthem before the security guard opened the gate for us. I think it’s REALLY WEIRD that some amusement parks go through this whole patriotic rigamarole, but I also pretty much hate America, so there’s that. Henry didn’t take his hat off like most of the other ‘MURRICA men did, so that made him kind of attractive to me in that moment, though I’m sure he just forgot to remove it and he wasn’t actually MAKING A STATEMENT.
I will say this: the crew working on Fury 325 that morning WAS EXCELLENT. They were fast and efficient and you could tell they took their jobs seriously. It was the first time since exploring Carowinds that it finally felt like we were at a Cedar Fair park, so that was super nice. If you have ever been to Cedar Point, you know that even when it is insanely crowded and rides are breaking down, the staff there is SO PROFESSIONAL and on top of things.
You can’t have an elite giga coaster at your park and assigning ops to ambivalent teenagers.
ANYWAY. We got a back row ride, after only waiting about 10 minutes (if even!) and I was SO HAPPY. It was just as fierce as I imagined it would be, and I wasn’t underwhelmed at all. I even made the bold statement that it was my new favorite giga – it’s our 4th one! Henry and Chooch wouldn’t commit to this lofty declaration, though they both agreed it was a phenomenal time.
Next, we had to book it on over to the other park’s premier attraction, their newest coaster Copperhead Strike. It has a multi-launch so I was really excited for it because I love launched coasters (well, mostly—am not a fan of strata coasters like Top Thrill Dragster because that launch is just a bit too much for my weakened old lady heart). The line was still pretty short but Henry to pee first; Chooch and I will 100% not wait for him anymore when he pulls this “I have to pee” bullshit so we were like, “Have fun with that” and got in line without him. He did eventually get in line and actually wasn’t too far back. But, we’re not ASSHOLES like it seems most park-goers are so we didn’t frantically and blatantly wave him over to us. I swear to god, people put placeholders in the form of other family members in almost every line we were in, and then like 7 people would do the EXCUSE ME PARDON ME routine until they were practically at the fucking station.
Anyway, Chooch and I got a back row ride. He really liked it. I thought it was just ok. Henry managed to cut off a Fast Lane group at the station just in time to snag on the front row when it was his turn to ride and he ended up really liking it too. Maybe I need to get in more rides, I dunno, but I was just expecting a little more I guess. And the launches were so weak, like why even bother.
It *does* have a Jo Jo Roll right out of the station though and I looooove screaming JO JO ROLL so that was a nice perk.
Cedar Fair parks are doing some weird Grand Carnivale festival thing which we 100% did not care about and made a point of missing the parade, lol. But you can purchase a tasting card and go around to various tents to try food from around the world. South Korea wasn’t one of the places so what did I care.
We got lucky and just happened to be walking past Night Hawk – the park’s flying coaster – right as the line opened so we jumped on that. And good thing too because that line got LONG REAL FAST. I mean, even getting in line that early, we were still behind the people that had already lined up in anticipation of it opening, so we had to wait about 20-30 minutes anyway (plus, ops were slow AF). Chooch and I entertained ourselves by waving to the people on the nearby mine train ride.
When it was finally our turn, we rode in a row with this single rider lady who was SO FRIENDLY and excited that it was our first time on it. Also, she said we were lucky to be riding it right then, because the line had grown so significantly since it opened that it was pushing a 2 hour wait time.
Um, after riding Night Hawk, I can confirm that it would not be worth that wait. But also, I do not like flying coasters, and this one was old and janky. I had NO IDEA what was going on for most of it because I was so fixated on the rattling and trying to remember the words to the Hail Mary.
But yeah, that lady we rode with was so sweet and one of the only highlights of the Carowinds experience.
(I will say that most of the people there were pretty inoffensive. It wasn’t like when you go to Holiday World and all the dads look like middle-aged bloated Jonny Craigs just released from prison.)
I begged Henry and Chooch to ride the mine train after this. I don’t know why, but I get the biggest kick out of mine train coasters! Sadly, this was another ride where some skanky pre-teen saved a spot in line for her younger siblings and frumpy mom who said, “Is it OK if we just squeeze on by.” I mumbled, “Not really,” as she SQUEEZED ON BY and hit me with her ugly-ass quilted mom bag that she probably traded in a diaper bag for.
We all look exactly how we feel on the inside here: overheated, tired, cranky.
Again, the line wasn’t very long but it was still an excessive wait, and then once we got to the station we saw why: THAT GIRL WAS THE SAME RIDE ATTENDANT ON CAROLINA CYCLONE THE NIGHT BEFORE. Ugh. Her name is Adora, by the way. Someone give her an intravenous Red Bull treatment, please.
LOL I love it when Henry has to stand in a line by himself, and also when it looks like his mustache got extensions.
Anyway, this was a fun, cute little mine ride! And it had a surprise tunnel! I LOVE WHEN RIDES HAVE TUNNELS THAT I DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT! Chooch does not share this love.
At Carowinds, half the park is in North Carolina, and half is in South Carolina. I think North Carolina got the better rides, ngl.
OK the sleeper hit of the park for me was Afterburn. I say sleeper hit, because I only even hear people jerk off over Fury and Intimidator (and now Copperhead Strike) so I honestly hadn’t heard much about anything else in the coaster line-up. Plus, this bitch is kind of hidden in a weird location – we had to walk through Camp Snoopy to get there (and btw, that was the only area that I thought was pleasant – everything else was like a blacktop hellscape).
Henry opted out of this one, but then seamlessly stepped into the CRINGEY DAD ROLE when he cut all the way through the Fast Lane just to give Chooch a cup of Power Ade, causing everyone in line to stare at us. To be honest, I wasn’t even really paying attention when this happened, but Chooch was like digging himself a grave right there on the spot, he was so mortified.
“NOW EVERYONE IS AWARE OF US,” he kept hoarsely whispering to me.
Anyway, ops were soooooo bad on this. First of all, some jackass in the same row as us waited until the last minute to be like, “EXCUSE ME DO YOU HAVE ANY GREY POUPON” and I mean obviously that’s code for, “hey pal I know you guys just locked the restraints but I JUST NOW REALIZED that I am wearing my glasses and could you be a dear and put them over there on the side for me” and of course the ride attendant was like, “hell no, we can’t touch your shit because if it breaks you’ll try to blame us” SO THEY UNLOCKED EVERYONE’S RESTRAINTS JUST SO FOUR EYES OVER HERE COULD PUT HIS OWN GLASSES IN THE BIN.
Then after everyone got settled for the second time, the ride attendant came BACK TO OUR ROW and said, “Can you guys take these seats up here instead” and so the two guys next to me took their restraints off AGAIN and got out of their seats and I was like WHAT IS HAPPENING ARE WE SUPPOSED TO MOVE TOO but no one was answering me and then two different guys came to our row and a different attendant was like HELLO PLEASE GIVE YOUR SEAT TO HIM to me and I was like WHAT WHY so Chooch and I had to move over to the now-vacated seats left by those other dumb guys.
Well, this was all a really long story just to say that I was apparently sitting in the oversized seat and some oversized dude needed it way more than me. But it was a lot of musical chairs and shuffling around. I was actually really scared for them to even send the train at this point but after sitting in the station for nearly 10 minutes, our train was finally cleared.
And it ended up being my favorite ride of the day after Fury, WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT. And it had surprise tunnels!!
I think that I really, really, really love B&M inverts.
I made Henry stand here because MILITARY AIR CRAFT, ETC.
“The caption should be ‘god bless America,'” Chooch said.
We also did Plants v. Zombies mostly because we wanted to sit an air-conditioned building because it was 95 degrees out there that day.
We were on the Zombie side and got creamed by the Plants because we had almost all children on our side and obviously they suck and should not be allowed to compete in such games.
Meanwhile, I was being POUTY ERIN which was actually my default personality on this trip because I wanted to ride Intimidator, Carowind’s hypercoaster, but Chooch kept saying THAT LINE IS SO FUCKING LONG ARE YOU KIDDING and I kept getting vetoed. But right before we left the park, I shouted, “I AM GOING TO CHECK OUT THAT LINE AGAIN” and it looked about the same but this time Henry had the audacity to cross Chooch by saying, “It actually doesn’t seem that long.” So, with Chooch being all huffy, we got in line and GUESS WHAT YOU GUYS IT ACTUALLY WASN’T THAT LONG.
It was maybe only around 30 minutes. And when all three of us are standing in line together, I don’t mind waiting. It’s when it’s just Chooch and me that I feel like I’m dying slowly in quicksand because most of the time he is too caught up in his stupid Dischord chat group to pay any attention to me and if I dare to speak to him while he’s texting, I get the Teenage Hiss of Fury in response.
It was around this moment in line when IN THE AIR TONIGHT started to play!! Phil Collins to the rescue!
You guys, I thought this was…..pretty good! Chooch and I had a Big Fight because he said that this is the one that people call InTRIMinator because of all of the trim brakes on the tracks but I was adamant that it was Intimidator 305 at King’s Dominion.
Um, anyway, I hate being wrong. Moving on…
Some random single rider rode with Henry and Chooch and I LOVE TO SEE IT. We get the biggest thrill out of seeing Henry riding uncomfortably with a stranger, ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY START TALKING TO HIM, which this guy did once we reached the break run and ended up having to sit there for a few minutes while the ride attendants HOSED OFF the train that was in the station because I think someone yakked on it maybe.
We decided to leave for real after this, because the lines for everything were only getting longer as the day went on and it was SO FUCKING HOT. We got most of the coasters checked off the list and Chooch didn’t seem too broken up about skipping the remaining 4 coasters (2 of which were kiddie/family coasters).
And that’ll do it for our time at Carowinds, a park that I would not lose any sleep over if told I could never go back.