Cedar Fair Entertainment
Park News - (9/17/21) In an interesting update, Carowinds has posted information about a “NEW BAG POLICY” that will be in effect for the SCarowinds halloween haunt event nights. According to the post, “guests may not bring bags of any kind into the park” as part of new safety policies.
AGAIN… this is only for SCAROWINDS special events, and not the regular daytime operations.
This is important, because immediately people began complaining about not being able to bring diaper bags, bags for their sunscreen and other items… but this only for SCAROWINDS when the sun is down and the event is not intended for anyone young enough who might need a stroller.
However, for those who have a medical needs and require the ability to bring in certain personal items, the park did state that guests may bring “a bag n larger than 4.5” x 6.5” with only the “medically necessary items”, and this bag would be subject to search before park entry.
Personally, it sounds good to me, but I’ve always been a minimalist when it comes to what I carry on my person when visiting theme parks for fun. When covering for media events, that’s another thing entirely, as I’ll need my camera gear and so on for the night, but when I just want to relax and have fun, if it doesn’t fit in my pockets, it doesn’t go.
Speaking of cameras however… the policy changes at SCarowinds doesn’t end with bags. In a kind of odd twist, the official page of visitor information that contains the new bag policy has says that “No Cameras of phography is permitted inside out haunted mazes or scare zones. Violation of this rule is means of dismissal from the park.” Now the no cameras in the mazes part isn’t new, that’s always been a constant, but I don’t recall scare zones ever being included before. Scare zones are simply public walk-ways in the park that the monsters inhabit, so this last part is a bit off-putting. Especially as I’ve shot come great footage of SCarowinds in the past while wandering through the scare zones. (Check out my video from SCarowinds 2018 below for a great example). It will be very sad if this kind of camera ban stays in place.
(9/11/21) Carowinds has opened their new Monster Jam: Thunder Alley themed event that will take place at the park through Oct. 10, 2021. Different drivers will be on hand for appearances on different weekends, so check the park’s event schedule for details.
(9/1/21) A few readers have pointed out that sections of new wood have been spotted in the former queue for Rip Roaring Rapids at Carowinds. Mostly these sections of new wood fencing are blocking off access to the staircases down to the unloading platform and to the observation deck where the coin-op geysers were located. You can see some of this in the tweet posted below.
So what’s going on? Don’t get your hopes up… the old Rapids ride is not returning. The most likely answer is that sections of the queue will be used for a new haunted maze for this year’s SCarowinds event.
While we’re on the subject, I haven’t yet dug into what we can expect from SCarowinds this year. According to the website the park’s Haunt event will take place on select nights from Sept. 17 through Oct. 31, 2021 and feature five haunted mazes. Silver Scream Studios - Condemned, Slaughterhouse: The Final Cut and Depths of Darkness will all return yet again, but there will finally be two new haunts this year.
The Reaping - described as a corn maze full of murderous scarecrows, this seems to be a rebirth of the park’s former Cornstalkers maze concept, but moved to take place in “Celebration Plaza” this time. (This is probably what is coming to the former rapids ride queue)
The other new haunt is Tooth Fairy, listed as being on the Nighthawk Pathway, so this should be in the former Asylum / 7th Ward building. The description says we will learn the truth about the Tooth Fairy, and what she does to those who don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy. You’ll be whisked away to a nightmare world of dental horrors, blood-stained walls and the sound of endless drilling and screaming.
(8/18/21) According to a new post from Carowinds, starting today Carowinds will require all guests age 5 and up to wear a face mask while indoors anywhere in the park, unless they are actively eating or drinking. This new mask mandate doesn’t come from the park, but is actually part of a new mask mandate from the City of Charlotte.
(8/16/21) Grand Carnivale may be over, but Carowinds says they will continue with more special events throughout the rest of the year. On Weekends from Sept. 11 through Oct 10 the park will host Monster Jam: Thunder Alley, followed by the return of SCarowinds on select nights from Sept. 17 through to October 31, 2021. Shortly after Carowind’s WinterFest will return once again on select nights from Nov. 13 through Jan 2, 2022.
(7/25/21) Great news for Carowinds, as the park has officially dropped the reservation requirement for the rest of the season to both the theme park and Carolina Harbor waterpark. Carowinds has also decided to add on 10 extra days to their summer schedule that will see the park open from noon to 5pm on weekdays from August 23 through Sept. 3.
(7/6/21) In a bit of a strange report, Theme Park Predictions posted to Twitter that they’re hearing that the Surfer’s Swell and Dorsal Fin Drop waterslides added to the Carolina Harbor waterpark in 2014 are closed and may never reopen. As for the reason behind the rumored removal of these fairly new and popular slides, they said that there may have been too many possible complaints and possible guest injury reports. Under similar circumstances, sister park Kings Dominion removed a Tornado style waterslide from their waterpark at the start of their 2018 season.
Backing up this rumor is the fact that both slides have been removed from the list of attractions at the waterpark on the official website and on the mobile app. It’s also worth mentioning that any mention of the Barracuda Blasters slides, which are located right next door, have also been removed from the mobile app while still being listed on the website right now. It makes me wonder if Barracuda Blasters could also be up for future removal, or if it is just an error on the part of the app programmers who were forced to leave the map showing all the slides, but just removed the clickable icons from both sets, possibly out of confusion as to which one they were to remove.
Again, this removal is just a rumor at this point, but if someone knows something more official, please let us know.
(7/3/21) In an update from the local news, it sounds like the reservation system at Carowinds is still causing issues for Season Passholders. With the complaints files by guests and a previous news update I mentioned before, the issue was that passholders were unable to get reservations to the park. As I don’t currently have a pass to Carowinds this season, I went on the website to look at the reservation issue myself, but had to pull it up as a guest looking to buy a single-day ticket, in which case I found no issues with availability.
That said, apparently season-passholders are not given equal access to the park reservation calendar according to this week’s news update on the issue. In this latest update, they continue to quote frustrations from passholders unable to get into the park due to Carowind’s continued use of a reservation system, where it also seemed they are asking for separate reservations to gain access to the waterpark as well, even though admission is normally included for all guests.
One guest report mentioned that while he wasn’t able to get reservations with his season passes, he noticed he could BUY single-day tickets to the park which come with the reservation, and when he asked Carowinds if he could buy those passes and then get refunded because he is a passholder and doesn’t need them, he was told no. So clearly there are a number of spots left for passholders on any given day and a number of spots left for single-day ticket purchases, but no comment was made on what the percentage split of each towards the park’s self-restricted daily capacity limits.
Obviously they are not going to want to book up the park 100% with season passholders and not allow for one-day ticket sales to happen, but clearly there seems to be some kind of capacity issue as the passholder complaints continue to grow as we enter the second half of the summer season. According to the local news, if you have been unable to use your pass and want to request a refund, Carowinds is reviewing those requests on a case-by-case basis right now, so you’ll need to get in touch with guest services.
(6/20/21) Sounds like getting into Carowinds may be a little rough after the park failed to open last summer. As a reminder, reservations are still required to get into Carowinds, even though they aren't required at all Cedar Fair parks right now. Reservations seems to be the problem however, especially for season passholders who complained to the local news that despite paying for season passes, they haven’t been able to use them as the park’s reservation system is always full. For those with reservations, I’ve also been told that making a change to your existing reservations has also been a very trying experience, and successful calls to customer service for help with a live employee are nearly impossible.
While I don't doubt that getting a live human on the phone to help may be difficult, I’m not seeing the trouble with the park reservations system as of today. A quick jump over to the Carowinds website shows that I can make reservations to visit today and almost every day through to the end of Summer if I was a passholder. So either the capacity levels have increased since the news article was posted, or the trouble wasn’t that serious to begin with. In addition the state of North Carolina and city of Charlotte have lifted all mass gathering limits and social distancing requirements as of May 14 and I believe they were all lifted in South Carolina before that, so currently any limits and restrictions in the park would fall in line with whatever operations policy Cedar Fair has set for the park at this time.
And not to be a worry wart, but in many cases so far where other Cedar Fair parks held onto their reservations requirement in states were not required, it was a way to hide the fact that they may be running very short staffed. In a few cases this has resulted in some Cedar Fair parks changing their operations schedule to a 5-days a week operational schedule instead of 7-days a week when they have been unable to hire enough staff. In other cases, they have been able to get by by just reducing the hours of operation each day instead.
So far we’ve seen Dorney Park and Michigan’s Adventure resort to 5-day operational schedules,
While Cedar Point and Worlds of Fun have had to resort to 5-day weeks just for the month of June with plans to return to 7-day schedules for July.
(6/17/21) Carowinds has announced that the park’s Grand Carnivale celebration event will kick off on July 17 and run through to August 1, 2021. The event includes the Spectacle of Color Parade, a Carnivale Street Party and special food options throughout the park. Follow the link for all the official details.
(5/24/21) Carowinds has made a new blog post to go over all the new improvements they made to the park since COVID kept them closed last summer. The list of improvements includes area themed direction signs throughout the park, a restoration of the Candy Shoppe waterwheel, a new train design for Carolina Cyclone this season that mixed much of the body shell from the former Vortex trains sent from Kings Island with the chassis of the old Carolina Cyclone trains to create a new hybrid design. Other projects include the rebuild of a good portion of the Woodstock Express coaster, as well as some new brighter paint on the Carolina Skytower and Intimidator. Follow the link to have a look at the official blog post and photos.
(5/15/21) I missed this announcement last month, but Carowinds has a new Vice President / General Manager this season. Cedar Fair has brought in Manny Gonzales to take over the top spot at Carowinds, moving over from where he served in the same position at California’s Great America for the past three years. He replaces the previous VP/GM, Pat Jones, who has been promoted up to a corporate position as a Senior VP of Park Operations.
While we’re on the subject of Carowinds… get ready because the park will reopen to the public next week on May 22. You can get your tickets and reservations online now.
(5/11/21) A small bit of bad news for Carowinds fans, especially if you were dying to get into the waterpark to try out that brand new waterslide for the past year. According to local news reports, Carowinds is being forced to delay the intended May 29th opening of the Carolina Harbor waterpark due to a “worker shortage”. Instead, they now hope to be able to open the waterpark by June 12.
Carowinds will open the theme park this coming weekend as a passholder preview to work out the kinks, with the official public opening of the theme park set to take place on May 22.
(1/30/21) Carowinds has announced that the park will not open for the 2021 season until May 22, 2021. Unfortunately this is 2 months later than normal for the park which has always traditionally opened in late March every year before now. This follows along with other dates released from Cedar Fair that will see the majority of their parks all waiting until May to open. No reasons were given, though I suspect the hope is that with a growing number of COVID-19 vaccines expected to be given daily between now and then, that the parks might be able to reopen with fewer restrictions. I’d expect more details about the company’s plans for operations in 2021 to be talked about in detail during their Q4 2020 earning call with investors in February.
(9/4/20) According to Coaster101, the former Arrow coaster trains from Vortex at Kings Island have been sent to Carowinds where they will be refurbished put to use on Carolina Cyclone in 2021. To be fair, the actual chassis of the coaster trains will still be the old Carolina Cyclone one, but the fiberglass shells from Vortex have replaced the old Carowinds trains. Make the jump and check out some pictures of the new Yellow and Purple trains.
2021 - Boogie Board Racers - (8/20/19) While I’m still not exactly sure of how this will be placed in the park, Carowinds did confirm to us that their new Boogie Board Racer slide would be located near the waterpark entrance and “along Copperhead Strike”. Unfortunately the description isn’t too firm on which waterpark entrance, but if it is really near Copperhead Strike then I’m guessing it is the in-park waterpark entrance right next to Copperhead Strike rather than the one with direct access to the parking lot.
(8/16/19) Carowinds has announced Boogie Board Racers is coming to the Carolina Harbor waterpark for the 2020 season. This is a six-lane mat racer slide experience which they are promoting as the longest mat racing waterslide in the Southeast. The slide will be produced by White Water West.
Also coming in 2020 will be the Grand Carnivale celebration, a limited time special event taking place nightly from June 13 through to July 5, 2020.
???? - Car Ride - Rumor - (12/6/20) The rumored return of a car ride at Carowinds took another step forward this week, as a reader sent in a picture of an Antique auto car currently on site at Carowinds and dressed up for the park’s current holiday event.
While this still doesn’t guarantee the return of the attraction, Cedar Fair did drop a similar hint a year or so ahead of the return of the car ride to Kings Island when a few holiday themed cars arrived on site during that park’s WinterFest event.
The rest of the rumor claims that if a car ride were to return to Carowinds, it would likely end up taking over some or all of the former Dinosaurs Alive site, which is only fitting as the arrival of Dinosaurs Alive caused the removal of the park’s last car ride. Now I guess the question is if this does happen, will it be a surprise for 2021 or be added the following year? With everything that has happened in 2020, there is no telling until the park decides to make the announcement or we have a clear sign of construction somewhere in the park. That or someone spots a whole fleet of the vehicles sitting in a storage lot somewhere backstage awaiting installation.
(8/13/20) As an interesting follow-up to the latest rumors for 2021, Carowinds posted a throwback picture on their IG showing off the Hillbilly Jalopies. An interesting choice since the rumor for the 2021 season claims that the park may actually be planning to add a new car ride for families.
I have to admit, I was unfamiliar with this version of the ride, so I hunkered down to study a little more ancient Carowinds history. It turns out that the park actually had two car rides when the park opened in 1973. The Hillbilly Jalopies ran from 1973 to 1987 and were located in the “Country Crossroads” section of the park with a fleet of old antique/jalopy themed cars that followed a course through a wooded section of the park. The Jalopies were removed to make way for the WhiteWater Falls big splash boat ride, which ironically was also removed a couple of years back to make way for Copperhead Strike. The old building that once served as the entrance to WhiteWater Falls was actually the queue building for the Hillbilly Jalopies.
The second car ride was called The Speedway and featured more modern looking cars that ran from 1973 until 1991 when it was closed to make way for the new Vortex stand-up roller coaster. Over the years the ride was renamed Carolina Turnpike in the 80s before it was shut down.
The park was actually without any kind of car ride until the TV Road Trip attraction opened along with Taxi Jam and Chopper Chase as part of a Hanna-Barbera Land expansion in 1998. Over time Hanna-Barbera became Nickelodeon Themed, and then eventually Peanuts themed until that ride was retired as Joe Cool’s Driving School in 2012.
So over the years, it is kind of fascinating to know that the park has had a total of three entirely different and uniquely themed family car rides. If the time has come to bring in a fourth edition, we can only wonder what form it might take this time around.
(8/9/20) While the 2020 season was a bust, an early rumor has surfaced for what Carowinds may be planning for 2021. While next year will finally see the waterslide from 2020 open in the waterpark, an early rumor suggests that Carowinds may have been planning on adding a new car ride to the park in 2021, possibly on part of the former Dinosaurs Alive site. It isn’t entirely surprising, as the park’s old car ride was removed to make way for Dinosaurs Alive years ago.
I just hope they don’t try to take up all the Dinosaurs Alive site for a car ride… that site is easily big enough for a great medium to large sized coaster, or could be used to construct another entire themed land full of smaller flat rides, much like the County Fair area. Just something to think about I guess...
(10/23/19) The future of Carowinds is an interesting topic, because after having several years of knowing exactly what was going on, we’ve entered a dark period where we really don’t know much about what the future might hold. Old ideas like a Floorless conversion of Vortex or giving Hurler the RMC treatment have been swept to the wayside in the aftermath of the arrival of Copperhead Strike. While 2020 will be focused on a waterpark expansion, the park now has two large and spacious sites awaiting future development… sites big enough to accommodate some sizeable new attractions in the former Dinosaurs Alive and Rip Roarin’ Rapids plots.
The only rumor we’ve heard about Dinosaurs Alive was a story claiming that a new Anitique Auto ride like the one added to Kings Island in 2019 might be installed there, but the latest rumor has more to do with the Rapids location. Or at least… a location right next to it. According to this new rumor the park’s Carowinds Theater venue might be removed in order to add even more property to the Rapids side next door for an unknown future ride project.
But what of the theater? This is the park’s only large-scale site for indoor theater shows, but according to our source the old Action Theater building could be gutted and transformed into a new and bigger show venue. Currently one side of the Action Theater is being used for the park’s Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare: 3Z Arena attraction which just opened in 2016. The rumors here are fairly detailed however, as our source also says plan is to install a new facade over the front of the new theater so that it looks very similar to Carowinds old southern mansion looking park entrance structure.
I’ve got no timeline on any of this, but it’s all worth keeping you eyes and ears open for any future clues.
(8/27/19) While I don’t have a timeline for this, I’m hearing that Carowinds may be taking a page out of the Kings Island playbook, and be planning to bring a kid-friendly Antique Auto car ride back to the park, most likely taking up some of the space that had been used for Dinosaurs Alive. Sorry… no rumors yet on any new flume ride, or some kind of revised rapids ride experience, just this.
On a side note, I’ve also heard that any plans to convert Vortex into a B&M Floorless coaster experience are dead (thank you!) as being something that is simply too costly a project with very little return, and that money could be better used for build an entirely new ride experience instead. Also, at this point, I’m told there are no plans to give the park’s Hurler wooden coaster an RMC Hybrid transformation either, so consider both of those long-standing rumors to be dead. Or at least dead for now, after a few years they could change their mind about Hurler depending on how the ride ages.
2022 - (8/13/21) So far the only item confirmed as coming to Carowinds in 2022 will be the Grand Carnivale celebration during the regular season and a confirmation that WinterFest will also return. Nothing has been said about any major improvement projects for the park, or new attractions.