Carowinds recently invited us to spend two days at their Charlotte amusement park and we had a blast! Carowinds is an amusement park on the North Carolina and South Carolina border ( literally–some rides are in NC and some are in SC!). It has many coasters for thrill-seekers along with kid-friendly attractions.
We spent two days in the park and I had the chance to ride many of their coasters in the front row thanks to Carowinds gifting us Quick Q passes and minimum weekday crowds!
Megan isn’t much of a roller coaster fan, but I can’t get enough of them. There’s nothing quite like the exhilarating rush of flying through the air, feeling like you could die at any minute but knowing that you’ll be just fine.
I grew up going to other parks in the area, but actually never made it to Carowinds until now. I can’t believe all the great coasters I was missing out on! I definitely made up for some lost time during our visit to the park, riding as many as I could squeeze in while still taking time to enjoy the kid-friendly attractions with my family.
Rollercoasters at Carowinds are some of the best in the nation! Here is a ranking of my favorite rollercoasters at Carowinds, the score I gave them, and why.
5. Carolina Cyclone (8)
Carolina Cyclone is one of the older rollercoasters at Carowinds, being introduced back in 1980, but there’s a reason it’s still popular at the park today.
This coaster is all about speedily twisting through the Carolina skyline like a cyclone. It starts with two back-to-back 360-degree loops and then goes straight into two 360-degree barrel rolls. The Cyclone ends with a 450-degree uphill helix, similar to a tornado, which propels riders back to the starting station.
My favorite part of this ride was the velocity and spins that flings you around with gale force wind speeds.
4. The Flying Cobras (8.5)
Designed to replicate old-time county fair air shows, The Flying Cobras has riders in a car with one of the seven stunt pilots.
The main attraction starts with the cars being slowly pulled backwards 125 feet high on the track. Suddenly, you drop to retrace your path, zoom through a 360-degree loop and cobra roll while traveling 50 mph. This carries you up a hill, where you are suspended for a few seconds. Suddenly the train cars are released to drop and do the whole thing again, but backwards.
I loved the unpredictability of this ride and wild maneuvers that match the aerobatics of soaring through the clouds.
3. Copperhead Strike (9)
Copperhead Strike is a themed coaster set in the backcountry of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
As the Carolina’s first double launch coaster, it “strikes” with two takeoffs from 0 to 42 mph in 2.5 seconds and then 35 to 50 mph in 2 seconds (not all too different from a mean copperhead snake). The whole experience takes riders speeding through fast and tight curves and flipping upside down five times, which is a record for launch coasters in North America.
I loved the rapid take-off and maintained speed throughout the ride, leaving riders struggling to catch their breath in the best way.
2. Intimidator (9.5)
Another themed ride, Intimidator has you in the driver’s seat of NASCAR racer and North Carolina native, Dale Earnhardt.
After hearing “Gentlemen, start your engines!” echoing from the speakers, the car begins to ascend the 232 foot hill. Once at the crest, you race down a 74 degree drop while speeding up to 80 mph. The track continues to twist, turn and climb hills at high speeds until ultimately reaching the finish line.
This rollercoaster is a fast, wild ride that had me feeling like I was behind the wheel of Earnhardt’s infamous No. 3 Monte Carlo. It also had one of my favorite drops in the park.
Honorable Mention: Afterburn (7)
Afterburn gets my honorable mention because while I did have fun with it, it didn’t stack up to the other coasters on my list. This ride mimics the speed and agility of a fighter jet soaring through the clouds. Riders will experience a space drop, a vertical loop, a special pilot maneuver called an Immelmann, a zero “G” roll, a batwing, a flat spin and a spiral.
This is one of those rides where you are suspended in a train below the track and your feet hang, which I experienced at a few other parks. I tend to prefer sitting in a traditional coaster and enjoy drops more than quick turns and spins. Although the first drop was 113 ft tall and I appreciated that, the loops and rolls had me feeling a little nauseous. That could be because I didn’t sit on the front row where I could see in front of me, or because it was the end of the day and my Dramamine was wearing off. Either way I think it’s safe to say I couldn’t make it as a fighter pilot, but its still a great ride I would recommend checking out.
1. Fury 325 (10/10)
Wow. What a ride! Fury 325 is everything I could want in a rollercoaster and more. The tag line Carowinds uses is “Feel the Sting on the tallest, fastest and longest giga coaster in North America.”
It gets its name from the 325 ft drop at 81 degrees. Speeds top out at 95 mph, having you feel like an angry hornet honing in on its prey. The whole ride spans 1.25 miles across Carowinds, zipping back and forth, through tunnels, under bridges and around curves.
The stomach churning drops are my favorite part of rides, and Fury 325 did not disappoint. The speed had my eyes watering, and my adrenaline pumping, wanting more.
There were a few rides that were closed, that we would love to try when we undoubtedly return to the park. I personally have Nighthawk in my sights, and will update the list if it cracks the top 5. If you’ve been to Carowinds, let us know your thoughts or if you would add anything to our list!
My family and I went to Carowinds during springbreak just this past April 2022. I grew up visiting this park and it is always a good time. Several of the rides were closed due to lack of help, all indoor shows were closed. A reduced ticket price would have been nice and the food prices are way over priced. I got a plain hotdog (no condiments available) a few fries were on the platter and a diet drink and it cost me 25..00 and some change. That was shameful to charge that much!! Beware if you have a family to feed. Leave the park and go tailgate in the parking lot and you can come back into the park as long as your hand is stamped. Another thing to consider-you cannot take any kind of bag or purse on any ride (ladies, not even a crossbody) do leave valuables at home and I suggest putting your debit card in hubby’s wallet or your pants pocket. Enjoy your visit -the park is clean and we’ll kept. My grandchildren loved it!! I was their first visit but not the last-we only live a couple of hours away. 😀
Great tips! Thanks for sharing!
Fury is the best roller coaster I have ever ridden and I have been on over 100 coasters in my life. Nighthawk will definitely crack the top 5 once you get pass the long line and load time (a lot goes in to getting the riders secured).
Harrison is definitely hoping Nighthawk will be open next time we visit! We’ve heard great things about it!
We went over Spring Break 2021/with my 12,11 and 10 year sons. I agree with your rankings except I would move Cooperhead up to number. It surprised me throughout the ride. But Fury is the hardest Coaster there is!
Fury sure is WILD!
We literally were just there on Friday with my son’s 5th grade class chaperoning and we had a blast. I would agree with this list. Fury 325 hands down was the best rollercoaster at the park! The boys rode it like 4-5 times in the 8hrs we were there. Haha.
I rode the fury 325 i went on field trip before losing my grandmother
There will never be another roller coaster there that will be more iconic and more fun than Thunder Road was.
We sure wish we had made it to Carowinds before it was retired!