The 2019 Carowinds season is upon us and tickets are on sale now! For those new to the area and maybe unfamiliar, Carowinds is a 400-acre amusement park, located adjacent to Interstate 77 in Charlotte. Although it has an official North Carolina address, the park is located on the state line of the Carolinas, with a portion of the park also located in Fort Mill, South Carolina. The park opened on March 31, 1973, at a cost of $70 million. This was the result of a four-year planning period spearheaded by Charlotte businessman Earl Patterson Hall, who was inspired to build the park by a 1956 trip to Disneyland and a dream of bringing the two states closer together. Carowinds also features a 27-acre water park, Carolina Harbor, which is included with park admission. The park has a Halloween event called SCarowinds and a winter event called WinterFest.
From 1993 to 2006, the park was owned by CBS Corporation as part of its Paramount Parks division and was called Paramount's Carowinds. In 2006, CBS Corporation announced it would be selling all parks in the division and Cedar Fair Entertainment Company acquired them, later replacing the Paramount branding with its own trademarked Cedar Fair flags.
Original Carowinds logo.
Paramount's Carowinds logo.
Cedar Fair Entertainment's Carowinds logo.
Four years after the park opened, White Lightnin' was introduced. As a kid, it was my favorite coaster in the entire park. I liked it even more than Thunder Road, which was a year older. Constructed and performance-tested in Munich, Germany, White Lightnin' was one of two such coasters in the world when it opened in 1977. It was built at a cost of $1.1 million and was located in the Country Crossroads section of the park. Riders were catapulted from 0 to 53mph down a 180 ft straightaway and hurled through a verticle loop with only a lap bar holding them in. The train would then pause at the top of a 130 ft incline and roll backward down the same track, through the loop and into the loading station.
Mary Boyer collection of historical postcards and papers, UNC Charlotte.
Aerial view of White Lightin', with Thunder Road in the background.
Additional White Lightnin' footage.
Due to costly delays resulting from maintenance issues, etc., the coaster was removed on October 16, 1988.
Now called "Golden Loop", the former-White Lightnin' currently resides at Gold Reef City in South Africa.
White Lightnin' in it's new home at Gold Reef City theme park in South Africa. The South African flag is proudly displayed on each end of the ride. It has since been painted yellow as seen in the aerial view below.
Until next week!