Georgia Scorcher twists alongside the entrance to Six Flags Over Georgia.
Goliath riders get thrown out of their seats over and over along the ride’s many airtime hills.
Carowinds park—in Charlotte—looked to be a similar trip crowd-wise to Six Flags the week before. I parked my car in North Carolina and began the walk to South Carolina to the entrance—the border between the two states runs right down the middle of the park, so you can stand in both at once right on the midway. Not that I did that or anything…
Before going to the two coasters that I had been looking forward to, I went for a lap on Nighthawk, a ride that had eluded me during my one past visit to the park. Nighthawk was the world’s first flying roller coaster, and the last of the three built by Vekoma that I had yet to ride (I actually worked on the other two back in the day). It was cool getting to experience it, and it was definitely a very enjoyable ride.
The first of the two coasters I had come to ride was Intimidator, yet another of B&M’s hypercoasters, and the last of those I would ride this year (unfortunately). Though big and fast like Intimidator 305 at Kings Dominion which opened the same year, Intimidator was more focused on airtime than the spine-crushing positive g-forces of its brother in Virginia. The second of the two was Afterburn, an inverted coaster like Georgia’s Batman–The Ride and Alpengeist at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Afterburn was impressive as always, due to the fact that its inversions seemed almost violent in their intensity. In my opinion, it’s still the only inverted coaster that’s come close to besting Batman–The Ride.
With my laps on each of the two completed, I darted off to the park’s other coasters to ensure I got all the credits I needed as crunch time had come for hitting one hundred on the year. After getting a lap on each ride I planned for, I still found myself with several hours left. Oh, what to do with such an empty park? Two words: power-ride.
Power-riding is the fine art of riding a ride repeatedly without ever leaving the train (except to walk up or back a few rows to switch seats). It can be demanding at times, but one of my more bizarre super-powers is an extremely high resistance to motion sickness and general intensity. As such, I’ve had a few impressive marathons on various rides over the years, and I was going to break one of my records later in the day.
I went to Intimidator first, figuring I’d keep going as long as I could. Power-riding was only permitted so long as there were empty seats left on the train (coaster non-revving?). I made it several laps before there was finally a train’s worth of riders waiting in the station, so I left for Afterburn with the intent of snagging a few laps on it before more Intimidator action. However, my intent and what happened were two very different things. Afterburn was even less crowded than Intimidator, so what was supposed to be a couple of laps became something else entirely. Going with the number 100 as the theme of the year, I decided to undertake a marathon of 100 inversions. With Afterburn’s 6 inversions, I determined I’d need to survive 17 laps.
With my brain properly scrambled, it was off to Orlando. I was going with 98 coasters under my belt on the year. I could’ve hit 100 at Carowinds, but I wanted to save the honor for a coaster at my first stop on the trip’s second leg in Orlando: SeaWorld.
Of course, what would a quest like this be without hiccups? A thunderstorm over pretty much all of Orlando saw Manta and Kraken, SeaWorld Orlando’s two major coasters, unable to operate in the lightning. I finally caught a ride on Manta during a break in the lightning for coaster 99. As soon as we pulled back into the station, I vaulted off for Kraken in fear that lightning would strike again. Kraken, a floorless coaster similar to Dominator at Kings Dominion, had been a favorite since I first rode it in 2006. I figured it would make a fitting number one-hundred. Then I saw it, a small sign posted right in front of the entrance: “Kraken is down for annual maintenance.” NO!!
However, I had unknowingly left myself a substitute number 100 in reserve. During my February Walt Disney World visit, I had skipped Primeval Whirl at the Animal Kingdom. As such, when I moved on to Disney World for the remainder of this trip, I rode Primeval Whirl to hit 100. There was no fanfare, no screaming groupies, nothing—but I made it. My immediate family was there, though, so for not having experienced any of the other trips with me this year, it was good to have them present for the grand finale.
So yes, I got a hundred coasters in during 2012. Mission accomplished! But wait, there’s more! A great rock concert always has an encore, and so did the Year of 100 Roller Coasters. Three, in fact. Encore one was a trip back to Hersheypark, where Storm Runner became the ride of the day. Encore two was a visit to Six Flags America, where I picked up my 2013 Six Flags season pass. Despite my AM shift the following day, I stayed almost until closing, grabbing laps on Batwing, Apocalypse, and Superman–Ride of Steel. My visit to Six Flags America actually took me to my year-end count of 106 coasters. As for encore three, I made one last quick weekend jaunt down to Orlando, to join my extended family for another round of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster to close out the Year of 100 Roller Coasters.