ACE Winter Warm Up 2019 Recap (& Copperhead Strike Construction Update!)
One of the best way to beat the theme park off-season blues is to attend a coaster enthusiast event. This past weekend, I joined 187 fellow coaster enthusiasts at the southeastern chapter of the American Coaster Enthusiasts‘ Winter Warm Up event at Carowinds.
Having attended the event in previous years when it was held at Six Flags Over Georgia, I’ve learned that Winter Warm Up is a great way to connect with fellow coaster enthusiasts, learn more about what’s happening at parks in the region this upcoming season, get some great “swag,” and arguably most important, get an up-close look at something new coming to the host park in 2019. At Carowinds, that obviously meant we got another look at Copperhead Strike! (More on that later.)
Here’s a quick recap of what we saw and learned!
It was an early morning, so we got to Carowinds on Friday night. The park looks eerie in the dark! Can’t wait for Carowinds’ new SpringHill Suites to open later this year!
The Copperhead Display was set up in Harmony Hall!
ACE Southeast Rep Josh Herrington was the day’s emcee.
Carowinds’ VP/GM Pat Jones welcomed the group to Carowinds. Pat told us she was excited for her newest “baby,” Copperhead Strike to open in a few weeks!
We were also joined by Robert Ulrich, who gave us updates on ACE News as well as the goings on at Give Kids The World.
Give Kids The World’s Ice Cream Palace is currently undergoing renovations.
At last year’s IAAPA Expo, Zampera donated a new “Happy Swing” that is handicap-accessible.
Some big news, Coasting For Kids is Returning for 2019! 16 Parks in 12 States. (More on that on Coaster101.com soon!)
Though Holiday World was not present, they sent along a video that detailed some of the retracking on Voyage going on this off-season.
The re-tracking was met with applause from the group.
The first park presentation of the day came from Alabama Adventure & Splash Adventure’s Park President, Dan Koch, and Operations Manager, Michael Schwitek.
Koch, dressed as a life guard, seemed more hyped for the Water Park expansions at Splash Adventure. Schwitek, who Koch kept calling “Rides Guy,” ran down the additions at the dry park.
Alabama Adventure will be adding a Zamperla Galleon in 2019. Relocated from Bowcraft in New Jersey.
Rampage is receiving some off-season track work.
Dan and Michael’s presentation REALLY has me wanting to figure out how to get to Alabama Adventure this season!
Next up was Jeff Filicko, Marketing Manager from Six Flags Fiesta Texas.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas is adding Joker Carnival Chaos, the world’s tallest pendulum ride, in 2019. It is a Giant Discovery from Zamperla.
One thing I didn’t realize was that Six Flags Fiesta Texas also added a dark ride this season. It was built in house, and goes by the name Pirates of the Deep Sea. It looks like a ton of fun!
Who doesn’t love NEW BATHROOMS?
Next up was Divina Mims-Puckett of Six Flags Over Georgia. Like Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Six Flags Over Texas is adding a giant pendulum attraction, though it will be a smaller model.
Called Pandemonium, it will anchor the park’s new “Scream Punk” area, adjacent to Lick Skillet.
Pete Owens, who narrowly escaped rock slides on his way to Carowinds, was up next to tell us about Wildwood Grove.
Pete had a lot of great details about Wildwood Grove, including that the area was designed to hide the queues for the area’s attractions. He also noted that Mountain Slidewinder will not open in 2019, due to ongoing efforts for Wildwood Grove construction.
He also noted that this was “Phase 1” of the Dollywood Expansion plot. The expansion plot was 13 acres. Wildwood Grove was 6 acres. “I’m not talking about Phase Two today.” he told us.
Dragon Flyer is going to be very similar to Dragon Roller Coaster at Energylandia in Poland.
The last presenters on stage prior to lunch were our hosts, Carowinds. Director of Communications Lisa Stryker took us through everything coming to the park in 2019. (And it’s not just Copperhead Strike!)
It truly is going to be the biggest year in Carowinds History!
After Lisa presented, she took some Q&A about Carowinds along with Steve Jackson, Director of Construction for the park.. Among the biggest news items were that Carowinds would have a 20th Anniversary Celebration for Afterburn, Dinosaurs Alive would be going extinct for the 2019 Season, and that Rip Roarin’ Rapids has been “retired” for 2019. It was then time for lunch.
The food at Blue Ridge Country Kitchen is going to be AMAZING.
The Copperhead Strike sauce. Oh my. pic.twitter.com/9Fj0vgz9yW
— Coaster101.com (@Coaster101) February 23, 2019
Carowinds’ Chef Kris and his team outdid themselves as we tried items that were inspired by the menu for the new Blue Ridge Country Kitchen. The pictures can’t do the taste of this food justice. It’s going to be a tough lunch/dinner decision as to where I eat at Carowinds this season!
Following lunch, it was time for the “main event:” a construction tour of Copperhead Strike and Blue Ridge Junction. Due to the weather and prior week’s rain, we were limited in scope of the tour, but it’s amazing how much work has been done since we were last at Carowinds.
All of the asphalt in this area has been replaced by Brick Pavers.
The ICEE Mix It Up stand was under construction.
A new planter in the area.
A look at a new fireplace near Copperhead Strike’s launch barn.
Some details of the launch barn, which will also house a place to purchase on-ride photos.
The ride structure was up for Mountain Gliders. The gliders themselves were not up quite yet.
Quite a crowd. It was a record attendance year for Winter Warm Up!
The first loop and launch of Copperhead Strike.
A new locker structure under construction.
This area behind Dodgems has been opened up and will connect to Blue Ridge Junction.
I love this attention to detail of this theming that will be near the main entrance of Copperhead Strike.
A look at the Coaster’s exit, which goes across the launch barn.
This Jo-Jo roll is going to be amazing! And we have video proof!
A few outside looks at Blue Ridge Country Kitchen.
Can’t wait for the skies to turn blue. Blue Ridge Junction is going to be amazing!
A little more TLC and painting going on in the Blue Ridge Junction area.
It was a very rainy and grey day, but here’s some shots of Kiddy Hawk.
After one final photo of Intimidator, it was time to head home! We’ll be back in a few weeks!
Winter Warm Up was a fantastic event. For more information about the American Coaster Enthusiasts, visit www.aceonline.org.