Earlier this week, a Charlotte Business Journal article revealed details of a closed session between Carowinds and the local government. The Charlotte, NC area theme park is seeking about $922,000 in incentives for its planned expansion. We knew the expansion included a three year $53 million dollar investment by parent company Cedar Fair. We learned two weeks ago that 2014’s plans include two new water slides and restaurant upgrades.
What we didn’t know was that $30 milllion of it was going to a new roller coaster. That was revealed earlier this week in this article. For context, the park’s popular 232-foot tall hyper coaster Intimidator costs $23 million. Now another articles (New Carowinds Ride to be 70 feet taller than Intimidator) reveals more details about the new ride.
Cedar Fair Entertainment, the parent company of Carowinds, plans to build a 300-foot-tall roller coaster – 70 feet taller than the park’s biggest attraction, the Intimidator – according to a closed-session transcript the Charlotte City Council released Wednesday.
Again, I’m reminded of a remark of a Carowinds rep years ago that Cedar Fair wanted to invest in two growth markets: Toronto (Canada’s Wonderland) and Charlotte (Carowinds). They may be working out of the same playbook that they used for Canada’s Wonderland. That park received Behemoth (a hyper coaster similar in size to Intimidator) in 2008 and then Leviathan (a 300 foot tall giga coaster) in 2012.
In terms of coaster geekdom, a 300-foot tall roller coaster has to be near (if not at) the top of the wish list. There are only a handful of 300-foot tall roller coasters in the World. And you can literally count the number of roller coasters taller (in the 400-foot range) on two fingers. So this news is a big deal in the coaster community.
We don’t know exactly what type of roller coaster this will be, but assuming that Carowinds is following the Behemoth-Leviathan formula, I hope that the park does a good job differentiating the ride enough from Intimidator. Building a “Leviathan” would mean a taller, faster, Intimidator with fewer airtime hills (those textbook hump-shaped hills). Would that draw out the locals enough? One local council member thinks so:
“The height is what attracts people to coasters and that becomes more of the signature,” said council member Warren Cooksey. “Right now, the signature modern roller coaster at Carowinds is not on people’s radar screens as being a big deal because it’s not about 300 feet.”
The article goes on to state: “The new roller coaster alone is expected to draw an additional 385,000 visitors to the park annually.” I wonder if that’s based on what Canada’s Wonderland saw with Leviathan.
To be honest, I think I’d rather see a 300-foot tall launch roller coaster of some other type. Carowinds has many different types of roller coasters and a launch coaster is something they’re missing. There’s not a good blueprint or existing ride that fits the bill really. A shorter version of Cedar Point’s Top Thrill Dragster would suit in terms of changing the skyline and providing that exciting launch, but Top Thrill Dragster has been hampered by downtime issues in the past. Hopefully, B&M is getting into the launch game.
I’d be happy with a Leviathan-type ride, but I think a launch coaster would be a better fit and possibly draw more attention than another (albeit massive) lift hill. It looks like I just need to find my way into one of these closed sessions and all be known.