Saturday, May 23, 2015

End of the Road for Thunder Road at Carowinds

© Carowinds
Carowinds has announced that after 39 years, Thunder Road will closed for good on July 26th, 2015.  Saying only that it is being "retired" to make way for more "family-fun attractions," no details on what is planned is available yet.

Thunder Road first opened in 1976 and is a PTC racing coaster, with two separate tracks.  The ride crosses over between North and South Carolina during each 3,819 foot long track.  The ride starts with a 93 foot drop and the ride's layouts focuses on air-time hills and a large turnaround.

Here's an aerial look at Thunder Road (named after the 1958 film of the same name) at the park.  It starts in the County Fair section, near Afterburn, and heads out to the edge of the park toward the campgrounds.  To the left of the ride is undeveloped area and some excess parking lots, and to the entire right of it is the Boomerang Bay water park.

Obviously most parks do not want to remove a big ride like Thunder Road without a good reason, especially considering the fact that the ride has received a great deal of refurbishments in the past 5 or so years.  I just rode it last weekend and while parts of it feel pretty great, others are still a bit on the rough and tumbly side.

Looking at the image above the blue area is the current Boomerang Bay water park.  The orange area is land that would be easy to expand into with Thunder Road gone.  At a quick glance the park could easily double the size of the water park if they wanted.  There have already been some hints that a big water park expansion is on the way in 2016, and Boomerang Bay does need some additional modern slides.  Perhaps the changes will be so big that a total rebranding will be needed.

I guess we will find out in August!  For now - get your rides in on Thunder Road and say goodbye!