Wednesday, July 22, 2015


East Coast Driving Trip 2015 - Day 13

What a day! From a mom's perspective this was the best park so far. TONS of big roller coasters for dad... gigacoasters if you will. And a really really really nice kids area. Usually the "kids area" in theme parks is all little little kid rides, but Planet Snoopy at Carowinds is a wonderful mix of kids rides and smaller versions of the grown up roller coasters. Including a small wooden coaster and a small inverted coaster... seriously cool.

Add to that the fact that ours are tall enough and/or old enough to ride together without a parent and I had a fair amount of time to people watch :)
And what does a mom need while she people watches? COFFEE!!! and I didn't have any (ANY) coffee :( but I made do... Strawberry Mango Smoothie anyone?

Strawberry Mango delicious 
Ok, moving on. We hit a few rides in Planet Snoopy to get warmed up then took a counter clockwise approach to the park. The little lady and dad did the rapids ride and then the kids took a twirl on the scrambler. The boys hit the wild mouse and then we all took a ride on Carolina Gold Rusher... a hit for all. The kids had to go back later and ride it few more times.

Hubbys first flight of the day... flying coaster, NightHawk
Peanuts Pirates
Lucy's Crabbie Cabbie
Rip Roarin' Rapids
Flying Ace Aerial Chase (small inverted) 
reading map in the shade
boys on wild mouse
Carolina GoldRusher
Hi Mom!! 
Front view of the small wooden coaster, Woodstock Express
She offered to ride this with a younger girl who had no one to ride with :)
Mama's heart was full, watching her
About this point we were back in Planet Snoopy and we released Dad from family time so he could go raise his hands in the air and scream like a true coaster enthusiast.  And this is when the good people watching really started.  I have a few observations from being in a different part of the country....
The color palette is a little different here. At home grey and black are much more prominent... pastels and neons are well represented here. Lots of tan. and Flip flops abound... but then who doesn't love to rock flip flops in the summer?
I have noticed people playing it fast and loose with the assorted smoking policies, an nobody seems to mind (except for me).
Other thing I observed at Carowinds... no foreign languages. At both Hershey and Busch Gardens we were not the only tourists. We heard lots of French and German in both of those parks and Spanish too. But here only English... with varying degrees of a good ole southern accent.
People here are very friendly, several have started up conversation with me and seemed to assume I was local, despite my lack of an accent :)

Carowinds is the flattest of the parks we have been to.. ahh the blessing of no hills in the heat :) The landscape is completely different from Busch Gardens, with all its trees... Carowinds seems practically treeless comparatively. Yes, there are trees and somehow enough shade.

View from the parking lot... HUGE coasters.. but where do they keep the trees? 
panorama at entrance gates
Oh, and did I forget to mention that the park is sitting on the state line between the Carolinas (North and South). Kind of a cool thing. Our little lady got great joy from walking with one foot in each state.

Hubby snapped this pic as we left the park, I think the boy is watching Fury325 come down its first drop :) 

Editor's musings (ramblings) on roller coasters:

Having ridden 45 different coasters in the last twelve months, I think I can speak with a bit of experience on the subject. (45 is pretty impressive given the fact that there are basically no decent coasters within a 250 mile radius of where we live, but this year has been somewhat exceptional.) Most coasters try to have something that makes them unique. Examples of this include highly themed coasters like those found in Disney parks (Expedition Everest, Space Mountain, Rock-n-roller coaster, etc.); wooden coasters, inverted coasters, standing coasters, "flying" coasters, floorless coasters, mega/hyper/giga coasters and so on.  For the most part I consider many of these features to be gimmicks that don't actually contribute to the "fun" of the ride. Take flying coasters for example (Nighthawk at Carowinds, Manta at SeaWorld). These tend to be interesting from a novelty standpoint, but I generally don't find them to be all that much fun. (Side note on Nighthawk: I didn't realize it until I looked up the link to add it here, but I've ridden Nighthawk before even though this was my first time ever at Carowinds... it used to be called Stealth and was at Great America in Silicon Valley. I rode it in June, 2001) Similarly, standing coasters (e.g. Vortex) are really not all that fun once you get past the novelty. Here's where I'll lose some coaster enthusiasts: I also think that in general, inversions (e.g. loops, corkscrews, etc.) are also gimmicks that don't generally contribute to the fun of the ride. (Try closing your eyes on the standard loop and you will realize that the forces created by them aren't really all that interesting.) I'll make an exception for inverted coasters (e.g. Montu) since inversions generally add to the fun for them.
A "flying" coaster about to leave. It's a gimmick.
So all of this is really a long way to say that Fury 325 is (in my opinion) one of the best coasters ever created. It is extremely fast, amazingly smooth and is basically nothing but pure fun the whole time. (There are some who feel that super smooth coasters like this are lacking in "character", but "character" is just a euphemism for "likely to cause aches, pains and bruises the next day.") I was able to ride it 5 times today, but would have happily ridden it another 5-10 times.
About 2/3 of Fury 325 as seen from the Carolina Skytower
Editor's most fun coasters ridden in 2014-2015 (best first):
Fury 325 (Carowinds)
Cheetah Hunt (Busch Gardens Tampa)
ShiKra (Busch Gardens Tampa)
Apollo's Chariot (Busch Gardens Williamsburg)
Montu (Busch Gardens Tampa)
Intimidator (Carowinds)

Miles today: 15
Miles total: 1474
States Total: 9 (+South Carolina)
[Roller coasters total: 30 (+13 from Carowinds)]

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