Sunday, March 6, 2016

Carowinds to get refurbished, vintage rides for 2017

Carowinds will debut a handful of refurbished, vintage rides for the 2017 season that aim to appeal to both young and older park visitors.

Responding to guest requests, the park deployed teams around the world to find the best “classic rides” that were built in the mid-20th century, said Richard Zimmerman, chief operating officer of Carowinds’ parent company, Cedar Fair.

“These are vintage classic rides restored to their full glory,” Zimmerman said. “These are the (types of) rides that a lot of our guests grew up riding when they visited Carowinds after it opened in the early 1970s.”

Zimmerman said the rehabbed rides are like classic automobiles that last a long time because of the sturdy way they’re manufactured. They fall somewhere in between kiddie rides and roller coasters, he added.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported about the new attractions, which it calls “flat rides,” or thrill rides that travel low to the ground and then rise up into the air. A team led by Cedar Fair engineering executive Monty Jasper spent $7 million, or $1 million per ride, on seven rides, five of which will go to Carowinds, the newspaper said.

One is the Top Scan, which spins carousel riders from South Africa in free-rotating gondolas. A second is the Troika, which is suspended from overhead arms that tilt during the ride. Another is the Breakdance, which has a sloped spinning platform with hubs of cars that spin in the opposite direction. The Music Express has a snake-like train that runs over an undulating track, and the Wave Swinger “may replace the park’s Chance Yo Yo, a similar spinning ride with seats suspended from chains,” according to the report.

Zimmerman would not confirm which rides Carowinds will be getting or where they will be placed. A formal announcement is expected in late summer.

The addition of the classic rides is part of a wave of upgrades at Carowinds. Last summer, for instance, the park added Fury 325, which it calls the “world’s tallest and fastest giga coaster.” This May, Carowinds will unveil its newly expanded and rebranded water park, which will be the largest of its kind in the Carolinas.

“Not only will our guests be thrilled, but I think it will reinforce Carowinds’ position in the market as a place to go for family fun,” Zimmerman said of the new classic rides.

Carowinds does already have a few rides that are considered classic, including the Scrambler and Flying Eagles, Zimmerman said. Some would consider them “tweener rides” – intended for riders a little too old for kids’ rides but not quite old enough or tall enough for roller coasters.

The new rides, he said, are either still in Europe following their restoration and rehab or in the process of being shipped to the U.S.

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