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Carowinds Discussion Thread

P. 403 - Park opening for a limited Holiday Event!

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discussed over at carowinds connection in this thread towards the bottom, part of the transcript was posted by Kinghippo

 

www.carowindsconnection.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3941&start=315

 

City Council of the City of Charlotte met in closed session on Monday June 24, 2013 in room CH-14 of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center at 6:18 p.m. with Mayor Anthony Foxx presiding.

Present were Councilmembers: John Autry, Michael Barnes, Patrick Cannon, Warren Cooksey, Andy Dulin, Claire Fallon, David Howard, Patsy Kinsey, James Mitchell, LaWana Mayfield and Beth Pickering.

Staff present during the Closed Session: Stephanie Kelly, City Clerk; Bob Hagemann, City Attorney; Ruffin Hall, Assistant City Manager; Ron Kimble, Deputy City Manager; Ron Carlee, City Manager; Eric Campbell, Assistant City Manager; Julie Burch, Assistant City Manager; Peter Zeiler (N&BS Economic Development); Pat Mumford, KBE N&BS Strategic Support and Brad Richardson, Manager, N&BS Economic Development.

Motion was made by Councilmember Mayfield and seconded by Councilmember Cannon and carried unanimously to adopt a motion pursuant to NCGS 143-318.11(a)(4) to go into closed session to discuss matters relating to the location of an industry or business in the City of Charlotte, including potential economic development incentives that may be offered in negotiations.

Peter Zeiler, Charlotte N&BS Economic Development said we are here tonight with another business investment program grant opportunity for the City of Charlotte in combination with Mecklenburg County. This is for a company called Cedar Fair Southwest, Inc.; I think you may better know them for their ownership at Carowinds Amusement Park down off of I-77. This one is a little different. It’s outside of the typical parameters of our program. We wanted to make sure that we brought this to you to give you the opportunity to have a full robust discussion on it.

Cedar Fair Southwest is a publically traded company with 11 theme parks with annual revenue of $1.1 billion and over $23 million annual … We have 11 park locations including four that have attendance of more than $3MM per year. Those are actually ranked 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th out of the 20th largest theme parks in the United States. Two are in Ohio, one is in California and one is in Toronto. They own Carowinds as I mentioned earlier. They also own Kings Dominion which is in Richmond Virginia and both of these parks have an annual attendance of right around $1.9MM annually.

Cedar Fair is looking to establish a large park to push to the 2.5-3 million annual guest range somewhere in the southeast and their target expansions are going to either be Carowinds or Kings Dominion. If they were to select Carowinds as their large southeast park, the first phase would consist of $43.5MM of investment. The first $30MM of that would be in a new 300 foot tall rollercoaster. For comparison, the Intimidator, which you can see from I-77, is 230 feet. They would include a $2.5MM water slide, a $7MM food complex and a $4MM ticket booth and parking field improvements. Much of what you will approach and see as you come to Carowinds now, would be completely reconfigured and moved out into where some of their parking field currently is. $33.1MM of this investment will be in Mecklenburg County within the business investment zone. The other $10.4MM will be in York County. Just as a reminder, Carowinds is 398 acres right now between the land they currently own and is undeveloped plus the land that is developed as the park. About 220 acres of that is in South Carolina. The remainder is in North Carolina.

This map gives you a sense of where the facility would be. The yellow line is the state line between North Carolina and South Carolina and this would be the new rollercoaster feature here. The water slide and the food facilities would be here, some of it extending over into South Carolina. This white building right here is their current front gate and ticketing. This is what would be reconfigured and expanded out towards here.

Councilmember Andy Dulin said excuse me sir, that white building is the Amphitheater. The state line goes through the front gate.

Mr. Zeiler said you’re right. This shows where the general location of the rollercoaster would be. This is an example from their Cedar Point Park, which is known as America’s Rollercoaster. This is an example of the type of facility that would be created. This is actually the front gate and ticketing for Cedar Point. This ride opened up this year and you will see that it actually goes

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Closed Session Minutes – Cedar Fair Southwest, Inc. June 24, 2013 Page 2

over the gate and the flip to a 90° angle and go vertical to the ticketing gate through these two columns and back throughout there.

Councilmember LaWana Mayfield said what does the liability look like when we have malfunctions out at Carowinds? Is the City in any way having any liability responsibility if something were to happen?

Bob Hagemann, City Attorney said I don’t see how. No.

Mr. Zeiler continued and said so this particular ride is 170 feet tall. The one that would be put in Carowinds would be about 310-315 feet tall.

Ms. Mayfield said that just doesn’t seem safe. Realistically around the country you’re hearing where they are having major problems just because you’re trying to make bigger and better and more extravagant rides. You are hearing about some major problems that are happening with these rides so is that even safe that we are considering trying to mirror that coming to Carowinds.

Mr. Zeiler said that 300 feet for a rollercoaster is not a record. Rollercoasters are pushing 470- 490 feet at this point. This rollercoaster would max out around 65 mph. Some of the rides at Cedar Point and in Kings Dominion are topping out at close to 95mph.

Ms. Mayfield said and you could tell that I don’t go to theme parks so thank you for answering the question for me.

Councilmember David Howard said could you go back to the map for me? One of the things you have to worry about when you start talking about doubling attendance would be traffic. I’m actually for this so I’m not talking it down at all, but the majority of the I-77 that would deal with the ramp off is South Carolina, it’s not us, so are they talking about doing any traffic improvements to deal with this during the season?

Mr. Zeiler said yes there will be two series of improvements. They will significantly reconfigure their parking field and how that is accessed in and out. We are also in negotiations and discussions with the State. Right about here Carowinds Blvd narrows down to two lanes coming towards I-77 and one going out towards Tryon. The State is investigating the possibility and the cost of widening this from either two lanes from Catawba Trace all the way out to Tryon or possibly three lanes going out to Tryon which would give you access to I-485.

This will also be one of the first of what are called winged rollercoasters in the southeast. It’s not a traditional rollercoaster where you sit in a car that goes around. You actually dangle on posts that are from a single track. So there is nothing below you. You are sitting on basically a swing as you go around.

Ms. Mayfield said again, Bob, no liability for the City if one goes flying off that and they land on North Carolina side as opposed to South Carolina?

Mr. Hagemann said … no liability for us.

Mr. Zeiler said this first phase is expected to project an annual attendance of about 385,000 guests. When they installed the Intimidator, their attendance when up by about 300,000 guests per year. It’s expected to create a demand of approximately additional 20,000 hotel nights. That represents about a .4% increase in Mecklenburg County annual nights and would represent about $250,000 in new state and local hotel taxes.

Councilmember Patrick Cannon said do we know if there are any projections, or is there any thought to have any more hotels along that area?

Mr. Zeiler said I’m not aware of any new hotels that are proposed for the vicinity.

Mr. Cannon said they have a couple of go-tells over there that have been around for a long time. I’m just wondering about the plan.

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Ms. Mayfield said that just doesn’t seem safe. Realistically around the country you’re hearing

where they are having major problems just because you’re trying to make bigger and better and

more extravagant rides. You are hearing about some major problems that are happening with

these rides so is that even safe that we are considering trying to mirror that coming to Carowinds.

 

There will always be that one person who thinks that all rides are unsafe, even if the manufactures and coaster types are drastically different.

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Wow. It was interesting to read the full write-up. Thought it was funny that some of the members were like "Screw this! This'll help South Carolina instead of us. No thanks!" And not building a marquee attraction in the next 3 years will bring businesses in? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense... Not.

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The description of 300 foot wing coaster sounds like it could be an Intamin Wingish coaster like a foot SkyRush. How the 65 mph works is a little wrong though.

Exactly, this sounds like a Skyrush train for the giga coaster, meaning it's hopefully Intamin. And I'd say 310-315 feet is more like 95 mph.

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The description of 300 foot wing coaster sounds like it could be an Intamin Wingish coaster like a foot SkyRush. How the 65 mph works is a little wrong though.

Exactly, this sounds like a Skyrush train for the giga coaster, meaning it's hopefully Intamin. And I'd say 310-315 feet is more like 95 mph.

 

Unless it doesn't feature a "drop" that big. Just because it is 300 foot tall doesn't mean it has to have a 300 foot drop.......just sayin'.

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And not building a marquee attraction in the next 3 years will bring businesses in? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense... Not.

 

 

Have you ever been to Carowinds and ridden their God-awful offerings? A 50 million investment could have given the park several excellent offerings to improve the park. You need a huge rollercoaster or else you wont get business? Maybe Disney needs to reconsider their model

 

I hope the retrack on hurler makes a big difference, I've ridden it without trims and it becomes a much better ride... it could see a good improvement from fresh topper. The retrack on thunder road was night and day, glad they're going to finish it. The new color scheme on afterburn sounds unnecessary and frankly, unappealing... whatever.

 

The article on the 300ft "wing coaster" sounds like BS. If it is some sort of wing deign, I can't imagine it being b&m.

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And not building a marquee attraction in the next 3 years will bring businesses in? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense... Not.

 

 

Have you ever been to Carowinds and ridden their God-awful offerings? A 50 million investment could have given the park several excellent offerings to improve the park. You need a huge rollercoaster or else you wont get business? Maybe Disney needs to reconsider their model

 

I hope the retrack on hurler makes a big difference, I've ridden it without trims and it becomes a much better ride... it could see a good improvement from fresh topper. The retrack on thunder road was night and day, glad they're going to finish it. The new color scheme on afterburn sounds unnecessary and frankly, unappealing... whatever.

 

The article on the 300ft "wing coaster" sounds like BS. If it is some sort of wing deign, I can't imagine it being b&m.

 

 

Carowind's is regional, Disney is well Disney aka Destination.

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^^^Carowinds' offerings may not stack up to the likes of SFOG's but it isn't as bad as you make it out to be.

 

I also think the funds to repaint Afterburn in a new color scheme should go towards something that would benefit the park better. I actually like the silver and blue colors it already has.

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And not building a marquee attraction in the next 3 years will bring businesses in? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense... Not.

 

 

Have you ever been to Carowinds and ridden their God-awful offerings? A 50 million investment could have given the park several excellent offerings to improve the park. You need a huge rollercoaster or else you wont get business? Maybe Disney needs to reconsider their model

 

I hope the retrack on hurler makes a big difference, I've ridden it without trims and it becomes a much better ride... it could see a good improvement from fresh topper. The retrack on thunder road was night and day, glad they're going to finish it. The new color scheme on afterburn sounds unnecessary and frankly, unappealing... whatever.

 

The article on the 300ft "wing coaster" sounds like BS. If it is some sort of wing deign, I can't imagine it being b&m.

 

 

Um, I wasn't talking about the theme park when I said business. I was speaking of businesses outside the park (specifically hotels), as they were discussing in the meeting. If Carowinds doesn't build new rides, especially noticeable ones, no new hotels will be built like they want. (And yes, I go to Carowinds at least twice a year.) My comment had little to do with the ride and more the reaction of two of the board members at the meeting, who seemed unconvinced that a big coaster would bring money to the state at all. I will admit that there's more development around the park on the South Carolina side, which seems to be a sore spot with the board, but refusing to help fund anything on the NC side isn't going to help with that. At least it was voted up, anyway.

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And not building a marquee attraction in the next 3 years will bring businesses in? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense... Not.

 

 

Have you ever been to Carowinds and ridden their God-awful offerings?

 

Are you serious? That's a bit of a stretch I would say. Afterburn is ranked pretty high among enthusiast and intimidator isn't that bad either. I would hate to know what you think of parks like California's great America, dorney park or virtually any other park!

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Looks like Cedar Fair is going all in on beefing up the former Paramount parks. Be interesting to see if redoing that first curve on Hurler does anything to help it. It wasn't painful to me until about 2004.

 

They retracked the first curve of the KD Hurler for this season, if they're doing the exact same thing at Carowinds the trim brake will not be coming off. Dissapointing news since that seems to indicate nothing more major will be done to either (KD is also launching an improvements program over the next 2 years as part of the 40th anniversary). After seeing all this I realized I hadn't ridden ours all year and tried it. It's still rough but not painfully (in a decent seat), but still too slow with that brake. Yeah it could be painful but it was exciting before, with some good bursts of air, loved it. Looks like the park has changed their info on the ride and they're trying to make it out as a mild family coaster. It is sort of, just not a good one. Problem with removing the brake is these things were needing a lot of work.

 

It just seems so obvious and logical to me to Topper track the first 2 turns and then take off the brake for smooth speed and air. It wouldn't beat a new ride but could be very good at minimal cost. Having 2 Hurlers in the chain would only sweeten the deal. OTOH the trains are the worst of the KD woodies, too small-seated for a family coaster, and KD would make you think that all wood coaster trains are about the same, so new trains would be great IF they would allow removing the brake.

 

Seems to me Carowinds is most lacking a launched coaster, or a top grade woodie (e.g. RMC, Intamin). I would like to see taller inverting coasters, I don't even see those listed as a category in coaster records lists. Only a launcher could match the current new ride description, though.

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Actually...I launcher is the last thing the "description" gives way to. Quick story...back in june a guy from the chamber of commerce went to the city council begging for money for cedar fair. His thing was cedar fair was trying to chose between csrowinds and kings dominion as which park would get the 50 million investment. When describing the coaster he used all the current gigs coasters, world wide, ss an example of the style...however, he used gatekeeper to describe the front entrance. I personally think he wanted to show the shiny new coaster and entrance to entice the NC city council. It looks like carowinds won the investment over kings dominion though since they have announced the slides addition and semi the food court. From my understanding the city council approved but they were more so worried about "what's in it for me" and how this would benefit nc over sc (where most of the additions are going and where most of the hotels that will probably housed these. 400k plus in attendance are located). One council woman even exclaim if a 300 ft coaster was safe to operate. She was quickly reminder that this will not be a record height and several are well over 400ft.

 

So my prediction...300+ft intamin with their winged cars...like on the u-shaped coaster...

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