Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
“I rode Fury 325. I rode Fury 325 again. And then I rode Fury 325 one more time.”
Nearly every theme park enthusiast is a credit hunter… and so am I. Although I often claim that dark rides and entertainment are the most important elements of an amusement park, I love coaster count and coaster bingos as well. Everybody knows that there are tons of amazing roller coasters at the American East Coast. And in 2017, I was finally able to discover some of them. I bought a Cedar Fair Platinum Pass and I planned several USA trips. Canada’s Wonderland and the iconic Cedar Point were planned for late August, but during Spring Break we travelled from Charlotte to Washington DC. Even on our first day, we already met some legendary roller coasters on the border between North and South Carolina.
Carowinds offered a total of 13 roller coasters during our visit. The park’s biggest star is Fury 325. Does this coaster need any introduction? I guess not? If you’ve ever seen pictures or videos of this stunning giant, then you’ve probably considered travelling to Carowinds. This is one of the largest B&Ms on the planet. It’s over two kilometres long, the highest point soars an incredible 99 metres above the ground and trains reach speeds of up to 150 km/h. These figures provide a ride experience which is out of this world. No really, I’m serious… whoever designed this beauty should get a trophy. During the first drop, airtime is so intense that I have to rely on my lap restraint for several seconds. This truly is B&M at its best and Fury 325 makes every other Mega Coaster look lame.
Many rides at Carowinds may be considered as credit coasters: after you’ve ridden it once, chances are small that you’ll ever want to ride it again. Carowinds offers quite a few of those credit coasters. They’ve got Hurler (a painful wooden coaster), Ricochet (a standard Wild Mouse), Carolina Cyclone (an Arrow multi-looper) and many more. These rides fill up the park, but they’re everything but legendary.
Luckily, the park also offers considerably better coasters. Fury 325 is the highlight, but I also liked its sibling Intimidator. This is a 70-metre tall B&M Mega Coaster with a length of approximately 1,600 metres. You could consider it as the American version of Silver Star, but it’s smoother and more forceful than its German counterpart. Intimidator creates a good sense of speed and the airtime is fairly intense. Another B&M masterpiece can be found in the back of the park: Afterburn. We’re talking about a 34-metre tall inverted coaster with a top speed of 100 km/h. While riding this coaster front seat, we noticed that the inversions and the curves are very intense. Especially the batwing – an element which hasn’t been built that often – made me grey out for a second. While re-riding Afterburn in the back seats, those heavy G-forces only got more intense. I don’t know if this was linked to the heat, but this coaster seemed to be running faster than it should’ve. I don’t care, but I can imagine that some other visitors find Afterburn a little too forceful.
People sometimes ask me why I travel to theme parks in the USA while there are tons of parks in Europe. The answer is simple: because American parks offer rides that can’t be found in Europe. Nighthawk is one of those unique coasters that makes my heart skip a beat. This is a so called Flying Dutchman, the flying roller coaster which was developed by Vekoma. In fact, Nighthawk was the very first of its kind: the ride opened in an amusement park near San Francisco, but it was later moved to Carowinds. The ride itself evoked mixed feelings. On the one hand, I hated the tilting trains and the slow operations. On the other hand, the flying experience was at least as good as the one on B&M Flying Coasters. The first turnaround is awesome and the vertical looping offers a bizarre feeling. Overall, Nighthawk is a decent thrill ride, but it wasn’t as breathtaking as I hoped.
Carowinds doesn’t only cater to thrill seekers. The park is known for coasters and it offers a good amount of flat rides, but families and children aren’t forgotten. There’s a surprisingly large kids area called Planet Snoopy and we even encounter two relatively new dark rides today. The funny thing is that they’re both interactive and you need to shoot monsters with a laser gun in both cases. We skip Boo Blasters due to limited time, but we do visit Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 3Z Arena. The cool thing is that the room is divided in two parts (plants and zombies) and you need to defeat the others. Despite the fact we lost the battle, I really enjoyed this ride. It’s an ideal way to escape the coaster madness for a while.
WORTH A VISIT?
I really enjoyed our visit to Carowinds. The weather was beautiful, crowds were low, staff members were generally very friendly and the park offered a good variety of rides. Of course, not every ride is on par with Fury 325 and Afterburn. For example: some of the coasters are only good for my coaster counter and I wouldn’t ride them again next time. Carowinds is a typical American park where quantity is at least as important as quality. There are lots of roller coasters, a ton of kiddie rides and you can empty your wallet at many game stalls. Please don’t expect any top-notch decoration or world class entertainment, but just enjoy a selection of good rides and a fair admission price.
Photo Gallery 2017
Is Fury 325 the best roller coaster on the planet? Do you consider Carowinds as a must do destination? Share your opinion in the comments section at the bottom of this page.