Carowinds 6/3/24 - Where Is Everybody?

A while back I booked a vacation to St Lucia, and shortly after doing so the reality that our return flight would be connecting through Charlotte hit me: wait a minute… Carowinds! It would be a one day visit, and if the weather didn’t cooperate it would be all for not. But, I don’t know when I would have that opportunity again, so I changed the flight and crossed my fingers.

Thankfully our flight was on time, customs was a breeze, picking up the rental car was quick and easy. The weather for Monday was looking good, and we rolled into the Spring Hill Suites near the airport around 9:30pm.

Up the next morning we arrived at the park shortly before it opened at 10:00. I was prepared to buy Fast Lane for all five of us, but thankfully folks here talked me out of it. Let’s just say it was NOT needed, not in the least bit. Anyway, onto the highlights:

Online ticket price was $50. They had a special that including parking and all day dining for $65. Yeah, it doesn’t include drinks but that’s a no brainer. And for some reason they didn’t charge us for drinks at lunch, so that was a nice bonus!

Nighthawk (1x):
I know the ops on this are painfully slow, so we went here at rope drop. Station wait. It’s not nearly as good as the B&M flyers (duh) but I still found it to be fun, and not nearly as rough as everyone says. It was the first flyer for my kids, and they loved it.

Fury 325 (4x):
Two rides in the morning, both were a one or two train wait. One in the very front, and one in the very back. I don’t know if I like the front or back better, but what a ride. Even better late in the afternoon, where it packed a little more punch after warming up. Sometimes it feels like B&M layouts are a bit cookie-cutter, but Fury’s layout is just fantastic, with unique elements throughout. World class, all the way.

Riichet (1x):
20 minute wait. Ops on this ride were awful. I know it’s a mouse so that doesn’t help, but man… these guys just seemed clueless. Anyway, the ride was fine, up until that brakes at the end. Ouch!

Carolina Cyclone (1x):
Walk on. Standard old school looper. Fun little ride, and not as rough as I expected.

Vortex (1x):
One train wait. I haven’t been on a stand up since Mantis. Again, I’ve heard all about how rough this is, but perhaps because I was riding defensively I didn’t find it to be that bad. Fun, quick ride, but definitely one and done.

Thunder Striker (1x):
5 minute wait. Standard out & back B&M hyper. Fast and smooth, good times!

Woodstock’s Air Rail (1x):
5 minute wait. I was too tall to ride, but everyone else in the family enjoyed this small coaster.

Woodstock Express (1x):
These little family friendly coasters are good for cheap thrill, especially with a walk-on wait.

Afterburn (1x):
Station wait. Holy smokes was this intense. I know this is one of their smaller, older models but this thing just never lets up. Great ride!

Copperhead Strike (2x):
This was down most of the day, and I was sweating it a bit. Mid afternoon, it started testing, and soon enough they opened it up. First ride was a walk on, second ride was a 15 minute wait. Wow, wow, wow. What a fun ride. We absolutely loved this unique layout and haven’t experienced that much hang time on a coaster before. I’d love to see more of this type of ride. Carowinds has a real winner with this one, and quite the crowd pleaser.

Carolina Gold Rusher (2x):
A fun, janky mine train coaster. ‘Nuff said. We hit it twice for some reason. Maybe the walk-on wait had something to do with it.

We skipped Flying Cobras and Hurler. Boomerangs don’t do anything for me and I’ve already been on the atrocity that is Thunder Run at Kentucky Kingdom so… hard pass. We hit a few of the flats too. Nothing too noteworthy other than Carowinds has to have the worst bumper cars on the planet. They are painfully slow, it’s ridiculous. On the other hand, we found Boo Blasters at Carowinds to be far superior to the version at KI; the blasters were accurate and it was much easier to see when you hit the target. Food wise, the BBQ at Harmony Hall was surprisingly good! We had dinner at Panda Express, which was fine.

General Thoughts:
It was our first visit to Carowinds, and what a fantastic, beautiful park. It’s a step above KI in my opinion, but I still find it strange they don’t have a water ride. Operations were pretty good overall, a closed water park in early June was a head scratcher. But as I’ve already noted… where is everybody? We were in the park for less than 8 hours and got more than our fill of rides. For a metro area the size of Charlotte (not to mention Greensboro and Columbia aren’t terribly far away) I would expect more people here, even on a weekday. Not that I’m complaining though! Anyway, If you haven’t been to Carowinds, I highly recommend it.

Last edited by Danimales,
Jephry's avatar

A buddy of mine called B&M the Apple of coaster manufacturers and I hate to admit he is right. High quality, if not predictable rides that the general public loves.

But every so often, both companies strike gold and Fury 325 is an example of that for B&M. It is one of the most powerful and exciting coasters I've ever ridden. Were it not for the immersion of VelociCoaster, I'd likely have Fury as my number one instead of two. I cannot wait to ride it again.

Interesting that you find Carowinds to be a step above KI. I've always thought the opposite. Fury aside, I find KI's coaster lineup to be deeper, their operations better, their food on par, the layout of the park is awesome, they seem to offer more in the way of entertainment, etc. I think KI might be the best of the regional chain parks that I've been to.

Part of my jaded opinion of Carowinds might be because I've always gone in April and I'm not getting the full experience, but aside from Fury and Thunder Striker, I find it kind of mediocre. I find myself wishing they'd RMC Hurler to give them an additional coaster worth going/waiting for.


I personally think that the combo of Afterburn / Thunder Striker / Fury is stronger overall than Banshee / Diamondback / Orion. The only possible exception would be DB over TS. That puts CW over KI in my book. The outstanding Mystic Timbers does help balance the scales somewhat. It’s a low down dirty shame what happened to Thunder Road!

Rich G

Exactly what TCKR says. Plus don't forget about Copperhead Strike. An RMC on Hurler would be awesome for that park.

Mystic Timbers at KI is excellent though and Carowinds has nothing to compare. I don't even factor in the Beast; I've never understood the obsession with that ride.

Last edited by Danimales,

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