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Photo TR: Johnson's Coaster Vacation

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Greetings from Florida from Erik and Leanne Johnson. We just got back from a week long vacation that covered three parks such as Busch Gardens Tampa, Paramount's Carowinds and Six Flags Over Georgia. I will have to do this in installments, do to time, but I should have all the pictures up within a couple of days. We decided to start off our vacation with one of the great parks located in Florida, Busch Gardens Tampa (or BGT for short). Its a little less than a 2 hour drive from our home so it is close enough to visit without having to stay in a hotel.


Day 1 (7-23-05): (Channelside IMAX & BGT) We left our house and started down I-75 to downtown Tampa where they have a decent movie theatre on Channelside where many cruise ships, that are headed for Mexico, dock during the weekends. Channelside theatres happens to be one of two IMAX theatres in Florida that has been showing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (We got hooked when we saw Batman Begins there last month.)

The movie was pretty good, but I still prefer the original 1971 version with Gene Wilder. After the movie, we got to BGT around 2:00 where we were amazed that we got bumped up to preferred parking (right next to the front gate) for no extra charge. We thought to ourselves...boy maybe its not going to be that crowded on a Saturday afternoon. Needless to say BGT was the most crowded I have ever seen it--though that never spoils our fun. Our first ride was Gwazi Lion which only had about a 10 minute wait. If you did not know, Gwazi is a dueling wooden roller coaster (two sides: Lion and Tiger). While, before we rode, they actually had two train dispatches that were launched at the same time, we did not get to duel with the Tiger coaster. This was the first time Leanne had ridden in the back which enables you to get a little air time. Leanne really prefers steel over wood when it comes to coasters...Gwazi was a little rough for her tastes. We proceeded to just walk around the park, due to how long the lines were, and take our time looking at some of the animals and taking in all of the BGT atmosphere (Its a really nice park). We ended up walking over to the Cheetah Chase since niether of us had ever been on a standard mouse coaster before. While the line was about a 20 minute wait, the experience was a lot of fun. I never expected the "feels like you are going to fall off the track" experience.


Check out these pictures..will continue on in next post.


Its the Cheetah Chase!


Kumba going through its first inversion.


The sign heading into Kumba. Though we rode it later, this line is way too long.


Sheikra, BGT's brand new dive coaster.

These people better run they are in the splash zone!


A picture of Sheikra through the trees located in The Land of Dragons


Check out the grey baby flamingo.


Even though my face may not show it, I am having a great time at BGT.


In this building, and if you are over 21, you can get free samples of Beer.


Gwazi's train loading area. I think it took at least 5 mins to dispatch this train.


Gwazi's Tiger heading up the chain lift.


Gwazi, BGT's once in a while dueling wooden coaster.


Heading into the park.


Leanne is standing in front of our favorite Florida roller coaster, Montu.


Leanne in front of the Charlie IMAX poster. Gene Wilder was better though.


Look where we are heading, Busch Gardens Tampa.

Edited by Erik Johnson
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After "The Cheetah Chase Experience," we headed over to another ride neither one of us had experienced, "Rhino Rally." Rhino Rally is one of the few rides to feature a single rider line at BGT. While we normally like to ride togther, the normal line was probably around a 90 minute wait due to the amount of people and slow dispatches. Even though there were only 3 other people in front of us in the single rider line, it took us around 15 minutes to get on the ride. Rhino Rally is basically a jeep which takes you on a tour to see some of the animals in BGT. There was a twist in the ride about 2/3s of the way through that I did not expect (they really hide this "surprise" well in the park). I will not spoil it for you, but it was unexpected and fun. We proceeded to head over to the Egypt themed section of the park where our favorite roller coaster in Florida is located...The Montu. It is one the world's longest and tallest inverted coasters with a lot of unique elements. Inverted coasters are my favorite coaster-type. While there was a lot of people in line, they were able to get people through very fast...it was about a 30minute wait total (and we waited for the front seat). After "The Terror of the Montu" we got on the Sky Ride to head over to the area where the Kumba was located (we did not ride earlier beacuse the line was just too long). It had been many years since I rode a sky-ride...I sure do miss them at the Magic Kingdom. The Kumba was great as always (it was also our first Kumba ride at night which was really a lot of fun---the tunnel is pitch black). Sheikra was next in line, though it was a 60 minute wait. I noticed they had added a single rider line for it recently, but we did not notice it until we were in line over 30 minutes. Sheikra, as many of you know, is the tallest dive coaster in the world. This ride was also the first time either one of us experienced it at night (First time in the front seat as well for me). We both really like the Sheikra, nothing else quite like it.

After Sheikra it was 10:00 which means all the rides were closing down for the night. So we ended up going home to get ready for the next part of the trip.


Check out the pictures......Part 3 coming soon.


The Cheetah Chase chain lift.


Sheikra loading area at night.


Kumba waiting to be dispatched from the loading area.


The back of Cheetah Chase from the Sky Ride.


Kumba from the Sky Ride


Sheikra from the Sky Ride


This hyena had the right idea.


Montu loading area.


Montu on its chainlift.


The terror of the Montu in action.


I think this is where the alligators used to be, they may have moved back to Lake Alice in Gainesville


Walking through Egypt to get to the Montu.


Leanne exiting the Rhino Rally


The Scorpion...though the line was too long that day.


The Cheetah Chase loading area.

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Holy crap that line for Kumba looks long! I don't think I've been at that park when Kumba wasn't a walk on!


--Robb "Nice TR!" Alvey




Yeah it was the longest line I have ever seen for Kumba. We skipped this ride until several hours later...which still was a 20 minute wait cause they had to remove one of the trains off the track. Kumba is usually, at most, a 5-10 minute wait.

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Ok next posting:


Day 2: (7/24/05) This was the day we had to prepare ourselves for the 7 hour drive up to Paramount's Carowinds. Leanne took our cat, "Libby" to her parents house so they could care for her during the week we were gone. While she was doing that I tried to mow the lawn. I used the word "try" because the mower decided not to work for me at this time. "So, I guess the grass will be extra long when we get back," I told my wife before we left. Actually the drive was not too bad, no delays whatsoever. We left for South Carolina around 1:30PM and pretty much drove all the way through only stopping for some snacks as well as gas for the car. We made reservations at the Best Western which was about 1/4 of a mile from the entrance of Carowinds. Very lucky for us in that we did make reservations at the hotel as the "Carowinds area" was hosting the national girls high school softball tournament.


Ok a few pictures......


It seems that the new Willy Wonka movie helped Leanne decide on what candy to buy for our trip.


I wonder how long the grass will be when we get back?

Edited by Erik Johnson
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Ok onto:


Day 3: (7-35-05) Paramount's Carowinds!


We finally made it. This was the first time either one of us has been to Paramount's Carowinds which is located about 10 or 15 miles south of Charlotte, North Carolina. What makes this park unique is that its sits right on the border of both North and South Carolina. Why did we choose this park to visit you ask? The pictures and comments on TPR about the park were pretty positive...plus it just looked nice. Thanks to the information from other TPR members we had a plan in how to attack the park. While we did deviate from it some.....(we did several things before hitting the Borg) the information proved to be invaluable. Carowinds opened at 10:00AM but as with any park (especially when its your first visit) it is very wise to get there early before it opens. On the advice of others we drove our car across to the south gate where Top Gun is located. We then proceeded to buy our tickets (2 days for one price) at the gate at around 9:30. Top Gun, Carowinds inverted coaster, was all around us at this gate. I had to admit, cause I love inverted coasters, I started to drool at this cool looking coaster. It looked very much like a smaller shorter version of Montu at BGT. It even had the Batwing manuever....very cool! Since none of the rides were open yet we just kinda hung around the area until Top Gun opened up. We got on the third train of the day (front seat as well). Top Gun is a great coaster...probably my favorite coaster in Carowinds. Like I said before it was like a smaller version of the Montu but due to its smaller size, it was a little more intense. The Batwing manuever was also better on Top Gun due to its mist tunnel. After Top Gun we walked along the walkway to find ourselves in the new Nickelodeon Kids Area. This has to be the coolest kids area I have ever been in any park (sorry Land of Dragons). For one thing it has rides that adults can enjoy..plus it contains our favorite ride in the entire park, Danny's Phantom Flyers. I have to admit I was flabbergasted in why so much footage of the flyers was featured in several of the recent video postings on this park. I kept telling myself, "I want to see more coasters...not this silly kids flyer ride." Well after riding it myself (9 times) I can see the appeal of Danny's Phatom Flyers. Every one knows about the snapping technique. Leanne was able to figure it out on our first run. I got it on our 2nd run. For our 2-9 times that we rode it we were snapping fanatics. The first time I snapped the cables and flung up into the sky I about freaked out because it was quite intense/scary/thrilling...but you keep wanting to do it over and over again. After the flyers we rode the recently renamed Fairly Odd Parents Coaster...which is a Junior wooden coaster. It was a decent kids coaster. Now came the Borg Assimilator, which was going to be either of our first laydown/flying coaster. Yes the line was quite long beacause it was suggested that we should have done this first thing. Oh well....so we waited around 45 mins for the Borg. I had to admit I was a little nervous about this one since I am a bit of a coaster newbie, but we both liked it quite a bit. It was much smoother than expected and the 360 inversion was quite intense. We sat in the 5 car for our first ride...later in the day we rode in the 6th car which proved to be even more intense.


Ok onto pictures.....will be continued in next post.


The intense 360 inversion of the Borg Assimilator.


Leanne sitting in front of the Borg Assimilator.


Odd Parents loading area.


Our 2nd coaster credit of the day, Fairly Odd Parents Coaster. I guess Scooby got kicked out of his coaster.


This guy was a snapping fanatic.


Leanne sitting in the Flyers on our first run. She showed me up by snapping before I did.


Erik standing and pointing with glee at Danny's Phantom Flyers.


Top Gun "yellow train" in the loading area. What a great coaster!


People in line for Top Gun before it opened.


Someone was nice enough to take our picture underneath Top Gun.


Leanne again reminding us where we are.


Horray....we made it to Paramount's Carowinds.

Edited by Erik Johnson
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Part two of Carowinds:


Yes we both enjoyed the Borg. Since the "Elevator tower" (sorry I can't remember its official name) sits right next to The Borg, we decided to take a trip to the top to see what the rest of the park looked like. It was a nice relaxing ride, plus we got to get some decent overhead coaster pictures from it. After filling up Leanne's mini-water-jug for the third time (it was very hot that day) we walked over to the Vortex. Neither one of us had ridden a stand up coaster before, so this was our first. After our ride of (its new name "Evil" Vortex) we decided we were not too impressed with this standup. We hoped that the Scorcher at SFOG would be better. While the "Evil" Vortex was fun, it was not very "male" friendly for its riders as well there was quite a bit of ear smashing on the restraints. We finished up the Vortex and walked on over to the Kalidescope (sp?) which is one of those old fashion spinning flat rides. I'm not sure what the offical name of this type of ride but Leanne said she never rode one before. She ended up liking it quite a bit, so did I. Our next stop, The Hurler. The Hurler is one of three wooden roller coasters at Carowinds. We walked along the queue and got into the last car of the coaster train. The Hurler looked like it was going to be fun, and to a certain degree it was. Everyone had their hands up in excitement going down the first drop until we hit the bottom of the hill. At the bottom everyones hands went for the safety bars to hang on for dear life. Boy was this a rough coaster, probably the roughest on our entire trip. Leanne vowed to me that she would never sit in the back seat of a wooden coaster again. Oh well...it was fun but I think this coaster's best days are behind it. We next did Drop Zone...yeah a drop tower. My favorite rides are coasters, drop towers, and water rides. While this looks like a wimpy drop tower it actually has some bite to it. The drop is short but quite intense..loads of fun. The Carolina Cyclone was next..an old (Arrow?) double looping double corkscrew coaster. We sat in the front car 2nd row. It was not as rough as I was expecting it to be, plus it had a hidden helix at the end which I did not expect. Next was Carrowind's mouse coaster, "Ricochet" which turned out to be the exact same model as the mouse coaster at BGT. We rode it happily...very fun. This time we did not have to wait 20 minutes like at BGT. "The Goldrusher" was our next coaster credit, which was kinda fun. It was one of those mine-train coasters.


Here are more pictures: Part 3 of Carowinds coming soon!


The Hurler before the "Ow!" sections.


The Hurler loading area.


The Hurler


The entrance of "The Hurler".


The Kalidescope


The Vortex from the elevator ride.


The "Evil" Vortex loading area.


The Vortex, Carowinds "Evil" standup coaster.


The Borg from up high on the elevator ride.


The Borg Assimilator loading area.


Drop Zone


The Carolina Cyclone loading area.


The Carolina Cyclone


Drop zone loading area.

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Holy crap that line for Kumba looks long! I don't think I've been at that park when Kumba wasn't a walk on!


--Robb "Nice TR!" Alvey


The longest wait I've ever seen on Kumba was 45 minutes during HOS. Of course, lines are long everywhere at Howl-O-Scream!

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Im pretty sure it has something to do with the names on Top Gun, like Maverick, and what was another Goose, and what else, I guess there must have been a shark. Wasn't it Goose or something? Gah I can't remember. Maybe because thats something that some fighter jets have on them too, so who knows?

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Excellent TR and pics so far Erik.. I should have warned you about Hurler's backseat as it is strangely brutal this year while the front car is running the best it has in years.



This is a stupid question but why is the top part of Top Guns trains painted to look like a shark. What does sharks have to do with Top Gun?


Yes, sharks have nothing to do with Navy fighter planes.

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Onto Thunder Road, which was running very well. Its kinda neat to be able to say that we have ridden a coaster that covers two states. We only did the foward side, but both sides were running. Leanne really enjoyed this wooden roller coaster. I did as well. After Thunder Road we ate some fried chicken for some lunch at the chicken place (I can't remember the name). The Scooby Doo ride was kinda a poor man's version of the dark ride/shooting gallery. At least the guns were working since I was able to score 1790 points....More than double of the score needed for a top ranking....(woot! Duck Hunt paid itself off). We finally walked over to where the main gate is located as was reminded that we needed one of those "State line" couple shots that everyone gets. We decided to do a nice one so our parents can have at least one interesting shot from our vacation. Onto another coaster credit...The Kiddie Inverted coaster Runaway Reptar. The line was crazy longer earlier in the day so we saved it until later. Since I'm 6'3" I was very close to missing my first credit of the day. Runaway Reptar was OK, a smoother version of Cypress Garden's Swamp Thing, but again nothing special. We did ride both the log flume as well as the river rapids ride. After these rides we basically spent the rest of the day on Danny's Phantom Flyers as well as Top Gun. Overall we had a great time at Carowinds. The lines (other than Borg and the water rides) were walk-ons. It was very hot that day so most people were at the water park part of the park. We did spend our 2nd Carowinds day at the waterpark (a couple pictures as well soon).


More pictures.....(Waterworks and SFOG coming soon)


Top Gun right after its last coaster of the day.


The Borg in late afternoon.


Looks like I wasnt the only adult on this coaster. Runaway Reptar loading area.


I almost lost out on a coaster credit due to my height.


Runaway Reptar!!!! Growl!


The nice standard couple on the state line picture.


Wow! I'm so used to Disney to have a 20min wait inside as well as outside. The car was right by the outside door.


The Scooby Doo ride.........Very scary and intense.


Thunder Road loading area....notice one train is facing the wrong way.


Thunder Road Entrance

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This is my last posting for Carowinds.


Day 4: (7-26-05) Carowinds Waterworks


We did spent a 2nd day at the park because we wanted to do a little swimming (plus to ride the flyers a couple more times). I will keep this post brief. The Waterworks was pretty nice...it enabled us to relax and spend some time on the waterslides as well as the wave pool. By far the most interesting attraction in the water area was the Flying Super Saturator (Does this count as a credit?). It was a combination of an inverted coaster as well as a water ride. Those who are waiting in line for the ride actually get more soaked than those who are on the ride itself. Each person on the coaster (seats 4 people 2 fowards-2 backwards) gets a one-shot level to drop a bunch of water below the coaster car. Most people seem to go for the people waiting in line (an easy target). I targeted the family that was watching the ride from the side...I have to admit I was not sure if I got em, because they were not waiting around after I got off the ride.


Here are a few pictures......(Coming Soon SFOG)


One slide of many at The Waterworks


The Waterworks


What a neat idea, The Flying Super Saturator.

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Holy crap that line for Kumba looks long! I don't think I've been at that park when Kumba wasn't a walk on!


--Robb "Nice TR!" Alvey


Its funny because when I went the fri before sheikra open everything, and i mean EVERYTHING was a walk on! Even went to python and all the rid ops were just sitting in the train and over at cheetah chase it was like they were having a meeting or something!



Jarvis "Man I love the off season!" Morant

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