The Movie Diary

The Movie Diary: Riding high


By Dom Cioffi

Sitting directly on the border between North and South Carolina is an amusement park called Carowinds. It has all the usual trappings of a modern-day theme park with fun activities, incredibly over-priced food, and a host of rides for every level of thrill seeker. 

Up until this year the main attraction at the park was “The Intimidator,” a modern hyper-coaster named after the late NASCAR hero, Dale Earnhardt. “The Intimidator” features a 232-foot drop and a top speed of 80mph – impressive stats for any rollercoaster. 

However, this year Carowinds decided to up the ante by building something even more intimidating than “The Intimidator.”

Dubbed “The Fury” and costing in excess of $30 million to build, this roller coaster outdoes its predecessor in both height and speed by reaching into the sky an astonishing 325 feet and hitting top speeds of 95 mph. These stats make “The Fury” the tallest and fastest giga-coaster in the world.

This past Friday we planned to visit Carowinds with my son and seven of his buddies as they celebrated one of the boys’ birthday, and from the moment we got into the car to head to the park, all the talk centered around “The Fury.”

“I’m sitting in the first seat!” “I’m not going to hold on!” “I’m riding it twice!” The level of courage and fearlessness was oozing through the car as each child professed his intent to topple the metal beast.

However, as we pulled into the park, “The Fury” loomed over the horizon like Godzilla approaching Tokyo. As we approached the entrance, you could hear the riders screaming in the distance as their carts ripped around the tracks. And just before we entered the front gates, we were able to stand on an overpass as “The Fury” flew underneath us. The speed and epic height immediately tweaked several of the boys.

We traversed the park for a couple hours, taking in a few games and some food and a few lower level rides before finally deciding that it was time to get in line for “The Fury.” At this point we had officially lost two of the boys, who both claimed that they were just not in the mood anymore (translation: scared to death).

When we arrived at the ride’s entrance, we were greeted with a line that seemed to snake on forever. Undeterred, we stepped in and found our place. An hour later and we were finally getting strapped in.

Two more boys had bailed by this point (my son included). Unfortunately, no amount of arm twisting, convincing or monetary enticing was getting him or the other three boys onto this ride. So as much as I wanted to experience this epic moment with him, I finally acquiesced and rode with another dad.

And it was amazing. I’m not a big thrill seeker, but outside of a free fall while skydiving, I have never been more overloaded from a sensory standpoint.

After the ride ended, we took the boys back for cake and a sleepover. I was against the sleepover aspect of this party only because my son had a baseball game the following day, but he assured me that he would get plenty of sleep.

That, however, did not happen.

When I arrived the following morning, my son had yet to sleep (apparently he had to save face since he bailed on the roller coaster dare).

I could tell immediately that he was in trouble. He cried when we left; he cried in the car heading home; he cried while he ate; he cried the whole time I helped him on with his uniform; and he cried all the way to the game. And to make matters worse, his pet allergies erupted after he put on a sweatshirt that his friend’s dog had apparently slept on.

When we arrived at the field, he was a mental and physical mess with swollen eyes, a runny nose and absolutely no energy. I went to the coach and explained the situation and he agreed to let my son sit out the game.

But then something amazing happened. Like a switch being thrown, my son suddenly stood up and announced that he was ready to play. I was still unsure, but he was adamant. He then proceeded to walk up to the plate where he promptly lined a single into left field. During the next inning he threw a guy out at second and tagged another guy out stealing. And to top it off, he made an amazing catch in center field to end the game.

I was in awe since the best I was hoping for was that he didn’t fall asleep in the dugout.

So while it may not have officially qualified as superhuman, it was still one of the more impressive examples of “digging deep” that I’ve seen in a kid his age.

This week’s film, “Avengers: The Age of Ultron,” actually does feature super-humans, and thankfully so since the plot of this story revolves around the extermination of the human race. 

While the second installment in the popular series just missed garnering the greatest opening weekend in cinematic history, it did prove to be another winner in the growing pantheon of Marvel films by focusing on, once again, great characters and comedic banter.

Check this one out if you’re in the mood for action, adventure and nonstop thrills.

A turbulent “B” for “Avengers: The Age of Ultron.”

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at

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