With the opening of Fury 325 this year, comparisons to other giga coasters were going to be inevitable. This showdown might have even more interest than most as Carowinds and Kings Dominion are in bordering states (North Carolina and Virginia). So, there’s a better chance that more people have ridden both or plan to.
First, let’s define a giga coaster as many have been asking due to Carowinds promotion of its record-setting ride. A giga coaster is a roller coaster that’s between 300 and 399 feet tall and completes a full circuit. For more, including a list of giga coasters, read: What is a Giga Coaster?. The “325” and “305” in these rides’ names reference the height of their lift hills.
While Fury 325 and Intimidator 305 are in the same category of roller coaster, they have different designers and offer different ride experiences. So let’s see which wins this giga edition of roller coaster showdowns.
Themes – NASCAR Legend Dale Earnhardt vs. Furious Hornets
Fury 325 looks great and the theme reflects the region’s history as retreating British soldiers called the area a “Hornet’s Nest of Rebellion”. Also, the teal color of the track is similar to that of the Charlotte Hornets NBA team. All-in-all, Carowinds did a top-notch job adding the local flavor of the area. I really appreciate that and I know that the park had to push for this local twist. If not we might have had another Leviathan as theme park chains love to recycle names. Small touches like the lights on the lift hill, and the cool use of the honeycombs throughout the theme really set it a part from other rides.
Dale Earnhardt was known as “The Intimidator” due to his aggressive racing style. While I’m sure NASCAR is popular in my home state of Virginia, Intimidator 305’s theme isn’t quite as meaningful as the same theme on the Intimidator roller coaster at Carowinds, which is near the birthplace of both the sport and Earnhardt himself. Still, locality aside, the signage is well-done, there’s a replica of Dale Earnhardt’s car, and your ride starts with: “Gentlemen, start your engines!” (Sorry ladies).
I’ve got to give this one to Intimidator 305. Both themes are above average for this type of ride, but NASCAR and Earnhardt are a more memorable theme than mean, swarming insects (again putting the meaningfulness of the theme to the area aside). At the end of the day, riders will likely remember the car theme from 305 more than the 325’s hornet theme. Edge: Intimidator 305
Intamin Trains vs B&M Trains
The trains have a lot to do with the comfort and overall ride experience. Intimidator 305 is an Intamin roller coaster designed for speed, tight twists, and heavily-banked turns. The restraints are comfortable straps that go over your torso and buckle in to a bar that goes across your lap. Thankfully, they don’t limit your upper body too much as you can easily hold your hands up as much as you like. Although, the ride’s intense g-forces make it tough at times. A minor nitpick is that since they go over your shoulders, they are more likely to limit the airtime that’s present on the drop, second hill, and the smaller camel back humps.
Fury 325’s trains have an open, minimalist design. Riders are basically seated in raised chairs with bucket seats and a thick cummerbund-like lap bar. These trains offer better views and a more comfortable overall riding position.
This one goes to Fury 325. The Bolliger & Mabillard trains are more comfortable, don’t obstruct your view as much and they have the added bonus of four-across seating; perfect for group riding. Also, 305’s seats are more upright, while you really sink into the seats on Fury. Edge: Fury 325
Intimidator 305 is a wicked ride that puts a unique twist on this towering roller coaster genre. All giga coasters have lofty lift hills, but after this mammoth drop, things get real interesting. Intimidator 305’s transitions from left banking to right banking tosses riders like a game of hot potato. This is one of the most unusual and fun feelings I’ve had on a thrill ride. 305 has a bit of a mean streak and the intensity is definitely on the higher end of the scale. I wasn’t able to do more than a few back-to-back rides as the g-forces were starting to give me a headache. The gift shop at the ride’s exit had Tylenol for a reason.
Fury 325 offers speed in spades. There’s some exciting highs, a few twists throwing riders to the side, and a fun low-point as you charge through an underground tunnel. The massive ride does a fly-by near the park entrance, there’s a helix and a few airtime hills thrown in as well. It’s a complete roller coaster, that in my opinion, is missing very little.
Note – These videos were filmed by professionals with permission from the park.
When comparing the two ride experiences, I give the edge to Fury 325. Both are challenging and will leave the average park-goer catching their breath, but Fury 325 is better for re-rides as it’s a bit smoother and less intense all-around. Slight Edge: Fury 325
Fury 325 is a better roller coaster in my book. Intimidator 305 is exciting and brings something new to the table with its powerful “twisties” that toss you around, but Fury’s definitely the more well-rounded of the two. Fury offers an awesome variety of thrills and its smooth enough (even at 95 mph!) that you’ll want to hop right back in line. For more on these rides, check out my full reviews of Fury 325 and Intimidator 305.
Winner: Fury 325
What’s Your Take?
Which of these two roller coasters do you prefer? Leave a comment.