Specific Type: Steel / Stand-Up
Carowinds first opened in 1973, with one coaster: Carolina Goldrusher. In the coming years, new and better rides were added, like Thunder Road, Carolina Cyclone, and White Ligntnin’. The park still wasn’t that big, but then Vortex opened in 1992, and then there was a reason to go to the park. Nobody in that region had seen anything like it, because of the rides smoothness and gracefulness. Carowind’s visitors were used to the rough Arrow coasters up to that point. Then in 1999, Top Gun: the Jet Coaster opened and delivered one of the best feelings of flight found anywhere. The B&M Inverted Coaster was super smooth, but also forceful, and gave riders an amazing ride. Then Intimidator opened in 2010, and shattered every record set forth at Carowinds, with a height of 232’, a top speed of 75 MPH, and an incredibly steep decent of 74 degrees. It was also made by B&M.
With all of these wonderful coasters operating at Carowinds, we all have to remember that the park’s B&M craze started with Vortex. But during 1992, most of Vortex’s success was overcome by the achievement of the first inverted coaster that opened later that year. Batman: the Ride at Six Flags Great America got B&M on the map and paved the way for many innovated coasters in the future. With its relatively short stature, the ride was one of the most intense coasters ever, and never ran out of steam. The popularity of Batman the Ride gave B&M many demands from other parks to either have a clone of the original, or their own version. Batman the Ride has now been cloned many times over the ensuing decades.
In the early 90’s all the coaster manufacturers were making advances in their technology and offering a lot of new designs. In 1990, B&M opened their first stand-up coaster at Six Flags Great America under the name of Iron Wolf. One year later, B&M created a second stand-up coaster for the Paramount Chain. Vortex opened at Paramount’s Great America in California and had rave reviews. That winter, Paramount approached Walter Bolliger and Claude Mabillard to build a second stand-up coaster for their North Carolina park. When the new coaster opened on March 14, 1992, it was a surprise to everyone that it was also namedVortex. Vortex wasn’t the tallest coaster in the world, standing at only 90-feet, but the fact that riders actually stood the entire course of the ride was what made this coaster a novelty. Vortexraces through 2040-feet of track reaching a top speed of 50-mph. The stand-up coaster never became as popular as the inverted, but Vortex is among a group of seven coasters that will always remain thrilling rides.
At Carowinds, Vortex can be found on the right side of the park next to a lake which is home to Nighthawk. When future riders reach the entrance of the ride, they may see bits and pieces ofCarolina Cyclone, Ricochet, and Hurler to their right, and Intimidator and Nighthawk to the left. After queuing, riders stand straddling their “bicycle seat,” and pull down their over-the-shoulder restraints. After all of the harnesses are checked, the thumbs up is given, and riders are out of the station and up the lift hill.
The chain picks the train up and carries to top of the 90-foot lift hill. Once at the top, the ride is on. The chain disengages and the track makes a 180-degree downward-banked turn into the first drop. The B&M coaches plummet down the drop and into the first inversion, the vertical loop. Riders scream their way through the loop and then exit into an overbanked right hand turn. The track straightens out, then drops downward into the entrance of an upward helix. The train races out of the helix and plummets back towards the ground. Once the train reaches the ground, it makes its way into the second inversion. The train soars through the corkscrew turning riders upside down and righting them again before they even notice what happened. The track then twists and the train races upwards into a 360-degree turn. The track then turns almost on its side and the riders are put just inches from the surface of the water below. The train makes an upward 180-degree turn and then the track levels out. The train finally rolls into the brakes and is carried back to the station to take on new riders.
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