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Huge Trip to KD, BGW, Carowinds, and Dollywood

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So this year my family and I went on a week long vacation to Kings Dominion, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Carowinds, and Dollywood. As it turned out, our route home passed right by Kings Island so of course since we have Cedar Fair Platinum Passes we stopped by and rode Banshee and got a bite to eat before driving the rest of the way up to Cleveland Ohio.


We all had a great time as we had never been to Carowinds or Dollywood before so it was fun to finally get to check out those parks and also get to visit the others again. There was about 25 new credits to be found which got my coaster count up to 206 and my son's up to around 190.


So on Saturday July 25th we left home in Cleveland and set out on a long 8 hour drive to Kings Dominion. We finally got there at around 5:00 in the afternoon and the park was much more crowded than I thought it would be, and since we were only staying at Kings Dominion for the rest of the day before heading out to Busch Gardens, we didn't get to ride all the coasters but did get to ride Dominator, Grizzly, Hurler, both sides of Rebel Yell, Intimidator 305 twice, Volcano, and also were able to have an "ok" dinner. So I was very happy with what we got to ride since we did get to ride everything we wanted to and a little more.


The park as a whole was very clean and well landscaped. Nothing to complain about for the park as a whole.


My thoughts on each coaster that we rode:


Dominator: After waiting about a half hour we got to ride in the back seat and we were shocked at how smooth the ride was! No sign of the "B&M rattle" and there was absolutely no head banging. When we rode it in 2012 it had a bit of a rattle and very noticeable headbanging through the cobra roll and corkscrews. I don't know what the park is doing to that ride but it's working.


Grizzly While not a bumpy or bad ride, it was just kinda slow and boring. Thankfully there was no line as I wouldn't wait more than 10 minutes for this. Ride it for the credit but that's about it.


Hurler After having a surprisingly good ride on Dominator, I thought that maybe the same could happen on Hurler. Long story short, I was wrong. Fast and rough through the first curve coming off the first drop and then after that it really lost speed and was very rough, slow, and boring. No line made it worth riding though but a once and done for sure.


Rebel Yell Pretty smooth and fast and had a good bit of airtime. Worth the 15 minute wait for both sides and much, much better than the other two woodies here.


Volcano This had at least a two hour wait and very slow operations but we were lucky enough to win a one time fastlane pass from a nearby plinko game and we were able to skip the whole line and get the front seat in about 10 minutes. Such an awesome and unique ride. A can't miss at the park for sure and if the line wasn't so long I would jump right back in line. Worth reriding a number of times if the line is short as I assume that is a rare occurence.


Intimidator 305 What can I say that hasn't already been said? Fast, smooth, very forceful. All around great ride. After waiting 45 minutes with slow operations we got right back in line to wait again because it was well worth the wait. Easily a top 10 ride for sure.


And one thing to note: we decided we wanted a turkey leg for dinner and that was the worst decision of the trip. When we got it, it was cold and obviously not cooked enough. To Kings Dominion's credit, we told them the issue and they replaced it with a pulled pork sandwich free of charge which was cold, but was at least cooked enough and tasted pretty good.


But enough talk, onto the pictures! I didn't get many since we were more focused on getting on what we needed to than taking pictures. Comments are appreciated!


We are here! DC traffic on the way was a nightmare.


Dominator looks awesome as you enter the park.


Happy birthday Kings Dominion!


Beautiful fountains on International street


Looking up at the tower


Beautiful night for an amusement park.

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Dominator: After waiting about a half hour we got to ride in the back seat and we were shocked at how smooth the ride was! No sign of the "B&M rattle" and there was absolutely no head banging. When we rode it in 2012 it had a bit of a rattle and very noticeable headbanging through the cobra roll and corkscrews. I don't know what the park is doing to that ride but it's working.



I also rode it in 2012 and couldn't believe how much rattle it had. I didn't ride it much when I was there. Glad to hear that it seems to be fixed. I still greatly miss this ride, especially those night rides, on the lakefront at Geauga.


That evening photo of 305 is fantastic!

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Ok on to Busch Gardens!


So after leaving Kings Dominion just after 10 o'clock, we were on hour way to our hotel at Busch Gardens which was about an hour away. Once we got there we went straight to bed since we'd be getting up very early the following day to ensure we'd be at Busch Gardens well before the park opened.


Everything worked out as planned and we were waiting outside the entrance at 9:30 on Sunday morning.


As some of you may recall Sunday July 26th was the final day Thunder Road would operate at Carowinds, so once we knew that our trip would work out that we'd have a chance to visit Carowinds that night we made sure to leave Busch Gardens by 2:00 in the afternoon so we could get a ride on Thunder Road before it closed forever that night.


So thanks to our TPR discount we went into the park for a rather cheap price and picked up our Quick Queue passes which we didn't really need but they were cheap at $25 anyways so it didn't matter. The unfortunate thing about Quick Queue is that it does not include Tempesto which was like half of our reason for visiting Busch Gardens as it was the only credit we did not have.


Thankfully since we were there super early we were able to get on Tempesto twice before the line really picked up. After that we rode everything that is on the Quick Queue pass once or twice which is Apollo's Chariot, Roman Rapids, Escape from Pompeii (I understand this ride is broken a lot but it seemed to be running all day thankfully.), Verbolten, Alpengeist, Griffon, and Curse of DarKastle. We also got a ride on Loch Ness Monster although it was not a Quick Queue ride. We ended the day with a great meal of corned beef and roasted chicken at the Festhaus then took another ride on Apollo on the way out and we were on our way to Carowinds.


Oh and for those of you who will ask: Yes Mach Tower was broke the whole time we were there


So here are my thoughts on what we rode:


Tempesto By no means was it a bad ride and was actually quite fun, but that being said I don't know if it is the kind of ride that really belongs at a park like Busch Gardens. Not very thrilling and very low capacity. Thankfully the ride operators were super fast so that kept the line moving. Much better fit at a park like Lake Compounce.


Apollo's Chariot What a great B&M. Kept good speed throughout and had pretty good airtime. I love that funky turnaround that this ride has. Also had no sign of the "B&M Rattle" that many other hyper coasters do.


Verbolten We rode this in 2012 which was it's opening year and it was quite smooth and enjoyable. Sadly it has not aged well. Very bumpy and had a very noticeable rattle throughout. The freefall drop in the building is still very fun and despite all this it is still a decent family coaster.


Alpengeist Wasn't that good in 2012 and it still isn't that good although it is better. The drop and the loop and immelmann are fast and had a rattle and the cobra roll completely bashed my head into the OTSRs even though I was ready for it. After a very rough transition into the MCBR it really slowed and seemed to barely make it through the rest of the course. The second half, although smoother, was very slow and boring. I've heard that this ride has good days and bad days and I can assure you we rode it on a very very bad day.


Griffon Much, much better than Alpengeist. smooth and fast through the first half and after the MCBR it was obviously slower but still just as smooth. The thought of a Dive machine at CP that is taller, faster, longer, and has more inversions makes me really excited for 2016!


Loch Ness Monster Such a classic ride. Still smooth and still fun. In my opinion the best arrow looper of any of them but that would change later in the trip.


Roman Rapids Pretty fun rapids ride. Not much else to be said.


Escape from Pompeii Decent theming and a very good splash on the hill. All around fun ride.


Curse of DarKastle Fun to ride a dark ride that doesn't involve shooting at targets and getting points. Good storyline and good effects. Best dark ride I've ever ridden although I haven't been on many.


Onto the Pictures! Comments are appreciated!


This is why we are here.




Apollo is still the best in Italy


On to Griffon!




Classic arrow time!




Alpengeist does look cool though


...But Griffon steals the show.


One last shot of the Marry-Go-Round before heading out. Carowinds pictures up tomorrow!

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Great pictures!


Alpengeist was amazing when I visited. I loved how forceful and fast the first half was, and honestly while the MCBR does bring you to a stop, it doesn't really make the rest of the ride feel that slow to me. I think it mostly feels slower because you are no longer ripping through the course at speeds brought to you by that massive first drop. Love that first drop too. Hopefully next time you ride it you have a better experience. I find every coaster in BGWs lineup to be great except for Verbolten which I think was a huge downgrade from Big Bad Wolf, but it's overall size and theme is still impressive for a family coaster.


Let me guess, the reason Loch Ness Monster was only your favorite arrow for the day was because you followed it up with Carolina Cyclone at Carowinds ...I'm going to take a pretty confident guess you are referring to Tennessee Tornado. I am a sucker for Arrow coasters so I love all of the ones from the parks you visited.

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So Alpengeist still has that rattle that was prevalent back during my 2012 visit - . The ride is still my favorite but Griffon is very close to taking over. Yes, the idea that CP will get a dive coaster next year, even if it wasn't taller, faster, and had more inversions, has me excited as well.


Loch Ness Monster surprises me every time I visit as to how it remains so smooth and continually looks new for a ride its age.

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Volcano is a super fun ride and how awesome that you got a skip the line pass for it! It always has an enormous line and for good reason. BGW is a pretty park and besides Big Bad Wolf (RIP) the only ride I really love is Apollo's Chariot. Griffon is nice too and I'm looking forward to seeing what CP has in store for 2016!

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Ok so after leaving Busch Gardens in the early afternoon we were on our way to Carowinds. We arrived at about 8:30 and saw that the South Carolina gate was open and since the theme of tonights trip to Carowinds was to get a ride on Thunder Road we opted to head over there since it is a much shorter walk to the ride. Once we got to the ride there was only about a 15 minute wait and both sides were open. We got in line for the second row on the right side (which ever state and color that is my memory isn't being nice to me right now ) and throughout the 5 or 6 train wait chants of "Thunder Road!" and "Lets Go Blue!" and "Silver Silver Silver!" were rocking the station. It was obvious that a lot of people were going to miss this ride, including me and I hadn't even rode it yet! We saw a few people holding back tears, but for the most part people were happy to relive their memories of the ride one last time.


So what did I think of the ride?


Well pretty much as soon as I hit the brake run I immediately turned to my son and said "Why the hell would they get rid of such a good ride?!?!?!?" and he agreed. The ride was just as smooth if not smoother than Rebel Yell at Kings Dominion and had great pops of airtime and held good speed throughout. What made it better was that we won the race too.


After we got off we wanted to go on the left side and got in line to do so. As we soon figured out they had shut down that side so they could prepare it for the final ride and since the line for the blue side which we had already ridden was all the way back to the ride's entrance we opted to ride Afterburn a few times, get some ice cream, and watch the fireworks.


So was it worth leaving a great park like Busch Gardens early just to ride Thunder Road? Yes it was for sure. It was really a cool experience to be around all those people that were so passionate about that ride. Seriously words cannot describe how loud it was on the ride platform. The platform was shaking with how loud it was in there. I might change my mind on August 27th when they announce their new waterpark stuff, but for now I am very disappointed that Carowinds would get rid of a ride that it seemed like so many people loved. To me it doesn't even seem necessary to get rid of the ride but I'll forget about that for now to keep from ranting


So after all that we left the park and checked into our hotel of 3 nights so we could get some rest for the full day of roller coasters starting at 9:30 with Fury 325 early ride time.


9:30 rolled around and we finally got our ride on Fury and rode a few times before heading out into the rest of the park. Things would go like this for all of Monday and Tuesday, then also till the early afternoon on Wednesday. Turns out that we had much more time than we needed since the park was dead all three days. The longest we waited was about 20 minutes for Intimidator and Nighthawk. Nighthawk's line did get to be about an hour during the afternoon so, by riding in the morning we avoided that. It was ok that we had so much time as that made it so we could check out the waterpark and get tons of rides on all 3 of the great B&M coasters here (and one not so good B&M). At about 1 o'clock on Wednesday we left the park and started our journey through the Smoky Mountains to Pigeon Forge TN.


I'm only going to review the coasters this time around instead of everything we rode since we rode just about everything we weren't to old to ride.


Fury 325 Holy S***! What a ride! Although I wouldn't call it a very forceful ride, it by no means is forceless I thought it kept speed throughout and had some really good airtime on the final 3 hills. We rode this at least 20 times but probably more. We rode in every single row a number of times but the one that sticks out as the best is the front seat at night. In the morning the ride is still great but at night it really hauls a** throughout the entire course. Easily a top 3 ride.


Intimidator It is very easy to look over this ride since it has a much taller and faster brother across the park and after riding Fury we thought we'd be spoiled and not really think much of Intimidator. Boy were we wrong. I will admit there was next to no forces that I felt, but it had so much floater airtime and such a smooth ride that that easily makes up for it. Another coaster we rode at least 20 times. Another top 10 coaster from this park.


Nighthawk While not a bad ride it really did not keep speed through the course and had just a little bit of a rattle. I prefer firehawk at Kings Island.


Afterburn Easily the most forceful coaster at the park. I started to "grey out" between a couple of the inversions and could honestly feel a "tingle" in my feet during a few parts of the ride. Minimal headbanging as well. My one problem is that it is a very short ride compared to rides like Raptor and Banshee but it's still a great ride. Another coaster we rode 15-20 times and probably one of the best inverted coasters out there.


Carolina Cobra Not much to say other than it is a standard boomerang. It does have the new restraints similar to those on B&M wing riders and Banshee so there was thankfully no headbanging. Only rode this 2 or 3 times although we could have rode it more.


Vortex The one bad apple in the B&M collection of Carowinds. Rough and had a terrible rattle throughout. Somehow it also had headbanging throughout the entire ride including the first drop. I rode it once it the front seat on Monday and once in the second seat on Tuesday and both rides were terrible although the second row wasn't quite as bad.


Carolina Cyclone It is an arrow and it has 2 loops and 2 corkscrews. That should speak for itself. The only nice thing about this was the paint job.


Carolina Goldrusher This was a nice surprise. It was actually somewhat smooth and also somewhat thrilling. Probably the best mine train coaster I've rode. We rode this probably about 5 times.


Hurler Somehow much smoother than the one at Kings Dominion but still a very boring, slow ride. We only rode it twice.


Ricochet Pretty standard wild mouse but actually was pretty smooth. It was broken down a lot, but it happened to reopen 3 times when we were walking by to we got on 3 times without waiting more than one train.


Flying Ace Aerial Chase Yes we rode it deal with it. It beats the crap out of your head. Once and done.


Woodstock Express Really good family coaster with a couple good pops of airtime if you ride in the back. We rode this one two times.


Other rides of note:


Windseeker Nice ride to ride when it is 95 degrees and also really humid. Seemed to spend a longer time at the top than its counterpart at Cedar Point and Kings Island. We rode about 5 times.


Woodstock Gliders Great ride. Ride operators actually encourage you to go as high as possible and don't yell at you for snapping. They also announce a winner each ride cycle who is who they think went the highest. Worth the 3 or 4 rides we took on it.


Also of note is that the waterpark was just so "meh" Other than the slides they opened last year it seems like they haven't had anything new since the 90s. Not what you would expect from a park in the Carolinas. I can see why they are apparently doing a huge expansion next year, I just wish they didnt have to get rid of Thunder Road to do so.


Onto the pictures! Much more than the last two updates. And of course comments are appreciated!


Yay we are here!


The backside of the entrance sign.


I love how Fury interacts with the entrance.





Lots of Fury pictures





Last pic of Fury with Intimidator in the back


This is all I have for this ride


The drop tower seemed very small. At least it was actually running unlike Mach Tower




Paint job looks good though


Fun wild mouse





Hard ride to photograph


GL misses you










Only piece of the ride I could get a picture of


Only a couple days after it closed and they already removed the signs on the top of the hill


Yay afterburn!


I like that didn't just go with "Flight Deck" when they renamed it.





Lots of fun



I see you Intimidator


Great place to eat. Good food and A/C



Hi Fury



Great shot of Intimidator from the parking lot


Another good shot


I'll leave you with a few shots of Thunder Road from the SC lot




That'll do it! Dollywood up next!

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  • 5 months later...

Hi everybody! I finally found some time to get the final park of our Summer 2015 trip (Dollywood) onto the forum. I can't believe the Carowinds update was way back in the summer, but life gets in the way ya know?


Anyways.... Dollywood and the Pigeon Forge area. I did not take any pictures of the Pigeon Forge area but I'll put together a small review of it now.


Well this was my first time visiting the area and if it weren't for Dollywood it would be my last. Talk about just busy and overcrowded with crappy little carnival rides and damn near dangerous go-kart tracks (depending on the other drivers. More on that later) ALL over the place. All of course were way over priced. We didn't do any of the shows in the area but I'm sure by the looks of the buildings each reside in that they were not nearly as crappy as the area. We did do the 3 alpine coasters in the area. (The smoky Mountain alpine coaster, The coaster at Goats on the Roof, and The Gatlinburg Mountain coaster). All of which were great fun but nothing beats SMAC at night. The track is all lit up with neon lights. Very cool experience. Thank God they were away from the hustle and bustle of the main street in Pigeon Forge. Oh and the 3 pancake houses scattered throughout the area we tried were all delicious.


Ok on to my little go-kart story.


Those of you familiar with the area will know what im talking about when I talk about the track along the road that has a f*****g double down in it. We had nothing better to do the night we arrived in the area so why not blow $20 on a go-kart track that might kill you?


Since I'm competitive by nature and wanted to win that race, I took that double down at full speed every time. Each time getting the car slightly off the "road". One of those times I was neck and neck with another apparent competitive racer and right as I crested the second drop this kid (about 19) decided to make a hard right and hit the side of my car. I went completely side-ways. Thankfully I landed on all four wheels (albeit I landed extremely hard and my tail bone was in some intense pain the next couple days) and was able to straighten myself out and continue the race, albeit a little slower. I can't imagine what would've happened if I didn't land correctly.


Lesson of the day: stay away from the track with the double down. Your body will most likely thank you.


I'm going to do the Dollywood portion of the report in the next post. Days 2 and 3 in pigeon forge were much better than day 1!

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Onto Dollywood! We woke up Bright and early that Thursday morning so we could get to the park early and pick up our Time Saver Q-Bot. (only $25 is awesome considering we come from Cedar Point and fastlane in regularly $90 a person) Turns out we did not need the time saver either day (only bought it on Thursday) because the park was surprisingly dead. I assume they do their best business on Saturdays? Q-Bots are fun anyways so we're glad we bought it.


It does still shock me the park was so dead at the end of July/early August but I was happy to not deal with crowds.


So Dollywood. Being a regular on the TPR forums and hearing many parks get compared to Dollywood, I came in with insanely high expectations. Every single one of them was exceeded. Every coaster. Every ride. Every bite to eat. Everything blew me away. We aren't even "show people" but the wild bird show they had we saw and very much enjoyed. We didn't quite need 2 days but I can see that if you wanted to see all the shows Dollywood has to offer that you'd want to stay 2 days.


Onto the ride reviews... I'm only doing the rides that stick out to me at the moment. We rode everything multiple times so if I reviewed everything this report would be just a little bit too long.




Wild Eagle This was my 200th coaster and worthy of being a 200th coaster. No its not incredibly forceful (after all it is a B&M wing rider) but it is just Fun. And ultimately that's what you want out of a coaster right? Every part of the ride was butter smooth and there was even a slight pop of air (much more comfortable than the pop of air I got on the go-karts the day before. Better landing too!) towards the end of the ride. Good enough for 3rd (out of 4) on my wingrider list behind Gatekeeper and Thunderbird and infront of X-Flight) We stuck to the front seat or last seat with nothing in between. No crowds and 2 train operations helped to make this ride no more than a 4 train wait at any time either day. We probably rode this 20 times over the 2 days we were there.


Fire Chaser Express The park really knocked it out of the "park" with this ride. The "not so new" new hotness of the park was running like it opened the day before. Yes it's a family coaster. I don't care. I loved it. Every single part of this ride is damn near perfect. Smooth and surprisingly fast for a family coaster. Fireworks factory was awesomely well done. Another ride we rode 20+ times. Never waited more than 15 minutes although the line did push 45 minutes at different times of the day. Understandable considering the relatively low capacity of the ride. Also the water falls leading up to the entrance of the ride were just beautiful.


Tennessee Tornado I have always heard good things about this ride but I didn't believe it. I mean come on... and Arrow Mega-looper that goes 70 mph? There's no chance this thing is smooth right? Wrong. 100% wrong. I don't know how Dolly pulled it off but she did! (although I'm sure she did it with a little help from Arrow ) Fantastic drop through the tunnel and smooth transition after smooth inversion after smooth transition. Best arrow looper ever. Oh you say _______ is better? You're wrong. Tennessee Tornado is the best. Unfortunately only 1 train is used for this ride (not even a second train in sight) but it really didn't matter because the majority of park patrons for one reason or another stayed away from the ride. Only 1-2 train waits at the most. 10+ rides on this one.


Blazing Fury ANOTHER FURY????????? Sadly no 325 foot lift hills or 95 mph speeds on this one though. Seriously though. What a quirky little ride/coaster thing. Yes the age shows but that's part of the charm. Very unique and somewhat fun ride. Unfortunately the ride had a decent line and semi slow operations so we only rode it twice. Not the ride's fault though. I would say it's a must ride only because of the uniqueness of it.


Mystery Mine Ok yes it's pretty rough on the head but that doesn't take away from the outstanding themeing and the crazy (and smooth) finale. Low capacity caused this line to stick around the half hour mark but we still managed about 7 or 8 rides on it.


Thunderhead Looking for a butter smooth woody showing no signs of age whatsoever? Look somewhere else. Looking for a woody that shows some "attitude" and is still not headache inducing? You've come to the correct ride. Just a fun ride to throw your hands in the air and have a good time on this crazy fast paced, airtime machine from GCI. The only other GCIs I've been on are Lightning Racer and Renegade. I like renegade a little better than Thunderhead but I like thunderhead better than lightning racer. Minimal lines made 10-12 rides on this easy.


Also of note: The log flume was a heck of a lot of fun even though it didn't get you all that wet. Very well themed.

Barnstormer is an S&S Screamin Swing. Always a ton of fun and the Barn themeing mad it that much better.


Oh and you can't go to Dollywood without getting a loaf (or 6 in our case) of Cinnamon Bread. Best. Food. Ever.


One final note: Lightning Rod was only 1 small support sticking out of the ground during our visit and was not yet announced. Crazy to think that the ride could be testing in the next couple days now. Definitely would be going back to Dollywood soon anyways but LR is the "Cinnamon Bread" Icing on the cake.


Actually this is the final note: As mentioned in the report we visited holiday world and rode Thunderbird a month or so before this trip along with Kentucky Kingdom. Now that this trip report is over I'll be getting started on that Photo TR if I can find the time.


But for now, onto the final set of pictures documenting our time before the drive back home to Northeast Ohio. All these pictures are taken on a Galaxy S3 but an amateur photographer so sorry about that... Hope you enjoyed this whole TR!


Incase you forgot where I was.


Best arrow looper ever. Nearly impossible to get a picture of though.


... and yet somehow smooth. Too bad arrow didn't stay around long enough to build more awesome smooth loopers


Love the wooded area the ride sits in


From afar


Hello Mr. 200th coaster


Awesome statue.


Love how high above the midway it is.



Hopefully not the last B&M built at the park


This was fun too


So unique.


Fun ride. Too bad I forget the name of it at the moment.


Only picture I got of Fire Chaser... whoops


Pretty good ride. My phone was dying so sadly only a few more pictures


Artsy shadow shot.


I believe it


Last one


Found one more of FCE


Also fun.


This part hurts


This part is great


One last shot of Wild Eagle. Thanks for reading! If I find any more pictures I'll be sure to post them!

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