The original Carowinds logo, used from 1973 - 1992.
Carowinds logo used from 2003-2006
The Carowinds theme park was originally envisioned as a component of a large resort which would include hotels, a shopping center, a golf course, and an NFL stadium. However, attendance at Carowinds was curtailed by the 1973 oil crisis, and plans for the proposed resort were put on hold. Hall and the other stockholders of the Carowinds Corporation continued to operate the theme park through 1974, though sagging attendance and mounting debt forced the company to sell to Taft Broadcasting in early 1975. The park was purchased by Paramount Communications in 1993 and joined the Paramount Parks family. Ownership had transferred from Family Leisure Centers – a joint venture between Taft and Top Value Enterprises) – to Kings Entertainment Company, which in turn was acquired by Paramount. The park was renamed Paramount's Carowinds in 1993 and later became an asset of Viacom following its acquisition of Paramount in 1994.
The name "Carowinds" was derived from the park's original theme of the history and culture of the Carolinas, and is a portmanteau of "Carolina" and "winds", in reference to the winds that blow across the two states. Carowinds opens in late March each year and closes in early November, after the park's Halloween event, "Scarowinds." In 2005, a portion of the park reopened during December for the Winterfest Christmas festival. However, the park did not repeat the event in 2006, citing poor attendance. A similar decision was made regarding Kings Island's Winterfest.
On January 27, 2006, the Dayton Daily News reported that CBS Corporation (which split from Viacom at the end of 2005) would be selling Paramount's Carowinds and other parks in its Paramount Parks division.
Although Cedar Fair continued to use the Paramount's Carowinds name through the remainder of the 2006 season, it began to phase out the Paramount name in press releases, the park website, and on signage within the park. In January 2007, a new logo featuring the Cedar Fair icon but lacking the "Paramount" name, was revealed on the park website. The new logo featured the trademark Cedar Fair flags, flying on the letter "I" on the Carowinds name. The other four Paramount-branded parks that Cedar Fair acquired all received similar changes. The "Paramount" name was dropped from all of the parks after the 2006 season.
On August 26, 2013, Cedar Fair announced a $50-million investment plan to expand Carowinds over three years starting in 2014. The expansion will include a $30-million roller coaster, a $2.5-million water slide, a $7-million food complex, and $4 million to improve the park's ticket booths and front areas.
On August 21, 2014 Carowinds announced the addition of Fury 325 for the 2015 season. Designed by Bolliger & Mabillard, the ride is the fifth-tallest roller coaster in the world, after it's debut in the spring of 2015 as another component of the park's previously-announced "top-to-bottom" expansion program. A new front entrance, replacing the original North Gate entrance of the park, also opened along with Fury 325 for the 2015 season.
A 262-foot (80 m) tall Gyro tower that gives guests a view of Carowinds and Charlotte. It was originally sponsored by and branded as the Eastern Airlines Skytower. It is turned into a Christmas tree of lights during the holiday season.
A Vekoma Flying Dutchman coaster. The coaster operated as Stealth at California's Great America before being installed at Carowinds. When moved to Carowinds, it was known as Borg Assimilator and was themed after the Borg character from the television show Star Trek: The Next Generation. The theming was removed when Cedar Fair acquired the park, and the ride was renamed Nighthawk.
An interactive dark ride where guests shoot at targets to collect points. Originally, the building was a theater that housed a variety of shows. It was previously known as Scooby-Doo's Haunted Mansion from 2001 to 2009.
A standard Boomerang roller coaster, relocated from Geauga Lake. The train is pulled up the lift hill backward and then released down the hill forward into a cobra roll and vertical loop before repeating the journey in reverse.
A giga coaster loosely themed around Charlotte NC's nickname the "Hornet's Nest" with a height of 325ft (99m), making it the tallest giga coaster and non-launched roller coaster in the world, reaching speeds of up to 95mph making it one of the fastest in the world. Fury 325 is the second roller coaster in the park to cross the state line of North and South Carolina and the tallest ride ever built at Carowinds.
A miniature train ride. Originally opened with the park in the Country Crossroads section (now Carolina RFD) as Shortline Railroad. In 1975, the ride was moved to a new home. This train ride was formerly known as Flintstone Express, Yogi's Jellystone Garden and Dora the Explorer's Azul Adventure.
Snoopy's Space Race
Go Forth Industries
A small flying jet ride.
Snoopy's Yacht Club
Go Forth Industries
A mini speed boat ride relocated from sister park Canada's Wonderland where it was known as Bedrock Dock.
A family wooden roller coaster. Formerly Fairly Odd Coaster, Scooby Doo's Ghoster Coaster and Scooby Doo.
Bisch Rocco Flying Skooters
A Flying Scooters ride themed to Woodstock. First resided at Cincinnati's Coney Island Park in 1935. In 1972, debuted as Flying Eagles at sister park Kings Island with the park's opening. Moved to Carowinds in 2005.
Caripro Amusement Technologies
A mini monorail with helicopter cars themed to Woodstock.
The Paladium is an outdoor amphitheater located at Carowinds. It opened in 1975 and was the Charlotte area's premier outdoor concert venue until the opening of Blockbuster Pavilion, now PNC Music Pavilion, in 1991. Admission to the Paladium is separate from admission to Carowinds.
Fast Lane is Carowinds virtual queue system. For an additional upcharge, visitors get a wrist band that enables them to use the Fast Lane on 18 of the most popular attractions, effectively bypassing the normal lines, and avoiding queuing.
The following Carowinds attractions are equipped for Fast Lane access. Fury 325, Intimidator, Nighthawk, Dorsal Fin Drop, and surfer's swell require a Fast Lane plus, which costs a higher upcharge.
In 2000, the park introduced SCarowinds; an annual Halloween attraction. SCarowinds is presented on select nights in September and October, as well as the first weekend in November. The park is open as Carowinds throughout the day, typically closes at 5:30pm, and reopens as SCarowinds at 7pm. The experience includes numerous haunted attractions and incorporates most of the existing park rides into a nightmarish experience. The SCarowinds Halloween Haunt is recommended for ages 13 and up, but any age is permitted for admission.
The annual Carowinds Festival of Music allows music students to play in public performances and receive comments and ratings from nationally-recognized adjudicators. Bands, choirs, show choirs, and orchestras can all play for ratings. Plaques and ribbons are awarded for performances which receive ratings of superior and excellent.
2015: Fury 325, a 325-foot-tall (99 m), 6,602-foot-long (2,012 m) Bolliger & Mabillard giga coaster, will open. Fury 325 will reach speeds of 95 miles per hour making it the tallest and fastest giga coaster in the world. A new 8.2 acre main entrance plaza will also open in association with the new coaster. Sling Shot, a new ride that will catapult riders nearly 300-feet in the air at speeds up to 60 miles per hour, will be added to the park in 2015. Woodstock Express repainted.
2014: Two new slides were added to Boomerang Bay: Surfer's Swell and Dorsal Fin Drop. New Harmony Hall marketplace is built in the Intimidator field, replacing Snoopy's GR8 SK8. Chick-Fil-A moves into the former Country Kitchen building and a new restaurant, "Chickie's and Pete's" replaces Outer Hanks. Xtreme Skyflyer is renamed to Ripcord and is relocated to the Nighthawk lake. Ricochet is repainted. Go-Karts are removed and land clearing begins for a future roller coaster.
2013: Dinosaurs Alive!, a walk-through Dinosaur Exhibit; Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia 3D (feature in Action Theater); $50 million expansion announced on August 26, to include multiple new attractions, concessions, games, and 285 jobs. This places Carowinds as the fourth largest Cedar Fair park.
2012: WindSeeker, a 301-foot-tall (92 m) thrill ride opens, Fast Lane added, Joe Cool's Driving School closes
2011: Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular, a million-dollar nighttime walk-through light and sound experience featuring the Peanuts characters. Snoopy's starlight spectacular utilizes light, sound, and motion to create a full sensory experience. Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular runs from May 28 to September 4 in the County Fair and the Planet Snoopy sections of the park. Carowinds will stay open till 10pm every night June 27 to August 7. "Nights of Fire", a nightly fireworks show will play July 1 to September 4 at Carowinds Plaza at 10:00 pm. Vortex receives a new red track and grey support paint scheme. Ricochet receives a touch up paint job. Work continues on Thunder Road and Hurler's rehab and work continues on replacing pavement with brick pavers to help reduce heat flow from walkways. Carowinds has also expanded the park by 61 acres (250,000 m2).
2010: Intimidator: A 232-foot-tall (71 m), 5,316-foot-long (1,620 m) Bolliger & Mabillard hyper coaster. Nickelodeon Central becomes Planet Snoopy. Carolina Cyclone is repainted blue, yellow and orange.Scooby Doo's Haunted Mansion becomes Boo Blasters On Boo Hill, with new special effects; all connections to Hanna-Barbera's Scooby-Doo have been removed. Carowinds rebuilds more sections of Thunder Road. Carowinds starts replacing pavement with brick pavers to help reduce heat flow from walkways.
2009: Carolina Cobra, a Boomerang roller coaster featuring new trains from Vekoma, opens in the former location of the Nickelodeon Flying Super Saturator. Carowinds rebuilds more sections of Thunder Road. Nighthawk was repainted with yellow track and navy blue supports. Hurler receives some re-tracking. Scarowinds returns for its tenth year. Wild Thornberrys log flume removed for a new attraction. Dora the Explorer Azul's Adventure's track is also modified.
2008: A second wave pool named Bondi Beach added along with cabanas in Boomerang Bay. This added 20 acres (81,000 m2) to the park making it 112 acres (0.45 km2). Geauga Lake's Yo Yo swing ride was also added in the County Fair section. Flying Super Saturator only operates on the Boomerang Bay operating calendar. Thunder Road now runs both sides going forwards again. The Flying Super Saturator is removed from the park in August.
2007: Frenzoid was put back in as Southern Star in County Fair section. The price for a single day ticket dropped for the first time ever. Carolina Skytower was repainted to look like an American flag.
2006: Frenzoid was removed. WaterWorks was rethemed and renamed to Boomerang Bay and converting the old Frenzoid lake into a heated lagoon. Thunder Raceway Go-Carts was built in the Thrill Zone. The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera (feature in Action Theater) was also added. Paramount Parks is sold to the Cedar Fair Entertainment Company for 1.24 billion dollars. This puts Carowinds under the Cedar Fair family of parks.
2005: Nickelodeon Central expands into Animation Station, featuring Phantom Flyers (relocated from Kings Island as Flying Eagles), Flying Dutchman's Revenge, Little Bill's Cruisers, Dora the Explorer Azul's Adventure (Formerly Yogi's Jellystone Tour) and Frenzoid removal begins in September.
2003: Nickelodeon Central, featuring Rugrats Runaway Reptar (New Vekoma Jr. SLC), Wild Thornberrys River Adventure (Formerly Powder Keg Flume), and Rocket Power Air Time (Formerly Gauntlet); SpongeBob SquarePants 3D (feature in Action Theater); Carolina Sternwheeler (Original Ride) riverboat removed.
2002: Ricochet and rethemeing of Carolina Crossroads area to Carolina Boardwalk.
2001: SCOOBY-DOO's Haunted Mansion; WaterWorks expansion; Stan Lee's 7th Portal 3D (feature in Action Theater); Whirling Dervish (swing ride) removed
1974: Country Kitchen is added; Whirling Well (Chance Rotor); picnic areas open. The Double-Decker Carousel is removed from the park at the end of the season and placed in storage.
1973: Carowinds opens on March 31; the Monorail is still under construction and opens later. Original theme areas: Plantantion Square, Contemporary Carolina, Frontier Outpost, Pirate Island, Indian Thicket, Country Crossroads and Queens Colony.