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Skycoastin' Steve's 2010 Season Extravaganza!!

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Awesome trip report! Your photos are always some of the best quality I've ever seen. You do an excellent job with timing!


Carowinds looks like a beautiful park. I really liked that wide shot of Nighthawk and its surroundings. That whole area doesn't seem to belong in the "concrete jungle" stereotype of a Cedar Fair park. Is it just me, or does the park, in general, look a lot brighter this year?


Thanks for sharing.

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^Yep I'll be there Friday for opening day. Should be a completely different ride experience, but I'm definitely looking forward to it!


Totally looking forward to the report, I'm itching to know what I305 will be like.

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^^Many thanks, I love taking these pictures and sharing them with you guys.


I agree with you about the brightness of the park, and I definitely think it has a lot to do with the new color schemes for Nighthawk and Carolina Cyclone, as well as the addition of Carolina Cobra and Intimidator really making the color of the park jump out at you. I really had forgotten how nice the park was until I went back, it's definitely a very nice place to spend a day.

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Alright so it's time for my trip report from Kings Dominion's opening day and other fun activities that happened throughout the weekend. All in all it was a very successful weekend riding some kickass coasters and having three pretty good days at three different theme parks. The weekend started on Thursday afternoon when Daniel (CoasterGuy06) and I left Birmingham and headed for Fredericksburg (site of my family home). Twelve hours and two traffic jams in Tennessee later, we arrived and realized that we were going to be waking up less than 5 hours later for opening day at Kings Dominion and Intimidator 305!


We got to KD at about 8:30 and were given two tickets to the event by another TPR poster (thanks a million!) who had won two seats in the first ride auction. The great thing about being a guest of the auction winners was being able to go back with them to I305 at 9 instead of waiting on the GP flood at 10:30. So we waited through the fantastic preshow they had for the day, complete with two of Dale's offspring, a nice rendition of the national anthem, and a whole lot of pumping up for the ride. As we were waiting for the auction winners to finish their 4 rides, Jack Falfas (COO of Cedar Fair) started to walk towards the ride with a few extra people, pointed to me and said, "Hey, he's got Knott's Berry Farm on his shirt, let him in!" (I was wearing my WCB shirt). So he escorted Daniel and me into the station to be on the 2nd train after the auction winners were done (so technically the 6th public train), where we got a 2nd row ride. After that, we were able to get a ride in the 2nd to last row, and a third ride in the middle of the train before the GP FLOODED the queue. I already gave my ride review in the KD thread, but this thing was insane, intense, crazy, wild, wicked, and any other wild word you can think of. Resting solidly at #2 on my steel list, still behind Millennium Force (shut up, I still like it better).


After leaving I305 when the GP storm arrived, we hit up Volcano, which was only running one train (a sad and disappointing trend of the day). We also got rides on Grizzly (one train), Ricochet (a few trains, but operators were sending them out with 2 riders instead of trying to fill every one to move the line faster), Drop Tower, Dominator (only running two trains VERY slowly), Anaconda (two trains, cycled the fastest of any ride not named Intimidator 305), a 4th trip on I305, and then a credit whoring cycle on Ghoster Coaster (running two trains but only loading one). We only got 7 laps during operation because unfortunately most of the rides were either down or running at extremely low capacity. Dare I say, it felt a lot like a day at the Six Flags parks of old. Thankfully I305 was epic and awesome and made up for the disappointing rest of the day. I also had to visit Guest Relations about an issue with my Platinum Pass, and they had me standing off to the side "waiting" on someone for half an hour. When nobody came, I just left because I didn't want to keep wasting time (the issue was resolved the next day).


As stated in the paragraph above, Dominator's crew was running horrendously slow with only two trains running, and were BADLY stacking trains when it should have been rather easy to keep them moving along. We timed a few cycles while in the station, and the average cycle from train parking to train leaving was almost 4 minutes, which is AWFUL. As I've stated before, I'm pretty critical of ride crews given my background in operations, and this was the worst crew I had seen in a day at a park since I went to BGA and tried to ride Gwazi last year.


Total coaster ride count for the day:

Intimidator 305: 4 (new credit)

Volcano: 1

Grizzly: 1

Ricochet: 1 (new credit)

Dominator: 1 (repeated credit)

Anaconda: 1

Ghoster Coaster: 1 (new credit)


Part 2 will be posted after the first batch of pictures.

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Pictures from KD opening day. Full facebook album can be found here.


Time for Kings Dominion!


And Intimidator 305!


It's testing!


Sign goodness.


It's amazing to me just how much smaller this ride makes everything else look. I remember when Anaconda looked like a tall roller coaster.


After 3 rides pre-GP, it was time to head to Volcano, which was my first launched coaster. I waited 2.5 hours for this the week it opened!


Notice they only painted parts of the ride viewable from I305, and did a pretty shoddy job at that. Hopefully they finish before daily operation, because it looks pretty janky.


Grizzly time! Love this woodie!




We now pause for a moment of silence in remembrance of Hypersonic.........




New credit for myself, one that I had never ridden in all my visits as a younger lad.


And a 305 foot ride!


And another 305 foot ride! Whoa!


Largest loop in the world! Steve Mecca!


This ride is so great it provides TWO places for sign-ride action!


Doesn't look so much like a cobra from here.


B&M curves. mmmmmmmmmmmm.......


Really like the unique layout.


Sunny delight!


Rattle rattle rattle rattle.


Best shot of Dominator, figures it's at the pre-lift track.


Having so much fun, too bad we had to wait twice as long as necessary!


Time to go up in the Eiffel Tower.


Drop Tower got stuck with people up top, this would happen again the next day.


So I guess there's a new coaster there this year?


Drop Tower on its way down now, and Rebel Yell looking fantastic.


Time for what was my first looping coaster, Anaconda! This ride seriously scared the life out of me the first time I rode it. It's safe to say I've conquered my fears since.


Slowest, roughest, most uncomfortable double corkscrew ever, but I LOVE it!


We request more of DAS LOOP!!!!




But now it's time for more of the REAL reason we were all there.


I want my bag of crap! I have a TPR shirt on and a picture in front of I305! Robb take note!!!


Left turn on a Nascar themed ride. Success!




Brake run. Satisfaction.


My favorite picture of the day, and as always is the case with those, my current background.


Blown up version of the picture above, a full grown man begs for mercy.


Another of my favorite shots.


Last shot of this report!

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Nice work, the third last photo is hilarious. The look of pain on that guys face, you'd think I305 had over the groin restraints.


This would be my day at KD, ride I305 all morning, get Shockwave credit, ride I305 the rest of the day with maybe a ride on Flight Of Fear.

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We're you in the single riders line for Intimaditor when they we're putting the second train on the switch track becuase if so I was the kid with the curly hair and a white shirt in front of you.

I don't think I remember you (I was delirious by that point), but I'm almost willing to bet that was us in the single rider line. We were insanely tired and didn't feel like waiting through one train operation. Paid off, too, cause we ended up getting Mexican on my mother's tab right after that.

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Yeah it was horrible I ended up being stuck in the line becuase it got so crowded. After they switched the train the ride was working after 1 full run it broke down again(By this time I was stuck).After about 30 mins it was up and running again but with 1 train operations they we're only letting two people at a time go through the single riders line. Then they made me go in the front this seems like a good thing but that line was ridicoulous after about an hour and forty-five minutes I finally got to ride.

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And it's time for Part Deux of Easter Weekend.


After our opening day activities at Kings Dominion on Good Friday, it was time to head to Six Flags America on Saturday. Daniel had been here before, but like a good sport, tagged along so I could get my 7 new credits. We got in as the gates opened, and immediately headed back to Superman, where I earned my 250th credit in the front row of a chilly early morning run. It's a pretty decent ride, but I just don't get the heinous straight sections of track and the ridiculously long helices that just get boring after a while. Even when it was running a bit slow, it had good airtime, though. Next up was Batwing, which was my 3rd and final Vekoma flyer credit, and it sucked just as bad as the other two. Then we went back to Superman for a back row ride, which had some great ejector air on the first drop, but still was a bit boring in the 2nd helix. We then hurried over to Joker's Jinx to finish up Gotham City before the GP flooded the back of the park, and riding this gave me my 4th and final Spaghetti Bowl coaster credit in the states.


After Joker's Jinx we headed to the other side of the park for a little Wild One action, which was a pretty good ride for being so old. We rode in the 2nd row from the back. It had a couple nice moments of airtime that caught me by surprise, but had some dull sections. Either way, I enjoyed it. Then it was time to credit whore The Great Race, and the slowest ride operator in the history of amusement parks was operating that. My longest wait of the day was for a frickin' kiddie coaster that had a two-train wait. Now it was time for Mind Eraser. No matter how much I pray and hope and wish that these things are broken down for the day when I visit a park with one, this one just HAD to be open so I was forced to ride it for credit whoring's sake. It hurt just as bad and was just as crappy as the rest of them. Thankfully, our last rides of the day would be on Roar, one in the front seat and one in the back seat, and for an early GCI with PTC trains, it actually was a fun ride. The back was kinda rough in a few spots, but all in all it was a quality coaster (however nothing to write home about). I now only have two remaining GCI credits left in the country (Roar at SFDK and Renegade).


As far as the park was concerned, I actually thought it wasn't that bad. I guess I was expecting customer service-ageddon from all the horribly negative reviews it's gotten in the past, but the operators were excited and moved quickly (for the most part), and the staff was all very friendly. I could see how the clientele of the area would make a few people anxious, but I didn't see any problems that day, at least. Their ride selection just leaves a LOT to be desired. Not the best SF experience I've had, but not the worst, either.


Once we hurried up and left SFA, we headed back down to Kings Dominion for a little more I305 action. However, the park was PACKED and was still plagued with the operational problems from Friday. We were able to get a single rider line wait of about 45 minutes and one more ride on 305, then we waited almost an hour for Backlot Stunt Coaster because of one train operation (Daniel needed the credit, otherwise we wouldn't have ridden it). After Backlot, we went back to 305 and saw that they were transferring a train off the track for the 2nd day in a row. Knowing that that would mean about a minimum 90 minute wait, we decided it was best to just leave. We got one more ride on Dominator on the way out and called it an early night. Hopefully the next time I go to KD they have everything sorted out operationally.


Now for the pictures, I have to say that these will not be the greatest quality. My camera turned on accidentally in my pocket while on Dominator on Friday and got smashed up against the seat repeatedly throughout the ride. Now the lens motor is fried and the focus is all out of whack sometimes because of it. Guess I gotta get it repaired.

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Time for pictures from SFA. Didn't take any more at KD that day since I had taken so many the day before. There aren't too many, and keep in mind that my camera is for all intents and purposes broken, so the focus is screwed up on a few shots.


Park entrance, nice colonial theming.


Going under Wild One into Gotham City.


250th credit! Go me!


Great airtime in the bunny hills.


Trees were blooming everywhere, very pretty time of year.


The sun is melting the Ride of Steel! Oh nooooo!!!




Could have been a better shot if my zoom/focus worked.


This one turned out great, though.




3rd and final Vekoma flyer. Thank God.


Ugliest Skycoaster ever?


Time for some spaghetti bowl madness!


Silhouettey goodness!


So I guess Superman fights the Joker in Gotham City now???? Epic superhero/villain fail on SFA's part.


Blurry picture, classic woodie.








This actually was more uncomfortable and painful than T2, and that's saying a lot.


Please get me away from here.




Fan turn sweetness. Good ride!

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And Part Trois!


So on Easter Sunday we had to head back down to Alabama, and what better way to break up a drive than by stopping at Carowinds?!?! Since we already went on opening day, the only new credit Daniel needed was Nighthawk, which meant lots of intimidation! Carowinds is a solid 6 hour drive from my family home, so we were gone by a little after 6, and we arrived right around 11:30 to the sight of a barely crowded park, which meant it was prime time for marathoning Intimidator! We immediately hit up that beautiful red B&M monster for a 4th row ride. While waiting in the station (it was a station wait for practically the entire day, never waited longer than 10 minutes), we figured that a good challenge would be to ride in all 16 rows before closing. We had till 6, and there was no line, so we had an outside chance.


After our first ride, we went up in the Carolina Skytower to take some nice aerial shots that we weren't able to get on opening day. Then we went back to Intimidator and started a mini marathon. Rows 13, 3, and 14 fell by the wayside, all delivering wonderful spectacles of airtime and wind. Then it was time to grab two of the best rows on the ride, 16 and 15. We had 6 rides in 6 different rows and we hadn't even been there for two hours yet! One more ride on row 11 and it was time to go to lunch. Seven rows down, nine to go, and it was only 1:30. We went to Jack in the Box for lunch and I thoroughly enjoyed my Ultimate Cheeseburger and curly fries. Then we hurried back over to the park to continue riding.


At this point we took a break from Intimidator and concentrated on getting Daniel his Nighthawk credit. I wish I had sat this one out. The wait wasn't horrible, I believe it was about half an hour or a little longer, but the ride has gotten tenfold rougher than what it was in 2006 when I worked at Carowinds. Nighthawk has plummeted in my steel rankings now. Since I felt I needed some sort of redemption, we went to Afterburn and got three rides, one in the back row and two in the 7th row, all in a span of 10 minutes (yes, there were no lines). I don't know how I had forgotten just how good Afterburn was, maybe it was not riding it for 4 years. But it's SO damn intense and awesome. Not sure how it doesn't get more attention from enthusiasts.


Once we were sufficiently Afterburned, it was time to hit up Intimidator for the rest of the day. We had about 3 hours to get the last 9 rows in. At this point we still needed 1, 2, 5-10, and 12. Once again, the wait was minimal. Row 6 was our first post-lunch victim. The next ride, the (somewhat rude) grouper at the station gate forced us to go to row 14 when the ENTIRE STATION was literally EMPTY, even though I asked very politely if we could go in the front row. This would be our only repeated row of the day. After this ride, I had to run over to the employment office and process my application before the employment office closed at 4 (yep, might be going back). We got back around 4:30 and had an hour and a half to get the final 8 rows. A tall task, but not impossible!


We were quickly able to get 12 and 5, and now we had 6 rows to go with an hour before closing. Next time around we got 8, and then I realized that with the grouper assigning rows, we weren't going to be able to get the specific rows we needed. After that, I literally reminded the grouper that we were going for every row in the train and told him which ones we needed, and he let us go to whichever ones we needed. A huge thanks to this grouper (different than the one from before) who allowed us to achieve our maximum dorkness for the day. After this, rows 7 and 9 were eliminated, and we only had 3 left. Row 2 would fall next, leaving us rows 1 and 10 with about 15 minutes left. The line had gotten a little longer since people leaving the park were getting one last ride before they left, so we surmised that we might only have one ride left. We automatically picked row 1 for what we thought would be our last ride, and we were sweating just wondering if we could get just one extra lap in row 10 to finish our marathon. Then it happened.


A woman threw up a few trains before we were supposed to board. And she threw up EVERYWHERE on the car she was sitting in. Well crap. At that point we were content just getting 15 rows and 16 rides. The crew hurried to clean the mess up and just loaded two trains while the puke train was cleaned off. We got on our first row ride at 5:54. As long as no more delays happened, we had a chance to get back in line before 6. After our spectacular first row ride (seriously, front car is amazing), we hurried off the ride and were able to jump back in line at 5:58. As we got up to the station, I knew I was going to have to plead my case to the grouper one last time for row 10. However, when we got to the grouper, there was one row that hadn't been filled yet in the station. Which row was that? Yep, row 10! The roller coaster gods smiled on us on Easter Sunday. Our cycle was the 3rd last cycle of the day before closing, and we had finished our 16 row, 17 lap marathon successfully with several silly on-ride photos and all kinds of floaty airtime goodness.


So that was our day. 17 rides on Intimidator, one VERY painful ride on Nighthawk, and three intense, face melting rides on Afterburn. We never even went to the back of the park.

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Same disclaimer applies to these pictures, focus was awful all day, didn't get many good shots.


Really like this.


Dale's "Victory Wall."


Entrance from the Skytower.


Hurler and my old friend, the Xtreme Skyflyer :)


Craphawk from above.


Can you spot all three trains?


Such a simple layout, but so damn good!


I see Charlotte!


Looks great. Rides like....well......feces.




Loop shot!


Another attempt at art, the USA and NC flags with the Skytower. It works.


First drop action.


The row marathon!!!!


Disclaimer: I DO NOT refer to this ride as "Timmy," it was merely a running joke of the weekend and it gave me an opportunity to quote Southpark every time I wrote down another row number. Giving a ride a nickname like "Timmy" is about the lamest thing ever, and yet another reason why I often times roll my eyes at fanboys.


On the way out, more opportunities for good shots.


Trees and coasters.


Going down!


Going up!


2nd hill/turn.


Empty train.


A couple silhouette shots to end the weekend.


Last picture of the weekend, and it turned out perfectly!

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^It honestly wasn't that bad four years ago (the last time I had ridden it). The ride I had on Sunday was one of the worst experiences I've had on a coaster. It felt like I was in a metal trash can rolling down a hill, that's how much it shook. The rattling was so bad my teeth hurt. The wheel assemblies above our heads were rattling so much I actually pondered out loud if our train was about to drop off the track. I might have taken death over finishing that cycle.

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I guess I'm just a loser for calling it Timmy.


And Nighthawk has gotten a bad rattle the past couple years and I don't even ride it but maybe once a year at C3 or Coaster Stock.


Firehawk made me feel like I was falling out of the restraints. I guess at this point Batwing is probably my favorite since Carowinds has let NH go.

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^^Look at my TR from SFA just above my Carowinds one and you'll see if I've ridden Batwing.


Batwing was pretty rough, too. I rode Firehawk the year it was installed at KI, and it wasn't that rough. But then again, when they move a ride it gets a complete rehab, so that probably had something to do with it. I think that's another part of the reason Nighthawk wasn't that bad in '06 (when it was still Borg). It had just been rebuilt in '05, so it hadn't had time to get rough yet. I'm willing to bet Firehawk will be bad in a few years. Vekomas do NOT age well at ALL.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well a little bit of professional news from the life of Steve. Just moved to Charlotte and will soon be interviewing for a supervisor position at Carowinds, so I'm super super super excited about that.


Got to ride Rampage a few more times before I left, and for anyone who was lamenting that terrible pothole last year, I can report with 100% certainty that the pothole is FIXED. Along with some track work in a few other spots, it's running beautifully right now, with a little more track work to come before daily operation starts. So I'll get one last plug in, GO RIDE RAMPAGE THIS YEAR!!!!!


Now for the really important issue at hand, to change the av or not to change the av?

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^ That's awesome (both things).


If it wasn't for those two pot holes, I would've ranked it in my top 10 last year when I finally got to ride it.


Insane air on that beast.


Let us know how the interview goes, I worked out there on ride photo last year and depending on how things go this fall, I may work SCarowinds again on ride photo if I can get it. Honestly it was a blast of a job, you get 99% of the people are happy and laughing at their pic, they're not cursing at you (until you tell them about the $4 Coke's).


Anyway, it was my first time working at the park, and I've lived in Charlotte all my life. I'd do it again.

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Good luck with the interview.


Rampage with no potholes will be awesome, that coaster has such a great layout, it was fun last year as long as you were ready for the potholes.


It's a shame there isn't any good wood at Carowinds, I found Hurler punishing though it looks impressive and Thunder Road was just ok.

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