How Do Carowinds Roller Coasters Rate?

  • 01 of 05

    Afterburn Roller Coaster at Carowinds Mini Review

    Afterburn coaster at Carowinds
    ••• Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

    Straddling the North and South Carolina borders, Carowinds in Charlotte has an impressive collection of roller coasters. While the following collection of mini reviews doesn't include all of the park's roller coasters, it does provide a rundown of most of the major ones.

    Let's start with a great one. A thrilling ride with a great layout, Afterburn is among the best inverted coasters you'll have the pleasure to hoot and holler your way through. Like many inverted coasters, Carowinds' thrill machine includes lots of inversions and huge bursts of positive G-forces. Unlike too many inverted coasters, which turn riders's noggins into human pinballs, Afterburn mercifully does NOT deliver much over-the-shoulder-restraint headbanging.

    Once known as Top Gun, when Carowinds was a Paramount park and featured movie themeing, the coaster has retained its fighter-pilot inspiration. Afterburn's barrage of dives, tumbles, twists, and other elements play like a series of...MORE acrobatic aerial maneuvers. With wild views of trainloads of passengers' dangling feet flipping, er, head over heels, the coaster is as much fun to watch as it is to ride.

    Rating for Afterburn (0=Blech!, 5=Wahoo!): 4

    • Type of coaster: Steel inverted
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 7
      Powerful positive G-forces, lots of inversions
    • Height: 144 feet
    • Top speed: 62 mph
    • Number of inversions: 6
    • Track length: 2956 feet
    • Height requirement: 54 inches
    • Ride time: 2:47 minutes
    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    Vortex Roller Coaster at Carowinds Mini Review

    Vortex coaster at Carowinds
    ••• Cedar Fair Entertainment Compan

    If you've never been on a standup coaster, it can be an odd experience. Passengers straddle movable bicycle-style seats that adjust and lock into place to accommodate their height. Over-the-shoulder restraints tether riders to the seats and the train. It's kind of weird climbing a lift hill and staring down a first drop while standing. It's weirder still to navigate a loop and a corkscrew in the upright position.

    There is a bit of headbanging on Vortex and a fair amount of positive Gs. There isn't a lot of negative-G airtime, however, which would cause passengers to rise up in the air and then crash down on the coaster's bicycle-style seats. Especially for male riders, that may be a good thing—if you know what I mean.

    Rating for Vortex (0=Blech!, 5=Wahoo!): 3

    • Type of coaster: Steel standup
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 6.5
      Inversions and standing position make for a thrilling ride
    • Height: 90 feet
    • Top speed: 50 mph
    • Number of inversions: 2
    • Track length:...MORE 2040 feet
    • Height requirement: 54 inches
    • Ride time: 2:19 minutes
    Continue to 3 of 5 below.
  • 03 of 05

    Hurler Roller Coaster at Carowinds Mini Review

    Hurler coaster at Carowinds
    ••• Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

    Great wood coasters provide rough and tumble rides (but not too rough) combined with soaring bouts of airtime. Hurler is not a great wood coaster. The nondescript ride goes through its circuit without offering more than a hiccup of airtime. And the ride is a tad too rough (in a bad-rough kind of wood coaster way). It's a good thing that Hurler includes seat dividers, or seat-mates would be constantly hurling into one another.

    Ride warriors don't mind enduring a bit of an assault on their internal organs when coasters deliver the goods. Hurler, however, delivers little more than a boring race to the finish.

    Rating for Hurler (0=Blech!, 5=Wahoo!): 2.5

    • Type of coaster: Wood
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 6
      Typical wood coaster thrills
    • Height: 83 feet
    • Top speed: 50 mph
    • Track length: 3157 feet
    • Height requirement: 48 inches
    • Ride time: 2:00 minutes
    Continue to 4 of 5 below.
  • 04 of 05

    Woodstock Express Roller Coaster at Carowinds Mini Review

    Woodstock Express coaster at Carowinds
    ••• Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

    If coaster riding is something of an addiction among hardcore fans, Woodstock Express is a gateway drug. The scaled-down woodie is designed as an accessible coaster for those who don't make the height cutoff on big-boy rides but are too old for teeny-weeny kiddie rides.

    It's thrilling, but not that thrilling. Unfortunately, the mid-1970s ride can get a wee bit rough. Kids closer to the 40-inch end of the height spectrum may find the sometimes-jarring lateral (side-to-side) G-forces a little much. But the icky purple color of the track should calm them down.

    Rating for Woodstock Express (0=Blech!, 5=Wahoo!): 3

    • Type of coaster: Family wooden
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 3.5
      Mild drops, some lateral G-forces
    • Track length: 1356 feet
    • Height requirement: 46 inches (40 to 45 inches with responsible co-rider)
    • Ride time: 1:30 minutes
    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Intimidator Roller Coaster at Carowinds Mini Review

    Intimidator roller coaster at Carowinds
    ••• Cedar Fair Entertainment Company

    The company that designed and manufactured Intimidator, the Carowinds ride that sits near the front of the park, can seem to do no wrong when it rolls out its signature hypercoasters. Like similar thrill machines that Swiss coaster mavens Bolliger & Mabillard have built for other parks, Intimidator is another super-smooth ride with delirious moments of floating airtime. Read my full review of Intimidator at Carowinds.

    Rating for Intimidator (0=Blech!, 5=Wahoo!): 4.5

    • Type of coaster: Steel hypercoaster
    • Thrill Scale (0=Wimpy!, 10=Yikes!): 8.5
      No inversions, but wild speed, height, and G-forces—particularly negative-G "airtime"
    • Height: 232 feet
    • First drop: 211 feet
    • First drop angle: 74 degrees
    • Other drops: 178 feet, 151 feet, 105 feet, 90 feet
    • Top speed: 75 mph
    • Track length: 5316 feet
    • Height requirement: 54 inches
    • Ride time: 3:33 minutes