Welcome to Part 2 of my first ever Park Showdown blog series. In this first edition, I am comparing two parks which have very similar collections of rides and coasters, and share many other similarities with their “corporate” ownerships—Carowinds and Six Flags Over Georgia. In Part 1 of this particular blog, I compared the two parks very similar collections of roller coasters, which SFOG won by a landslide. Now, it’s time to compare everything else the two parks have to offer and determine a winner. First, let’s take a look at some other similar rides the two parks share (Carowinds/SFOG):
Drop Tower/Acrophobia – One is 160 ft, the other is 200 ft; one hits 56 mph, the other hits 65 mph; one is a second-gen freefall tower, the other a more modern “gyro drop”; one has you sitting standard, the other has you in more of a “standing” position and tilts your seat down 15-degrees before the drop….it’s no competition.
EDGE: SFOG’s Acrophobia.
Scream Weaver/Wheelie – While the two rides may look similar, they are, but they are different sizes and from different manufacturers. The Carowinds version of the Enterprise ride is larger, feels faster, and has much more “roomy” compartments (SFOG have an annoying “console” running down the middle that makes it cramped). The winner here is quite obvious.
EDGE: Carowind’s Scream Weaver
Other – Let’s just take each of the parks “sky coaster” attractions out of the equation, since they’re basically the same thing, and both up-charge attractions. Likewise, take out Carowinds go-kart track which is also up-charge. That done, Carowinds still has the Southern Star inverting ship, and the Snoopy’s Gr8 Sk8 “flying carpet/gauntlet” type ride, whereas SFOG has…well, nothing really for the “thrill” department.
OVERALL THRILL EDGE: As surprising as it may seem with Carowinds complete lack of non-coaster thrill rides, it wins this category due to the fact that SFOG has surprisingly less to offer.
Splash Water Falls
Whitewater Falls/Splash Water Falls: Two very generic, relatively small, “splash” boat attractions. SFOG’s version is perhaps slightly prettier, but Carowind’s gets you additional wet from the water pouring off the walk-way which is a bit further down.
Rip Roarin’ Rapds/Thunder River: Carowinds RRR is a decent little rapids ride that can get you wet, but there are no real drops, big rapids, tunnels, or anything special other than a single “overflow” waterfall. TR at SFOG on the other hand, has all that, larger boats (better capacity) and will get you drenched.
EDGE: Landslide victory to TR at SFOG.
Yo Yo/Gotham City Crime Wave: Ok, yes, they are swings, but that doesn’t mean they’re not important. Carowind’s Yo Yo is basically just a spinning swing, and while GCCW is as well, the tilt at least adds some variation to the swinging motion.
EDGE: SFOG’s Crime Wave.
Dodg’ems/Dodge City Bumper Cars: Both are pretty much just your standard bumper car attractions, but Carowinds offers much more floor space, and a much smaller island to cause traffic jams and interruptions.
EDGE: Carowinds bumper cars.
Gotham City Crime Wave
Joe Cool’s Driving School/Hanson Cars: Sadly, antique cars are becoming a dying breed, likely for their real-estate, maintenance costs, and gas consumption. However, new electric versions are being created that even younger kids can drive. Unfortunately, there’s very little “driving” involved, as the cars go by themselves, and steering is minimal. No modern car ride can come close to the feel and joy of driving antique car rides.
EDGE: Landslide to the Hanson Cars at SFOG.
Boo Blasters on Boo Hill/Monster Mansion: Now these rides aren’t really quite the same, but are somewhat comparable. Boo Blasters is an interactive shooter dark ride, where guests try and blasts a number of interactive targets with guns for the high score. Monster Mansion is an elaborately themed boat ride through scenes of both good monsters, and the eerie, evil swamp monsters. They’re completely different, but share some similarities.
REMAINING FAMILY RIDES/ATTRACTIONS:
In terms of family rides for the younger ones and their families, both parks have a decent selection. SFOG has the Convoy Grande, a spinning plane ride, a variety of swing, small ferris wheel, balloon ride, small train, a Frog Hopper, and a small log flume. Carowinds has a couple swing rides, balloon ride, a Dutchman spinning ride, spinning plane ride, miniature train, a couple of smaller round rides, the tracked whirlybird helicopters, and the Woodstock Gliders (Larson Flying Scooters). Both parks have a decent variety, but only one can win here…
EDGE: Carowinds! They’re very close, but Carowinds “gliders/scooters” and the Dutchman (PEANUTS Pirates) give Carowinds the victory.
This is a simple category, since Carowinds no longer has any of their transportation rides left. The park used to boast a monorail, train, sky ride, and a paddleboat, all gone now compliments of Paramount. SFOG on the other hand has a short, but scenic sky ride across the middle of the park and a train that encircles much of the park.
EDGE: No competition at all for SFOG.
So, each park has a little side offering of a “water park” to cool you off on the hot summer days. Carowinds, has a full-blown water park included in its admission, featuring a couple of wave pools, lazy river, several tube/raft slides, and a number of kiddie pools. SFOG on the other hand has Skull Mountain, a highly-themed, all-in-one mini-water park, with a number of slides and tons of interactive elements. The downside of Carowinds water park is that there are no modern slides or attractions, nothing to blow you away, just a few standard slides that have been there for 10+ years to cool you down and some kiddie pools/structures for you to pass by. Oh, and did I mention that the attractions are far apart, there is no shade, few sprinklers on the gorund, and the long journey between slides is scalding hot? (No joke, I’ve gotten blisters on my feet the ground was so hot). At SFOG though, it’s a relatively small “water park” but there’s a lot for such a small area, just no major slides/attractions.
EDGE: SFOG’s Skull Island for a couple reasons—1) everything is together, no scalding walks needed, 2) neither park has any modern slides to out-do the other, 3) great themeing, 4) you can stop by for a short while and move on, not have to kill time walking to find a spot and wandering between waterslides.
This is a tough category to judge, since I did not see any of the shows at SFOG except a rehearsal for Soda Shoppe Sweethearts at the Dare Devil Dive Media Day, and have seen none of Carowinds current shows. That said, Carowinds basically has one show, a nightly light show, and a fireworks show, whereas SFOG actually has a number of different SHOWS. That said…
EDGE: SFOG because they actually have shows.
This is kind of like deciding which you like eating more, cardboard or paper? Both parks offer pretty much your standard amusement park foods, at the standard arm + leg price. The only place at Carowinds you can get something a bit different is at the Country Kitchen, where you can get fried chicken and potato wedges (and other items like that), and Outer Hanks, where you can get seafood (not a personal choice of mine at an amusement park). At SFOG, while the food is not vastly different from what you can find at other parks, they do offer sandwiches/subs, turkey legs, and BBQ at their various eateries. There is also more indoor and covered eating.
EDGE: SFOG, but only by a slight hair.
Carowinds improving landscaping
I will say this, both parks have a very “corporate” atmosphere. Carowinds has long been an agonizingly hot park, with very little offerings in terms of shade, and the landscaping under Paramount was almost non-existant; let’s not even mention the abysmal land management Paramount had (i.e. plopping Nighthawk on a flattened and destroyed Smurf Island, which also landlocked smaller areas of the park). That said, the park has been improving in landscaping under Cedar Fair, but it still has a long way to go. SFOG is different though. While it does feel very “corporate” in areas (see Superman: Ultimate Flight and the Sky Coaster on the nearly gone GASM lake), there are plenty of areas that feel very secluded, hidden, and are actually shaded (see MindBender and Hanson Cars). One thing I noticed about SFOG is that, when riding the Sky Ride, there are areas of the park that appear completely unused and abandoned (such as the stadium where the Batman stunt show used to occur). That said, Carowinds itself has a few “abandoned” attractions, such as the Action FX Theater/Eyesore, and Snoopy’s GR8 SK8 which has not operated this season.
EDGE: SFOG for actually having landscaping, attractions a bit more evenly spread out, and not a bunch of eyesores everywhere.
OVERALL WINNER: Six Flags Over Georgia
. In the end, SFOG gets the nod, mainly because of its significantly better collection of roller coasters, and the fact that the two parks are relatively even and comparable in all other remaining categories.
P.S. This was my first edition of Park Showdown, so it’s perhaps a bit too drawn out for most, and I get long-winded talking about Carowinds (my home park which I know better than anyone), so I will be working on getting a more consistent format for future Showdowns.