Share thoughts, photos, and reviews from visits to Carowinds or any other amusement park
By kirkgun
Hi all, I am new here. This was our (me and my wife's) second trip to Carowinds ever. We went in the middle of summer 2 years ago, shortly after moving to Charlotte. So obviously it was our first Scarowinds experience. We bought season passes for next year (online, two days ago), and this was our "freebie" for 2014.

We got there just after 7:00 PM. The new toll booth station seemed to flow nicely, especially since we must have gotten there right in the thick of incoming traffic. We were hoping to get our season passes taken care of last night, so next year we would not have to deal any hassles and could make a mad dash right to the line for that new ride on our first arrival in 2015 (it seems like it'll be an okay ride :wink: ). My wife had a home-made hat that was part of her costume that she wore to work (and won the constume contest). She was only wearing the hat for warmth, and left the rest of the costume at home. After getting past the security with the wands, a security person told my wife that she either had to give up the hat, or take it back to the car. My wife was irritated (for just a bit), but I chalk that up to our mistake. I don't think it was anything to be upset with Carowinds about. So we headed back to the car, ditched the hat, and headed back into the park. Second time was the charm.

We headed straight to the season pass processing center, got our photos taken, got our 2015 cards, and were out very quickly. That was great.

We immediately jump into line on Intimidator. The line was pretty short (compared to the one visist 2 years ago, in the middle of summer). I'd guess it was 15-20 minutes until we were belted in. I wanted the back seat for our first ride in the dark. My wife didn't really understand why I would want the back seat... right up until we got pulled over the top of the lift hill. Then she understood. The ride was actually more fun than I remember it. It's a really solid ride, in all respects.

After that, I figured we'd try to get Nighthawk out of the way. We were in line for probably 20-30 minutes. And then the lightning started flashing in the distance. They kept loading trains, so we stayed in line and hoped. It all turned out to be wasted time. A few more flashes, and they shut it down. Of course the rain had started too. We took shelter in the Intimidator gift shop/exit. That stunk, but nothing Carowinds can do about the weather. We chatted with a couple of really wet folks who were trying to get to Wings for beer but didn't know where it was, and ended up in the Intimidator gift shop somehow. We thought having beer, while we waited, sounded like a good idea but I refused to go out into the fairly heavy rain to get to Wings. I'm old enough to know it's hard to have fun when you are cold and wet. So we stayed dry and warm in the gift shop.

The rain finally let up enough that we could get to Wings without getting too wet. And we still were going to have a wait until the rides opened up again. So we made a quick dash over to Wings. We split one order of fries and had one beer each. Which came to just under $25. I know, I know, Carowinds does need to make money. But still, you just cannot be happy spending $25 for 2 beers and french fries, it's just impossible. We saw the folks from the Intimidator and waved.

We left Wings and headed to Afterburn. I think our timing was absolutely perfect. We walked up to the station with no line, hopped on, and took right off. I think we must have been the second or third train after the lightning delay. Afterburn was my favorite ride on our first trip to Carowinds. And in the dark, it was even a little better I think. The tunnel and other dark section, were far more fun at night. Somehow the dark sections, seemed to sneek up on you and were more surprising. That sounds strange since everything is dark at night. But that's how it felt to me. We exited, and circled right back up with no line again and rode it a second time. As we exited, we thought let's just do it again. So we did. We took the little extra bit of time to go for the first row. We strapped our selves in, and the ride malfunctioned. The crew pulled out the tool to manually release the restraints.

We had to unstrap, and get back behind the gates in line. The crew couldn't seem to figure it out. They called for tech support. I could see the flashing lights on the control panel, reflected on the glass behind the operating panel. They were all flashing. A guy with a hat showed up. I had confidence in him, because he had a hat. He couldn't seem to figure it out. Then, a dude with glasses showed up. Now I'm thinking this guy will totally get it going again, he's got glasses. But again, he couldn't figure it out. The lights kept on flashing. Then, one at a time, three older guys with baseball hats show up. Now if three older guys with baseball hats can't get a ride running, nothing ever can. The first of these guys pulls out a keyring. I joked with the other couple that were also in the front row with us, that all they needed to do was restart it like a car. The guy tried a couple of keys, and then apparently found the one that fit. He sticks it in, and turns it. And sure enough, the flashing lights stop. The ride makes some noise. The floor drops. And they send the train out of the station and up the hill. They unloaded the folks off that had been hanging there the whole time. They cycled the trains a time or two more. And we climbed aboard, and enjoyed our ride.

This was probably all our fault, we just couldn't get lucky enough to get three rides on Afterburn in that quickly. So the amusement park gods punished us for thinking that we could.

Then we headed back to Nighthawk. The line was about as long as it was the first time we tried to ride (and the lightning started). I think it was about 45 minutes wait. I'm not too sure, since I wasn't really trying to measure how long the waits were. But, again it was far better than in the summer 2 years prior (at that time the line was maybe the longest wait I've ever had at an amusement park in my life). Nighthawk was quite a bit rougher than I remember it. I don't mind rides that are rough (especially wooden coasters) because the bumps just help to get your heart racing. But it was rough in way that did NOT make the ride more fun. I am not sure if it was that way two years ago, maybe it was, and I just don't remember it because I was just so glad to be finally not to be standing in that line anymore. Maybe some parts of the train are better than others, I just don't know. Anyway, its a really good ride with changing orientation (flying position and then getting flipped onto your back) and all they do with that. But the slow lines and roughness almost make it an overall bad experience. That makes me kind of sad, because it otherwise is an amazing ride.

Then we went to Cobra. We skipped that 2 years ago. Given the design and the long wait, it wasn't worth it for our first visit to Carowinds. But last night, the line was short enough that we boarded with the second train load. But still somehow it seemed to take forever. The group that boarded the train in front of us, sat there for probably 4-5 minutes before they departed. One woman had to get off. I don't know if she got scared, or what the deal was. But the one kid on the crew was not able to get the attention of the person running the ride. He was so irritated trying to get her attention to let the woman off. The person running the ride was yapping on the microphone the whole time. They finally got the woman off, and sent the train, after some more yapping by the operator. Then we boarded, and just by chance we got the front row again. Again we sat there for what seemed like forever. Like I said, I had no experience with this ride before. But it just seemed crazy how slow they were at sending the train out. It seems like possibly the simplest of restraint systems on that ride. Maybe there was more drama behind us caused by passengers (I couldn't really see behind). It was crazy slow. The person on the microphone chatting away, like there wasn't a couple dozen folks strapped down and waiting (and a growing line of folks waiting to go for a ride). Maybe the ride is always like this? Maybe it was just a ride operator that thought the people came to listen to her talk on the microphone (although I could not understand anything she said), and had no interest in riding the ride? I don't know. Anyway, the ride is obviously short and simple and fun enough. But is there some reason, that I am unaware of, to keep the train in the station for 5 minutes in between each run? It sure seems like a ride capable of fast unloading/reloading. It would need to be designed for quick reloading, since there is only one train. I understand the difficulties loading/unloading with Nighthawk, but I am baffled about Cobra.

So, time was running out. We headed back to Intimidator. The linee again was fairly short, and moved quickly. We got two more quick rides from the back seat. What a wonderful ride. It was then midnight and we were worn out (past our bedtime), and riding Intimidator was pretty chilly on your face, but still so much fun.

We never did any of the mazes. Which was disappointing, sort of, but not really. I love halloween scary stuff, and so does my wife. But we've got all 2015, with season passes, do the slower paced stuff. It was our one trip to Carowinds in two years, so we stuck with the coasters last night. But I really enjoyed all the Halloween decorations and themeing that they did. The staff that was in costume, managed to scare my wife many times, as we walked around. They even scared me really good one time too (I was walking with my head turned and didn't see him coming). I jumped right out my skin (good job to the dude that scared me!).

Anyway, I really like Carowinds. It's not going to win any awards for being "best amusement park" or anything. But still, it's a great little park, that's really easy for us to get to. It's got some good rides (and maybe that new one might be OK too). I really look forward to being able to enjoy it more, and without the pressure of trying to "get it all done in one day".

See ya in 2015

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