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Trend Magazine Online™
Travel Review Summer 2019
Carowinds NC/SC

By Jay Whipple

Trend Magazine Online™

New Season in Full Swing!

Portions re-published from a previous edition...
Carowinds NC-SC Review Pic

I have had a fascination with roller coasters since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. You name it, and I rode it while growing up and as a young adult at theme parks like Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA, Kings Dominion in Richmond, VA, and of course Carowinds in Charlotte, NC, and Fort Mill, SC; which is the only one that straddles two separate States. There is something special about the thrill of traveling at break-neck speed while being literally tossed from side-to-side and climbing a very steep incline while bracing for the pending drop that makes you feel as though your stomach has temporarily left your body. Add to that the accompanying shrills of other brave souls who too have a need for speed and danger. Over the years I have ridden many different type coasters including one that left you suspended from the shoulder down giving its riders a sense of literally flying through the air like Peter Pan. My favorite one to date is Space Mountain at Walt Disney World which I believe was the first indoor coaster in the U.S. when it opened in 1977. I can remember waiting for hours to experience what amounted to 2 minutes and 38 seconds of thrilling speed, darkness, and the colorful lights of the other cars. I can also remember my high school sweet heart riding beside me and screaming her head off from start to finish. Now that was really cute.

Carowinds NC-SC Review Pic!
It had been quite some time since I had ridden one of these wonders of speed when I decided to check out the new Intimidator coaster at Carowinds when it opened in 2010. I actually watched them build that thing from the ground floor up and most of the construction could be seen from Interstate 77; which runs parallel to the theme park. This new 232 foot tall monster travels at a top speed of 75 miles per hour and features a 211 foot first drop. I watched that thing go up and down many times from the interstate before I decided to try it myself as I wanted to make sure that all the bugs and kinks were worked out of the system first. I was listening to the radio one day and lo and behold they (Carowinds) aired a promo that said that all veterans would be given a free pass on the 4th of July. Perfect, I thought, now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their coaster calling. As such, I walked up to the will call, showed my military I.D., and was elated that there was no catch 22 as often times is the case. I chose an evening visit to escape the extremely high humidity that dominates the dog days of summer in July and/or August here.

Carowinds NC-SC Review Pic!
My first stop, of course, was The Intimidator -- to make sure that I did not lose my courage by lollygagging around the massive park. This ride was inspired by the late Dale Earnhardt, Sr., who was killed in a NASCAR race in 2001 in Daytona Beach, Florida. I must admit that at first the yards and yards of rounded steel which twists and turns many times as well as goes way up into the air is a bit intimidating. Believe me when I say this as I am a former U.S. Army Paratrooper that has completed more than 20 jumps from a perfectly good aircraft while in flight. Surprisingly the wait only took less than 25 minutes as the staff was pretty efficient in getting folks on and off of the coaster. They had these huge fans that sprayed a mist of cool water on you while in line and I thought that was way cool and thoughtful. As I approached the loading zone I could not help but to experience a slight increase in my heart rate and blood pressure, but fear was not present.

Carowinds NC-SC Review Pic!You could tell that some of those young had people done this before as they took their shoes off before boarding and knew exactly where to stand to get the best seat(s). To my dismay, and being a rookie, I was seated at the tail end of the ride and next to a kid who stated that it was his 12th time riding. Must be nice being that young again I thought. Of course, us older folks know how to get it right the first time, therefore ending the need for a return trip. For example, that young boy told me that he closed his eyes the first time so I made sure that I was going to keep mine open so as not to miss anything. Oddly, the first drop is the scariest part of the ride which goes extremely quick and smooth. My fear was compounded by the fact that I and this kid were the last two amoeba's to go over the top after literally hanging by the seats of our pants while watching the other riders climb over 200 feet in the air.

All in all it was quite a memorable - yet fast - experience that most young folks will indeed have to do over and over again like my new young friend. And if you go during the dog days of summer - In July or August - that water mist is certainly a cool treat while waiting in line.

Carowinds NC-SC Review Pic!Added to the 400-acre theme park (which opened in 1973) for 2019 is the first double launch roller coaster known as Copperhead Strike which simulates a harrowing chase of getaway cars speeding through rolling farmland while thrusting riders via two launches through over a half mile of steel on a winding ride. The thrilling ride provides its daring passengers with an intense low-to-ground experience that includes 16-1930's passenger trains and a Jojo roll at the onset followed by a 360-degree loop, five inversions, twists, turns, flips, and an unforgettable hang time loop. The ride is situated in the Blue Ridge Junction of Carowinds which is fashioned after the easy-going mountain region of North Carolina. The innovative ride was manufactured by a German company called Mack Rides of Waldkirch that is recognized as a leader in roller coaster development.

In the works is a brand new 130-room SpringHill Suites hotel that will also house a dormitory for regional and international travel and tourism students; which is scheduled to open in late 2019. Carowinds is currently home to 60 rides to include 13 world-class rollercoasters and a top-rated 26-acre water park known as Carolina Harbor. The park is currently owned by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE:FUN), a publicly-traded partnership that owns and operates 11 amusement parks, two outdoor and one indoor water parks, as well as four hotels.

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