I’ve mentioned once or twice that I love rollercoasters. I’ve also mentioned that my amusement park of choice is Carowinds. Carowinds is the only real amusement park I’ve ever been to. This is partly because Carowinds is awesome and partly because it’s the closet park to me. Everything else is several hours to several days away. When you grow up in the lower class, you’re lucky to be able to go at all, so there is no bitching about wanting to travel across the country to see the other parks. As an adult, it’s a similar story, especially when you have no one willing to roadtrip with you that shares the obsession…or rather no one that shares the obsession that has the time and money to accompany you. Regardless, Carowinds has a special place in my heart. I’ve written a whole post about it; you can read it here. Usually it is a place that brings me great joy, but that is not the case today.
Today is a very sad day. Today is the end of Thunder Road. Thunder Road is one of 3 wooden coasters in the and one of the few remaining old rides. And Sunday was it’s last day. They are set to start demolishing it next month. This makes me so sad that I cannot even find words to express it. I’m not one of the sticklers that wants to keep the old rides for the sake of old rides. I can understand the need to improve and update the park. Building and maintaining rollercoasters is not a cheap endeavor and we need a lot of tickets sold to keep it going. So on a business level, I completely understand the need to get rid of rides that don’t have a lot of riders and has expensive upkeep. I get it, I do. But I thought Thunder Road was untouchable. Thunder Road is so iconic to the park that I couldn’t imagine it ever going anywhere. It’s was the park’s third coaster, the first rollercoaster ever to cross a stateline, and the only good wooden coaster in the park. There are two other woodies, but one is a bitty kids ride and the other is so jerky that you can’t ride it without getting a massive headache.
Beyond that, Thunder Road just has a fuckload of sentimental memories behind it. In my 20 years of visiting the park, Thunder Road is one ride that I rode every single time I visited. It was never one that I skipped for any reason. With the bigger, badder rides, there is always a 1-2 hour wait in line to get through and then they have issues or problems and shut them down for testing or whatever. NOT THAT THAT IS A BAD THING. I completely get that rollercoasters have many many systems installed to test for malfunctions and those warning systems are very important. I would much rather wait longer while they check things out to make sure it’s all good. But that never happens with Thunder Road. Even when lines are long, it never took more than 30 minutes to get through and I don’t have any particular memory of it being completely closed for any reason. It’s strong and dependable and just plain fun. It’s not the biggest coaster or the fastest coaster, just a simple fun experience. But I have so many memories of riding it with family and friends.
On occasion, I like to think of myself as a logical person. If Carowinds just came out and said there was something wrong with the ride or that they had plans for an epically awesome thing that would be going in it’s place, it might be easier to swallow this pain. But they haven’t. All they have done is hint around at adding to the waterpark. this is something that just infuriates me. I never go to the water park. I find nothing there worth my time. I go for the rollercoasters and the thrillrides, not the lackluster waterpark with the rides that have lines twice as long as the coasters do. The only reasoning park officials have given up until this point for the demise of this particular ride is lower ridership. It’s not a popular or crowded ride. For me, the lack of a crowd has always been part of the appeal. Thunder Road was a ride I could go and ride without having a crazy long wait. A ride that was fun and fast and always amusing. And if they are claiming lower-ridership, can I call bullshit right now? In all my years of enjoying the ride, I’ve never seen it have a long line. In TWENTY YEARS I’ve never seen a long line. The lines this year are no different than the lines last year or the year before. If that was no reason to rip it down then, why is it suddenly an issue now?!?!?!? What gives? Why are you doing this? I’ve tried to trust in them, but I think I’ve really just been in denial until this point. I’ve just been hoping that they were fucking with me, but it’s not going to happen, is it? I’m not going to wake up tomorrow with a notification that they have had a change of heart, am I?
I’ve jumped straight to depression. I can’t believe they are doing this and this is the first time I’ve ever experienced this feeling. This is the first time they have removed something so dear to me. I was a little sad when they took down the water logs, but we got The Intimidator out of that and I love that ride so much more than I did the water logs. They took out the Flying Super Saturater for the Carolina Cobra. While I don’t love the Cobra, I can understand why the Saturater had to go. It was a ride that could only be run when the waterpark was open and that severely cut into ride time. Plus, mixing a rollercoaster with water doesn’t seem like the best idea. Even if it is planned for, it seems like the constant flow of water would deteriorate parts of the coaster quickly, making upkeep costs astronomical. I liked the Saturator, but I can understand the need for change. But Thunder Road? To make room for stupid water rides that I’ll never ride? Fuck you. Seriously, fuck you. That is stupid. They are pissing off their patrons in the worst way. I’m not the only one upset about this. There Facebook page has been hate comments since the announcement. No one is happy with this. I’m not one of those fanatics that is claiming to refuse to buy a seasons pass next year after this or that I’ll never visit the park again. Whether or not I get a pass next year depends entirely on my financial situation, but I definitely plan on continuing to visit the park. I’m just incredibly sadden by this news. I don’t see a need for it and I thought I’d see several other newer ones go before it came to this. I was unprepared and shocked by the announcement a few months back and I’m even more so now.
What makes it worse is my husband doesn’t understand at all. He gets that I’m sad, but I actually started crying yesterday and he was completely flabbergasted by that. It’s just a rollercoaster! But it’s not. It’s so much more than just a coaster. It’s part of my childhood and it’s history and it’s personal. That’s all I have to say, I think. I’m just sad and I’m sure more tears will be shed on my part, especially when they actually start the deconstruction process.
Anyone else out there feel the same way? Sadden by this announcement or past ride removals? Let me know in the comments!