Day 86: Interstate Tour 2018

 Cracker Barrel!

Cracker Barrel!

They were so nice to let me stay in their parking lot, so I got up and went inside Cracker Barrel and had the first breakfast of tour that I didn't cook.  

I didn't eat all of it - but I did eat most if it.  And it was just perfect.

Then, I slid across the road and parked in the line of people waiting to get into the Carowinds parking lot.  Park was slotted to open at 10 am and the parking lots tend to open about an hour prior, but they held on a little longer today.  No worries.  A scant first wave of cars lined up in my rear-view mirror.

 Imua and Fury 325

Imua and Fury 325

Once the security guards had escorted us up to the parking gates, I was surprised to be directed directly to the bus and RV parking without even an opportunity for them to make a little more money.  Is parking for RV and bus transport now free at Carowinds?  How cool is that?  The Cedar Fair Platinum Pass should've covered that, but not everyone goes that route, so that's pretty cool if it wasn't just some confusion on the part of the parking department.

I parked Imua right next to Fury 325 - the star attraction of the park. Voted "Best Steel Coaster" in Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Awards for the past three years, this Bolliger & Mabillard monster is worth the price of admission alone.

However, some fence work needed to be done around one of the hills, so it remained closed for an hour after the park opened.

No worries - I purchased Fast Lane Plus and was just scooting on coasters left and right.  Carolina Cyclone, Vortex, The Flying Cobras, all fine and fun. Then I hopped on Intimidator, another Bolliger & Mabillard joint, 232 feet tall, 5, 316 feet of track and a top speed of 75 mph, no small thing and a totally different ride than the Intamin-built Intimidator 305 at Kings Dominion.  This one's more floaty air-time hills and sweeping turns than high speed grey-out curves and low-to-the-ground switchbacks.

 Sweet, glorious air-time. Fury 325.

Sweet, glorious air-time. Fury 325.

I hit a few more rides and then noticed that Fury 325 was cycling trains, so I hurried that way and got there just as the queue re-opened.  In no time, I was sitting in the front row.

Fury 325 made its mark on me when it first opened in 2015.  I must've ridden it 18 times in one day, just leveled by it.  Today, it was a welcoming rush of a hug, that initial 320 foot drop that floats your butt out of the seat, the incredible rush of wind as you speed towards 95 mph, arcing around, swerving and tilting, you feel you might slip out of the side of the thing and then, RUNNN!, the track twists and it's shooting for the sky again, speeding like quicksilver, clutching you in its grasp and letting you fall, weightless, only to be snatched up once more and carried along with a roar and a clatter, all smooth as silk and fast as a thought.

And more often than though, when you get to the top of the lift, there's a descending commercial jet right in front of your face.  You see the pilot give a thumbs-up as you plunge towards the earth. That's why there aren't any Mavic shots from this visit.  Carowinds is smack dab in the middle of a no-fly zone due to its location near Charlotte Douglas International Airport.  It's hard to not get a plane in your shot from the ground.

Fury 325 is my number 2 coaster in the world - it delights and empowers, thrills and tickles all at once.  It's a magnificent machine of joy and terror and I rode the hell out of it all day long, throwing my hands up and offering myself to the Gods of Amusement. 

I re-rode a few things and then got a beer at Harmony Hall, a newly revamped area of the park, and sat, enjoying the mellow breeze and the hazy sunshine, the smells and sounds of the place whirling together in a brilliant tapestry of good timing fun.

 Intimidator.

Intimidator.

Doesn't matter where it is, what state, what brand, what catch - one of my happiest places is always in a place of amusement like this where people go to be completely taken away from the everyday.

It takes a lot to come up with the concept. Create worlds of adventure and then set us loose in the midst of it, all of us seeking to feel a little differently that day. And what will future civilizations think of our attempts at expanding the envelope of our experience in the form of thrills?

Who cares?  The rollercoaster wars are on, hon, and there's no better time to be alive as a theme park enthusiast; it's getting serious out there.  Fury 325 is a perfect example.  Hot damn!

I headed out from the park and made my way down to Walmart Resort: Rock Hill in South Carolina.  With about five hours to my private house concert gig in Georgia tomorrow night, I plan on getting a good night's sleep and rising early to do a little work before heading south.  It was a glorious day - been a great week for this theme park stuff.  I've got lots of new footage for Coaster-2-Coaster on Patreon coming soon!

Day 87

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