Saturday, July 28, 2012

Carowinds - Trip Report

Carowinds, in North Carolina, was the final park on our road trip. It was a fine enough place, but it also paled in comparison to many of the other parks we visited, and in retrospect, we wished we had done it first rather than last. 

This park is another one of the "regular" amusement parks that feels corporate and unloved, rather than a darling of a family-owner. It has good coasters, including one particularly great one, and I liked that it had a mix of things to do. Among the mix was a water park. That was welcome indeed during our summer visit. In fact, we showed up after a day of 80 degree whether in Pennsylvania and were astounded that it was 105 degrees here in NC. Turns out, this was the start of the 2012 heat wave, but we didn't know that then. It kept crowds down, that's for sure.

Like most modern parks, Carowinds has a mix of things to do. Thrill seekers will find numerous coasters, most of them decent. I found the flying coaster to be particularly disorienting. It's not often that I forget where I am or what comes next on a coaster, but this one did it to me.

The gem in the line up is the hyper coaster, Intimidator (themed after the NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, who had that nickname). This beauty is all smooth, all steep angles, and all airtime. It succeeds where other hyper coasters fail, and I had to ride it over and over again. Oddly, though, the crowds didn't always care as much as I did. This ride had a much smaller line than the nearby flying coaster, for instance.

There are lots of kid-friendly rides, and a Snoopy section that truly comes alive with Christmas lights at night. Plus the Action Theater shows 3D movies combined with motion chairs for a theater simulator.

Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.