Specific Type: Custom Looping Coaster
Opening in March 22, 1989, the Carolina Cyclone would become the fifth roller coaster to join Carowinds lineup, following the Carolina Goldrusher (1973), Scooby Doo (1975),Thunder Road (1976), and White Lightnin’ (1977). At a cost of $2 million, and manufactured by Arrow Development, Carolina Cyclone would be the world’s first roller coaster to turn riders upside four times. The park had already worked with Arrow Development for two of its other rides: The Carolina Goldrushermine train coaster, and the now-defunct Powder Keg log flume near the front of the park.
An article advertising the ride written by Andy Sidden, a staff writer for the Evening Herald, stated the ride would be a “one-of-a-kind roller coaster that’ll flip riders upside down four times in 90 [that would] stretch across the back side of Carowinds amusement park.” The ride would be located in the Frontier Outpost area of the park, now the Carolina Boardwalk, at the very back of the park, just behind the Outer Hanks eatery. At the time of its opening, the only thing that lay behind the Carolina Cyclone were offices and empty land; an area that now is home to the Hurler roller coaster among other attractions.
The ride itself starts off with a quick dip and 180-degree left turn to the lift hill, where riders ascend up a 95-foot hill before another slight dip and 180-degree left turn, lining them up with the remainder of the course. The bottom then drops out, as the trains fall 65 feet down at 41 mph, and into a set of double loops in front of the station and over the queue line. The trains then rise slightly and fall to the right before banking heavily to the right, and twisting their way over the walkway below as the trains torque their way through the rides double corkscrews. Pulling up and out of the corkscrew, the train then banks right again, diving into an entrenched 450-degree helix, before rising from the ground and into the final brake run, ending the 2100 foot journey. This helix was originally completely enclosed in a tunnel, but is now entrenched with beams overhead, providing a fantastic head-chopper effect.
The ride itself has gone through numerous paint schemes over the years, with the original being red track and rails with black supports. For the 1998 season, the ride was given a brand new paint job, featuring light blue track and rails along with the black supports. Along with the track, the trains were given a makeover, each receiving a different three-striped paint job of yellow, light blue-green, and purple. Several years later, the track and rails were repainted with a darker blue, and the trains three-stripe paint scheme was replaced with a simple purple and yellow two-stripe paint scheme. Carolina Cyclone’s most recent paint scheme, debuting in 2010, sees different sections of the track and rails painted in orange, yellow, and dark blue, with dark blue supports throughout.
Though ridership has waned off significantly over the years, with the ride often being a walk-on even during one-train operation, the attraction can still hold its own as a intermediate looping coaster for the whole family over 30 years later.
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