Carowinds- Just Before Winterfest
Whenever I visit Dollywood, I have a big choice to make. Do I want to fly out of Atlanta and visit Six Flags Over Georgia? Or would I rather fly out of Charlotte and go to Carowinds?
I know Knoxville exists, but I can't get there directly and visiting one of the two above parks is more fun anyway.
Now I do really like Six Flags Over Georgia, but they aren’t home to Fury 325. I also wanted to get some rerides on Copperhead Strike now that it was running more reliably. There was just one problem- the weather.
Carowinds actually closed early the day prior. But the park did open for its last day of non-Winterfest operations and it was a ghost town.
The park was so deserted that they actually ran one train on Fury 325. This was the only ride with a line and even still, it was no more than 15-20 minutes. Compare that to my last visit when the entire queue was filled with three train operations.
I also think the one train operations were for another reason. If you’ve ridden Fury, you know how fast it feels. It seems almost inconceivable it could valley. But the morning’s empty test trains barely made it into the brake run. It all made sense. They couldn’t risk an empty train.
But with a full train, Fury hauled per usual. The first half showcases the speed. It felt like the cool air was trying to rip my face off. But my face was prepared for this. It was used to Nitro in the teens.
And with all that speed, Fury also delivered plenty of airtime. The first drop alone gives 4-5 seconds of sustained floater, but then you also have those incredible three return hills and some surprising sideways airtime that would make RMC proud. 10 out of 10
I think Copperhead Strike was the only coaster running multiple trains and it was warranted. It had the second longest line in the park at a whopping 5-10 minutes. It was nice being able to ride this coaster again since it was hardly open during my March visit.
Copperhead Strike is a jack-of-all-trades. It has airtime (both floater and ejector pops), insane hangtime, a whippy corkscrew, quick transitions, and some nice theming. Really the only part where Copperhead Strike lets up is the little twister segment before the final bunny hill. 9 out of 10
Afterburn was running particularly well. I’ve always enjoyed Afterburn, but I never remember it being this forceful. This thing was pulling some serious Gs like Montu, particularly on the batwing and final corkscrew. And it was still as smooth as a baby’s bottom despite being 20 years old. 9 out of 10
Another ride that pulled some Gs was the Carolina Cyclone. However, that ride is not as smooth as a baby’s bottom…unless that baby’s bottom is coated in rocks and dried turds.
There was no headbanging (for me at least), but every transition was a bit shaky. However, the ride is worth experiencing for the pop of air on the drop and forceful vertical loops. 5 out of 10
I had met up with a fellow enthusiast and we decided to take a token lap on Hurler. If you know me, you know I have a very strong resistance to rough rides. So my fellow enthusiast chose a wheel seat (row 2) and I didn’t even bat an eye.
While he found the ride rough, I found it pretty decent outside of the low-to-the-ground turns on the far-side of the ride. Those were quite bumpy. But the rest of the ride wasn’t rough at all and even had some weak pops of air. 5 out of 10
One of the most underrated rides at Carowinds is the Mountain Gliders. These are one of my favorite sets of flying skooters. While they aren’t as fast as the ones at Knoebels, these ones have one key advantage.
The operators don’t care if you snap. In fact, I’ve seen them encourage it on a past visit! And for that reason, I was bouncing about to the delightful and unnatural sound of steel cables snapping. 9 out of 10
I also made sure to ride Electro-Spin since it was closed back in March. Since this wasn’t the German fair circuit, I boarded with tempered expectations. I expected a short cycle with minimal flips.
Much to my shock, I got a long cycle in both directions with too many inversions to count. There weren’t too many fast flips, but there was plenty of drawn-out inversions loaded with hangtime. When a top scan is run correctly, it’s one of my favorite flats. 9 out of 10
But the highlight of the visit was the 1.5 hour marathon on Fury to close out the night. Remember how Fury was only running one train earlier in the day? It was fully warmed up now and running two.
And not only were they running two, but the crew was firing on all cylinders. The crew set a record for the most dispatches in an hour with 36. And that was with just two trains! A+ for them! And the funny part is that I later found out this was apparently a Cedar Point crew.
Some enthusiasts like to be on the last train of the season to win a pissing match. I just like to be on the last train since parks with enthusiast ride operators tend to give double rides. And that proved to be the case with Fury. It was great wrapping the night with back-to-back night rides in the front row on Fury.
I don’t think I’ll ever be at Carowinds on such a light day ever again. In fact, I think half the people in the park were enthusiasts. So it was a great day to make some new friends and get countless rerides on the park’s big three steel coasters.