Copperhead Strike double launch coaster anchors new themed area

Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina, US, has debuted the Carolina’s first double launch coaster with the opening of Copperhead Strike for the 2019 season.

The central element of the new Blue Ridge Junction themed area, Copperhead Strike simulates the harrowing chase of getaway cars racing through rolling farmland, sending riders on two launches through a winding ride over half a mile of track.

Built by German manufacturer Mack Rides, the dynamics of the coaster have been carefully crafted to offer a thrilling and intense, low-to-the-ground experience. With three, 16-passenger trains fashioned after 1930s coupes, Copperhead Strike sends riders cruising into a Jojo roll as soon as they leave the station. They then go into a lightning fast launch followed by a 360° loop, the second of five inversions, moving into a series of near-miss twists, turns and flips. Without slowing down, the ride launches a second time to accelerate into a hang time loop, leaving passengers wondering which way is up. Individual lap bar restraints are utilised to secure riders in their seats.

And as well as the experience being impressive, so are the ride’s statistics. With a track length of 3,255ft, the first of the two launches takes riders from 0 to 42mph in 2.5 seconds, with the second launch accelerating the trains from 35mph to 50mph in just two seconds. A total of five inversions are included in the attraction and ride duration is two minutes and 24 seconds. Each of the three trains accommodates 16 passengers and riders must be 52 inches tall to ride. The amount of steel used on the coaster is 530 tons.

So what was the thinking behind adding another coaster to the park?

“You just can’t sit still in the entertainment industry,” said Pat Jones, vice-president and general manager of Carowinds, in an interview with InterPark. “Our guests are always looking for something new and different and this year we really delivered, with not just a new coaster but an entire new themed area, Blue Ridge Junction.

“This is the Carolinas’ first double launch roller coaster and it’s the perfect complement to our 14-coaster line-up. Our hope is that we’re enhancing our product offering in ways that draw repeat visitors and new visitors from across the Carolinas.”

Mack Rides was chosen as the ride supplier “for their superior reputation in the industry, their technical expertise and the quality work they’ve put out around the world,” according to Jones, who commented further on the special features incorporated into the experience.

“They (riders) love that slow Jojo roll right out of the station; that’s a pretty unusual experience. They also enjoy the hang time – especially in that first loop – and the airtime. Guests are also enjoying the extensive theming surrounding the ride. It’s the complete coaster package.” And she added: “Copperhead Strike is the perfect family coaster. It’s just fast enough, just tall enough and just thrilling enough to appeal to everyone in the family.”

The storyline to the ride adds another element to the experience too.

“Copperhead Strike is located on Granny Byrd’s farm, where she’s been cooking up her blue-ribbon jam for years,” explains Jones. “But once you get in Granny’s barn you’ll see something’s not quite right…and maybe it’s not jam after all. Granny doesn’t like people snooping around her farm and fortunately Copperhead Strike launches you right out of her reach and on a hair-raising ‘chase’ through the farm.”

The reaction from visitors to the new addition has, not surprisingly, been a good one.

“We’re thrilled,” says Jones. “We’re getting rave reviews from guests of all ages. But we don’t rest on our laurels. We’re focused on providing an excellent experience to each guest every day and on long-range plans for the future so that we can continue to please our guests.”


As mentioned, Copperhead Strike anchors the seven-acre Blue Ridge Junction, Jones reveals, an area themed after the majestic Carolina Mountains. “Blue Ridge Junction features a new restaurant, ice cream shop, plenty of shady place-making spots and a long-time fan favourite, the Mountain Gliders. Our hope is that we’re enhancing our product offering in ways that draw repeat visitors and new visitors from across the Carolinas,” she states. Conceived for the purpose of engaging all five senses, the redesigned area includes the new Blue Ridge Country Kitchen restaurant in the former Wings restaurant location.

As for making room for Copperhead Strike in the park, Jones noted that “we always have a five-year plan and that includes retiring attractions that have reached the end of their lifespan. We cleared the way over the course of several years knowing we wanted to put something big in that area.”

More transformational features will also open at Carowinds in 2019. The new SpringHill Suites by Marriott at Carowinds, a 130-room hotel currently under construction, is expected to welcome its first guests later in the year.

Also added for the first time is a new dormitory to house students from across the region and around the world, allowing the park to develop programmes such as a full internship for travel and tourism students. These features, along with the new coaster and themed area, encompass the largest investment in the park since its opening in 1973.

“This is a clear demonstration of our commitment to being the premier entertainment destination of the Carolinas for families and thrill seekers alike,” said Jones. “Copperhead Strike adds a completely different experience than our other world-class coasters, giving our guests a diverse park-wide experience that satisfies like never before. Blue Ridge Junction, the restaurant and our new hotel are additions we know our guests will enjoy, ensuring Carowinds continues to be the place where the Carolinas come together to create lasting memories for generations to come.”