An aerial view of the park
|Slogan||"Where the Carolinas come together"|
|Location||Charlotte, North Carolina, United States|
|Owner||Cedar Fair Entertainment Company|
|General manager||Pat Jones|
|Opened||March 31, 1973|
|Previous names||Carowinds (1973–1992), Paramount's Carowinds (1993–2006)|
|Operating season||March through December|
|Visitors per annum||2 million|
|Area||407 acres (1.65 km2)|
Carowinds is a 407-acre (165 ha) amusement park, located adjacent to Interstate 77 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Although it has an official North Carolina address, the park is located along the North Carolina-South Carolina state line, with a portion of the park also located in Fort Mill, South Carolina. The park opened on March 31, 1973, at a cost of $70 million. This was the result of a four-year planning period spearheaded by Charlotte businessman Earl Patterson Hall, who was inspired to build the park by a 1956 trip to Disneyland and a dream of bringing the two states closer together. Owned and operated by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, Carowinds also features a 27-acre (81,000 m2) water park, Carolina Harbor, which is included with park admission. The park has a Halloween event called SCarowinds and a winter event called WinterFest.
Carowinds 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. 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 purchased by Paramount Communications in 1993 and joined the Paramount Parks family. 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 obtained 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 operates seasonally from late March through December, after the park's Halloween event, "SCarowinds", and the park's Christmas event, "WinterFest."
Sale to Cedar Fair
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.
Cedar Fair era
On August 26, 2013, Cedar Fair announced a $50-million investment plan to expand Carowinds over three years starting in 2014. The expansion includes 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 its 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.
On August 27, 2015, Carowinds announced that the water park known formally as Boomerang Bay would be expanded and renamed Carolina Harbor in 2016. The Australian theme would be removed and replaced with a Carolina harbor theme. The expansion includes a new six-slide complex, a new wave pool, and several new splash areas for kids.
On August 18, 2016, Carowinds announced the expansion of the County Fair area, with the addition of 4 new rides: Electro-Spin (a mondial top scan), Zephyr (Zierer Wave Swinger), Rock N Roller (Mack Rides Music Express), and Do-Si-Do (HUSS Troika). For the 2017 season, Carowinds also announced that Carolina Cobra would be refurbished and renamed "The Flying Cobras". They also announced that the Wings restaurant would receive various upgrades. Carowinds also announced the return of WinterFest, a Christmas event in November and December, that previously operated in 2005.
On August 30, 2018, Carowinds announced their biggest investment in park history for the 2019 season. The signature attraction, Copperhead Strike, a double-launched roller coaster manufactured by Mack Rides, is located in the all new 7-acre "Blue Ridge Junction" area, and became the park's 14th roller coaster. Blue Ridge Junction was constructed in the area formerly occupied by Whitewater Falls, Sand Dune Lagoon and Thunder Road's former station. Also included in the investment is the 130-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott, Carowinds' first on-site hotel, and Blue Ridge Country Kitchen, a new dining experience.
In 2019, Carowinds announced Boogie Board Racer, the longest mat racing slide in the Southeast would open in Carolina Harbor in 2020. The retirement of the Rip Roarin' Rapids ride was also announced, along with the closure of the Dinosaurs Alive! attraction.
For the 2020 season, the opening date of the park was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On August 4, Carowinds announced the park would remain closed for the duration of the season with plans to open in 2021.
Themed areas and attractions
|Thrill level (out of 5)|
|1 (low) 2 (mild) 3 (moderate) 4 (high) 5 (aggressive)|
|Carolina Skytower||1973||Intamin||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.||2|
|Intimidator||2010||Bolliger & Mabillard||A steel hypercoaster inspired by stock car racing driver Dale Earnhardt. The 232-foot-tall (71 m) roller coaster travels up to 75 mph (121 km/h).||5|
|Kiddy Hawk||2003||Vekoma||A steel Vekoma 342m suspended family coaster. Formerly operated as Rugrats Runaway Reptar (2003–2009) with yellow track and green supports, and Flying Ace Aerial Chase (2010–2017) with yellow track and orange supports. For its 15th anniversary in 2018, the coaster gained a new name, new color scheme, and new theme. The coaster would be themed to the aviation based on the Wright Brothers from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Also in 2018 with the transition of Planet Snoopy to Camp Snoopy, the coaster became part of Celebration Plaza and themed outside of the Peanuts/kid themed area.||4|
|Nighthawk||2004||Vekoma||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 (2004–2007) and was themed after the Borg 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.||5|
|RipCord||1995||Skycoaster, Inc.||A skycoaster formally known as Xtreme SkyFlyer. This ride is an upcharge ride. Guests must pay an additional fee to ride. This ride used to be located were Fury 325 is currently located. In the year 2014 RipCord was relocated right next to the Kiddy Hawk roller coaster.||5|
|Action Theater||1994||Iwerks||2016: Home of Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 3Z Arena. A 3D intra-active experienced developed by PopCap Games, Electronic Arts, and Alterface Projects, puts 2 teams against each other in a 5-minute backyard battle, where they'll shoot screens with blasters and track their scores as they go. Previous attractions: Days Of Thunder, James Bond 007: License to Thrill, The 7th Portal 3D, SpongeBob SquarePants 4-D & Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia.||2|
|Afterburn||1999||Bolliger & Mabillard||An inverted roller coaster featuring 6 inversions. Formerly known as Top Gun: The Jet Coaster (1999–2007).||5|
|Boo Blasters on Boo Hill||2010||Sally Corporation||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.||2|
|Dodg’ems||1979||Majestic Rides||A classic bumper cars attraction. Formerly known as Autodrome (1979–1981) & PT Bumper's Dodgem (1982–?).||4|
|Southern Star||1986||Intamin||A Looping Starship thrill ride. Formerly known as Frenzoid. The ride was removed by Paramount at the end of 2005 for Boomerang Bay (now Carolina Harbor) expansion. It returned in 2007 in a new location nearby.||4|
|WindSeeker||2012||Mondial||A 301-foot (92 m) tower swinger ride that spins to music and a light show. It was the tallest ride ever built at Carowinds until the opening of Fury 325 in 2015. It is turned into a Christmas tree of lights during the holiday season.||4|
|Yo Yo||2008||Chance Morgan||A swing ride that currently occupies the spot where Whirling Dervish, the park's original Wave Swinger, was located. It was relocated from Geauga Lake.||3|
|Carolina Cyclone||1980||Arrow Dynamics||A steel roller coaster featuring two vertical loops and two corkscrews. It was the first roller coaster to feature four inversions.||5|
|Carolina Goldrusher||1973||Arrow Dynamics||A steel Mine train roller coaster. It was the first roller coaster at Carowinds and is only one of three original rides still operating. It's also the first roller coaster to cross state lines (North Carolina & South Carolina).||4|
|Ricochet||2002||Mack Rides||A steel wild mouse roller coaster that has intense turns and drops.||4|
|The Scrambler||1973||Eli Bridge||A classic Twist ride. It was originally named Kaleidoscope.||3|
|Vortex||1992||Bolliger & Mabillard||A steel stand-up roller coaster. It was the South's first stand up roller coaster.||5|
|SlingShot||2015||Funtime||A reverse bungee ride that catapults riders nearly 300-feet into the air at speeds up to 62 miles per hour (100 km/h). SlingShot is an additional charge attraction.||5|
|The Grand Carousel||1979||Philadelphia Toboggan Company||An antique carousel, PTC #67. Originally located in Planet Snoopy before the 2018 season.||1|
|The Flying Cobras||2009||Vekoma||A standard Boomerang model roller coaster. 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. It was relocated from Geauga Lake where it was known as Mind Eraser (1996–2003) & Head Spin (2003–2007). Formerly known as Carolina Cobra (2009–2016).||5|
|Electro Spin||2017||Mondial||A Top Scan that sends riders through a freely rotating orbit through the air on its floorless gondolas. Opened as part of the new County Fair area in 2017.||5|
|Zephyr||2017||Zierer||A swing ride that suspends guests as the ride rotates in a circular, wavelike motion. Opened as part of the new County Fair area in 2017.||3|
|Rock 'N' Roller||2017||Mack Rides||A Musik Express that Rock N’ Rolls guests around and around, up and down as high-energy tunes and spectacular lighting complement the experience. Opened as part of the new County Fair area in 2017.||3|
|Do-Si-Do||2017||HUSS||A Troika that sends guests flying through the air and gliding up, down and around as three giant arms rotate riders in different directions – all while increasing speed and elevation. Opened as part of the new County Fair area in 2017.||3|
|Fury 325||2015||Bolliger & Mabillard||A giga coaster loosely themed around Charlotte's nickname the "Hornet's Nest" with a height of 325 ft (99m), making it the tallest giga coaster and fastest non-launched roller coaster in the world, reaching speeds of up to 95 mph making it the sixth fastest in the world. Fury 325 is the tallest ride ever built at Carowinds and was the single largest investment in the park's history up to that time.||5|
|Drop Tower: Scream Zone||1996||Intamin||A drop tower ride with a height of 160 feet (49 m) and a drop of 100 ft (30 m). It was originally named Drop Zone: Stunt Tower (1996–2007).||4|
|Hurler||1994||International Coasters, Inc||A wooden triple out and back roller coaster. Originally themed to Wayne's World when the park was owned by Paramount.||4|
|Scream Weaver||1979||Anton Schwarzkopf||A Schwarzkopf Enterprise ride. It was originally located in the original County Fair area, where it was known as Meteorite.||4|
Blue Ridge Junction
|Copperhead Strike||2019||Mack Rides||The first ever double launch coaster in the Carolinas with five inversions. Located within a new themed 7-acre area as part of the park's largest investment in its history.||5|
|Mountain Gliders||2005||Bisch-Rocco||A Flying Skooters ride where the suspended passenger tubs would spin around a vertical axis. It previously was located in Planet Snoopy as Woodstock Gliders, and Danny Phantom's Phantom Flyers when the area was known as Nickelodeon Central. It was in storage during 2018 for Camp Snoopy expansion.Then in late 2018 the park announced the return of these as mountain gliders.Originally built in 1935 for Coney Island Amusement Park in Cincinnati, OH, it later moved to Kings Island where it operated as Flying Eagles from 1972–2004.||3|
|Beagle Scout Acres||2018||This climb and play area features 8,000 square feet of interactive play elements and lots of shady spots for parents to rest. Opened in 2018 as one of 6 new Camp Snoopy attractions.||1|
|Camp Bus||2018||Zamperla||A bus themed mini flying carpet ride. Families soar up, down and all around with the Peanuts Gang. Opened in 2018 as one of 6 new Camp Snoopy attractions.||2|
|Charlie Brown's Wind Up||1973||Zamperla||A miniature swing ride. Formerly known as Top Cat's Swing Time & Backyardigans Swing-a-long.||1|
|Flying Ace Balloon Race||1987||Zamperla||A flying balloon ride. Formerly known as Boo Boo's Balloon Race, Boot's Balloon Race & Peter Potamus' Magic Flying Balloons.||2|
|Kite Eating Tree||2018||Zamperla||A mini drop tower. This ride takes you 20 feet to the top of the tree and gently brings you back down. Opened in 2018 as one of 6 new Camp Snoopy attractions.||2|
|Peanuts Pirates||2005||Mack Rides Heinrich Mack K.C,||A Seesturmbahn (Sea Storm Ride) with rotating pirate ships themed to The Peanuts. It was relocated from sister park Canada's Wonderland where it was once known as The Great Whale of China. Formerly known as Flying Dutchman's Revenge.||3|
|Peanuts Trailblazers||2018||Zamperla||A mini whip ride. Rev up your engines for a ride on this off-road adventure where you whip around and around in your car with the Peanuts gang. Opened in 2018 as one of 6 new Camp Snoopy attractions.||2|
|Pig Pen's Mud Buggies||2018||Zamperla||A jump around ride. Take an adventurous spin in your all-terrain vehicle where you’ll be bounced up, down and around. Opened in 2018 as one of 6 new Camp Snoopy attractions.||2|
|Snoopy vs. Red Baron||1973||Chance Rides||A small plane ride themed to Snoopy. Formerly known as Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines & Tommy's Take Off.||2|
|Snoopy's Junction||1973||Crown Metal Products||A miniature train ride. Originally opened with the park in the Country Crossroads section (now Crossroads) 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 & Dora the Explorer's Azul Adventure.||1|
|Wilderness Run||1998||E&F Miler Industries||Take a high-speed taxi ride through Lucy's neighborhood. On this junior-sized roller coaster, riders climb a 15-foot (4.6m) lift hill before the remainder of their city chase begins. The downward bank turn and series of airtime bumps make for a taxi ride that kids of all ages can enjoy! Formerly known as Taxi Jam (1998–2004), Hey Arnold's Taxi Chase (2005–2009) & Lucy’s Crabbie Cabbie (2009–2017).||2|
|Woodstock Express||1975||Philadelphia Toboggan Company||A junior wooden roller coaster. Formerly known as Scooby Doo, Scooby Doo's Ghoster Coaster & Fairly Odd Coaster (2005–2009).||4|
|Woodstock Whirlybirds||2018||Zamperla||A mini teacup ride themed to Woodstock. Riders spin and twirl along in teacups dressed up as bird nests. Opened in 2018 as one of 6 new Camp Snoopy attractions.||2|
Included in the price of admission to Carowinds is access the 27-acre Carolina Harbor water park. Based on a Coastal Carolina theme, it features 15 rides and attractions. Originally opened as Ocean Island in 1982, the water park has also been known as Riptide Reef (1989–1997) WaterWorks (1997–2006), and Boomerang Bay (2007–2015). On August 27, 2015, Carowinds announced an expansion for the area that added five additional attractions and resulted in the name changing to Carolina Harbor.
Carowinds re-introduced WinterFest for the 2017 season. This seasonal holiday event features the park decorated for the Christmas season, a tree lighting, Christmas carolers, homemade crafts, a parade, and select rides. The park previously had Winterfest in 2005 when owned by Paramount.
In September 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 with The Great Pumpkin Fest starring Snoopy and rest of the Peanuts gang throughout. The Great Pumpkin Fest ends at 5:30pm, and reopens as SCarowinds at 7pm with the powerful sorcerer demon of SCarowinds himself The Overlord. 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 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. It lost most of its major acts to the Uptown Amphitheatre at the NC Music Factory (now the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre at AvidxChange Music Factory) when it opened in 2009, and now hosts mostly Christian bands. Admission to the Paladium is separate from admission to Carowinds.
In 1992, the Paladium hosted Chapel Hill's James Taylor. Bon Jovi played to a sold-out crowd at the Paladium in 1993 during a stop on their I'll Sleep When I'm Dead Tour. It had Virginia's Dave Matthews Band in '93, UK's Depeche Mode in '94, Athens GA's B-52's in '94, Johnny Cash in '95, Billy Ray Cyrus in '95, Blues Traveler in '96, UK's Duran Duran in 2000, Weird Al Yankovic in '00, Atlanta Christian rapper Lecrae in 2014 (for Rock the Park), and Skillet in 2015.
Fast Lane is a limited-access line queue system offered for an additional charge at Cedar Fair amusement parks. Visitors can purchase access, which includes a wristband that allows them to bypass standard lines in favor of shorter ones at many of the parks' most popular attractions. Fast Lane Plus is a more expensive, higher-end version that includes several additional attractions.
Carowinds Festival of Music
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.
- Camp Wilderness Lodge: Luxury cabins that offer four bedrooms and three bathrooms, and a great room. In addition, guests will find a kitchenette, dining area, wrap around porch with rocking chairs and an outdoor grill and patio.
- Camp Wilderness Cabins: Two bedroom cabins surrounding a pool, tennis court, and tram stop.
- Camp Wilderness RV Sites: Camp Wilderness features RV, Pop-up and Tent Sites and can accommodate RVs up to 40 feet in length. The paved RV sites feature full hookups with water, sewer and electric.
- SpringHill Suites at Carowinds: 130-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott hotel, the official hotel for the park. Construction on the hotel began in March 2018. Carowinds owns and operates the hotel, becoming the first Cedar Fair-owned franchised hotel. The hotel opened in November 2019.
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