Share thoughts, photos, and reviews from visits to Carowinds or any other amusement park
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By gabed
#88153
Day 1 Part 1

Starting in Spring of last year, Sean (sean978) and I, along with my family, began planning a three-park trip all throughout Pennsylvania. As time went on, it slowly turned into a weeklong, 5 park trip that was sure to be the best vacation of our lives. After a year and a half of planning, the final schedule became:

Sunday - Kings Dominion
Monday - Hershey Park
Tuesday - Knoebels
Wednesday - Dorney Park
Thursday - Hershey Park (Day 2)
Friday - Six Flags Great Adventure

After over a year of waiting, the date finally arrived! After waking up at 5:45 this morning, we hit the road for Kings Dominion.



I will admit that this was more or less a last minute decision to help divide up the long drive to Hershey. Still, it was a much welcomed addition as Sean and I both had an amazing time at the park last year. While there may or may not have been an issue involving Sean's pass not working which lasted for 20 minutes, we finally got into the park!

Just like the last time we came, the first ride of the day was...



And just like the last time, we rode it in the front! Also like first time we visited, everything in the park was walk-on as the entire park was dead. The longest wait we had for anything was the queue for front row on Volcano which was no longer than ten minutes.

Onto Dominator, the ride is still a lot of fun but I've got to say, it was a little better last year. It's still an awesome ride that fills a huge gap in the park's lineup, there was something that just wasn't the same. Even in the back it felt like your standard B&M looping monster.

Next was a ride that felt even better than last year's visit...



Volcano was one of our favorites from last year and that certainly hasn't changed. It's an awesome coaster that is fantastic in the front. Not to mention how great the theming for this ride is. Really shows how great Paramount was at theming when they weren't busy raping parks of their history.

Ride number three of the day, like Volcano, was just as amazing as it was before.



I feel like at this point there's nothing to be said about this masterpiece that hasn't already been said. It's just amazing. From nearly passing out on that first curve (which Sean did) to being thrown out of the train, its just amazing. The raw speed on this combined with it's low-to-the-ground maneuvers make it the beauty it is. While it may not be as complete as our beloved Fury, its still a great coaster that deserves your respect.

After riding enough times to drain all the blood from our heads we headed onwards. Thanks to the weather being much better than we expected and with the park being dead, we ended up with a lot more time than we thought we would. This opened up many (wonderful?) opportunities like getting to ride Backlot again.



Fun little coaster. In a way I'm glad Paramount didn't "gift" us with one. Although it is a great coaster for young kids too scared of the big kid rides. Not going to lie though, the fire effects were not well appreciated in the Virginian heat.

After a short water break we made our way to the park's new addition...

To be continued.
Last edited by gabed on June 9th, 2016, 7:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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By gabed
#88154
Day 1 Part 2

Delirium is a ride I was pretty curious about. Right off the bat I knew it would be better than the atrocity it replaced. But would it be better than it's Huss cousin? Only riding it would give us the answer.



While it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing ride on Earth, it's an awesome flat. After only two rides my opinion was cemented that the Mondial frisbees are far better. Where Huss frisbees feel as though your drifting from side to side, slowly gaining momentum, Delirium wasted no time getting things started. I was surprised at how forceful the start of the ride is. Definitely wouldn't mind seeing one of these in Carowinds one day (hint hint Cedar Fair). I guess you could say it's pretty... delirious!



Get it because, you know... yeah.

Lunch consisted of a surprisingly good slice of pepperoni pizza which was covered by my dearly loved meal plan. After which we strolled around the oddly named Candy Apple Grove. Some pictures:


Coming to a Carowinds park near you in 2017!



Next up was something I don't think I would have ever expected. Ever. The ride in question: Grizzly. Last year I rode this once and deemed it one of the worst coasters in all the land. But after a good deal of praise this coaster received in the months after our first visit, Sean and I decided to risk our skulls and try it again. All in all, its not too bad. We tried the back row this time and while it was significantly better, I still wouldn't say that it's amazing. In the end, it was still an improvement over the last time so that's definitely a good thing!

To be continued...
Last edited by gabed on June 9th, 2016, 7:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By gabed
#88155
Day 1 Part 3

After getting all the rides we wanted in and settling a year-spanning feud over Boo Blasters, we gave good ole Avalanche another try.



A little rougher than last year but still a fun little coaster, I guess you could say its the Goldrush of this park. Plus nothing says African Safari like an avalanche.

We finished our amazing first day with some front row rides on Volcano and five consecutive rides on the beauty that is Intimidator 305.



Pro tip: Never ride Intimidator 305 in the rain, ever. I assure you it is a decision you will regret. No matter how well prepared you think you are, I can assure you that your are not prepared for the reckoning that is I-305 in the rain.

We left the park around 5:45 for a dinner at Ruby Tuesday where I'm pretty sure we met Ben Higgins in disguise as our waiter. As if the night could not get any better, Sean and I were surprised to see that we would be spending the night in one of Kings Dominion's glorious cabins.



If you've never stayed in one of these before, I promise it is better than any hotel room in existence. Even better than Mandalay Bay.

That's all for today, tomorrow we are off for Hershey where I will hit my 100th coaster! Thank you for reading!
Last edited by gabed on June 9th, 2016, 7:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By gabed
#88178
Day 2 Part 1

After a comfortable nights stay at our glorious Camp Wilderness Cabin, we hit the road at 6:45 for Hershey! Breakfast consisted of a wonderful meal at the almighty Cracker Barrel. At this point its pretty much become a tradition to visit Cracker Barrel since we visit on every trip we go on.

Anywho, once the food was eaten it was all interstate to a park that had been on my bucket list for seven years. Also the park that was originally the star attraction of the trip when we began planning it. Through the horrible Washington DC traffic to the beautiful Maryland countryside, we finally got to the park.



Almost immediately I realized that this park was nothing like I expected, but in the best way possible. First things first, this park is simply massive. The sheer size of the park truly blew me away. I didn't know where to start and neither did Sean. After minutes of being stuck in awe and gathering our senses, we headed to the park's launch coaster, Storm Runner.



My first Intamin Accelerator since Dragster in 2013 and Sean's first Accelerator ever, we were both very excited.



As you can clearly see, the park was a good bit more crowded than Kings Dominion the day before. Despite this, operations were running incredibly fast. Not just on Storm Runner, but every ride in the park. I'd even go as far as to call it Fury Fast. When you consider Storm Runner is an Intamin, that is a true accomplishment.

To celebrate our first ride of the park, we waited for the front row! Another thing I love about Hershey Park, not only do they allow preferred seating, they encourage it. All rides you are given the freedom to choose whichever row you please and several coasters have a separate queue specifically for the front row.

And allow me to just say, front row on Storm Runner was absolutely fantastic! By far one of the best coasters I've ever ridden, just fantastic. That launch is one of the most intense things I have ever experienced. All throughout the ride there is airtime in places you would never expect. It's an all around phenomenal ride.

Next up was one of our credit-whoring moments of the day...





Sidewinder, the park's boomerang. (Oh joy boomerangs my favorite, yay!) One good thing I was not aware of is that the ride has the same restraint system of our ignored Carolina Cobra. To be completely honest, the ride was nowhere near as mind bogglingly horrible as I had expected. I mean it's no top 10 ride, or even top 50 ride for that matter, but its not bad for what it is.

Coaster number three was the park's mine train; Trailblazer.



To be completely honest I really don't remember a lot about this one. It was pretty fun but still a standard mine train coaster. With Trailblazer ridden, Sean and I made the walk to The Hollow...
User avatar
By gabed
#88179
Day 2 Part 2

Another interesting thing about Hershey, despite its massiveness, the coasters (especially in The Hollow) feel very intertwined with one another, which is not necessarily a bad thing. With my 100th credit creeping up and with my desire to make it SkyRush, we hit up Sooper dooper Looper first.



To compare it to other coasters I've ridden in the past, this seemed to be the Mindbender of the park. From looks alone, it looks quite unimpressive, even painful really. But after a ride on the coaster, I can confirm that it really is Sooper Dooper. The loop was incredibly forceful and the rest of the ride was a lot of fun.

Next up the park's inverted coaster; Great Bear.


rawr.

First though, does anyone really know what the deal is with the ride's supports because I honestly have no clue.



Weirdly shaped supports aside, the ride was pretty... alright. The helix following the drop was pretty unique, but nothing really stood out after that. Just your average B&M invert. Though I must add how smooth this coaster was, not even a slight rattle.

And my 99th credit wood (pun intended) be Hershey Park's oldest coaster...



This, just like Looper Dooper Sooper, was a big surprise. Despite a slight rattle, Comet offered a great ride with a surprising amount of airtime. But truth be told, its pretty clear what we were really looking forward to...



I first became a coaster enthusiast when I was 8 in 2009 right as Intimidator was first announced. Ever since then, the idea of reaching 100 different coasters seemed too good to become a reality. Sure enough, seven years later, here I was about to board SkyRush, my 100th coaster!

Taking advantage of Hershey Park's carelessness towards preferred seating, we hopped right in the line for front row and braced ourselves. The ride was just as good as everyone had said, but the restraints were also as painful as everyone had said. Sean ended up with the wing seat and said it was bad, very bad. As for me, I found the ride to be very enjoyable, but a little short.

As it was now 3:00, we decided it would be a good time to take a late lunch break. And what better way to try out the local cuisine than Moes?



Don't make fun, burritos are good.
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By gabed
#88180
Day 2 Part 3

After a much needed burrito, it was time to finish off the rest of the credits, but not before another ride on the wonderful Storm Runner.



Neeeeext up, the highly anticipated Intamin looping coaster; Fahrenheit.





Holy WOW! This coaster is amazing, especially in the back. From the weird sort of inverting loop to the awesome airtime hill at the end, this coaster is an all around amazing experience. We made sure to catch a few more rides before we left.

While intending on hitting up Laff Trakk, we got a little distracted and went to the Wild Mouse first. Not much to say, it's Ricochet with a ridiculous amount of supports. Once that was over, we made our way to Wildcat which I was a bit hesitant about.



This ride, from what I had seen, had gotten horrible reviews in the past. My take: Definitely rough but not as bad as everyone had made it out to be. Perhaps RMC could work some magic here, hmmmmm...

After our brief distractions, we finally got to Laff Trakk.



I've gotta say, this was one of those rides I wasn't exactly looking forward to, just very, very curious about. To start things off, Laff Trakk has one of the most interesting queues I've ever seen. The indoor section with the fun house mirrors (as long as you don't mind making a complete fool out of yourself) is a ton of fun! What's even more fun is watching people who are too cool for the mirrors try to pretend they don't really care but casually glance over.

The coaster itself was so much fun! Probably one of the best family rides I've ever ridden. I'd try to think of a complaint about this coaster but I really can't think of one. Not to mention that the ride length is fairly nice as well.

The following credit was the park's racing wooden coaster; Lightning Racer!



Some might say it's two coasters, I say its one. Either way it was still a meh ride to be honest. The interactions between the racing trains was fun, but there wasn't a lot about the coaster that truly stood out to me.
User avatar
By gabed
#88181
Day 2 Part 4

After an abundance of coasters we decided to take a flat ride break. This brought us to the Ferris Wheel, which may be one of my favorite flats having ridden two different ones over the past two days.



The ride offered some fantastic views of the park. Since we're credit whores we may or may not have embarrassed ourselves on Cocoa Cruiser afterwards...



The next few hours consisted solely of re-rides on Fahrenheit, SkyRush, and Storm Runner. To close out the night, we enjoyed a front row ride on Storm Runner in the night.

Our schedule got flipped around a bit tomorrow with Dorney tomorrow and Knoebels on Wednesday. Thank you for reading!

Last edited by gabed on June 7th, 2016, 6:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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By Sean978
#88210
Day 3 Part 1
So I'm here to take over for the Dorney Section of the report. Be warned, my writing is pretty garbage and all of over the place, but I'll try my best.

Dorney Park is a very…interesting park. Some call it a trashcan park, while others praise it for it's landscaping and top three coasters. Going into the park I definitely had low hopes and saw this as more of a "For the credits" park

The park was surprisingly busy in the morning, probably because Wildwater Kingdom wasn't open, but nonetheless we waited for the front row on Hydra for our first ride

The ride could be compared to Intimidator in that, while its not the most intense or unique ride, it delivers a fun ride that is easily able to be marathoned.

Hydra also features 7 inversions, which are all well timed and use the terrain to their advantage. One such inversion is the rides cobra roll, which looks completely mutilated, but actually delivers a fun twist to the rides many corkscrews.

Next up was Dominator, the park's Power Tower. This was actually my first Power Tower (There are a lot of firsts for me on this trip) and we chose the side that launched you up. I had a lot of fun, and look forward to Cedar Point's in late July.

So next up was Possessed, my first impulse coaster. This is actually one of the impulses that feature a vertical spire with a holding brake. Once again, we rode in the front for our first ride, and I really enjoyed it. The holding brake only lasted about a second, but really added to the intensity of looking straight down

To be continued...
User avatar
By Sean978
#88211
Day 3 Part 2


Oh boy, I know Gabe already mentioned how much we just love boomerangs, but this is an INVERTED boomerang, so it's way…better? We'd actually rode Invertigo at Kings Island exactly one year before, so our hopes weren't even remotely high, but we're credit whores soooooo…

We rode it, and it was just as bad as we remembered it, Moving on…

We ended up in front of Steel Force, so we decided to hit it up. Gabe had been telling me how awful Magnum XL-200 was at Cedar Point, but nonetheless it somehow was the ride that I was most excited for.

Steel Force was actually very smooth, and had a decent amount of airtime, but we only rode it once as it was a very "meh" ride and was in the farthest corner of the park.

After trying to get on Thunderhawk and being rained out, we walked around trying to find a place to eat. This is where I realized just how great the park's setting was.

There was a TON of greenery and water around, even inside the coaster's layouts. This really turned my thoughts on the park from a "For the credits" to treating it as a genuine park.

To be continued…
User avatar
By Sean978
#88221
Day 3 Part 3

After a quick lunch at the park's diner and some issues with the rain we ended up next to Talon. We waited about 10 minutes and…

Talon was amazing! I honestly never felt even the slightest rattle while riding, and even though the ride featured mostly cookie cutter inversions, it had plenty of low to the ground moments and near-misses to make it my 2nd favorite invert overall. (Tied with Afterburn, behind Banshee)

So I didn’t actually take any pictures of both the park's Wild Mouse and their kiddie coaster, but they're both cookie cutters, so save your tears. They were very forgettable.

After getting those credits out of the way we hesitantly decided to try Demon Drop. I honestly have no idea what Intamin was thinking with the first gen. drop towers, but then again when do we ever know what Intamin is thinking. It was a fun ride, though a little rough in parts.

After Demon Drop we moved on to the park's log flume. This was only my 2nd flume, but I really enjoyed it. It goes right beneath Hydra at points, which makes for an interesting experience.

Well, after all of our adventures, for the second time, we tried to ride Thunderhawk and got rained out again. It actually got pretty bad, so we hid in a store for a while, until…

It was about 5 minutes of testing later when we got to re-ride. Possessed was amazing as ever. From there we finally got our ride on Thunderhawk, which was awful, before re-riding Hydra and Talon a few times.

Overall Dorney was not what I'd expected, and in the best way possible. After visiting myself, I have no idea why people give this park so much hate that it truly doesn’t deserve. The landscaping and greenery of the park is almost to the level of Busch Gardens, and while a lot of the rides are outdated, most of them still deliver a good enough ride to appreciate. I truly hope this park gets more investments in the future and I look forward to another visit in the near future.

Now back to Gabe for Knoebels.
#88223
Sean978 wrote:
We ended up in front of Steel Force, so we decided to hit it up. Gabe had been telling me how awful Magnum XL-200 was at Cedar Point, but nonetheless it somehow was the ride that I was most excited for.

Uh oh . . . Don't let Jonathan see this.
Image
User avatar
By gabed
#88238
Day 4 Part 1

After a change up in our schedule, it was time to finally visit Knoebels. I wouldn't say I was really looking forward to this park, just very curious. Its gotten unanimous praise from everyone who visits it, even being the favorite park of many. Unfortunately due to weather, we decided to have a lazy morning at the cabin until 12:00. While on the topic of the Hershey cabins, I've gotta say they're really great. They may not be as good as my beloved Kings Dominion cabins, but they're still very cozy.

Once the thunderstorms cleared up, we hit the road once again! Through the rain and the pretty Pennsylvanian mountainside, I started to realize how secluded this park really was. After awhile, the billboards started appearing...



Before long we were at the park and began to take it in. At first everything was... very strange. Everything about the park was just so out of the ordinary and sometimes didn't even seem to make sense. All it seemed like was a glorified fair and I really started questioning why everyone loved it so much. Putting our doubts aside we made our way towards Phoenix.



Like the park itself, this was something that I've heard receive unanimous praise from the entire coaster community. Now it was finally time to try it for myself...



My take: Amazing! This is by far my number one wooden coaster, its just phenomenal! It is incredibly smooth and the airtime achieved on this ride is indescribably good. I can't even go into detail, its something you have to experience for yourself in order to fully understand.

Following that beauty was the park's newest coaster: Impulse.



Overall, its nothing special. I mean, its a fun little coaster that fits in surprisingly well. But in the end, as Sean put it, its a poor man's Eurofighter.

With that done, it was time for the coaster that revived a dead species of roller coasters...





The ride was definitely fun, but like Impulse, nothing amazing. I would obviously recommend it to anyone visiting the park, but its nothing I'd break my back to get to. With Flying Turns ridden, it was time for another coaster...
User avatar
By gabed
#88239
Day 4 Part 2

We decided to make our next ride the oddly placed Twister. After a good bit of navigation we finally got to the coaster.





I found Twister to be surprisingly fun, as well as it being very smooth. Also, the divided lift hill was pretty odd, but in a fairly fun way. I also noticed that on this coaster and throughout the park was the lack of pneumatic gates. Definitely strange but after awhile it all seemed to fit in with the vibe of the park.

In fact, as the time went on, both of our perspectives on the park began to change. Everything that looked out of place and bizarre soon started to come together. We realized that its the weirdness and uniqueness of the park that makes it so special. It wasn't until a ride on the park's chair lift that we were taken aback by the park's beauty. It was finally then that we fully realized why the park was so popular amongst other enthusiasts. There's something special about it, something nice that makes you feel like your somewhere special.

With a new outlook on the park, we hit up StratosFear, Knoebels' drop tower.



This variation of the popular drop tower was one that I had previously heard many great things about. After riding, I have to agree that it's an awesome ride. Honestly, it beat out Acrophobia as my favorite drop tower ride. It takes you straight to the top and drops you seemingly without warning. The weightless sensation you achieve is constant and never seems to wear off before the brakes kick in.

After a few rides on that, we walked over to the park's dark ride, Black Diamond, which is for some reason counted as a coaster. But hey, its a credit so I'm not going to complain.





Eh, I guess this ride would have appealed to me a lot more if I was a dark ride guy. Overall I give it a meh. Sorry if you're a dark ride fan and I offended you but this is my five park vacation of righteousness, not yours.

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