As you’ve probably heard, Carowinds is celebrating the park’s 50th anniversary in 2023. The park sits directly on the North and South Carolina border. And throughout the years it has evolved and grown into one of the nation’s premier amusement parks. It’s seen changes in ownership, the addition of a waterpark, and countless rides come and go. Some of those “goings” hurt more than others (RIP Thunder Road). But most have made way for bigger and better attractions. Fury 325 is regarded as one of the best roller coasters in the country. The Copperhead Strike is the park’s newest roller coaster. And this year they added the new Aeronautical Landing portion to the area near Afterburn. That ride will always be Top Gun to me, a name that was retired when Paramount sold the park to Cedar Fair. And I remember being too small to ride it when it first opened, but I’ll never forget how massive it seemed at the time. Now it’s one of the smaller at least in height, rides in the park. But even with all this change, some things at Carowinds remain the same from the park’s opening day in 1973 including a few attractions.

So what did Carowinds look like, on March 31, 2023? Here’s a look at some of the Carowinds opening day attractions you can still experience. And keep reading for a lookback and some of the rides I wish you could still ride!

 

  • Carolina Goldrusher

    It’s hard to imagine but the Carolina Goldrusher was the premier attraction and the park’s only roller coaster, on Opening Day. This steel train coaster, is now one of the tamest in the park, a slight step up from the kiddy rides, but it is still beloved and has stood the test of time. In fact, Carowinds showed there dedication to this coaster by adding a new gold train in honor of the 50th anniversary. So hopefully this is a sign it’s not going anywhere anytime soon!

  • Carolina Skytower

    Another opening day attraction still standing tall is the Carolina Skytower. This 262 foot tower provides a break from the heat (it’s airconditioned) and the opportunity for some fantastic views of the park. I loved it as a kid and even used it as a way to find rides I didn’t know existed!

  • Scrambler

    This classic theme park ride was thrilling in 1973 and will still have you laughing and maybe screaming in 2023. You’ll think you’re about to crash in to other cars, and you will crash into your friend you’re sitting next to as well as the seat. But it’s all in good fun, and even as someone who can’t typically handle spinning rides I love this one!

  • Charlie Brown's Wind Up

    You always need kiddie rides at a theme park so several of the rides that have stood the test of time fall into that category. And these kid swings were an opening day attraction that children as still enjoying today. While it’s seen multiple themes the ride remains the same.

  • Snoopy vs. Red Baron

    Another kid ride on the list today is called Snoopy vs Red Baron. It’s also seen different themes throughout Carowinds history but this classic spinner ride is a crowd pleaser for the little ones still.

  • Snoopy's Junction

    The last of the original kid rides still in operation is the miniature train ride currently known as Snoopy’s Junction. I remember riding this as a kid with some sort of Nickelodeon Theme possibly the Wild Thornberry’s. If I recall correctly it went underneath the log flume ride that sat where Intimidater now sits.

  • Opening Day Rides No Longer In Operation

    It’s hard to find a lot of information on exactly what now closed rides were open on March 31, 2023. It appears that there was a steamboat called the Carolina Sternwheeler as well as a chairlift gondola ride of shorts called the Cable Skyway. There also was a monorail at one point. Now if that is true, or was an opening day attraction I can’t say.

  • 6 Closed Carowinds Rides We Wish Still Existed

    Carowinds has experienced much growth in the past 10-15 years. Cedar Point’s acquisition of the park has brought some fantastic new rollercoasters to the park that draw visitors from across the country. We’ve also seen the expansion of the Carolina Harbor Waterpark and the addition of the County Fair rides. While no one can discount the new thrills I can’t help but be nostalgic for the park I grew up visiting. And there will always be a part of me that misses some of the closed classic Carowinds rides. And the North and South Carolina actually park announced this week that they are closing 4 additional rides most likely to make room for new attractions. That announcement prompted me to compile this list.

    Several of the attractions mentioned in my list are water rides. There is actually a definite lack of those now outside of the waterpark. I know some people don’t love getting wet (and my hair doesn’t either) but these were always so much fun to ride as a kid! If I had to say what’s missing from the current park version, that would be it. But change can be good and exciting and I’m especially looking forward to what they come up with next. Outside of the first ride on this list (and trust me you know what it is), I’d say the replacement is a better attraction. While I will always miss the classic rides, world-class roller coasters are pretty fun too!

  • Thunder Road

    This is probably the first attraction most people think of when this topic comes up. In fact, I even walked around and asked several people what attraction they missed. And this was every single person’s first answer. Thunder Road was a classic especially when the backwards side was running and you were racing. It was the first truly big coaster I ever went on and was something I rode multiple times each visit to the park. I have countless memories of going up that lift hill just waiting for the large drop. Backward was the far superior way to ride and I still don’t think an additional wave pool was worth the loss. And when you got to drive down Carowinds Blvd and the train would roar past you- I can’t explain the excitement!  RIP Thunder Road, thank you for the memories!

  • The Log Flume

    I’ll be honest I don’t remember the original name of this ride but it ended as a Wild Thornberry themed ride. It was cleared to make way for the Intimidator and it was absolutely a fair trade. But that doesn’t mean this wasn’t a great attraction! I’ll never forget my first ride on it around age 7. My parents basically forced me on it even though I was terrified and adamant I was not going to ride. Well, as I always did, the minute we got off I quickly asked “can we go again?” And we did many many times throughout the years. While I understand replacing the ride, there is a part of me that wishes we still had it.

  • Rip Roarin' Rapids

    Gosh, I remember the incredibly long lines to ride this one. Many times the longest line in the park was for the Carowinds version of the classic river raft ride. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for it. My Grandfather and Dad’s company actually built the fake rocks you saw along the ride and the cave (that sadly went away even before the ride closed). These types of rides are so fun because you truly never know how wet you are going to get and when it’s going to come! While you can ride very similar rides at other theme parks it was a classic. And with no replacement attraction located in the spot I won’t hold out hope they can refurbish it and bring it back one day!

  • The Monorail

    I’ll be honest I don’t really remember this as it closed in 1994. But I remember hearing about it.  Many people may not even have known that the park used to have a monorail like the ones at the Disney resorts. But Carowinds did. Check out the video below to see it in action.

  • White Water Falls

    Unlike the first two water rides mentioned on this list there was absolutely no way you got off this ride dry. In fact you’d be drenched. It was pretty simple and short-you just went up in a large boat made a turn and then went down the hill. I can even remember standing on the observation deck watching people going down. The area was called the “splash zone” and anyone there also got soaking wet. Even that was fun. White Water Falls closed a few years ago and I believe it’s where Copperhead Strike now stands. Considering it was such a short ride I guess it’s worth the loss.

  • Flying Super Saturator

    It’s probably a toss-up as to which ride you got wetter on the Flying Super Saturator or White Water Falls. The first time I went on this I got so wet that my parents had to buy me a pair of flip-flops and a new shirt. And we were definitely not theme park souvenir people so they weren’t happy about it! You may remember this as the yellow hanging coaster outside the water park. I believe it was a Nickelodeon-themed ride. Even as wet as you got this ride was fun! It closed several years ago and now the Flying Cobras sit in its place.

  • Carowinds Rides Ranked Ahead of The 2022 Season

    https://kiss951.com/listicle/list-carowinds-rides-ranked-ahead-of-the-2022-season/

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