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Carowinds Opening Weekend PTR

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It's been about eight years since I last wrote a PTR, but I had the opportunity to visit Carowinds last weekend and had such a great time, and I used to love writing these trip reports, so I decided to relive the experience and share it with others. I'll break it into a few posts and share my thoughts and opinions on all the rides and the park itself - enjoy!

Part 1

So a coworker and I made the impulse decision to join some other friends on a Carowinds trip for the opening weekend of Copperhead Strike, the park's new Mack Rides launched roller coaster. Whereas the others had planned this trip a month out, got their tickets and FastLane early, and booked an Airbnb near the park, the coworker and I decided to visit the park a day out. We quickly got FastLane, season passes, and a hotel, and prepared to drive out the next day.

Day 1 - Friday, 4/22

We left Friday, March 22 at 12:30pm and arrived to Carowinds about seven-and-a-half hours later for season passholder preview night. I last visited the park in 2012, so Fury 325 was a new (and welcomed!) sight after the long drive.

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Sorry to start the PTR with a Snapchat screenshot... guess I didn't take a normal photo. But wow, this ride makes quite the statement.

I quickly processed my pass (kudos to Carowinds for how efficient the process was) and headed in, straight to the new Copperhead Strike. As expected, the queue was long. Considering the typical Cedar Fair policy of not closing queue entrances until park closing (10pm tonight), we decided we should eat first and then we'd get in line.

We did Blue Ridge Country Kitchen for dinner, which is new for 2019. It's across from Copperhead Strike and seems comparable to Coney Bar B Que at Kings Island. I ordered beef with a side of mac and cheese, and all entrees come with a biscuit.

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So some thoughts on the food and service... the beef was a little more rare than I'd expect, but it tasted really good. They weighed-out each serving, which I appreciate since it should help ensure consistency between customers. The mac and cheese was very cheesy, but just okay. And the roll was a bit on the burnt side, but not bad. The restaurant also has a new Copperhead Strike spicy sauce, which was really good but wasn't offered or suggested by the crew - I only knew about it because someone else asked. The whole meal was served on a piece of paper loosely placed into a wire frame basket, which looked nice but wasn't really efficient. It made cutting the meat a challenge and made things a little messy.

With a season pass discount, the meal cost $14.70. There were some issues, but it was also the first day of operation - hiccups should be expected. Overall, I was pleased with the meal.

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Most of the theming in the restaurant consisted of tin signs, but there were a few custom posters that had some Cedar Fair Easter eggs. I especially like the one second-to-the-left, with everyone's favorite Miami River Lumber Co.

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After finishing dinner (around 8:45pm), we walked back to Copperhead Strike and prepared to queue... until we discovered they had closed the line early. I understand the reasoning (the line was allegedly 2+ hours at this time), but it was still disappointing to expect to ride and be turned away. Regardless, we'd be back the next day.

Instead of the new Copperhead Strike, we took a ride on the old Carolina Goldrusher. I love Arrow mine rides (and worked at Kings Island's one for years), but didn't remember anything noteworthy about this one from my 2012 visit. My new thoughts: The seats were incredibly small, the restraint lock/unlock procedure somewhat inefficient, but the ride experience... wow. I love how wonky old Arrow mine rides are, meandering for long stretches of straight track. But the second-half of this one was much more intense than expected, with a thrilling helix (with some fun headchoppers) and an elongated underground drop. Definitely a hidden gem. The crew was also very enthusiastic, which I think only adds to the experience.

We queued for the last ride of the night, the massive B&M giga coaster Fury 325, at 9:50pm. We only had to wait about 15 minutes before we were on. I've done a handful of B&M hyper roller coasters, but neither of the giga ones yet. I've heard a lot of praise for this ride, but was still blown away by how good it was. It had relentless speed, aggressive transitions, and an overall out-of-control feeling. The way it interacted with the park entrance was also great, especially the dive under the midway.

After our ride on Fury, the park was closed for the night. We only got two rides and dinner in, but we'd be returning the next day and were satisfied with the couple hours in the park. We headed to the hotel, checked-in, and prepared for the next day.

 

Day 2 - Saturday, 4/23

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Check out the view from the hotel... what a skyline. The park was set to open at 10am, so we left the hotel at 9:30am to drive over and park. Almost immediately after leaving the hotel's parking lot though, we joined a dense line of cars with the same plan... and waited. It turns out we were lucky we left the hotel when we did, as we were just barely able to make it into the turning lane for the park. We sat at a standstill for 20 minutes on the road, discovering that the parking tolls hadn't been opened yet. Traffic was beginning to worsen, and a police officer had to start directing cars to keep moving instead of queuing for the park to prevent an eventual backup on the highway. The tolls didn't open until 10 minutes before park opening, which I assume was just a first weekend hiccup.

Despite the parking challenges, we were out of the car and approaching the entrance shortly after 10am. It's impossible to miss the giant Fury 325 that completely dominates that area.

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I love the green and blue paint scheme, and this element itself was one of my favorites... the transition from a curve to the drop was super thrilling.

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I don't really rank the roller coasters I've ridden, but I suppose Fury 325 would be in the top ten or so if I did. This ride was easily one of the highlights of the trip.

Once in the park (only a small wait through security and then turnstiles), we first needed to redeem our FastLane Plus. The kiosk immediately inside the gates had a massive wait for redeeming FastLanes, but we figured we'd be able to pick it up from any merchandise stand that sold FastLane. So we headed toward Copperhead Strike, planning to stop at a gift shop on the way. This proved to be a smart idea, as we avoided the long line and got to the new roller coaster before most park guests.

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And here we are, Copperhead Strike. We queued up in the FastLane and were on the train, second row, less than five minutes later. The restraints were incredibly comfortable and the ride operators were very efficient and courteous. It felt like we spent no time loading whatsoever before we were out of the station and into the ride.

I'll spare a play-by-play of the full ride layout, but here's some thoughts on a few elements and the theming:

  • The jojo roll out of the station was very delusional and a great start to the ride.
  • The barn show scene was a fun touch, albeit I still don't know what the characters said or what the story is even after I a cumulative six or so rides
  • The hangtime in the loops and the cutback was a lot of fun
  • I absolutely love how this ride interacts with the queue under and around it. There are so many great perspectives of the track while waiting for the ride, which I think really adds to the full experience.
  • The ride itself also looks fantastic. The color scheme is great, the track looks so perfect, and watching the trains navigate all the twists every minute or so is incredibly entertaining.
  • The entrance marquee was very cool. I like how realistic it looked, whereas the ride's logo is on the cartoony side. I was surprised to see so many park guests climbing on the structure though and treating it as a playground.
  • The entrance plaza was a little weird... it's a long meandering path into the heart of the ride before you get to the FastLane and stand-by split with the test seat and an associate. It seems like this should have gone at the front, immediately next to the entrance marquee.
  • I never saw the stand-by queue's themeing, but the few details visible from the big entrance path and the FastLane were fun. Nothing was outstanding, but it all definitely added to the ride's overall feel. I've noticed that Kings Island has been slowly incorporating similar details into Mystic Timbers' station, which I think is great.

And some pictures of the ride, station, and queue.

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So overall, Copperhead Strike is absolutely fantastic. I've heard it compared to Maverick a lot, so to join in that comparison... it's less intense than its Sandusky counterpart, but in my opinion a lot more fun. It's not as intense or aggressive, but it's just a back-to-back collection of incredibly fun and wonky elements. Definitely my new favorite ride at the park.

After two morning rides on Copperhead Strike, we returned to the front of the park for some breakfast and coffee and to meet up with the other members of our group.

Part 2 coming up. Feel free to share any thoughts or comments!

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Nice to see one of your excellent trip reports after all these years! Thanks for taking the time to do it. 

It looks like the park was easily within walking distance...or is that an illusion?  (Until the owner recently sold it, my family and I would rent a small house about a block from The Great Wolf Lodge. Some of us would just walk back from the park after Halloween Haunt...is it farther than that?)

I couldn't have eaten that meat...definitely to rare for me. (I like how we as a society use the term rare instead of raw... because asking for something like medium-raw would sound to gross! ;) )

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11 hours ago, Honorarius said:

Thanks for the review, looking forward to the second part!!!

Making my first trip in June, and now I'm looking forward to it even more!!!

Thanks for the comment! Carowinds is a great park, I'm sure you'll have a great time!

10 hours ago, standbyme said:

Nice to see one of your excellent trip reports after all these years! Thanks for taking the time to do it. 

It looks like the park was easily within walking distance...or is that an illusion?  (Until the owner recently sold it, my family and I would rent a small house about a block from The Great Wolf Lodge. Some of us would just walk back from the park after Halloween Haunt...is it farther than that?)

I couldn't have eaten that meat...definitely to rare for me. (I like how we as a society use the term rare instead of raw... because asking for something like medium-raw would sound to gross! ;) )

Thanks for the comment! Per Google Maps, the most ideal-looking route from hotel entrance to park entrance is almost exactly a mile. But that route doesn't include crosswalks, so it wouldn't be the safest. And I'm lucky I like my meat a bit more rare, although I assume servings will be more well-done after the first few weekends wrap-up and employees become more experienced.

Part 2

After our two rides on Copperhead Strike, we started walking toward the Starbucks at the entrance to the park for some coffee and breakfast.

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En route to the front of the park, we passed through a few different areas. I was surprised how much asphalt there was - Kings Island has done a tremendous job replacing almost all of its asphalt with pavers or concrete. I think the last remaining asphalt is around the Eiffel Tower, although I wonder if that'll be gone with this year's renovation of International Street.

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Starbucks was comparable in size to Kings Island's and immediately in the park's entry area. It wasn't too crowded, possibly because most guests had prioritized Copperhead Strike over cappuccinos. We only had to wait maybe ten minutes before we had our food and coffee and were sitting outside, watching the crowds pass by. We also reached-out to the remainder of our group during this time - whereas two of us had driven up the night before, the remaining few opted to leave crazy early Saturday morning, drive through the night, and make it to the park by opening. These few were a little late on the "park opening" goal, but we met up with them at the park entrance around this time. 

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While waiting in the entrance plaza, I noticed this big truss structure. I assume it was from Winterfest, but seemed mostly unused now that the 2019 season had started. I like the column design at the bases, and the discrete green color, but it was a little odd to see the whole thing standing there seemingly without purpose, especially at the park entrance.

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Once we met-up with the rest of the group, we headed to the next ride - Intimidator. Comparable to Kings Island's Diamondback, this B&M hyper coaster opened in 2010 and borders the parking lot. When I last rode this in 2012 I loved the ride, ranking it above Diamondback and Canada's Wonderland's Behemoth. Maybe it was because I had just ridden the arguably superior Fury 325, maybe it was because I've ridden a lot more coasters since 2012 to compare Intimidator to, but I wasn't too thrilled by the ride this time around. It was still fun, but not as phenomenal as I had remembered.

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After back-to-back rides on the hyper coaster, we headed back to Copperhead Strike as the rest of the group hadn't ridden it yet.

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We queued around 12:30pm and instantly saw that crowds had picked-up. Whereas we waited 5 minutes in the FastLane before, the line stopping at the steps into the station, it now stretched down and around the queue and toward the test seat. We only expected a 15-20 minute wait, but almost immediately after getting in line the ride appeared to undergo some technical difficulties and cease operation. We still waited 15 or so minutes, hoping it'd go back up, before bailing and deciding to return later.

Instead of Copperhead Strike, we headed toward Fury 325 and passed Hurler on the way.

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Hurler, manufactured by the long-defunct (and almost mysterious) International Coasters, Inc. in 1994, was unfortunately closed during our visit. The park appears to be wrapping-up some off-season trackwork on the ride, so it's great to see them caring for and preserving their only major wooden roller coaster.

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I really dig Fury 325's sign.

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Fury 325 has an exit gift shop, similar to Diamondback or (previously) Banshee. As I'll discuss later though, I was a little underwhelmed by Carowinds' merchandise selection though.

After a great ride on Carowinds' biggest ride, we opted to hit-up a few of the park's smaller attractions, starting with Carolina Cyclone.

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Carolina Cyclone is a miniature Vortex. It opened seven years earlier and is a fraction of the size. It has two vertical loops, two corkscrews, and a helix. Maybe I just sat in a bad seat (car 2, row 1), but the ride was a little painful.

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The ride interacts with the pathway though, which is a cool feature.

Part 3 coming up. Any comments or questions appreciated.

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I have not made it to Carowinds... yet. One of the things I love about Kings Island is how most of their coasters are isolated/buried out of sight. Looking at Fury 325, it's a nice looking coaster...looks very Scooby-Doo-ish to me...but it's a shame it ends up right by the parking lot. Is Carowinds "land locked"?

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3 hours ago, standbyme said:

I have not made it to Carowinds... yet. One of the things I love about Kings Island is how most of their coasters are isolated/buried out of sight. Looking at Fury 325, it's a nice looking coaster...looks very Scooby-Doo-ish to me...but it's a shame it ends up right by the parking lot. Is Carowinds "land locked"?

Yeah, it's kind of landlocked. The area around it(Fort Mill) has a lot of company warehouses on all sides of the park. It's definitely doesn't have as much land as KI. Copperhead Strike isn't near the parking lot.

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Copperhead Strike is near the parking lot but not next to it. There is maintenance areas surrounding parts of the ride and the parking lot butts up against those. 

I haven’t been to Carowinds this season to see for my self but from POV videos it looks like the Waterpark bathrooms are close to the second launch. 

I couldn’t afford to renew my Carowinds season pass this season because I need a new vehicle, kinda sucks I actually have a good vehicle and can afford to go no where.

I am hoping to get a visit to Carowinds at the end of summer.

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22 hours ago, TombraiderTy said:

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En route to the front of the park, we passed through a few different areas. I was surprised how much asphalt there was - Kings Island has done a tremendous job replacing almost all of its asphalt with pavers or concrete. I think the last remaining asphalt is around the Eiffel Tower, although I wonder if that'll be gone with this year's renovation of International Street.

qOgAeWj.jpg

While waiting in the entrance plaza, I noticed this big truss structure. I assume it was from Winterfest, but seemed mostly unused now that the 2019 season had started. I like the column design at the bases, and the discrete green color, but it was a little odd to see the whole thing standing there seemingly without purpose, especially at the park entrance.

 

 

Part 3 coming up. Any comments or questions appreciated.

Loving the PTR so far! 
The first picture I quoted, heading toward the front of the park...always seems like the longest route to anything for me...I think it's because it's asphalt and there really sin't anything note worthy on that stretch. 

The truss structure is used during the summer for the show on the stage in that area...it's kinda weird I agree. 

Looking forward to Part 3

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On 3/31/2019 at 9:07 AM, Honorarius said:

Hmm... Bit bummed about what you said about the merch selection... How bad is it??? Are we talking La Ronde bad??? Or merely Wonderland bad???

I haven't been to La Ronde, and I last visited Canada's Wonderland in 2009, so I can't really compare it to either. And to be fair, my biggest issue was the lack of a specific item - shotglasses. I collect them and across all the park gift shops I visited, I only found one (abnormally sized) shotglass. There also didn't seem to be that many Copperhead Strike items, despite being the new ride. The merch for it was consolidated to a single table display in the park's main gift shop.

On 3/31/2019 at 1:10 PM, standbyme said:

I have not made it to Carowinds... yet. One of the things I love about Kings Island is how most of their coasters are isolated/buried out of sight. Looking at Fury 325, it's a nice looking coaster...looks very Scooby-Doo-ish to me...but it's a shame it ends up right by the parking lot. Is Carowinds "land locked"?

I don't think Fury 325's placement (alongside the parking lot) detracted from the overall ride experience, but maybe I would've liked the ride even more if it roared across the park... although I'd probably then have issues with it detracting from those themed sections :P

On 3/31/2019 at 4:05 PM, kiisgreat said:

Yeah, it's kind of landlocked. The area around it(Fort Mill) has a lot of company warehouses on all sides of the park. It's definitely doesn't have as much land as KI. Copperhead Strike isn't near the parking lot.

[Chart]

Thanks for sharing that infographic! Very interesting to see how all the Cedar Fair parks compare in their land availability and usage.

23 hours ago, RollerNut said:

Copperhead Strike is near the parking lot but not next to it. There is maintenance areas surrounding parts of the ride and the parking lot butts up against those. 

I haven’t been to Carowinds this season to see for my self but from POV videos it looks like the Waterpark bathrooms are close to the second launch. 

I couldn’t afford to renew my Carowinds season pass this season because I need a new vehicle, kinda sucks I actually have a good vehicle and can afford to go no where.

I am hoping to get a visit to Carowinds at the end of summer.

Hope you get the chance to go! It's a great park.

22 hours ago, Creed Bratton said:

Loving the PTR so far! 
The first picture I quoted, heading toward the front of the park...always seems like the longest route to anything for me...I think it's because it's asphalt and there really sin't anything note worthy on that stretch. 

The truss structure is used during the summer for the show on the stage in that area...it's kinda weird I agree. 

Looking forward to Part 3

Thank you! And agreed - once you past the route to Fury, there isn't much else on that path. Even less now that the park has unexpectedly shuttered their rapids ride. Good to know the structure has a use during the summer though and isn't just sitting there the majority of the year without purpose.

12 hours ago, kiisgreat said:

I would say that Carowinds has the better food, but KI has the better landscaping.

I don't think I've had enough experience with Kings Island's food in recent years to compare it, but I think I'd personally give Carowinds a slight edge on landscaping. I especially like the waterways around the front of the park.

Part 3

So after a somewhat painful ride on Carolina Cyclone, we walked back to Copperhead Strike (again). On the way we passed the park's county fair area, one of my favorite themed sections in a Cedar Fair park. I really wish I took more photos of this area... it was based off a 1958 county fair and had a lot of fun details, like photo-ops, stringed lights over the pathways, and a diverse collection of nice-looking carnival rides.

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For an example of the 1950s county fair theming, the restrooms had record-shaped signage.

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I should've gotten a better shot from the front, but the park's music express is one of the only music expresses I've ever liked the look of... I usually find them a bit on the tacky side, but this one was like a big jukebox and looked super classy.

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The topscan, Electro Spin, also looked great. It had some banners in the back about spaceflight to wrap-up the theming. Unfortunately the ride was closed all three days we were at the park.

And finally, we were back in line for Copperhead Strike again. There were no operational delays this time around, and we were on in about 15 minutes.

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A fun detail is that you can see the launch scene from the exit platform. The window is mostly obscured with newspapers, otherwise the exit would probably crowd-up too much.

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I absolutely love the look of Copperhead Strike's station and launch building... it looks fantastic and really helps push Carowinds into the theme park realm.

We rode Copperhead Strike a couple times, waiting 15-20 minutes in the FastLane each round. It was now a bit after 3pm and we hadn't eaten since Starbucks, so the group decided on lunch at Blue Ridge Country Kitchen.

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I ordered the same meal as yesterday, only swapping the mac and cheese for potatoes. I even had the same cashier as the previous night, but was oddly charged $1.47 less than before... I don't know which price was correct, but I'll knock it up to first weekend challenges. Another first weekend issue was the consistency between the meals... this meat was much more done than yesterday's, and both the potatoes and meat were cold. This was an issue across our group - no one's food was hot, no matter what they got. If this was my first exposure to the restaurant, and not the previous night's, I wouldn't recommend it or return a second time.

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After lunch I decided to try the Copperhead Strike Indian Pale Ale. I really like how the Cedar Fair parks have been partnering with local breweries to offer attraction-based beers. This one was pretty good - nothing phenomenal, but I'd definitely get it again.

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This is something I found odd though... alcohol consumption at Carowinds was restricted to the immediate areas around the bars they were sold at. Kings Island had the same policy years ago, but now you can walk around the park with a beer in hand. I wish it was the same rule at Carowinds.

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Next up, Vortex, one of last four B&M stand-up roller coasters in the country (and also one of the first). I didn't have any strong memories of it from 2012, but this time around... meh. The stand-up trains didn't add anything to the experience outside longer load times, and the layout is so short and simplistic it pails in comparison to some of the newer coasters at the same park. It wasn't bad, but also nothing great. I do wonder if it'll be swapped-out for floorless trains in the foreseeable future - the former Vortex at California's Great America has a similar layout and was swapped from stand-up to floorless trains a few years ago.

After a ride on Vortex, we took a lap on Intimidator again. 

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Just to compare Intimidator's station (2010) to the one of Copperhead Strike above... I love the leaps and bounds Cedar Fair has been making in theming and details.

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Intimidator's gift shop had this table filled with Thunder Road, the defunct racing wooden roller coaster, merchandise. I wonder if this is all remnants from before its closure, or an attempt to offer nostalgic merchandise to guests.

We still had one B&M roller coaster to hit-up at the park - Afterburn, the inverted roller coaster that opened in 1999. I adored this ride back in 2012 and was really looking forward to riding it again.

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I think I enjoyed it a bit more in 2012 than I did this time around, but I think part of that was having had the opportunity to ride Busch Gardens Tampa's Montu so many times since, and I think the Florida coaster is a bit superior. But Afterburn is still a fantastic ride.

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I love how this ride interacts with its surroundings, diving under and over pathways. The few remaining pieces of Top Gun theming are also cool.

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I also liked this shot from Afterburn's station, showcasing Imtimidator and Dinosaurs Alive!. Is Carowinds the only Cedar Fair park still with it?

I'll try and post Part 4 some time this week. Feel free to share any comments or questions (and big thanks to everyone who has thus far)!

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17 minutes ago, TombraiderTy said:

And to be fair, my biggest issue was the lack of a specific item - shotglasses.

I collect too!!! Bit of a bummer that Carowinds is a disappointment in this regards... I mean, I'm always down for a t-shirt, and my fiancé collects keychains, but I have trouble resisting a nice looking shot glass (or tooth-pick holders as Disney World labels them)…

I've been looking for a nice display case, any recommendations? Looking for something segmented, and no glass in front...

Sorry for the off-topic, but not every day I find someone into shot glasses...

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2 hours ago, TombraiderTy said:

I haven't been to La Ronde, and I last visited Canada's Wonderland in 2009, so I can't really compare it to either. And to be fair, my biggest issue was the lack of a specific item - shotglasses. I collect them and across all the park gift shops I visited, I only found one (abnormally sized) shotglass. There also didn't seem to be that many Copperhead Strike items, despite being the new ride. The merch for it was consolidated to a single table display in the park's main gift shop.

 

The topscan, Electro Spin, also looked great. It had some banners in the back about spaceflight to wrap-up the theming. Unfortunately the ride was closed all three days we were at the park.

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After lunch I decided to try the Copperhead Strike Indian Pale Ale. I really like how the Cedar Fair parks have been partnering with local breweries to offer attraction-based beers. This one was pretty good - nothing phenomenal, but I'd definitely get it again.

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This is something I found odd though... alcohol consumption at Carowinds was restricted to the immediate areas around the bars they were sold at. Kings Island had the same policy years ago, but now you can walk around the park with a beer in hand. I wish it was the same rule at Carowinds.

I too hoped to find shot glasses, specifically a CopperHead Strike shot glass, but didn't find one anywhere. 

I was disappointed with Electro Spin not being open...not sure if you've ridden, but it's one of my favorite flats.

I would assume with the alcohol policy that it's mostly due to liquor laws between states. I couldn't tell you if one of the states favors the alcohol or not. Just a guess.

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Top Scan's are among my favorite flats as well... Anyone who hasn't ridden one, do so if you get the chance...

And super bummed about the merch... Per capita spending is tracked by the park, hard to raise that number to the level of other parks if there's little/nothing to buy...

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On 4/1/2019 at 9:12 PM, Honorarius said:

I collect too!!! Bit of a bummer that Carowinds is a disappointment in this regards... I mean, I'm always down for a t-shirt, and my fiancé collects keychains, but I have trouble resisting a nice looking shot glass (or tooth-pick holders as Disney World labels them)…

I've been looking for a nice display case, any recommendations? Looking for something segmented, and no glass in front...

I've collected them for maybe 5 years now. I display most on a trio of custom-built shelves I bought with a haul of Kings Island shotglasses on eBay a few years ago. Here (link) is a shot of them. I love how they look, but they only hold 87 glasses total. My collection has surpassed that size, so all the extras are now just lined-up above my kitchen cabinets.

On 4/1/2019 at 11:04 PM, Creed Bratton said:

I too hoped to find shot glasses, specifically a CopperHead Strike shot glass, but didn't find one anywhere. 

I was disappointed with Electro Spin not being open...not sure if you've ridden, but it's one of my favorite flats.

I would assume with the alcohol policy that it's mostly due to liquor laws between states. I couldn't tell you if one of the states favors the alcohol or not. Just a guess.

Maybe they'll introduce some Copperhead Strike shotglasses later in the season - I'd still love to add one to my collection. And I didn't consider liquor laws between states, but I could definitely see that as a reason for the strict alcohol policies.

On 4/2/2019 at 8:23 AM, Honorarius said:

Top Scan's are among my favorite flats as well... Anyone who hasn't ridden one, do so if you get the chance...

And super bummed about the merch... Per capita spending is tracked by the park, hard to raise that number to the level of other parks if there's little/nothing to buy...

 I haven't done Electro Spin itself, but I rode a topscan at the Ohio State Fair in 2016. It was easily one of the most disorienting rides I've ever ridden, so to be honest I'm not sure I would've ridden Electro Spin even if it was open.

On 4/2/2019 at 8:06 PM, fromkingstocedar said:

Thanks for the review! My friends and I are heading out to Carowinds in about a week and a half. Looks like it'll be a fantastic park! 

Hope you have fun! It's a great park!

Part 4

After a couple rides on Afterburn, our group split. A couple went to Copperhead Strike again, while the rest of us went to try a Carowinds-original: Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare: 3Z Arena.

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This renovation of the former Action Theater was introduced in 2016 and I've been interested in it since. If memory serves me right, Kings Island's own Action Theater hasn't been used for a film since 2013 and is now strictly storage and Halloween Haunt's Urgent Scare. When Carowinds' new interactive ride was announced, I was hopeful a similar attraction could be added to Kings Island's theater.

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The queue area featured some fun props, although I assume the windows are screens and normally have some media on them.

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There was also a small preshow, featuring Dr. Zomboss. It did a good job explaining the story to anyone unfamiliar with Plants vs. Zombies (self included).

No pictures from the attraction itself, but a quick web search can show you the set-up. It's sort of a hybrid of Disney's Toy Story Mania and the former Action Theater simulators, with moving seats synchronized to on-screen motion. I was super excited to give this ride a try, but honestly a little underwhelmed... you have 20+ participants all shooting at the same screen, so it marks your hits with a colored number. I assume the number corresponds to your seat, but I must've not noticed the number before the attraction began and it was too dark to see it once the experience began. The gameplay itself was also a little repetitive - several people in our group got tired of it and just stopped playing before the end of the attraction. I really wanted to like this attraction, so it was a bummer it wasn't as great as I hoped for.

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In typical theme park fashion, the attraction ended with a gift shop... and these unique Fury 325 hats. But no shotglasses ;)

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From the exit of Plants vs. Zombies, there's a great shot of Copperhead Strike's twisted profile.

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Next we did Carowinds' other interactive ride, Boo Blasters on Boo Hill. The attraction is similar to Kings Island's version, albeit the omnimover-style ride system is replaced with individual cars. The sets had a lot of the same characters and props, only on a much smaller scale. Everything seemed a lot more consolidated. A lot of the effects also didn't appear to be working when compare to their Kings Island counterparts. But one thing I really liked about Carowinds' version of the ride was the laser guns - you can see a red dot wherever you were shooting, which made it a lot easier to recognize if you were successfully shooting a target or not. Overall I prefer Kings Island's though, and I really appreciate that we have such a high-capacity ride system for our ride. As far as I can tell, Kings Island is the only park in the country outside of Disney with a omnimover-style system.

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The next coaster, Nighthawk. This ride is similar to Kings Island's former Firehawk, with a few small changes - it ends with a pair of corkscrews instead of inline twists, doesn't have the final helix, and lacks a dual load station. But its setting near the park entrance is fantastic - the ride soars above water and pathways, and one of the main park midways passes directly under the ride's lift hill (which, side note, was eerily quiet when compared to Firehawk's). The ride itself isn't as good as Firehawk was though, especially the corkscrews or slower operations thanks to only one load station.

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We started to wrap-up the night with a final few rides. First, Mountain Gliders, a set of Bisch-Rocco flying scooters that previously operated at Kings Island. I enjoy that the park brought-back flying scooters with Woodstock Gliders in 2015, but I selfishly want "our" original set back :P But I'm happy to see this antique ride still running.

My phone died around this point, so no more photos from Saturday. But to quickly summarize the remainder of the night - we did two successive nighttime rides on Copperhead Strike. The ride is even better after the sun sets, and the headlights on the trains are crazy cool. I love how they illuminate the track as you speed around it, and I would have loved if Mystic Timbers had something similar. Then we wrapped-up the night on Fury 325, which was great. I got myself a Fury 325 shotglass too, adding to my collection.

Overall, fantastic day at the park. A few of us returned for half the following day, which I'll cover in the next (and probably last) part.

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