Went to Carowinds today, an old summer tradition, but this time with Ayana. A couple of thoughts and observations...
-Big security presence there. It was probably there last time I went in May 2003 but I don't seem to remember it. We got to do metal detectors, bags searched, the whole bit. Interesting to see at a theme part of all places.
-There's been a lot of changes there as well. Seems like everything got a fresh coat of paint, and they've taken out a lot of old stuff recently, but one bonus is that it seems to be a lot easier to walk the park. For example, it's easy to access Thunder Road now, but back in the days it was more or less stuck off in the corner of the park.
-Also, sad to see the Viacom/Paramount influence everywhere. There's the CBS Cafe(?), and of course everything in the kids park is plastered with Nickelodeon logos. They even renamed the Gauntlet to the "Rocket Power Blastoff" or something like that. And there's VH1 and commercials playing on TV while you're waiting in line. Thanks, guys, just what we need. More commercials. Smurf's island is completely gone, I mean demolished, to make way for a new ride (see below). Too bad, because I had good memories of that place then Carowinds just let it turn to sh-t.
-I just realized what a license to print money that place is. I mean, you gotta pay to get in, and then every square foot is utilized to get even more of your dough- you know the deal, photo booths, souveneirs, lemonade ice, Dippin' Dots, and overpriced food and drinks. I know it's a huge operation but I'm starting to see why Paramount opted to buy the place. However, after all the changes they've made, maybe I wish they hadn't, being the nostalgic guy that I am. You wouldn't recognize this place from 10 years ago at all hardly.
-There's a new ride in town, and it's called the Borg Assimilator. It's Star Trek-themed, which you may or may not like, but they do show some ST:TNG clips while you're waiting in line, which isn't too bad. Anyway, the ride is incredible. The short explanation goes like this: the seat you're in is laid back horizontally, then right before the big drop the track rotates over 180 degrees- and you're facing the ground, with nothing in between. It's nuts. Then you go on a pretty good steel coaster, but it's made all the better by the new ride design. I guarantee you'll experience a few things you haven't seen before, and this is coming from someone who's been on a lot of coasters. I'm glad that I live to see technology create things like this.