This is my trip report from my Carowinds visit last August. It may seem to be a bit lengthy as I'll be reviewing just about everything I did there plus give a bit of Historical content to the park and the rides.
We all know the effect Walt had on the amusement park industry when he opened the world's Disneyland, the world's first theme park. What most of us don't know is how Walt had influenced other parks as well. Without Disneyland, Six Flags over Texas might not have been built which means the chain wouldn't be there as well. Without Disneyland, Cedar Point might have been turned into a residential neighborhood and Cedar Fair wouldn't be around. Adventureland in Altoona, Iowa might not have it's Main Street entrance which the Disney family helped design. King's Island in Mason, Ohio might not have enough land as Taft Communications sought out the Disney family for advice on how much land they should buy. They said to figure out how much they think they'll need and to buy four times as much.
Now we come to Carowinds. Pat Hall, seeing the sucess Disneyland was having, decided he would open a park that straddled the North and South Carolina line and that it would celebrate the Carolina's and that it would be called Carowinds which was named for the Carolina's and the winds that blew across them. Carowinds opened on June 2, 1973 and it was one of the largest parks in the country, even larger than Disneyland.
The park's entrance actually straddles the state line which is marked by the wide brick line in the following photos.
Once inside the park, you'll have a chance to take a photo with the sign marking the border.
Now on the the first ride and one of the original rides from when the park opened, the Carolina Skytower.
This ride was built by Intamin and offers great views of the park and surrounding areas.
I'll be going in a counter clockwise way around the park and this by no means is the order in which a rode everything as I spent three days at this park.
The first ride is Vortex, a stand up roller coaster from B&M.
This is the second roller coaster ever built by B&M. Now, just about every major park has atleast one B&M coaster in their park. This coaster is deffinstely worth riding as standing up while riding is definately a unique experience. It's also one of the few times you can stand up on a ride without causing the ride to come to a screeching halt and being escorted out of the park.
The next ride on this tour is a rare one, it's a Enterprise ride from Anton Schwarzkopf called the Scream Weaver. He was the one that originally came up with the Enterprise ride design but manufactured very few of them. The most common Enterprise ride is from HUSS Mfg. The dead giveaways are that the Schwarzkopf models have smaller ride vehicles and are more reliant on mechanical gears which means there's a definate mechanical sound to the Schwarzkopf Enterprises. These rides are so rare that there are only three or four in the US.
Next up is the wooden roller coaster called the Hurler which was themed after the Waynes World movies.
There's nothing really special about this coaster as coaster has gotten pretty rough. They even had to install a trim brake at the bottom of the first drop which takes out all that air time on the hills. They did this to it's clone at it's sister park called King's Dominion in Virginia as well. To me, it's worth only one ride for the credit but I reccomend you stay towards the front as it's pretty rough back there in the back.
Next on the list is the Drop Tower: Scream Zone
It's a Giant Drop model from Intamin that opened here as Drop Zone in 1996. It ran under that name until Paramount sold this park and the other parks under the Paramount name to Cedar Fair in 2007. They Changed it to it's current name at that time. It stands at a height of 160ft tall with a drop just shy of that mark.
Next is the Carolina Cyclone which was built by Arrow Dynamics and opened here in March of 1980 as the world's first roller coaster with four inversions. It's a fun ride if a bit short compared to today's steel roller coasters. I reccomend you sit in the front row if you're taller than six feet. the front row has plenty of leg room inside the nos
After that comes Ricochet, A Wild Mouse coaster from Mack Rides.
This one is filled with quick sharp turns and sudden drops. It's worth atleast one ride to say you rode it.
The next coaster on the tour is the Carolina Goldrusher. It's a mine train coaster that was built by Arrow Dynamics and is one of the original rides that opened with the park in 1973.
It's really not a bad ride but can be a bit jarring as it enters some of turns.
Now we come to one of the two restaurants I reccomend you have lunch at and this one is called the Outer Hanks. They serve some of the best pulled pork BBQ sandwhiches I've had. Their pulled pork is maranaded in a sauce that isn,t spicy, but really does add some flavor to the sandwich.
Now that we've had our lunch break we'll head on down to our next roller coaster called Thunder Road. This one is actually two racing coasters that are very mych like their cousins at King's Island and King's Dominion.
This coaster has the distinction of being the first roller coaster built in two states. The front half is in South Carolina and the back half (the far end turn around) is in North Carolina.
The track on the left is called South Carolina and the track on the right is called North Carolina. This coaster was built by PTC, the worlds second oldest manufacturer of amusement rides, and it opened in 1976. This one is deffinately worth riding as I rode it several times during my three day visit. Cedar Fair is also going to great lengths to bring this coaster back to it's former glory as they've enlisted GCI, a noted wooden coaster manufacturer, to retrack and in some places, replace entire sectio of track over the next couple of years.
Now we come to the Carolina Cobra. It's a shuttle coaster that doesn't make a complete circut around the track.
This coaster was built by Vekoma and originally opened at the now closed Geauga Lake park near Aurora, OH. This type of shuttle coaster gets pulled out of the station and up the rear spike and released once it reaches the top. The train travels through the course until it reaches the end of the track where it gets pulled up a rear spike and returns to the station on the same track it went out on.
Our next ride is the Southern Star. It's a Looping Starship model from Intamin and was originally installed here in 1986 as Frenziod
The next ride is Afterburn, one of the best Inverted coasters I've been on right behind Montu at BGT and Raptor at CP.
This coaster was built by B&M and opened in 1999 and was originally going to carry the Godzilla name, until the movie bombed at the box office. They quickly made the decision to go with Top Gun and it opperated under that name until Cedar Fair bought the parks.
Does anyone notice the mistake in this picture? If you do, please comment and I'll tell you if your right.
Now we come to the Carolina RFD section of the park which contains the Boo Blasters dark ride which is pretty fun. It's filled with lots of targets for you to shoot at and it's AIRCONDITIONED which is a blessing in the hot and humid summers here in the southeastern US.
This section also has the second restaurant I reccomend called the Country Kitchen which serves some pretty good BBQ and Chicken dinners.
Just outside this area is the extreme observation ride called Windseeker.
This leads us into the kids area called Planet Snoopy.
There are several rides in this area including a family inverted roller coaster from Vekoma called the Flying Ace Aerial Chase.
A antique carousel from PTC called the Character Carousel.
I love these antiques as they're very ornately carved by hand and have a rich history behind them.
This particular carousel began life around the turn of the century near Evansville, Indiana and opperated at two parks in that area before coming to Carowinds.
Next is the Woodstock Gliders, a Flying Scooter ride from the Bisch Rocco Co. This ride began life as the Eagles Flight at King's Island.
Now we're out of Planet Snoopy and our next ride is Intimidator, my 150th different roller coaster I've ridden. This one is one of the world's best steel roller coasters. It was built by B&M and opened in 2010.
It's 232ft tall, is the longest at 5,316ft long and fastest at 75mph roller coaster in the southeastern US. This coaster was named after the late Dale Earnhardt, a NASCAR driver whose nickname was the Intimidator.
This brings us to the last roller coaster for this trip report called Nighthawk.
This coaster holds the distinction of being the worlds first Flying coaster as it originally opened at California's Great America as Stealth in 2000. It was then moved here in 2004 where it ran under the name the Borg Assimilator until Cedar Fair Bought the park and changed it to it's current name Nighthawk.
We're now at the end of this trip report and I hope you've enjoyed the photos and videos.