Once again I am off and traveling, this time I will add two states, one theme park, and up to twelve roller coasters to new experiences. I decided a few weeks ago to check out Carowinds theme park, which sits right on the border of North Carolina and South Carolina next to the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. Much like Kings Dominion, it was owned by Paramount before Cedar Fair bought it in 2006.
I'm happy to report that so far it has been a high-quality visit, much like my other visits to Cedar Fair parks. The longest I waited for a ride was about 40 minutes, and that is because it is very popular. Even with being able to run 48 people through at a time (2 cars x 24 per car) there's still a lot of people who want to ride.
The other thing is that with this trip, I would finally cross the 100 coasters mark. I have now ridden over 100 different roller coaster rides in the world. The honor goes to the Thunder Road coaster, on the North Carolina side. Thunder Road is unique in that it is a racing coaster that sits over two states. One side is on North Carolina, and the other side is on South Carolina. I happened to ride the South Carolina side first, and then rode North Carolina. Now there are some who would argue that it should not have counted for two different rides because the tracks are a mirror image of one another, but I see it as different because you're going in different directions.
Anyway, so after the 7 1/2 hour drive to Charlotte (Thank you Vz Navigator for helping me to avoid traffic) I got to Carowinds, parked in the season parking pass area, and got into the park. After picking up a map and finding my way around, I got to Afterburn first, which had virtually no line, then Ricochet (wild mouse type of coaster), then Thunder Road. Next I would hit up Carolina Goldrusher, Carolina Cyclone, and the Hurler. Here's a fun fact about the Hurler. It was originally named after the movie Wayne's World when Carowinds was a Paramount park, and the speakers at the wait station would play clips from the movie. King's Dominion has the Hurler as well, and according to the RCDB, those are the only two parks that have it.
Anyway, I then hit up the Rugrats Runaway Reptar and Fairly Odd Coaster. These are both small coasters designed for the kiddies, but big enough to allow the kid at heart to ride as well. It was also the first time I witnessed a hanging coaster for kids because most of them are the standard sit-down cars.
By this time I had been at the park for about 4 hours, and it was close to 7 PM, so I decided to head to my hotel. I scored an awesome deal on a Motel 6 about a mile from the park, $55. I was expecting it to be way more because of the holiday. It was also what gave me some incentive to head this way for the weekend.
I went back to Carowinds at about 8:30 to get in line at Nighthawk because they would close the queue at 9, and I figured I'd get a ride in since it is normally so busy. I snapped an awesome picture on my phone of Carolina Cyclone as a silhouette in the sunset. Wish I had my camera, but oh well.
After that ride, it was time to look for dinner, and that's where I had a bit of a scare with my car. I had tried driving to one place, but they closed at 10, and it was 9:52, so I wasn't going to be a dick and make them have to work again when the place was empty. As I'm driving back, I suddenly have white smoke coming out from under the hood and my temperature gauge has shot straight into the red. I feared that I had a hose bust in there so I pulled into a nearby parking lot and opened the hood. It turned out that somehow my radiator cap had come loose, so it started shooting coolant from that part of the car, and coolant hitting the hot engine was what produced the smoke. So I carefully got the loosened cap back into place, but then I had to deal with trying to get the engine to cool back down again because it was still spiking a bit as I would drive. I'm going to re-check it in the morning and see if I need to add even more coolant than what I already did. I think the cap came loose because I didn't tighten it up quite enough when I checked out the car this morning. It's a good thing it didn't happen while I was driving towards Charlotte. I came to the hotel and ordered pizza delivery instead.
So for tomorrow the plan is to go to Carowinds when the park opens, and hit Carolina Cobra and Vortex since I have not ridden either one yet. Then I'll hit a few favorites from today, mostly steel so I can avoid being shaken to death. Wood coasters have their own charm and I like them for the most part, but I have to be careful of how often I ride them because the shaking will give me a bad headache. I'll probably leave during the hottest part of the day to chill at the hotel and rest up before heading back in. They're having a fireworks show tomorrow night for the 4th, and I can't wait to see that either. Sunday will depend on how I feel, I do have a long trip ahead, and I was thinking of heading back around noon, but maybe I'll go earlier.
One other thing I noticed is Carowinds is working to get rid of their Nickelodeon merchandise in the stores. I'm not surprised, I bet the contract to use Nickelodeon characters in their kiddie area is expiring after this season, and they'll probably bring themselves to be in line with other Cedar Fair parks. That means next year we'll see a Peanuts themed kiddie area unless for some reason they decide to take out a new license agreement to use Nickelodeon characters. I doubt it.