Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Amusement Park of the Damned

Originally posted on July 16, 2006 at 1132am:

My sister Kelly and her friend April came down for the weekend to go to Carowinds with us. We were all excited about riding some coasters and relieving some stress. So, on 4 hours of sleep, we got up Saturday morning and hit the road at about 8:30 which put us at Carowinds at about 11am. To start things off, we had to hunt for a locker to put all our stuff in. The only one we could find was in the waterpark section and a huge sign told us it had to be out by 7pm. At the time, we thought.."Oh..that's plenty of time!"

After paying $10 and cramming all our stuff in the locker, we headed for some rides!! Since the Top Gun coaster was closest, we went there..only finding that it was shut down for some unknown reason. Being disappointed, we headed for the next one. We get to the kiddy section where they have a rollercoaster that dumps water on the people below you and thought..well..it's hot and the water would feel pretty good, so we got in line. We waited 30 minutes and got close to the front of the line when they shut it down for no real reason. Nice. We also realized, this water ride wasn't allowed to use water because they'd decided to put the Latino Festival tents just below it. Nice again. At this point, we'd been there an hour and hadn't ridden anything.

Also, because of our location in the park and the frustration of waiting in line for rides that aren't open, we missed our free lunch buffet which is the only reason that we decided to go on this particular day. So, next we passed a ride called the Goldrusher which is just the cheesy family rollercoaster, but we wanted to ride something..so on we went. It wasn't bad for a little coaster and it lightened our moods just a little. While on this ride, I realized I already had blisters on my feet. I wore my old Teva sandals that used to be the most comfortable shoes I owned, but since I hadn't worn them in about 3 years, they rubbed my feet in the wrong places. So, I have blisters and we're just on our first ride. Ugh. After this, we headed to the Vortex which is the standing coaster. We stood in line for an hour in the blistering heat waiting to get on. No shade, no fans, no breeze, no clouds. They did serve slushies and lemonades to us though...for $3.75 a piece. This time we made it and got a whole 60 seconds worth of fun. One second of fun for every minute we stood waiting. In the end, it was worth it.

Since the Borg Assimilator was right next to it, we headed there to find out that it too was closed. She told us it was going to be awhile so we went across the way to the log flume. Now, the Borg is the tallest coaster in the park and has the most loops, corkscrews and drops of any in the park. Not to mention that you're lying flat on the track as if you were flying...so needless to say, this is going to be the longest line in the park. Anyway..we headed to the log flume and before we crossed the entrance, they were letting people through for the Borg...so we headed back. When we get there, she tells us that no loose articles are allowed on the ride and we'd have to put our stuff in a locker before we could get on. Um..I was wearing the traditional nerdy buttpack of all amusement park goers..which is not a loose item..it was attached, but she wouldn't let us through. At this point, I yelled a profanity and walked off. Jeff was in quite a sour mood by now and I couldn't even get a smile out of him.

I'm not sure what happened next..I think we decided to hit the water park for awhile to cool off and figured that by the time we were done, it would be dinner time and the lines would be shorter. So, off we go to Boomerang Bay so I could change into a bathing suit and jump in the water. The biggest reason we wanted the water park is because none of the heat relief stations were working. No misting stations or fans anywhere in the park. Only the drink machines selling a bottle of water for $3.75. I also wanted to go to the water park since our locker was here and it meant I could change my shoes. At least I was prepared.

After a short wait for a dressing room, I get in only to realize how nasty this place is. There's no AC in the bathroom at all, just a dinky fan and the dressing rooms are set up just like restroom stalls only w/o the toilets. Well, someone apparently was blind and thought the bench in the dressing room was a toilet b/c they shit on it and walked out. May I remind you at this point that there was no TP in the dressing rooms. YUCK. So..I found another one just slightly more clean. Out I go donning my spiffy bathing suit and find Kelly and April. Jeff's decided he's not going b/c he "doesn't do waterparks". He sits in the shade w/ a drink and waits on us. We all decided the lazy river would be really relaxing since we've had a hectic day. Wrong. They had the entrance closed and sent us away since they were using the exit for an entrance. Mmkay. We had to wait in line to get in the lazy river. Then, they let us go around once and herded us out like cattle. There was nothing lazy about it.

So, Instead of waiting in another line, we went to the wave pool. I also burnt my feet on the concrete on the way there. It looked like a sea of people..you could hardly see water. We got in anyway and when you looked around, all you saw was people. You shouldn't have to say "Excuse me..pardon me..Oh, sorry.." while you're walking through the water. I finally knew what it felt like to be floating in the water after the Titanic sank. So we got out feeling rather gross. It was like taking a bath with 200 strangers.

After changing again and shoving everything back in our locker, we headed back to the Borg Assimilator...only we took a wrong turn and ended up at the Cyclone. It was rather awesome. There was no line at all b/c it was at the edge of the park and it was enough of a thrill to make it totally worth it. I highly recommend riding in the very back. Next, we went to the Drop Zone. This is the 100 ft. freefall tower. There wasn't much of a wait and this is the one Kelly and April really wanted to ride on..so the excitement was building. I was absolutely terrified but in the end rather enjoyed leaving my stomach somewhere floating in space.

On our way back to the Borg..we passed the Extreme Flyer. It was only $15 a person, so Kelly and April headed in while Jeff and I waited. He was still in a foul mood and not very talkative because he felt left out being there w/ 3 girls. That, and everything had gone wrong. After Kelly and April flew and screamed like little girls, we went to the Borg. They let us in this time and the waiting began. At least here, they had cover so you weren't standing in direct sunlight and they had fans and misting stations. After waiting for about 10 minutes, we asked the time. 5:45. Holy hell! We had a good hour's wait in front of us and we had to get back to get our stuff by 7! So, feeling defeated, Jeff decided he'd go get our stuff while we held the place in line.

Just a few minutes after he left, it started getting cloudy and sprinkling rain. People started leaving the line. Then it got really windy and we saw lightning. Uh oh. We prayed it'd hold out for 30 min. until we could ride and hoped Jeff would make it back in time. Then the thunder started. We were sooo close. From where we were in line, we'd make it on the 3rd or 4th train. Then they shut it down. People were leaving and we thought..if we can hold out..we'd make it on the 2nd train when they reopen. Then more people left..and we thought..oo..we'd be on the very next train!! That's when she said it'd be at least an hour and we should seek shelter from the storm, yada yada. I was pissed by now. This was the 3rd time we'd been sent away from this ride...so naturally, we asked for a manager.

The manager blew us off with a generic answer, so we asked for his manager. He only knew his first name and said he was busy at the moment. So..April..being the only one professional enough to handle this guy..stepped in and asked if he could find out his last name and get us a phone number. All I would've done is yell at the guy and storm off, which wouldn't have gotten us anywhere. We explained that in the whole day we'd been there, we'd only been on 3 rides. 4 if you count the lazy river. We drove 2.5 hours to ride 3 rides, no heat relief stations, half the rides were closed down when we got there, the water coaster wasn't a water coaster b/c of where they put the latino festival, the water was too expensive, the dressing rooms were nasty, we'd been turned away 3 times from the same ride and we wanted an explanation.

While we were waiting for the guy to find his manager's number, we wondered where Jeff had gone. The manager comes back w/ his supervisor's information and tells us that he's been told to cycle the ride and that he'd cycle twice if we still wanted to ride. I said I wasn't going without Jeff. Kelly and April said they could ride and asked if he'd let Jeff and I up the exit side so that we could ride too and he said no. Bastard. But then, it thundered again and they weren't going to cycle. So we left. We found Jeff sitting in front of the ride where another line had already formed. We got all our stuff and made our way to the exit where there was another line to wait to speak to guest services. Kelly wanted a rain check...but Jeff and I planned on never coming back...and I truly didn't want to wait in another line. Jeff was beyond pissed by now and wanted to..ahem.."punch someone in the neck" so we went to the car. Find out what happened after the park in another blog. This one is too long already.

It was still storming several hours later, so it made me feel better that no one else got to ride any ride for the rest of the day. In summary, don't waste your time on Carowinds. It's dirty and disorganized and so not worth the money. Kings Dominion is better..cleaner anyway but Busch Gardens is by far the best. It's clean and their rides stay open a lot more. Plus..the food is better. Though..Kelly's funnel cake was quite yummy. Stay tuned for the next blog on Southend Smokehouse & Brewery and fireworks!

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