Carowinds History

Park Map And Location

In October, 1969 Charlotte businessman E. Pat Hall announced the construction of Carowinds, a 73-acre theme park that would straddle the North and South Carolina state line and provide entertainment to families across the region. The name, Hall said, was derived from the two states the park would be named for and the winds that blew across them.

The park would be larger than some of the country’s most recognizable theme parks at the time including Disneyland, Astroworld in Houston, Texas, and Six Flags in Atlanta, Ga.

 

On July 18, 1972, Miss North Carolina, Connie Dorn, and Miss South Carolina, Bonnie Corder joined Hall in a ceremony to pave the golden concrete state line that would begin outside the park and run through the mansion entrance and the "Courtyard of the Carolinas." Lights would adorn the state line so that riders on the Skytower and other aerial attractions at the park could pick it out at night. It also was during this ceremony that Hall announced that the park would officially open to the public on March 31, 1973. 

Carowinds began its first summer of daily operation on June 2, 1973, with a brief ceremony attended by North Carolina Governor Jim Holshouser, South Carolina Governor John West, and other congressmen and dignitaries from both states.

In late December, 1974 Taft Broadcast Company partnered with Top Value Enterprises, a subsidiary of Kroger Co., and formed Family Leisure Centers, Inc. On January 19, 1975, Family Leisure Centers, Inc., announced that it would purchase Carowinds theme park for $16 million.

 

From 1975 – 1980, Family Leisure Centers made a number of improvements to the park, including the addition of the Paladium and roller coasters Thunder Road and Carolina Cyclone. In October 1980, the Family Leisure Centers partnership between Taft Broadcasting and the Kroger Company was dissolved and the park became a fully-owned subsidiary of Taft.

At the end of 1983, Carowinds had spent its last season under the ownership of Taft Broadcasting Company. Taft's Amusement Park Group Managers, including the park general managers and several vice presidents, came together to purchase two-thirds of Taft’s interest in the theme park business and form their own corporation.

In 1984, Carowinds would begin operation under the ownership of Kings Entertainment Company. Notable additions through the years were Frenzoid, Whitewater Falls, a water park and Vortex roller coaster.

On July 31, 1992, halfway through the summer season at Carowinds, Paramount Communications Inc. announced the purchase of Kings Entertainment Company. Beginning in 1993, Paramount Parks would become the parent company of Carowinds, and the park would be renamed Paramount's Carowinds.  Paramount incorporated many movie and entertainment themes into the park, from Star Trek to Wayne's World and more.    

In 2000, the park introduced SCarowinds, an annual Halloween attraction. SCarowinds continues to this day, on select nights in September and October the facility is transformed into a haunted theme park.  The experience includes numerous haunted attractions and incorporates most of the existing park rides into a nightmarish experience. 

The Park underwent an ownership change on July 1, 2006 when Cedar Fair, L.P., owner of the world-famous Cedar Point and Knott's Berry Farm theme parks, purchased Paramount Parks in a blockbuster deal. Carowinds became part of the newly-formed Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, which owns or operates 12 amusement/theme parks and 5 separately-gated water parks across North America. The park has undergone a number of changes since the purchase and has renamed several rides and attractions. Perhaps the most notable changes have been a water park expansion and the opening of The Intimidator in 2010, the longest, tallest, fastest rollercoaster in the Southeast!  

Carowinds has changed since its start as a 73-acre park featuring the history and culture of the Carolinas.  Over the last four decades it  has evolved to become a regional, and internationally known tourist destination, employing over 2,000 people each season, welcoming visitors from around the world, and covering now 398 acres it is indeed the thrill capital of the Southeast!  

 

1973

Park opens March 31 at 9.36 am the park didnt receive anywhere near the numbers they anticipated infact not even a quarter, in the 1.2 millions guest went through the turnstiles in the first season which was the highest figures for some years,

Under leadership of real estate developer/entrepreneur E. Pat Hall, the park wasnt completed on opening day and the monorail didnt open until later on in the year.

 

1974

More than 986,000 guests visit the park in its second year of operation!  which is less then the opening year but this was down to when the impending oil crisis substantially hurt the travel and tourism industry.

 

1975

Carowinds is purchased for $16 million by Family Leisure Centers, Inc., a joint venture of the Taft Broadcasting Company and the Kroger Company. Hanna-Barbera® Land  featuring Scooby Doo coaster; Surfer ; Wagon Wheel; Waltzer, and the Paladium also are introduced as the park’s largest additions for the season.

 

1976

The coaster Thunder Road is created and named after Robert Mitchum’s “Thunder Road,” a Carolina story depicting the speed and excitement in the old moonshine running days. the roller coaster cost the park 1.6 million dollars  Manufactured by Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters, PTC made 25 coasters in its history with the latest one being in 2011, Thunder Road's trains all faced forward until one side was reversed in 1995 to run backwards.  In 2008 all trains were turned to face forward once again

 

1977

“White Lightnin’” strikes the Carolinas with a rollercoaster-type train which catapults daring guests from zero to more than 53 mph. in just 180 feet. The coaster was removed from the park in 1987. White Lightnin was a Schwarzkopf shuttle loop coaster 1 of 2 such coasters in 1977 when it opened the other was in six flags great america which was relocated to six flags discovery kingdom and only 12 that was ever made this may seem more but nearly 50% of these coasters relocated to other parks.

 

1978

Carowinds supports the athletes of the U.S. Olympic teams by donating $1 to the Olympic Fund for every discount coupon received through Belk department stores.

 

1979

A $3 million expansion adds the county fair area, which contains four new rides. Also, a 1923 antique carousel built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company travels from Evansville, Ind., and makes its new home in Hanna-Barbera® Land.

 

1980

The revolutionary design of Carolina Cyclone makes it the only rollercoaster in the world that turns riders upside down four times. 

When the Carolina Cyclone debuted at Carowinds in March 1980, by the world renowned Arrow dynamic it was the first roller coaster in the world with four inversions. Equipped with a new harness restraint system and new paint job, the Carolina Cyclone is still a fan-favorite.

At 95-feet and reach a top speed 41 mph as they race through 2 360-degree vertical loops, 2 360-degree barrel rolls and a 450-degree uphill helix over the midway.

 

1981

Was the year of water for Carowinds with “Rip Roarin Rapids” being introduced offering guests a wet and cool attraction and worked started on ocean island.

 

1982

Surf’s up at the new 700,000-gallon wave pool featuring 25,500 square feet of swimming area and man-made waves three to five feet high. There was a separate admission price to enter and you could enter from either 1 of 2 entrances. From inside the park, you would enter on a bridge that crossed over the White Lightnin' track, which would have been a perfect view to watch the 53mph launch of white lightnin.

 

1983

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Carowinds provides the magic of an old-fashioned Christmas during Winterfest. The centerpiece of this winter celebration was the illumination of the 340-foot tall Skytower Christmas tree, a tradition that continues today. On 22nd December 1983 newspapers reported that carowinds was going ti be sold for $167.5 million dollars to a group of investors which became more clear in 1984, The take over wouldn't affect the running of the park and visitors wouldn't see a difference, The $650,000 development of smurf island would still go ahead.

 

1984

Taft Broadcasting Company’s Amusement Park Groups acquire two-thirds ownership of Taft’s theme parks, including Carowinds, and form Kings Entertainment Company. Smurf Island is introduced at the park which featured a mushroom village and play structures Smurf Island, which was a children’s play area located on the 1.3-acre (5,300 m2) island surrounded by the Carolina Sternwheeler. Access to Smurf Island was gained in one of two ways – across the Carolina Sternwheeler and a ramp built on the island side of the boat, or on diesel-powered “Smurf Boats” launched from the area beside Harmony Hall. Children could enjoy two ball crawls and a climbing area complete with ropes, cargo nets, wood platforms, a rope tunnel and a 60-foot (18 m) tubular slide. Smurf characters roamed the island and led guests to the hidden Smurf village with four Smurf houses that children could enter. Smurf Island was eventually closed,

 

1985

A new motion illusion attraction called Blackbeard’s Revenge gives guests a combination of a ride and a show centered on a  pirate ship voyage and battle, its a huge pivoted room that rotates to create an illusory swinging effect as patrons  are  seated on a stationary platform the room at times, rolls over giving the effect of being upside down with the Carolina’s infamous pirate Blackbeard. 

 

1986

The 360-degree looping Viking ship, Frenzoid, makes its home in the completely renovated County Fair section of the park.

 

1987

In its 15th anniversary season, Carowinds expands Hanna-Barbera® Land with additional rides, live shows and a Baby Care Center.

 

1988

The park’s new family water attraction, WhiteWater falls, when the ride opened it was known has being one of the top water rides in the region,the ride  plunges guests down a 45-foot waterfall. this ride closed in 2017 after 29 years , and the white lightnin coaster was removed and sold to gold reef city which is still in operation today,

 

1989

The addition of Rip Tide Reef, a six-acre water park, makes Carowinds the only theme park in the country to offer guests a full water park experience within a major theme park at no extra cost. The Carolina pipeline was just one of the many attractions at Riptide Reef and also racing rivers speed slides and a children's play area. the ocean island was renamed big bay wave.

 

1990

Gauntlet riders enjoy the panoramic view of the park as well as the breathtaking 360-degree loops and controlled free-falls.

 

1991

Through a $4 million expansion project, the Paladium becomes a stand-alone concert facility– separate from the theme park – with a seating capacity of 13,000. One of the first concerts once the Paladium was finished was Alice Cooper in July this was a sell out. 

 

1992

Paramount Communications Inc. purchases Kings Entertainment Company and forms Paramount Parks which includes Carowinds. Vortex, a state-of-the-art, stand-up rollercoaster, opens. This was B&M 3rd coaster and contains a loop and a corkscrew element its maximum speed is 54mph with a duration of 2mins 19 seconds, the first coaster b&m built was Batman the ride for six flags great america and the second was Vortex now patriot in California's Great America 

 

1993

The park introduces themes from motion pictures and television shows in attractions such as DAYS OF THUNDER® and the Paramount Walk of Fame. The park’s name officially becomes Paramount’s Carowinds.

 

1994

WAYNE’S WORLD™, a high-energy, three-acre addition to the park, re-creates the Hollywood set popularized in the Paramount motion picture of the same name. The Hurler, a new wooden rollercoaster made by International Coasters Inc, this coaster is a twin and opened the same day  as the King Dominion coaster also called Hurler, this was the highlight of the area. The monorails 2 miles of track that had been in service for 21 years was sold to a Acapulco in Mexico. in its time the monorail transported millions of people and at its height moved 500,000 in just one season in 1982.

 

1995

Animation Station introduces an interactive experience for kids featuring The Power Station, a challenging three-story climbing structure, and Kids’ Studio, an outdoor amphitheatre for children’s shows. Also, daring guests unearth the wonders of flight as they embark on the exhilarating Xtreme Skyflyer.

 

1996

DROP ZONE Stunt Tower® provides daring riders a 160-foot free-fall at 56 mph. The park also entertains more than 1.8 million guests, making it one of the most popular attractions in the Carolinas.

 

1997

In its 25th anniversary season, Paramount’s Carowinds undergoes a $7 million water park expansion of WaterWorks and now includes 12 acres of family water attractions.

 

1998

ZOOM ZONE opens in Animation Station. The expansion adds three new attractions – Taxi Jam, Chopper Chase and Road Rally – and 3.5 acres to the existing area of Animation Station.

 

1999

TOP GUN®: The Jet Coaster, a 62 mph 113ft, inverted rollercoaster, opens to the public. The state-of-the-art B&M jet coaster includes six stomach-swirling inversions with floorless cars suspended below a steel track. The $10.5 million investment is the largest in the park’s history. The ride has now been painted and renamed to Afterburn in 2006

 

2000

Paramount’s Carowinds becomes the first theme park in the world to have an attraction that combines water play experience with the adventure of a suspended coaster. The Nickelodeon™ Flying Super Saturator takes riders along a 1,087-foot suspended track while dodging a gauntlet of gushing geysers and rain curtains. SCarowinds, the park’s haunted Halloween attraction, also opens for the first time in October

 

2001

Paramount’s Carowinds introduces three all-new attractions appealing to all ages. Scooby-Doo’s™ Haunted Mansion is an interactive ghost-busting experience through an old southern plantation with America’s favorite cartoon canine. Pipeline Peak opens with the world’s tallest enclosed body slide, and 7Th Portal™ becomes the park’s first 3-D attraction.

 

2002

Ricochet™, the park’s 11th rollercoaster takes guests on a wild ride as they drop, spin, twist and curl through the park’s first “fast track” coaster. The coaster was built by Mack  Rides with a top speed of 28mph, Carolina Boardwalk opens and takes guests on a walk through the famous beaches of the Carolinas.

 

2003

Nickelodeon™ Central, a themed area based on characters and shows from the number one kids entertainment brand in the world, debuts at the park. The area included three new attractions - Rugrats™ Runaway Reptar™, The Wild Thornberrys™ River Adventure and Rocket Power™: Air Time.

 

2004

The first flying roller coaster in the Carolinas, Borg™ Assimilator, makes its debut and becomes the tallest roller coaster in the park at 115m . Guests fly facedown, suspended below the track in a superhero-like flying position and race toward the ground at speeds of up to 50 mph. The vekoma ride was moved over from Paramount Great America the original name was stealth and operated from 2000-2003  and was labeled the  "the world's first true flying coaster." the ride was $17 million when first built, The ride is still in operation to with a new look and a new name Nighthawk the rebranding was completed 2009

 

2005

Nickelodeon™ Central grows to become five times larger than before. The 15-acre Nickelodeon playground is loaded with more than 20 attractions, including new rides Danny Phantom’s™ Flyers, the Flying Dutchman’s Revenge and Little Bill’s™ Cruisers.

 

2006

Cedar Fair, L.P. purchases Carowinds on July 1, and the park becomes one of the 12 amusement parks in the newly-named Cedar Fair Entertainment Company. The water park expands and becomes Boomerang Bay – a 16-acre, Australian-themed experience featuring new attractions Kookaburra Bay (heated lagoon) and Platypus Plunge (kids’ water slide).

 

2007

The first season under Cedar Fair saw a ticket price reduction for the first time ever but it also brings the return of an ice show (Endless Summer on Ice) to the Carowinds Theatre and the Southern Star (formerly Frenzoid) back to County Fair. As part of the acquisition by Cedar Fair, L.P. many of the parks most popular rides were renamed.

 

2008

Boomerang Bay™ water park expands again with the addition of Bondi Beach, a 600,000-gallon wave pool. The park also adds a new swing ride called Yo Yo, to the County Fair section park.

 

2009

Carolina Cobra is introduced as the second tallest coaster in the park at 125-feet tall, sending riders speeding through three inversions forwards…then again backwards. The ride was orignial called the mind eraser and opened at Geauga Park in 1996 , It was renamed to Head Spin when Cedar Fair purchased Six Flags Worlds of Adventure from Six Flags in 2004. On September 21, 2007, Cedar Fair announced that Geauga Lake & Wildwater Kingdom would no longer operate as an amusement park, the vekoma boomerang still pulls one of the highest G-Force of any coaster at 5.2G this is normally reached while going backwards in the loop.

 

2010

Intimidator is introduced it started being built in 2009 by B&M, the largest capital investment in park history ($23M), and the tallest 232ft, fastest 75mph, and longest 1,620m coaster in the Southeast. Intimidator is well know to be one of the b&m most forceful coaster with some rides blacking out half way into the ride, Seat belts were added to the ride in the spring of 2014 as a supplement to the original lap-bar restraint system. 

First Rider Auction

On January 14, 2010, Carowinds launched a "First Rider Auction" in which people from anywhere in the world would bid against each other in order to be one of the first public riders on Intimidator, with ninety–six seats being made available to bid on. The bidders that fell in the top 96 were given the opportunity to be the first public riders on Intimidator on March 27, 2010, before the ride opened to the general public. All money raised during the auction went to the Dale Earnhardt Foundation.[14][15] The highest bid for a single seat was US$500

In addition, the Park says farewell to the Nickelodeon™ characters and welcomes Snoopy and the PEANUTS™ gang with the introduction of a newly re-themed children’s section called Planet Snoopy.

 

2011

Snoopy’s Starlight Spectacular, a million dollar nighttime walk-through light and sound experience featuring Snoopy and the rest of the PEANUTS™ gang is introduced. To showcase Snoopy’s Starlight Carowinds extends its operating hours till 10PM every day from June 27-August 7. The park also celebrates the launch of a stunning new fireworks show, Nights of Fire, which lights up each evening at 10PM from July 1-August 7.

 

2012

Fun soars to new heights in 2012 with the addition of WindSeeker, a 301-foot-tall swing ride designed to give riders the sensation of flying. This 30-story tall ride stands more than 60 feet taller than Intimidator-making it the tallest ride ever built in Carowinds history!

 

2013

Take a step waaaay back with a walk through Dinosaurs Alive! 32 roaring, moving animatronic dinosaurs that transport you to a pre-historic time! We also celebrate 40 Seasons of Thrills in 2013. 4 decades of fun in the Carolinas with special events all summer long!

 

2014-2015

In 2014 Carowinds trademarked the names Fury and Fury325 which started speculation on what was coming. And people didn't have to wait long in American style something i believe should be adopted in Europe, Carowinds held an event at the park's Harmony Hall Marketplace, it was to announces what was to  become the fifth-tallest roller coaster in the world when it opens at the park in 2015, And boy was it going to be one hell of a coaster. At $30 million this was going to be the biggest investment for the park.

 Manufactured by the rolls royce of the coaster world Bolliger & Mabillard, The coaster would stand a massive 325ft with a first drop of 320ft and a length of 6,602 ft and top speed of 95MPH.  The first piece of track was installed on 29 September 2014. then the final piece of Fury 325's track was put in place on 30 January 2015. and completed its test run 4th march 2015 and opened the following day.

And straight away started picking up the awards in 2016 it took the crown for the best steel coaster in the world in the golden ticket award, It took the crown off millennium force which held the crown for 6 years running. A little fact for you this is 1 of my top 10 coasters that on my bucket list i just hope i get to ride it soon.

Carowinds also announced in August that the water park known formally as Boomerang Bay would be expanded and renamed Carolina Harbor for the next season The Australian theme would be removed and replaced with a Carolina harbor theme. The expansion incorporate a new six-slide complex, a new wave pool, and several new splash areas for kids.

 

On August 18, 2016, Carowinds announced they would be expanding County Fair with the addition of  new rides: Electro-Spin Zephyr, Rock N Roller,Carowinds also announced that Carolina Cobra would be refurbished and renamed "The Flying Cobras"

 

2017 The original County Fair was a staple of Carowinds, To honor the park’s history and Carolina roots, guests will continue seeing more theming and attractions that revisit the parks past.

The former location of the County Fair, still home to Dodge ‘Ems, Yo-Yo, Plants vs. Zombies 3Z Arena and Afterburn, will now sport the name “Crossroads,” which is based from a previous section of the park called “Country Crossroads.”

Carowinds and the new County Fair are now open you’ll take a step back through time and become allured by the classic charm of a retro Carolina County Fair – just like guest did in 1979.

2019 The Carolinas’ First Double Launch Coaster CopperheadStrike opened

Jump into your getaway vehicle and takeoff from 0 to 42 milesperhour in 2 . 5 seconds as you are chased through a series of fast,tight,close-to-the-ground maneuvers, including five head-over-heels inversions.Sending riders on two launches promises aserpentine and relentless ride over half a mile of steel.

Features. The ride layout is custom designed for Carowinds,sending riders into a JoJo roll right out of the station. It then launches them from zero to 42 mph in 2.5 seconds into a series of near-miss twists,turns and inversions and then, without slowing down, launches a second time, leaving riders breathless and wondering which way is up.Order of inversions and launches 1.Jo Jo roll 2.Launch #1 3. 360-degree vertical loop #1 4.Corkscrew 5.Launch #2 6.Inverted top hat 7. 360-degree vertical loop #2

This is Carowinds’ 14thcoaster. Only four parks in the world have more

Thrillridesphotography are proud that we obey all Theme park Rules in regards to on ride filming. Public safety is always at the heart of what we do, We want to work with parks to deliver amazing photos for our followers and dont want to jeopardise it to gain a few followers.