So remember how we talked about work and play? Well it happens often for me and recently I was dropped off at Carowinds. If you have never heard of this theme park it is on the NC and SC border near Charlotte. They have changed hands over the years from the original owner displaying Disneyish rides and hosting Hanna Barbara characters to Paramount. The current owner, CedarFair, has brought the park forward changing the way we look at what was once just a local thrill.
The small American style building that was once the entrance has now been replaced by a massive screen and shaded walk through. I was amazed to see all the changes and even now you have to walk under it’s newest ride to even get through the main gate.
I haven’t been in a couple of years and so this new ride seems like a challenge. My husband let me out of the car and asked me if I was going to ride this new coaster. I watched it go straight down the seemingly forever drop and looked back with a “uh no”. He called me a chicken butt and drove off. Well! Now I have to ride since we ALWAYS ride new things and besides who is he calling chicken?! It was a balmy 98 degrees that day and truthfully all I really wanted to do was go swimming in the water park side. I didn’t feel like lugging all my stuff around despite them having lockers. I just hate the hassle. There I stood in line waiting to get on the first coaster of the day. It was the middle of the week and the later part of the day so really there was no line. I was just waiting for the next car to pull up. Geez! Which coaster was I getting on anyway? First stop, Nighthawk! I always forget this coaster is set up backwards because it is a flying coaster. This means at some point you flip over and it simulates you flying like Superman. I thought I was standing in the back row when I was actually in the front. No one else was in my row so it felt strange. The shoulder vest and lap bar were my only companions. I didn’t mind it at first since I have ridden this coaster before, but when it turns and whips it made me think about physics. I wondered how many other people had settled the vest into a loose fitting garment. When the ride was over I was glad to get off. I was still thinking about changing my mind and going over to the water park.
Sticking to my guns I got in line for my favorite ride at this park, Afterburn. Previously this ride held the Top Gun name but after Paramount left name changes were in order. This inverted coaster allows my feet to dangle down and feel the breeze burn through my toes. I had flip flops on that day because they are my summer staple for shoes. I had to put them in the bins for safe keeping and off through the twist and flips of one of the best g force coasters ever made.
What a lot of people don’t know is the human body is not made to go through all the g forces and twists and turns of a coaster over and over. So I was feeling kind of barfy. I decided to go into a dark ride, cool off and take a break. After zapping ghosts and soaking in the cool air, I walked around remembering those last words from my ride partner who had abandoned me to my own wits. I still had other coasters to ride and claim as conquered for the day. Did I want to include that new coaster and it’s large drop in my day? I would keep thinking about it.
Now our business is signage. We do all sorts of things from cars to massive apartment complex wayfinding. Big and small we do it all should be our motto. Partly why I know this park so well is because we did a lot of work here. My next coaster is one of the projects we worked on. The Intimidator was the newest ride when we lived in Charlotte. It’s inspiration comes from racing legend Dale Earnhardt. We did a lot of the signage for this and the wrap on the coaster itself. It felt crazy getting back on this ride because all there is to this crazy coaster is a bucket seat, lap bar and seatbelt! If you are familiar with the coaster world some of the verbiage you will understand is air time. If not, it kind of speaks for itself. When you drop from certain heights you become almost weightless creating that air time by coming out of your seat(only a tiny bit). Yup, glad for the seatbelt. Screaming my head off seems to be one of the things I do best on these rides. I needed no practice here. Like most rides when you get off you leave through or near a gift shop. This is the case here. As I was browsing around I noticed a shirt that said “Fear the Four” and pictures of four coasters, three of which I had been on so far. The last coaster, the giant coaster the Fury was the only one left. I really wanted that shirt to represent my actions of the day and I wanted to boast to my husband that I alone rode that crazy contraption.
Walking to the entrance, I noticed lockers and signs everywhere about loose objects etc. It would seem this coaster goes so fast and drops so far everything loose will get lost. For two American dollars you can get a locker to hold all your goodies; that is if you have no one in your party that has the sense enough to stand down and wait for all the crazy people to come back. There had been no lines but this was a new ride and a small wait. No spot choosing. You just go where they tell you and sit beside whoever else had lost all there senses and buckled in beside you. My seat partners were down a person who had walked out of the line unwilling to ride. We joked about crying and screaming while they made the last checks. When you are looking up a giant hill knowing that you willingly are about to drop off the other side your nerves tend to kick in. You start asking yourself why you are on this ride and how can you get off. Too late! Breaching the top and feeling that pull of gravity is both frightening and exciting. You don’t have time after that to be afraid. It was quick, smooth and intense to say the least. I felt empowered and silly at the same time thinking how I was going to crow about riding that insane ride. Shout out to my seat partners! Thanks for the post ride high five!
Later on I began the walk out of the park across the way to our hotel. The sun was setting behind the park highlighting the coasters as if to say you did it and here is your prize. It was beautiful. I had fun and it was all part of a spontaneous decision made by my husband whom I love dearly. Next time though, maybe I will just chill in the water park soaking up the sun.
Stay spontaneous, unplug, unwind and enjoy!