Review: Hurler at Carowinds & Kings Dominion

Roller Coaster Reviews

In 1994, the Paramount-owned Kings Dominion and Carowinds opened two wooden roller coasters dubbed, Hurler. The ride’s original theme was connected to the 1992 movie and Saturday Night Live skit, Wayne’s World. Back when it opened the sparse warehouse-like station had a few exterior touches to make it look more like a Hollywood studio building. The most overt tie-in was the video of Wayne (Mike Meyers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) giving the ride instructions. While I always found it an odd pairing, I have to give Paramount some credit for originality.
Hurler - Carowinds - Roller Coaster - Sign - 750
Kings Dominion’s Hurler is currently undergoing a transformation. It’ll debut in 2018 as a steel roller coaster called Twisted Timbers. For now, Carowinds’ Hurler is still in operation. This review covers my experience on both of these roller coasters as they were essentially identical.

Hurler’s Seen Better Days

After the train is dispatched it winds its way around the station by turning, climbing the 83-foot tall lift hill, and turning again. The trip is a nice set up and really helps build anticipation.

After building up a little speed during the turn at the top of the lift, the train then plummets down the first 80-foot drop. Once the track flattens out riders are treated to a fun, wide, heavily-banked turn to the right. I don’t feel like large banked turns like this are very common, so it’s a solid way to start the ride. The train tilts to the side as it charges around the turn. It’s a bit bumpy, but for me pretty typical for a woodie.

Next, there are three small, mediocre airtime hills followed by another wide, banked turn that sends you back towards the station. The train chugs along the track navigating through two more small hills and into the Hurler’s worst moment. There’s a hard right turn, through the ride’s support structure that almost always slams riders to the left. Coming out of that jarring turn, Hurler really shows its age producing a puttering, “running out of gas” sensation as it navigates a final banked turn and last mini hill before the station brakes.

At this point the train creeps toward the station and I usually look to my right shaking my head in disapproval as I inspect that painful right turn we just got shoved through.
Hurler - Carowinds - Roller Coaster - Station - 750

Results May Vary

Like a lot of aging wooden roller coasters, Hurler’s earned its reputation for being a rough, minimally enjoyable ride. However, after steering clear of it, I was surprised by how good it ran during the 2017 season at Carowinds. The aforementioned rough right turn was nothing more than “jolt” to the left, instead of a strong “slam”. My daughter was eager for re-rides and I complied given that I wasn’t worse for wear like I thought I might be.

The park has spent years re-tracking Hurler in order to keep it running well. Depending on when I’ve ridden these Hurlers, the amount of maintenance the rides had been through, and even things like the weather and time of day can my experiences have varied.

My Take on Hurler

Hurler has several elements of a solid wooden roller coaster including a good first drop, a little airtime here and there, and banked turns. Thankfully, my experiences on Carowinds’ Hurler in 2017 were a only a little rough and overall pretty enjoyable. I could almost give Hurler a range for its rating, but just based on this year, it’s earned an average to slightly above average rating.

I recommend Hurler, but I’d still be a bit wary and cross my fingers. As I board the trains I’ll be hoping that this newer, less punishing Hurler is the one I encounter. Not it’s rough, puttering alter ego from years passed.

Final Rating – 5.5 out of 10

What’s Your Take?

Have your ridden either of the Hurler roller coasters at Carowinds or Kings Dominion? What’d you think? Leave a comment below.

Founder of CoasterCritic.com. My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

8 Comments

  1. I rode Hurler at Carowinds this past summer, and like you, I thought it was fine. Not as good as a GCI, but not particularly terrible. I’d heard that the Kings Dominion version was the rougher of the two, so pretty much in line with my expectations. I’d probably like to see it get RMC’d because Carowinds could use an RMC. It would likely be a fairly modest RMC, but that’s still saying a lot.

    Reply
    • Carowinds needs wood coasters in general. After demolishing Thunder Road, the one thing Carowinds is missing now is a good thrilling woodie. KD has Rebel Yell and Grizzly still. If you RMC the Hurler at Carowinds, you have no thrilling wooden coasters at all. My hope is CF gets a nice GCI ride in the park before it chooses to give Hurler an RMC makeover.

      Reply
      • Good point about Carowinds needing a new, better woodie. I’m not sure how the park would see it though. I’d love to pick their brain, but I doubt they think like we enthusiasts do. Hmmm….

        Reply
        • I think a new wooden coaster is exactly the kind of thinking a park would look at. Carowinds already has the enthusiast market cornered for years to come with Fury. You could get rid of Vortex, a horrible stand-up coaster with close to zero ridership, and use the land to build a new GCI geared toward a broad ridership (48″ height requirements.) You need a coaster somewhere between Mystic Timbers and InvadR in terms of length. Once you get that in, take a couple of years and if RMC conversions are still the in thing, convert Hurler to an RMC. Then you would have a classic PTC (Woodstock Express), a modern GCI and an RMC conversion as your wooden lineup. Fun for all ages.

          Reply
  2. My wife and I took a long-anticipated first trip to Carowinds and Dollywood this past summer. Having been to Kings Dominion in the past, we remembered the Hurler being the worst of the 3 wooden coasters they operated there, behind Grizzly and Rebel Yell. We visited the park 3 days during that trip and rode Hurler once, very much feeling ‘eh’ about the ride. It was ok at best, definitely a little rough.

    We rode Hurler at Carowinds right after our first time riding Fury 325 since it was right next to it. Our take was to ‘get the ride out of the way since it’s right here’ so we could earn a new credit and move on. After we rode it, we were both pleasantly surprised and dubbed our ride: ‘Wow, that really wasn’t bad!’ We both liked the Hurler at Carowinds much better than Kings Dominion and thought it was a fun little ride for something with a little age behind it. As we passed it throughout our trip we both said that it was a lot smoother than we were expecting and rode it again our second day. We assumed that it would eventually get the RMC conversion at some point in the future, but it’s good enough right now that it doesn’t need it. It’s a shame that it’s the only wooden coaster in the park, but it’s a solid ride.

    Reply
  3. I have only a vague recollection of Hurler at Kings Dominion, as it’s been a number of years since I visited that park, but I’ve been to Carowinds within the past two years and thought that Hurler was perfectly acceptable. It certainly wasn’t great (and yes, it was a bit rough in spots) but it was OK and I didn’t have any issues with it. In fact, the last time I rode it there was no-one waiting for my row (in the back) and a ride op told me that I was welcome to stay on so I did, primarily b/c staying in my seat was easier than walking around in the sweltering heat and humidity to find something else to ride.

    Reply
  4. I’ve always had a soft spot for Wayne’s World; I live in Aurora, Illinois 😀

    Great review by the way!

    Reply
  5. The 2017 Hurler was not rough, but its also not very exciting either. As far as woodies go, it was kind of meh. If Woodstock Express was the Beaver, then Hurler is Wally.

    Reply

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