Continuing on the road from our visit at Six Flags Over Georgia, the next stop was Carowinds. Obviously the reason we were here was because of the big new giga coaster, Fury 325. Since Fury opened in March, there have been some good reviews, so we figured we would check it out for ourselves. Besides Fury, there are a few other top attractions, but other than those, there are some seriously bad rides in the park that are unpleasant to ride. Combine that with the Carolina heat, and an experience to Carowinds can be less than pleasant. Luckily for us, though, a few rides made our entire visit worthwhile.
It sure is a long way up at 325 feet high. While on that lift, the anticipation builds up until the train plunges down the drop. Now, I will say the drop does seem to last forever - it features a nuanced curve that continues the whole way down, bringing the train steeper and steeper until the bottom where the positive G forces push riders into their seats.
My only complaint would be that there was a bit of roughness throughout the course of the ride, and for a long ride time, the roughness gave me a bit of a headache. For a new B&M coaster, I was expecting glass smooth, and was given not quite that. I love the airtime and twists of Fury, but the roughness is distracting. A bit disappointing that Cedar Fair's only coaster this year was Fury and they didn't quite nail it.
Another rant I have is the operating crew for Fury. They were dispatching trains quickly, which is good, but while doing that they had the most sour faces and did not seem like they wanted to be there at all. Also, the person who groups the queue line to the rows in the station made it virtually impossible to get a front or back row ride. We would politely ask for the row we wanted, and they would respond with a firm no. We also asked if we could wait for them to fill the rows and on the next train group us to the front row, but that idea was shot down by the grouper as well. They claimed that in order for them to increase capacity, they would not allow preferential seating, but ride capacity wouldn't be affected by allowing priority seating at all. If they were to have a constant line, how would letting us go to the front instead of another row matter? They would just end up filling all the rows regardless, so the train would still be sent with full capacity. Also, it's not like there was a massive line for the front row and they needed to keep that line under control - there was only one group there, just like every other row. Would it really hurt to group us there and have two groups waiting instead of just one? Apparently it really matters to the ride operators and the park. Nonsense.
If I had to use one word to describe Hurler, it would be dull. There was nothing special about this coaster, and on top of that, right after the first drop some trim brakes succeed in cutting the train's speed excessively - that's just borderline obnoxious! I'm pretty sure the trims were put there so that the ride wouldn't be too rough, but all they did was make the ride extremely boring. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, they are not pulling the trims out anytime soon, because right next to the brake run were some spare trim brakes lying off to the side, patiently waiting next to kill the ride experience.
As you can see, there isn't much else other than airtime hill one after another. Normally, a layout like this would be a bit monotonous, but I did have the opportunity of a back row ride (this crew had the same policy as Fury, but the grouper let us back there - it was a miracle!) and the airtime was very strong.
I really liked the ride on Thunder Road, and am a bit disappointed it will be leaving this season on July 26 after thrilling riders for 39 years. The reason for the removal of the ride is most definitely a waterpark expansion, which was nearly confirmed to us by one of the park officials. That official stated to us that since the waterpark draws a large crowd in the summer months, they need to expand the waterpark in order to make sure guests have a pleasant time there.
Afterburn is very intense - possibly a bit much for my taste. I found the ride to be constantly whipping the train through multiple inversions, constantly providing a positive G experience, which was very repetitive. Also, there was an odd pacing to the ride - it seemed to just go too quickly through the layout, providing almost no time to enjoy each element or the uniqueness of the ride layout.
Unlike most rides, on Woodstock Gliders you control the ride experience, and the ride operators take that as a way to make the ride more fun. They turn the ride into a competition and make the ride a game to see who can fly the craziest or highest. I was very surprised that they actually encouraged "snapping" (moving the ride vehicle up and down so the cables snap together), and it all made for a better ride experience.
Luckily, the crew did loosen up a bit and let us ride in the front (but without seeming to be irritated by our request). The entire crew seemed to be having more fun dispatching the trains, quite possibly due to the fact that it was less hot in the station at night, or that they only had about an hour left until they got let off for the night.
This element was also one of my favorites. At the top, there was a floating sensation that was very fun and a unique element that I have never experienced before. After the slight airtime filled drop, the train plunges into a tunnel encircled by multiple green hexagon lights that seem to fly by, making the ride's speed seem more than it actually is.
My night ride on Fury completely changed my opinion of the ride. Since the ride had been running all day, the rails were warmed up and the ride was running faster. The speed definitely enhanced the ride experience to a completely insane airtime-in-every-element kind of ride. Also, it was much more fun to ride in the darkness of night, the black night perfectly complementing the unpredictability of the ride by blinding riders to the layout that was before them. As for the roughness; it seemed to not be as present, I don't really know why, but anyways it doesn't really matter. We ended up riding Fury multiple times, and it was the perfect way to cap off a day at Carowinds. Staring down the drop from the front row, in the night sky is something truly thrilling, and one of the best coaster experiences out there - #7 for me.
Overall, I had a good time at Carowinds. The heat did put a bit of a damper on a good experience at the park (they could use much more shade there), but later in the day, it did cool down and make our experience more pleasant. Some of the highlights were riding Thunder Road, Intimidator, and of course, a few night rides on Fury. I think that with Fury, the park is much better, and all they need is another good ride and the park would be decent with good thrill rides. As of now, they have way too many painful rides that I would not ever want to embark on again, so if they were to remove one or two of those and replace it with something better, I feel that the park would be greatly improved. In this case, the good outweighed the bad, and we enjoyed a good time at Carowinds, and Fury made the entire trek up to Carowinds worth it.
Coasters are my passion. It's what I do, it's who I am.