The thermometer has risen, school is out for the summer, the smell of funnel cake is all around, and the sound of kid's screams fills the air. That can only mean one thing. It's summer in the south and time for the third annual CoasterStock at Carowinds, the Thrill Capital of the Southeast!
CoasterStock is an event for coaster enthusiasts that is run by the park and includes exclusive ride time (ERT) on some of the rides at special times as well as other events throughout the day. Enthusiasts were on hand from all over the country to experience this event (including a few from England).
The event began with registration and a continental breakfast. At 8:00 AM we were allowed access to the northern section of the park where a few rides were open for ERT.
A first for CoasterStock, attendees were given early morning rides on Xtreme Skyflyer before the park opened. It was my first time riding a Skycoaster and was as thrilling as I expected.
The biggest coaster in the northern end of the park is Hurler. It is Carowinds' third wooden coaster which opened in 1994 and is in the middle of renovations to make the ride experience better. Hurler was included in the early morning ERT as well as their wild mouse ride, Ricochet, and their classic looping corkscrew coaster, Carolina Cyclone. The picture below is the first drop on Hurler.
After the park opened to the public, some of us headed over to Planet Snoopy to battle it out on Woodstock Gliders. This is a classic 70 year old ride that continues to thrill people today.
The goal of the battle is to get your glider to go the highest and the people in line vote for the winner. The winner gets to stay on the ride for the next cycle. Some of the CoasterStock attendees are 'master glider pilots' and won the top honors a few times while we were there.
Survey stakes showed up a couple of places around the park just in time for CoasterStock. It is not clear right now if the wording on the stakes provides clues to what's coming in 2012 or if this was done by park officials to help keep the 2012 announcement a surprise. Those stakes all conveniently disappeared the day after the event. You can follow or join the discussion at Carowinds Connection. The official announcement for what's coming in 2012 will be made on August 24th.
For lunch, one of the pavilions was reserved for attendees and we were treated to a great, light, refreshing lunch.
During lunch, we were joined by park General Manager, Bart, and the VP of Operations, Jerry. They provided us some insight into the future of Carowinds but were tight-lipped about any specific upcoming plans. All we really know for certain is that there are future growth plans for Carowinds, so the next decade should be very exciting for the southeastern U.S.
After lunch, the Photo Hunt began. We were given four pages of photographs taken from around the park that we had to find. Many were relatively simple, but there were a few tricky photos that made it a real challenge. By this time the park was getting pretty busy.
Later in the afternoon, we met in one of the pavilions for a great dinner! Carowinds went all out to make sure we had great food. After dinner, we met up with Carowinds' utility manager, Steve, who walked us through details on the new Snoopy Starlight Spectacular sound and light show. He was highly involved in the planning and installation of this new 2011 experience.
Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular runs from May 28th to September 4th at 9:00 PM on all nights that the park is open until 10:00 PM. When it is not running, Snoopy sleeps here.
After Steve finished his walk-through, we were taken to the Carowinds Theatre where saw the live show, Snoopy Rocks on Ice. The show was well done and your entire family should find it entertaining.
After the show, we played a Carowinds-specific version of the classic game, Jeopardy, and saw the winning video in the Carowinds Video Competition. Then it was time to experience Nights of Fire, the new nightly fireworks show that runs from July 1 to August 7. The show was just the right length and a nice way to wrap up a summer day at Carowinds.
After the park closed, they turned Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular back on for us to enjoy.
We were guided through it on our way to experience night time ERT on Intimidator and Nighthawk until midnight. With all three trains running on Intimidator, unless you were in the front or back row, you could usually stay on and ride it as many times as you wanted.
I had a lot of fun that day and will certainly attend future events. Thank you, Carowinds, for continuing to host CoasterStock and making every trip to your park a great experience!