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Chris G. Williams Beware: I mix tech and personal interests here.
As part of the extended Williams family vacation, I took 8 people (including myself) to Carowinds (a theme park owned by Paramount, I believe.) on Monday.

If you know me, you probably also know I wouldn't be writing about it unless something went wrong.

The weather cooperated nicely. It had rained all morning and stopped right around the time we got there. As a result, it was fairly cool (high 70s) and breezy. No complaints there.

So we get to the entrance gate, coupons in hand, and pay everyone's admission. $400 just to get in the park. That's not a typo. FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS.  I feel compelled to mention that 6 of the 8 people were children.  One child (age 6) in particular was just barely tall enough, by an inch, to meet the adult "criteria."  This part is important.

So anyway, I pay the admission, my bank account significantly lighter... we grab a few maps and start planning out the day.

We hit a couple water rides, thinking "those are always fun on a hot day."  Except it wasn't hot. and that water was COLD, I'd even say DAMN COLD. No biggie, the lines were only about 30 minutes each, so it went fairly quickly and it was still fun, even with the subarctic water.  Actually, they were a lot of fun.

Then we get to the Borg Assimilator. This green and purple monstrosity is one of those coasters where they lay you down and strap you in. It looks really cool and there's a lot of upside down time...  so we're all set to hop in line. Then we realize that the youngest member of our crew is too short for the ride.  No big deal, I decide to hang out with him while the others go.  So we hang out for about an hour (the ride itself takes about 2 1/2 minutes) until they come back.

The line LOOKED short, but actually wasn't.  pretty sneaky.  They have one of those feeder lines that starts in front of the ride but wraps around to the side. you can't actually see the line from the main area, just the entrance "gate."  SO it looked like there was almost no line, until you get pretty far inside and realize there's about 100 people ahead of you.

So while me and the youngling are hanging out, we get a small 10oz lemonade ($5) and a powerade ($4). We wander around a bit to look at some other rides to go on. nope, too short. too short. too short.  too short.  As he grows more and more frustrated, I slowly come to the realization that he's gotten screwed. 

You see, he's in that odd height zone where he's tall enough to be considered an adult for admission purposes, but too short to ride the majority of the rides.  Wow, thanks a lot Carowinds. You suck.

So the rest of the crew staggers off the Borg ride, some a little greener than others, and we head to the next ride on the list. What a shock, he can't ride that one either. Then we see the go-carts...

Go-carts are cool.  Go-carts are fun. Go-carts cost extra??  WTF?  I already paid (wait for it) FOUR HUNDRED BUCKS to get in this place and now they're charging me extra for some of the rides?  I sent the rest of the crew off to ride some orange and yellow vomit rocket while the youngling and I hit the go-cart track ($10 per ride.)  We had a great time, and totally kicked this one dude's ass who kept trying to pass us. I know you aren't SUPPOSED to bump people, but hey... he had it coming.  Fortunately the track is lined with tires, so I think he'll be ok.

We finish up the go-carts and rejoin the group. Wandering around a bit, they find this stand selling grossly overpriced lightup toys. everyone loves stuff that lights up and spins, so they all start begging, whining, and bartering chores in exchange for loot.  Naturally we find the one cart that doesnt take plastic, so I have to go hunt down an ATM.  I take the youngling with me... since we're defacto park buddies at this point.

What I didn't take, because I'm an IDIOT, was my cell phone or a map. Those were resting in the bottom of a nice, water resistant purse...  Had I been in the Grand Canyon, I'd be dead now, mostly likely of starvation or rattlesnake bite.

Thankfully, I wasn't in the Grand Canyon. I did, however, get completely, totally lost. I'm pretty sure they hired the same team that designs casinos (to keep you in, lost and confused) to design Carowinds. We wandered around for an HOUR AND A HALF trying to find (first) the atm, (then) the group, (finally) the exit.  We did eventually make it back to where we left the group, only they weren't there. I'm pretty sure they had us declared legally dead after about 40 minutes and went back to riding the rides.

After we hung out for about 30 minutes in the place where we left them, I got the bright idea to look for the exit. So we wander some more. My young companion is slowly melting into the pavement, so I scoop him up and put him on my shoulders, where he promptly passes out. Nothing like dead weight on top of dead feet... 

I continue my death march through the asphalt wastelands of Carowinds, and spy a corndog stand. OK, I'm getting hungry, and figuring I could be there for a while... possibly days... I decide to get some food.  small fries, corndog, small pepsi... $16 (SIXTEEN DOLLARS... WTF?!?)  Apparently the smell of deep fried crunchy goodness woke up the growth on my shoulders, as he prompty devoured about half of it. (Thank god I shave my head, otherwise I'd still be picking crumbs out of my hair.)

Eventually, refreshed and rejuvenated, we find our way to the entrance gate.  We hang out for a bit. No sign of our crew.  One of the members of our crew has to meet up with his momma pretty soon, so it's nearly time to leave anyway. (This realization kinda sucks considering we spent the majority of the day wandering lost or looking for stuff to ride.)

We get our hands stamped and head out to the van. Apparently, I don't have any keys either. Those were nestled safely next to the cell phone... the parking lot is a lot like the rest of the themepark, except without shade trees, food, drinks, rides or anything else resembling fun.

Half-crazed at this point, and not really looking forward to the ridiculously long walk back to the park, I grab the nearest person I see heading towards their vehicle and ask if I can use their cell phone to call the rest of my group. I explain how we got separated, my little friend had an awful earache (true story) and we just needed to regroup.  I'm pretty sure I was foaming at the mouth at some point, but the guy was nice enough to let me use it for a small fee ($3) and 15 minutes later... everyone was back together again.

earache boy ended up at the emergency room later that evening, and is currently well medicated. His day sucked. Mine wasn't as bad, but could have been better.  I made it up to him though. Yesterday we went to see TRANSFORMERS and didn't get lost at all.

Expect a review on that soon enough. Posted on Wednesday, July 4, 2007 11:27 AM General Interest | Back to top

Comments on this post: Summer Fun, day 1

# re: Summer Fun, day 1
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<nods along with Chris & Theo> That's why every time my hubby mentions we should go this summer I cringe. My son is too short to enjoy most of the rides and therefore one of us would have to miss out on the fun stuff and then other would be riding solo...who wants to do that.
Not to mention, that I'd probably LOVE to hang out in the water park but my hubby has a thing against water....

<sigh> Oh well..its the parents' burden to deal with the high cost of "amusement" parks. When in fact, they aren't that amusing.
Left by MES on Jul 24, 2007 9:24 AM

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