August 16th is National Roller Coaster Day. And here in the Carolinas, yes both Carolinas, we are lucky enough to have some incredible roller coasters. As a kid who loved thrill rides, I used to dream of going to Cedar Point one day to ride some of the world’s best coasters. Little did I know that Cedar Point’s parent company, Cedar Fair, would purchase Carowinds years later and start to bring those world-class roller coasters to my own backyard. Pretty fun right? Since Cedar Fair took over the park we’ve seen lots of changes. These include a water park expansion, fair-type rides, and of course new record-breaking coasters.

And they really have put Carowinds on the map. The last time I was there, there was actually a huge group of roller coaster enthusiasts from around the world that came here specifically to go to Carowinds. It has become a destination theme park. Which is pretty cool and great for the economy in both of the Carolinas. But back to the coasters at Carowinds. Counting kiddie coasters there are 13 roller coasters in the park. Some have been there since I was a kid, and others are relatively new. The newest coaster Carowinds has is Copperhead Strike a launch coaster which numerous inversions that opened in March of 2019.

A few of my rankings you may not agree with, and that’s ok this is just my personal opinion as someone who has grown up in Charlotte and gone to Carowinds a fair number of times. I don’t frequent that often anymore, maybe once a year if friends want to go, but I’ll always love getting on my favorite rides. So keep reading to see all 13 of Carowinds’ roller coasters ranked. Want to see a full ranking on every ride open in 2022 at Carowinds? You can read that here.

  • 13. Kitty Hawk

    Kitty Hawk is a kid’s coaster- this one is a flying coaster that brings the thrill a little bit. It’s short enough that if your kids hate it it’s over almost as soon as it starts. It’s pretty rough though, so be warned.

  • 12. Woodstock Express

    If you grew up going to Carowinds in the 90s and early 2000’s you know this as either Scooby Doo or Fairy Odd Coaster. And as a child, it was a FAVORITE. I rode this countless times.  This wooden coaster is a great intro coaster for kids or those not keen on the larger rides. It’s a fun, short coaster with lots of tame hills.

  • 11. Carolina Goldrusher

    The Carolina Goldrusher is classic Carowinds. While it’s a family coaster this ride is always so much fun, especially the ending of going through the tunnel. Definitely, a must-do if I have the time! And it was an opening day attraction and once the premiere thrill ride in the park. We’ve come a long way for sure!

  • 10. Richochet

    This classic wild mouse-style coaster brings the thrills but is still fun for the whole family! While the design isn’t unique and the drops are tamed, the back and forth at the beginning will leave you laughing and smiling.

  • 9. Hurler

    I love this ride and it’s one of my personal favorites but even I’ll admit it’s a rough ride. This classic wooden coaster brings that rickety thrill with tons of hills. It usually doesn’t have too long of a line so worth a ride. And for the price of admission you can get a chiropractic adjustment as well.

  • 8. Flying Cobras

    This boomerang-style coaster takes you forward and backward through the same track through multiple inversions. So basically it’s like two rides in one.

  • 7. Nighthawk

    Many people will probably disagree with my ranking of this one as it still remains pretty popular with long wait times but try as I might I personally just don’t care for this one. It stems from when I first rode it as a kid and the restraints just didn’t fit as snug as I wanted. I hated the feeling of falling when you’d flip over. That being said this is a flying coaster that takes you on your stomach for much of the ride. It’s a very thrilling and unique ride compared to others in the park. It’s just not a personal favorite for me, instead one I tend to skip.

  • 6. Carolina Cyclone

    One of the oldest coasters in the park this one is still fun. It’s a very classic course but always a good time. This also gets bonus points at the first upside-down roller coaster I ever rode.

  • 5. Vortex

    This stand-up coaster has been around for years but still brings the thrills! It’s full of loops, twists, and turns. Plus you’re standing throughout the ride which offers a unique ride experience!

  • 4. Copperhead Strike

    The newest coaster at Carowinds features two launches and 5 inversions. Full disclosure the only reason I didn’t rank it higher is that this is the first time a roller coaster has actually made me sick. The number of loops translates to a lot of “spinning” feeling and after riding it twice in a row I felt it. If that is something that doesn’t bother you you’ll most likely love this one!

  • 3. Afterburn

    My OG Charlotteans will probably share my sentiment that this ride will always be Top Gun. This was THE RIDE back in the day and honestly, while it doesn’t look near as tall or big as it once did it still delivers the fun. Fun fact it still is the third tallest coaster in the park. You’ll go through 6 inversions and even underground for a second all while your legs dangle from the vehicle. While this ride has been open for over 20 years now it’s still a must-do for me and many others.

  • 2. Intimidator

    To me, this is a perfect roller coaster. You’ll drop 232 feet at a 74-degree angle before 6 more drops all while reaching top speeds of 80 mph. And it along with the number one ride on this list is ranked as one of the top 10 steel coasters in the country. And even before recent events, I think I’d rather ride this one than the number one coaster on our list. Though most people would not agree which is why I ranked them the way I did.

  • 1. Fury 325

    It should come as no surprise that Fury 325 takes the top spot. At 325 feet tall it’s one of the tallest and fastest roller coasters anywhere. Ride in the front row and your eyes are sure to be watering from the sheer speed. If you’re visiting Carowinds for thrills there is nothing more thrilling than Fury. It’s a must-ride every time.

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