General Carowinds discussion
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By tarheel1231
#108289
What a ride it's been. This decade has been perhaps the most important in the history for the park, so I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on just how much has happened in the past ten years. We've seen three new coasters, top-to-bottom re-do's of entire sections of the park, and we've said goodbye to some beloved classics. This decade has been just as much of a roller coaster as any you can find roaring in the park, and it's worth it just to sit back and reflect on what we've seen.

"Gentlemen: Start... your... engines!" Over ten years ago, Intimidator was announced as the tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster in the Southeastern United States. Though it came at the removal of our beloved log flume, this is the ride that really kickstarted the park as we see it today. It might seem overshadowed by Fury now, but when it first came to the park, it towered over everything. For me, personally, it was a dream come true to finally have a hyper coaster at the park. Carowinds had entered elite status as a park with a coaster over 20 stories, and it felt as though there was some validity to the park being the south's thrill capital.

2011 through 2013 saw some smaller investments, with Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular, Windseeker, and Dinosaurs Alive. But 2013 would come with an announcement that could not possibly be a better 40th birthday present for the park:

Cedar Fair announces $50 million investment in Carowinds.

And that was over the course of three years. Most regional parks barely see that level of investment over the course of ten, but here's little ole' Carowinds about to blow up into a giant regional park almost overnight.

Only a couple of weeks later, we learned about the park's plans to build one of the tallest coasters on the planet:

Cedar Fair Entertainment, the parent company of Carowinds, plans to build a 300-foot-tall roller coaster – 70 feet taller than the park’s biggest attraction, the Intimidator – according to a closed-session transcript the Charlotte City Council released Wednesday.

I remember the months of speculation, the debates about whether it would be a B&M or an Intamin, and whether we thought it would be a wing coaster. Finally, our questions were answered in August of 2014, and the park would announce Fury 325, a coaster with a lift hill taller than any other on Earth.

If Intimidator was the ride that gained the park some regional attention, Fury was the coaster that put Carowinds as a national and even world destination for thrill seekers. A seemingly-eternal drop would lead into breakneck speed and sideways airtime, all over the course of a layout that would make it the longest steel coaster on this half of the planet. The park finally had that exclamation point of an attraction- a coaster that broke world records. Today, it is still the park's signature attraction, and I can't help but get all giddy when I see it when going south from I-77.

2015 also saw the addition of a new and more spacious entrance, with a pedestrian bridge going over Fury, and an open-air front gate that replaced the park's original plantation house entrance. And unfortunately, 2015 also saw the removal of the park's first major coaster: Thunder Road.

I'm not really going to get into the reasons for its removal, but it was a sad time for fans of the park. Thunder Road was a beloved classic, and for many, the first big coaster guests had ever ridden. It closed its gates on July 26th, 2015, and the ride's removal was a piece of Carowinds gone forever. We still await a new wooden coaster to fill the gap, but there's no real way to replace what was once there.

2016 would prove to be controversial for some dedicated fans of the park, as it looked as if the park had removed Thunder Road solely for the purpose of expanding the water park, but Carolina Harbor was announced, and it was a sign that Cedar Fair was determined to make the park more Carolinian and return it to its roots. The expansion saw a new water park entrance, the return of Blackbeard's Revenge in the form of a water slide complex, and a new wave pool. While it was a good investment for the park, especially in its attempt to drive multi-day visits, one can't help but imagine the silhouette of the racing coaster that once bordered Boomerang Bay.

2017 however would play on some of that nostalgia for the old Carowinds in the construction of a new County Fair, complete with four flat rides relocated from parks in Europe. Electro-Spin would give the park a signature flat ride, providing insane flipping action and a spectacle to watch from the midway. Rock 'n' Roller quickly became a park classic, as the Mack music express would go on to be the park's most popular non-coaster attraction. Zephyr would call back to the original Whirling Dervish attraction that the park replaced with Yo-Yo, and Do-Si-Do was another attraction that used the history of the park to create new experiences. But the most surprising thing about the new County Fair was the level of theming that went into creating it. It's not Disney or Universal level by any means, but for a regional park, it is surprisingly effective at evoking the feeling of being in a 1950's county fair.

2017 would also see Winterfest added, which would expand the park's operating season into December and give us even more time to enjoy the park.

2018 would be another small year in terms of investment for the park, but it saw another top-to-bottom upgrade of the park's Planet Snoopy area. Camp Snoopy used its wooded theme and natural landscaping to its advantage, with rustic fences, cabin-style buildings, and a new fountain area in front of Woodstock Express. The park made way for the new additions through relocating the carousel and gliders, the latter that some feared would not return. But that could not be further from the truth, which finally brings us to 2019.

Copperhead Strike, the Carolina's first multi- launch coaster was announced just over a year ago. It was a welcomed change of pace from the abundant lift hills at the park, as it wasted no time in getting to the action. Rolling into an inversion directly out of the station, into an incredibly-themed showbuilding, and launching into a twisty layout laden with airtime and hangtime; the park gained another signature attraction for all to see. It is perhaps the park's greatest attraction, though it's ranking as a coaster would be up for debate. The park also saw the return of the gliders in a new expansion of the park, again returning to its history to create Blue Ridge Junction. 2017 through 2019 seem to have set the standard for the level of theming we can expect to see implemented throughout the park, and I welcome it with open arms.

This season has yet to end and more to bring us, with the opening of the park's first on-site hotel on the way, and the seasonal events of SCarowinds and Winterfest still on the way. But I'm just in awe when I sit back and think about everything we saw this decade. Carowinds has transformed from your average park that really only had value for locals, into a regional destination with massive coasters, a giant water park, and actual theming to tie it all together. We still don't know what the 2020's will hold for Carowinds, but it has become evident that this decade has been the most transformative in the park's history.
By BrianH1970
#108610
Christopher Mallis wrote:Just shows that even though sometimes the little complaints can pile up, Carowinds really is becoming a destination park.



Look up Theme Park Worldwide on youtube. Two guys from the UK did a several week long trip to various parks across the US and Canada and vlogged the whole thing. Carowinds was one one of their stops and at the very beginning the one guy called it "an absolute bucket list park." There was no hiding his excitement being there and ultimately the park delivered for them.

Regardless of any tiny complaints there aren't many place I'd rather be on a Saturday morning than Carowinds. Going on Fury or people watching in Harmony Hall, that place is always a fantastic time.
By Capler
#108617
Tarheel, I agree with everything you said about Intimidator. IMO, it is the most important coaster in the park's history. It frustrated me when people became dismissive of it once Fury was installed. People forgot that this was the date that brought us to the prom.

After Cedar Fair gave us the relocated boomerang, I figure it would be business as usual and Carowinds would remain the bridesmaid of the larger parks in the chain.

When Intimidator was announced, I was like, 'wow parks like Carowinds don't get coasters like this.' We are talking the tallest coaster made by the Ferrari of coaster manufacturers.

I felt Carowinds was lucky because Intimidator would be an once in a lifetime occurrence for most parks. Who knew lighting would strike twice a few years later, when I found myself saying the exact same thing again.
#108619
To be fair, I do seem to recall reading somewhere that Intimidator was already on the drawing board when Cedar Fair bought the park and just hadn't been funded.

I don't disagree though, it really was the coaster that put Carowinds on the map as more than just a local destination.
#108621
Intimidator came 5 years after they acquired the park. What was on the drawing board was removing cyclone and replacing it with flight of fear from Kings Dominion (if my memory serves me correct). Paramount wasn't into the hyper coaster thing.

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