Featured Photo #5 – Carolina’s Former World Record Holder

Featured Photos

Carolina Cyclone at Carowinds

I took this photo of the Carolina Cyclone spiraling over the midway on my first trip to Carowinds back in 2004. Years later I used it as part of the header of the first version of my blog (seen here). And after that, I ended up moving my family down to Charlotte, making Carowinds my home park.

Carolina Cyclone was built during the looping coaster boom and its record setting four loops (two vertical, two corkscrews) were quite impressive  in 1980. It’s one of the most enjoyable Arrow loopers I’ve ridden. I know that’s not saying much, as most of them punish you by bouncing your head off of the restraints, but Cyclone’s definitely worth a spin if you find yourself at Carowinds.

What’s Your Take?
Have you ridden Carolina Cyclone? Do you have a favorite old-school Arrow looper? Leave a comment below.

Photos, content, and the most insightful, entertaining, or amusing reader comments from my Photo of the Week posts will be included my new book. Read more about my book project. All images are the property of TheCoasterCritic.com

18 Comments



  1. Demon theme song, hilarious!

  2. I haven't ridden many Arrow loopers, but I really like Dragon Mountain at Marineland. It was the world's tallest coaster until Magnum opened, it has a LONG terrain layout, it has a unique "bowtie" element (two inversions, each a half-loop and half-corkscrew), and I found it very smooth. Also, it's overlooked, being in Canada. Too bad it's the only good ride at the park. Great photo, by the way.

    • Dragon Mountain's been on my radar for years. When I finally make it to Canada I'm definitely going to ride it. While I haven't heard the greatest things about the ride itself, I love terrain coasters and DM looks like the steel equivalent of Kings Island's Beast.

  3. I hate all arrow loopers. I hate most arrow coasters

  4. I like the Carolina Cyclone. It is fairly smooth, the double loop gives a good "head rush" and it has a neat spiral finish inside a mine tunnel, which mirrors the below grade spiral on the nearby Goldrusher mine train. It was built the same year as the Orient Express here in KC, which is no longer with us. At the time they tied with the most loops (four).

    • Nice input Jeff. Your comment is definitely in the lead to be selected for my book. Thanks!

  5. The Carolina Cyclone is still one of my favorite Arrow loopers (but I'm a bit biased-I live in Charlotte.) My #1 has to be Dollywood's Tennessee Tornado. After sooo many head bangers Arrow really came thru with this ride. The first drop (in the back seat) is one of the best.

  6. The Carolina Cyclone is a pretty good Arrow looper but Viper at SFMM is still my favorite. For a surprisingly smooth, fun, and overlooked Arrow, check out Canyon Blaster at the Adventuredome in Vegas.

    • I sort of like the much-too-frequent Boomerang clones. Or dose that not count?

      • boomerangs are made by vekoma

  7. Viper is by far the best arrow looper in my opinion

  8. CC – I look to your reviews every time I visit an amusement park. Comparing your reviews of new coasters to your reviews of the coasters I have already ridden helps me in overcoming my fear of them. I seem to be stuck though- I have ridden the Hurler and Carolina Cyclone at Carowinds. I hate the Hurler but ride it anyway, but Carolina Cyclone is my absolute favorite rollercoaster and the only one I have braved with my eyes open. I don’t seem to mind large drops or loops but small, consecutive drops honestly scare the living daylights out of me. I want to work up to the larger coasters in the park but can’t muster up the courage. Now that I have ridden these two, can I take on the larger ones? Everyone tells me that once I have conquered my first woodie and my first loop coasters I can handle the rest but I feel that maybe they are only saying this to convince me to ride. Please give me your input on this.

    Also, my husband and I just left MB and he wanted me to ride Swamp Fox at Family Kingdom with him. How does this one compare to the Hurler at Carowinds? According to the stats I found online, Hurler is larger but goes about the same speed so I feel as though I should have rode Swamp Fox. I think the fact that everything else in the park is so small makes Swamp Fox seem so much larger and faster than Hurler. I desperately want to go to amusement parks and enjoy the rides instead of literally physically getting sick at the thought of riding. Please give me some advice! Thanks.

    • Skylar, I'm glad that my reviews help you. You could do some small drop training. I think you may just need to get your stomach used to the feeling of the drops. And, that's only if you really want to. If you're getting sick at the thought of riding them then coasters just may not be for you unless you want to go the hypnotherapy route or something. That sounds like a serious fear.

      But, if you want to get used to the feeling, you could ride the junior woodie Woodstock Express, Ricochet, and Goldrusher. The drops aren't as big, but there are many of them. Maybe the size of the rides will make it easier to tackle. I'd say ride those until they're easy (and hopefully fun for you). Then, move up to Thunder Road and eventually Intimidator. And, if you like Cyclone, then I'd think you'd like Afterburn. It has some fun loops that are a bit intense, but no where near as shaky as Cyclones. The first drop is large, but you shouldn't get as much of a dropping feeling b/c it's not a straight drop and it's an inverted coaster.

      How do those tips sound?

  9. I have already gotten used to all of the small coasters in the park. Those that you mentioned are a piece of cake for me. But I guess I don’t consider them real coasters. As for getting sick, it is a mind thing. It only happens if the line is too long and I have too much time to think. I have never ridden a rollercoaster I didn’t like. It’s just more the fear of not liking it and being stuck. So although Hurler is rough I do enjoy the adrenaline rush. I just want to work my way up. What would be next? Vortex? After that? Afterburn? And how does the Hurler compare to Swamp Fox? I think I just need reassurance from a coaster expert/junkie that most likely if I enjoyed those two that I will be able to enjoy the larger ones too.

    • Swamp Fox is all about airtime where Hurler has very little. If you're bothered by being lifted out of your seat, then Swamp Fox might be tough for you. I'd definitely stay away from the back of the train if you do try it.

      It sounds like size is the source of your fear. I'd say go Thunder Road. It's first drop is probably comparable to Hurler's. And maybe that ride's consistent hills and drops will be a training ground for you. Eventually, the hills should feel smaller and smaller. When they do, you could move up to Intimidator. That ride's all hills with airtime at the crests. So if you have trouble with larger drops you should stay away until you don't. It's a very smooth ride though.

      If you've ridden Carolina Cobra, then you should have no problem with Caroline Cyclone (beware, it's rough). And, I wouldn't think you'd find Vortex all that scary. Try a standing seat in the middle so you feel more protected. It's short and standing isn't too different than sitting really. Afterburn's one of the park's most intense coasters. But, if you sit in the middle of the train and in the middle of a row you'll feel, again, somewhat protected. Just close your eyes and give that a try. You'll just feel a lot of forces pushing on you and throwing you around. Eventually try it with your eyes open and learn the layout and its different elements.

      There's really no prep for a flying coaster like Nighthawk. You've just got to dive in for that one. Or don't ride it until you really feel adventurous. I hope that this helps! Report back with your progress.

  10. Thy Cyclone is completely nostalgic for me in the way that Loch Ness monster is. I remember when the cyclone was built. I saw it on tv. I was so excited to ride it. It looked so coo on tv. But when we finaly got there and I saw it, I chickened out. 😀 It wasn't until after Loch ness Monster was my first looper did I come back and Ride Cyclone. I have ot say it was pretty amazing when built. And I am suprised at how well it has held its own. I have ridden some other aging Arrow loopers and they have loosened up so much that its no longer a smooth ride. But the last time I rode Cyclone it was still pretty smooth. I do miss the red paint., though.

  11. CC- We visited Carowinds today. I just wanted to report back. I was able to ride everything that I chose to without feeling sick looking at the coasters or thinking about them, which is huge for me. There were for the most part no lines at all. We were able to ride Carolina Cyclone and Hurler several times before having to get off. I finally got to the point where I could easily ride those two with my eyes open and not really feel much of a thrill. I guess that means that next time it will be time to try something new? Also, after getting brave enough to open my eyes I learned that the rides are MUCH less scary with them open.

  12. I was very surprised how fun and smooth this coaster is. I was even more happy that the restraints were larger than any other Arrow looper I have ridden. It was the first time on an arrow looper that I did not feel as though my collar bones were in danger of breaking.
    Also I was blown away by how much faster/ better Thunder Road, and Hurler are at Carowinds than Rebel Yell and The Hurler are at king’s Dominion. Just goes to show you it’s often worth the time to ride a clone…

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