Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend an ACE Southeast event at Carowinds – SCarolina Coaster Classic.
After registration, over 60 coaster enthusiasts lined up patiently waiting for the parking lot gates to open.
Imtimidator running through its safety checks was enough to keep some of us entertained.
The new toll plaza that opened last week looks great!
After exiting the toll plaza, we begin to see parts of the new record breaking coaster, Fury 325, off in the distance.
We parked and worked our way back around to the front entrance. Once there, we could see all that remains of the former toll plaza that had served many millions of people.
I spent the day with some friends of mine from Carowinds Connection and we started the day out with Exclusive Ride Time (ERT) on Intimidator. Unfortunately there are now many video moments of me recorded forever.
After the park opened to the public, we headed over to Lucy’s Crabbie Cabbie, the park’s kiddie coaster, as Carowinds let us ride it for 30 minutes without having to have a child ride with us. Many of us took that “opportunity.”
Disclaimer: I got some of my friends in poses or with expressions that made the pictures caption worthy. The captions I came up with are purely random based on what I see and may or may not be what they are actually thinking or saying. If you would like to see the originals without my editing as well as additional photos, you can find them in my flickr album.
After we had our fill of Lucy’s Crabbie Cabbie, we headed over to the “flyers” – AKA Woodstock Gliders. *yawn* While we waited in line, people floated around in the air with their flyers.
We gave them a show. If you didn’t know: by properly controlling your wing and momentum, you can ‘snap’ your flier from down to the ground near vertical, high into the air to near horizontal.
Once we were done flying around, we headed over to Harmony Hall for an early lunch. This new multi-use dining facility has been a great addition to Carowinds. The introduction of higher quality food to the park is greatly appreciated and well worth trying. If you plan your dining time properly, you can be treated to a live show while eating.
The early lunch was to make sure we didn’t miss the opportunity to head behind “the fence” and get a chance to play in the mysterious dirt back there.
Carowinds’ head of maintenance, Steve, and head of construction, Bob, gave us a tour of the area and answered our questions.
For your reference, we’re standing in the general area of where the final brakes will be as the Fury 325 train will head toward us, nearing the end of its run.
The elevated area is where the station is going.
Our every move was still being recorded.
This coaster is going to have a ride queue! Can you believe it!?!
There was a lot of rebar lying around.
And you certainly need it, for footers like this. You are looking close up at the largest footer for the entire coaster – the base of the lift hill. It is attached directly to bedrock over 20 feet into the ground. All the footers in this area are done this same way because they have to work around existing underground utilities. Other areas of the coaster near the front of the park are using a different footer system because they don’t have to work around utilities.
Standing in the ‘station area’, you can see where this excavator is digging the station footer on the left. Out to the front of us is where the transfer track will be. This is where they will load and remove trains from the main track. It is between the station and the lift hill.
After our ‘dirt tour’ of part of the construction site, we headed to the Carowinds Theater for a Q&A session with the park’s new general manager.
Mike Fehnel, general manager and vice president of Carowinds, gives us his background of working at sister park, Dorney Park, in Allentown, PA, for the past 20 years. Afterwards he gives us a chance to ask questions. Julie, the park’s PR Manager, stands by to make sure he doesn’t tell us too much. He does let us know that he loves trees, as do we.
We also love lots of bright, colorful lights at night, both on and off the rides. 🙂
After prodding Mike for as much information as we could get, we headed back out to greet the epic crowds. Today also happened to be a music festival in the Palladium Amphitheater, so the crowds were extra heavy, as indicated by the large overflow from the full Intimidator queue. Most other lines were of this proportion so we took the opportunity to check out the park and work on our scavenger hunt contest.
We arrived for dinner at the Palmetto grove shelter. It didn’t disappoint.
After dinner we were treated to our first surprise, the opportunity to explore the coaster parts that have arrived on site.
Coaster enthusiasts love the opportunity to get up close and check out new coaster parts.
This is one of the main support beams for the massive lift hill.
This shot gives a better perspective as to how large of a support column it really is.
Does that look straight to you?
Now you see me…
This appears to be part of the lift hill. I don’t have the blueprints, though, to be 100% sure. See how huge they are? By the way, if copies of the blueprints are legitimately available for sale, contact me. 🙂
As far as the eye can see, there are parts of the support structure for Fury 325.
We all had positive feelings for Fury 325.
Thumbs up, JS. I appreciate you checking out the top coat for us.
The label confirms that they haven’t been shipping the coaster to the wrong park.
We pause to get our last looks of this view. The next time we are standing here for a tour, there will certainly be plenty of track in place.
As previously announced, the massive upgrade to Carowinds will require the removal of the plantation house, a sight seen by many millions of visitors for the past 40 years.
Our last surprise of the night would be a tour of the plantation house. We would be some of the last people to see and document the interior of this iconic house. The new entrance will be much larger with better flow and feature a contemporary design.
This is one of the last views out the lower front window at the crowds gathering for a fun night at SCarowinds.
A uniquely interesting rounded staircase leads you upstairs. You can feel the temperatures rise as you climb, due to the broken air conditioning system that unfortunately was tightly integrated into the design of the building.
Here is a view of the entrance from one of the second story windows.
There is a lot of detail in the intricate moldings. We were happy to know that as much as possible would be reclaimed for local Habitat for Humanity stores. Some parts will also be preserved for historical purposes.
As we look down the NC/SC border on the front plaza of the park from one of the balconies, the last of the daytime crowds filter out of the park because it is now closed.
One interesting detail is that the toilet in the ladies’ room is pink while the toilet (and urinal!) are black in the men’s room.
Intricate designs adorned this beautiful space.
More crowds gather out front. This is one of the last views we will see of this so thankfully it is preserved in time.
Julie shares details of this room and memories from the past 40 years.
This is truly a once in a life time event that I am proud to be a part of.
It’s time to head out and get a head start in the SCarowinds fun.
We were escorted to front of the line at the new 7th Ward haunted maze. It was great!
We spent the rest of the night enjoying some of the haunts before it was time to head home.
Good night, Carowinds! 2014 R.I.P. plantation house.
Thank you, ACE, and Carowinds for a great day!
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