Take a Spin on the Best Roller Coaster in the Carolinas
Afterburn at CarowindsDue to popular demand, I’m finally getting around to writing my full review of Afterburn; an underrated inverted roller coaster at Carowinds (Charlotte, NC). It was formerly Top Gun: The Jet Coaster until the 2008 season. The movie theming had to go when Paramount sold the park to Cedar Fair. It’s too bad because the ride’s Top Gun theme really added to the experience. I’ll never forget jamming to the Top Gun movie soundtrack in the queue. I wasn’t jamming for too long as the ride’s capacity was spectacular. With two trains that can hold 32 riders each, the line moved quickly.

After boarding the ski-lift style inverted trains, Afterburn lifts riders to its 113′ tall peak. Then, in textbook Bolliger & Mabillard fashion, the train dips into a swooping first drop. The train picks up speed at a rapid pace and before you know it, you’re back in the air for a large vertical loop. The train finishes the loop then races along the ground for a The Layout of Afterburn at Carowindsmoment. Next up, is a smooth Immelmann. It’s a fitting inversion as it’s named after a real fighter jet maneuver. Heading back towards the lift hill the train traverses a sweet zero-g roll (AKA heartline spin). It’s many enthusiasts favorite inversion and always especially fun on an inverted coaster.

For me, Afterburn’s highlight is the batwing inversion. It’s similar to the cobra roll found on the park’s new Carolina Cobra, only it’s upside-down. So on Afterburn, the train dives and inverts downward into a ravine. Montu has a batwing as well, but in the entire coaster world they are not very common. After the subterannean dive and twisting return to the surface, the train swings over pathways and spirals through the final loop; a corkscrew. Your journey ends with a wide, banked helix and then the station brakes.

What Makes Afterburn So Good
As with the best roller coasters, Afterburns pacing and order of inversions is near perfect. They’re not too close together. There’s no wasted areas where you find yourself just waiting for something to happen. And most importantly there’s no break in the action due to a brake run. It’s also super smooth like most B&M Roller Coaster Reviews Rating - Excellentcoasters and encourage re-rides with its quick moving line. Afterburn is an excellent roller coaster that pretty much maxes out the potential of a what an inverted roller coaster can be. It’s a can’t miss coaster if you’re ever in the Carolinas. Final Rating – 9.0 (Excellent)

Thrilling Roller Coasters - For Brave Riders

Afterburn is rated TH for Thrilling. You better be a somewhat of a brave rider to attempt this one. It’s tall, fast, and turns you upside-down six times. Thrilling roller coasters are a 3 out of 5 on my Thrill Scale. See the full scale here.

What’s Your Take?
What do you think of Afterburn at Carowinds? Leave a comment below.

About The Author

Founder of CoasterCritic.com. My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

57 Responses

  1. CFC

    Thanks for the info, Quil. I'm still learning about chat rooms and blogs and stuff, so I know I can sometimes sound like an idiot.

    I want to start continuing my site, and I will as soon as possible. I got stuck at Michigan's Adventure, and I'm still there.

  2. CFC

    About Afterburn, I think that's the way it's always looked. At least, I've always seen it that way. It's such a good ride, you don't usually criticize it on that.

  3. Schwarz

    Yeah for some reason at carowinds ever since the parks got taken over by Cedar fair the rides (mainly afterburn) are looking kind of dirty. I rode it when it was raining and I got a little bit of rust on me! But its still a great ride

  4. Prof. BAM

    Sounds like a sweet ride, then again, All B&Ms do. Haven't been down there yet, but it is a ride that I want to go on. I especially want to go down there now because of the Intimadator coaster going up.

  5. CFC

    For now, it's the best ride in the Carolinas. Inverted and Flying coasters are my favorite types of coasters. They make you feel like you're in space.

    • Quil

      actualy, those are my least favorite types of coasters. Flyers make me feel sick, but i`ll try one again soon to see if i`ll like it, and i just havern`t had good e=xpeiriences on inverts (mostly SLC`s).

      • Prof. BAM

        It helps if you go on a B&M flyer instead of either a Volare or a Flying Dutchman.

  6. CFC

    CC, what score would you have given Afterburn if it was still called Top Gun and had the Top Gun theming?

    • The Coaster Critic

      I actually haven't ridden it since it's been re-themed, but I don't losing the TG name and soundtrack is enough to bump it down any. It's still a great ride. There wasn't that much to the TG theming, I just have a nostalgic connection to that soundtrack. So, looking back at the review I guess the rating is based on it as it was even though I describe how it is now (without the theming).

      Does that make sense? Was the station very different in '09?

  7. Tom

    I've been on the flight deck at California's Great america, but I think it is pretty different. But it's very intense. Same here?

  8. CFC

    Exactly. And that's why I love Top Gun/Afterburn so much. It's my favorite coaster due to its smoothness and intensity. That is, unless I232 becomes my new favorite this year. But one thing will stay the same: it will remain my favorite coaster with inversions for quite some time.

  9. CFC

    Best coaster in the Carolinas? Sorry, but Afterburn's just been dethroned. Intimidator takes the cake as the best I've ever ridden.

  10. ethan

    You would actually be wrong about the height. I believe Afterburn is actually 144 feet tall. The DROP is 113 feet tall. Think about it: When the Cobra opened in 2009, it debuted as the second tallest coaster in the park at 125 feet tall. Nighthawk was named the tallest coaster in the park back in 2004 at 115 feet tall. How does that makes sense? The Cobra would be taller than Nighthawk (which supposedly is taller than Afterburn) making it the tallest coaster in the park back in 2009. But it can’t be the tallest if it was named the second tallest in the park. And it can’t be smaller than Nighthawk because that coaster is 115 feet tall. So, Afterburn would be the only answer to make sense.

  11. Judy P in Pgh

    Afterburn at Carowinds makes my top 10 as does Fury 325. Afterburn is my favorite suspended coaster … intense g-forces, no midcourse brake run plus a crew that allows re-rides if no one is waiting in your queue line.

    3/23/19, 8:06 PM, arrived at Afterburn. At the end of each of the first two rides, I walked around and got back in line. After the third ride, I never left my seat in row 7, far right until I chose to finish riding at 9:42 PM. I lost track of how many laps I got, but I was in roller coaster heaven!

    I also enjoy Montu, Banshee and Talon, but none of those crews can move trains out as fast as the Afterburn crews … and I mean year after year after year. Kudos to the Afterburn crews!!


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