Carowinds announces Windseeker

Posted Thursday, August 25, 2011 12:47 PM | Contributed by Jeff

[Ed. note: The following is an unedited press release. -J]

While Kitty Hawk, North Carolina became symbolic to the Carolinas as the site of the “first flight”, Carowinds will follow down a similar path as the amusement park announces plans to debut WindSeeker in the Spring of 2012 - a $6.5 million, thirty story tall swing ride designed to give riders the sensation of flying.

WindSeeker’s three minute ride begins when the ride’s carriage, featuring 32 two passenger swings, slowly rotates while climbing to the top of a 301-foot tower. Riders will experience a sense of weightlessness as the swings reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour and the arms extend outward at a 45-degree angle. WindSeeker will give riders an astonishing panoramic view of not only the park, but also of the greater Charlotte region.

“The sense of soaring thirty stories in the air will be both exhilarating and breathtaking at the same time,” said Bart Kinzel, Carowinds’ vice president and general manager. “This new addition will give guests an unparalleled view, making it a must-ride attraction for both families and thrill-seekers alike. The immense scale of this ride alone will be truly stunning.”

WindSeeker will be located in the Carolina RFD section of the park near the entrance of Snoopy’s Starlight Spectacular. A portion of the lake near the Nighthawk rollercoaster will be filled in to accommodate this massive tower ride.

To complement the recently added Snoopy’s Starlight Spectacular, WindSeeker will be built with an elaborate LED lighting system. Aside from the LED spotlights that will be located at the top and bottom of the tower, the carriage of the ride will be equipped with LED light strands that will run out from the tower and down each of the ride’s steel arms. At night, as the ride ascends to the top of the tower, the light display will come to life with a kaleidoscope of colorful patterns and shapes. In addition, WindSeeker will be equipped with speakers located on the ride’s carriage. This on-ride audio can play up to eighteen different music tracks.

WindSeeker will climb sixty nine feet taller than IntimidatorTM, the tallest, fastest and longest coaster in the Southeast, introduced by the park in 2010. Construction will begin later this Fall, continue throughout the winter months and is expected to open in the Spring of 2012.

WindSeeker has a ride capacity of 960 passengers per hour, a 52-inch minimum height requirement and is designed and manufactured by Mondial, a 24-year-old Dutch based company focused on developing unique and innovative amusement rides.

See more from Carowinds.

Related parks

Thursday, August 25, 2011 2:15 PM

Surprise!

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Thursday, August 25, 2011 2:31 PM

Meh.

I still want to get back to Carowinds for their version of Intimidator, but these Windseekers don't do anything for me. I don't do swing rides when they are near the ground, I certainly am not going to do them that high in the air.

Last edited by SLFAKE, Thursday, August 25, 2011 2:53 PM
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Thursday, August 25, 2011 2:52 PM

I don't do well with spinny rides, but Windseeker at CP was quite enjoyable IMO. Especially at night. Freaked me out though, just how "simple" the design is as far as seating design.

An engineer coworker rode it this past weekend and shared the same concerns I had. I know the design is plenty fine, but just seeing a few smaller bolts holding the entire seat assembly up that high in the air freaks me out! Being the engineer-in-training I am, decided to go home and check the specs for the bolt size and grade... Two would suffice the load easily, so six is plenty fine!

Needless to say, it made the ride quite white-knuckle for me riding... Especially with the crazy lake cross-wind.

Last edited by SteveWoA, Thursday, August 25, 2011 2:54 PM
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Friday, August 26, 2011 7:28 AM

Yay for variety!

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Friday, August 26, 2011 8:55 AM

It's a shame that they feature 52-inch height requirements!

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Friday, August 26, 2011 11:12 AM

From what I see on a park map, that is very close to the Carolina Sky Tower near by.

Does that make sense to put it there?

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Friday, August 26, 2011 12:40 PM

I don't see why these rides cannot have 48" requirements. Or possibly even 46". But maybe the seat design does not secure enough for small people (only rode it once, myself). It felt pretty secure though.

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Friday, August 26, 2011 2:37 PM

CoasterDaddy said:
From what I see on a park map, that is very close to the Carolina Sky Tower near by.

Does that make sense to put it there?

CoasterDaddy I thought the same but actually there is some distance between the Sky Tower and where Windseeker will sit. If you are looking at it from the front gate, it will be at the very left end of the walkway that goes undernearth Nighthawk heading towards the backend of the park. I think the area is pond water right now and is to be filled in making room for the tower.

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Friday, August 26, 2011 2:38 PM

Yeah, it did seem like a pretty good design. I'm surprised as well.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011 1:23 AM

I wonder if it is similar to that 54" heit requirement that Millennium Force had for most of the 2000 season, before they realized it was a 300' kiddie coaster.

In setting height requirements, frequently parks and manufacturers are using height as a surrogate for age, and age in turn as a surrogate for maturity. None of those conversions works out very well, and at the same time, kids are getting taller at an earlier age, which screws things up even more.

Heck, we are starting to see 54" and 60" being requirements on Ferris wheels that can *safely* accommodate unaccompanied toddlers if you can keep them from freaking out. I wonder what the answer really is.

Here's another problem. The forces generated by Windseeker are not significant. It is not going to throw a rider. But it is 301' tall and NOBODY wants there to be any risk of dropping a rider from that height. The restraining system used on Windseeker is, accordingly, very secure. That lap bar can be lowered pretty much all the way to the seat, and so can positively restrain even the tiniest kid. But if you put a kid into that seat who has short enough legs, and you don't put the bar all the way down into his lap, it may be possible for him to pull one leg back, put his foot against the seat horn, push back and thus extricate his other leg. Since there is no Dolan to speak of, the next destination for such a kid is probably the ground.

Of course this can be avoided by putting the bar down a little further. But we are now living in a world where that has top be measured, and the ride has top tell the operator if the restraint is in the correct position, and inhibit cycle start if it isn't. But Windseeker can accommodate me, with my somewhat oversized thighs, quite comfortably. This means that if you putt is theoretical short legged kid into the seat and adjust the bar so that it can accommodate *me*, the system is going to be happy, the ride will start, and this kid can slide out from under the bar while in mid-air where nobody can see him.

The traditional way that the industry has handled this problem is to set those limit switches and measuring devices so that the *loosest* permissible restraint setting is the one that can insure the safety of the *smallest* person permitted to ride. With that in mind, it might be possible to set the height requirement down a bit so that smaller kids can ride, but in doing so it might also be necessary to adjust the lap bars so that Mom and Dad can't fit anymore.

Yes, it is stupid. It is a situation I have been complaining about for years. But for the moment at least, I just don't see a practical solution. The only way around it is to either go back to less daring gondola designs where rider restraint is less critical, or own up to the fact there has got to be some operator discretion. But in the present climate, that is asking operators to be perfect, and I'm not comfortable with that requirement either.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011 6:24 PM

With the exception of CW, Cedar Fair is making some of the most unexciting announcements that I have ever seen from a theme park chain.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011 10:39 PM

^even then many deemed that unexciting and a modern day Dragon 2000.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011 11:42 PM

tigellinus said:
^even then many deemed that unexciting and a modern day Dragon 2000.

With 1/3 the number of hills :)

edit - Ooops, it's 1/3 less the length and 1/2 the number of hills.

Last edited by CoasterDemon, Sunday, August 28, 2011 11:47 PM
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Monday, August 29, 2011 12:12 AM

For pete's sake, it's a GIGA! Any enthusiast who looks a gift giga in the mouth deserves to be hauled behind the woodshed and...and...and whatever it is they do behind woodsheds. I never had one, so I'm ignorant. But I bet it's bad.

;)

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Monday, August 29, 2011 12:24 AM

^Hey, I'm not lookin' the gift giga in the mouth, just stating some facts :)

Judge Judy was just talking about 'behind the woodshed' too, what the heck is back there?

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Monday, August 29, 2011 1:02 AM

I don't know what's behind everyone else's woodshed, but that's where I got my first "hug."

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 7:06 PM

tigellinus said:
^even then many deemed that unexciting and a modern day Dragon 2000.

I wonder how many of said complainers have actually ridden Steel Dragon...

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 9:25 PM

Supersized Steel Force 2000... The comparison of B&M's first Giga made in 2011, and a Morgan giga from 10 years ago is insane.

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