Park Review: Carowinds (Charlotte, NC)

Well hello there guys! Good evening for those in the Western and good morning for those in the Eastern :-)

It has been a superbly busy week for me so I couldn't write this blog until today. Two weeks ago, I uploaded MY REVIEW OF FURY 325, which actually made it to my Top 5 Top 3 Steel Roller Coasters list! Go check it out if you haven't!

While it's true that this much-hyped coaster brings Carowinds to a world-renowned status, of course Carowinds is not all about Fury 325! In fact, there are 13 other roller coasters in the park. So in this post, I just want to share my thoughts about them all :-)

With the opening of Fury 325, Carowinds now has particularly strong line-up of roller coasters. I mean... when you have two roller coasters that are both more than 200 feet and manufactured by the amazing BOLLIGER & MABILLARD of Switzerland, what can go wrong?

I rode Intimidator hoping for it to be a gigantic airtime machine. At least that was all of the hype when I was planning my trip to the park. The airtime is so popular that B&M decided to create so many copies of this coaster, such as DIAMONDBACK at Kings Island. A lot of people also said that this "Intimidator" coaster is better than its fellow sibling INTIMIDATOR 305 at Kings Dominion (a sister park of Carowinds), so I had a very high expectation.

First ride. Second ride. Third ride. My thoughts?

Sorry Intimidator, your sister (Intimidator 305) is much better than you...

Intimidator: the most underwhelming coaster I have ever been on.

I got the airtime, yes. I liked the drop, the humps, the view... but there is no denying that this coaster is simply... forceless, boring, and just plain... boring. Sorry. I just had to say that word twice.

I rode it three times because I didn't want to dislike it, so I tried riding it at the front, at the back, in the middle. All seats offered such "empty" experience for me. I'm sorry, but this is definitely a "miss" for B&M. Booo... :-(

Right across Intimidator is one of the few standing lay-down roller coasters by Vekoma. I have been on a B&M flyer before, but have never been on that of Vekoma (similar style, different system though), so I was really excited to try this!

Boom, boom, shake, shake, now drop! Nighthawk < Tatsu.

The experience is a so-so. Really. Not as bad as people said. If you want a smoother ride, go for the front row. If you want to experience the world-famous Vekoma head-banger and rattle, go for the last row. I got to ride Nighthawk 3 times at the front, middle, and rear. Front row is very smooth. Last row, not so much...

There's a reason why they call Nighthawk a lay-down roller coaster.

I must say, though, that I did not enjoy this roller coaster as much as, say, TATSU at Six Flags Magic Mountain (yea, that flyer is a beast of its own). Other than the fact that this is officially a lay-down coaster instead of a flying coaster, Nighthawk has truly shown its age for its shakiness. And that restraint just feels so unsafe for me, feels like I can drop anytime and die...

Off from Nighthawk, I made my way to Afterburn, a B&M Inverted Coaster that many have said as one of the best. I am not really a huge fan of B&M Inverted, as usually the lines for front row are incredibly long and pretty much you can't see anything on the other rows. I didn't expect much from this coaster, so I just got into the line, rode it, and...

Afterburn, the best B&M Inverted I have ever been on!


Afterburn is just perfect the way it is. From the very first drop to the progression of elements from one to another, it is just pure intensity and adrenaline. Afterburn does not stop speeding until the moment it hits the brakes!

The batwing element with the underground tunnel was simply crazy and insane, too amazing to be described by words! The very last inversion also happened so quickly that I thought it was the most intense part of the whole coaster. B&M truly has a classic here, one of the best masterpieces that would ever manufacture and create!

I call it the best clearly because I have not been on KATUN, PYREENES, MONTU, and of course NEMESIS, all of which are considered as the best inverted coasters by B&M. I have ridden ALPENGEIST and I didn't like it very much. Afterburn is better. It's just so fast and intense.


Other than Fury 325, Intimidator, Nighthawk, and Afterburn, Carowinds have other roller coasters that I can consider minor, meaning that they don't carry that "hype" that would bring people into the park just to ride them. Here are my thoughts about these roller coasters.

THUNDER ROAD is pretty fun. It's the exact copy of REBEL YELL at Kings Dominion, although it's rougher and, well, apparently Carowinds does not know how to run a racing coaster. There was nothing wrong with the ride and the operations staffs would never want to run the coaster "race style." What a bummer...

Carowinds does not know how to run a racing coaster.

CAROLINA COBRA is a surprise pleasure of the trip. Not the best, but not the worst either, thanks to its newly-designed open-air train style. Boomerang coaster does not get any better than this design. Very enjoyable and definitely a great coaster to ride while you are taking a rest from the "Big 4."

Carolina Cobra in action.

FLYING ACE AERIAL CHASE is a Vekoma family inverted coaster, but don't be tricked by that... very shaky and rough, and at times I feel that this coaster is going to fall apart. At some point, it is more intense than Afterburn just because of how much it rattles... Nope. A miss for me.

Don't judge a book by its cover... Flying Ace Aerial Chase is deadly...

CAROLINA GOLDRUSHER is a rather cute and classic roller coaster. It is one of those small mine roller coaster that is both enjoyable and thrilling at particular spots. I love the "helix of death" section before the second lift hill, as well as the final drop underground before the final brakes. A solid ride from Carowinds that can be enjoyed by the whole family :-)

Let's go underground, guys! Carolina Goldrusher, yee~haw!

CAROLINA CYCLONE is probably one of the oldest coasters in the park, a classic Arrow Dynamics two-loop, two-corkscrew style that is a perfect opportunity for people to try their first "big-league" roller coaster. Nothing special here, although the coaster has a pretty photo opps given its strategic location by Fury 325 and Hurler.

Sometimes you just have to sit down and appreciate the classic, no?

VORTEX. Oh my, where should I start? Rough as hell, and just not a good stand-up coaster. It hasn't aged well, unfortunately. I would not be surprised if Carowinds is taking this coaster down soon...

The dispatched asked if I wanted to ride for the second time since there was no one in line, and I was like, "NO!"

HURLER is surprisingly fun, although its old age has shown through its extremely rough movement. Nevertheless, I love the triple out-and-back layout, which is quite unusual for a wooden coaster :-) It's pretty fun!

Are you ready to get hurled? Probably no... but whatever. -Hurler


Here is my overall placement of roller coasters at Carowinds:
  1. Fury 325
  2. Afterburn
  3. Carolina Goldrusher
  4. Nighthawk
  5. Woodstock Express
  6. Hurler
  7. Carolina Cobra
  8. Carolina Cyclone
  9. Intimidator
  10. Thunder Road
  11. Flying Ace Aerial Chase
  12. Vortex
  13. Lucy's Crabbie Cabbie
  14. Ricochet -- was closed when I went there so I didn't get the chance to ride
Stay tuned for my third part soon to discuss what I like and dislike about Carowinds :-) Until next time!

[to be continued]