This week Carowinds announced Copperhead Strike, a new steel roller coaster, that’ll open in 2019. The new ride will be the anchor attraction in a new area called Blue Ridge Junction. As rumors suggested, Copperhead Strike will be a multi-launch roller coaster, rocketing riders through a twisted path of loops and turns. In all, the ride will turn riders upside-down five times, include two launches, and incorporate themed buildings and trains.
Prediction: Copperhead Strike Will Be a Huge Crowd-Pleaser, Thanks to Mid-Level Intensity & Second-Hand Hype
Copperhead Strike won’t break any records or even join the ranks of the most intense rides around, but it should provide a solid thrill ride and a new kind of experience for Carowinds’ guests. A modern, sit-down looper with the added punch of two launches will be very popular. Especially since the 0 to 42 mph launch will be exhilarating, but not white knuckle (like faster launch coasters). The mid-level intensity should mean a broader appeal including younger riders working their way up the intensity scale to less adventurous older riders encouraged that they survived the ride. Launch roller coasters can be incredibly fun, not just for the riders, but also for other park guests marveling at the acceleration from off the ride. So, I was glad to see that the new pathways will allow for this kind of infectious, second-hand hype.
Layout Analysis: A Terrific Prelude & A Serpentine Layout
While none of Copperhead Strike’s elements are first-of-their kind, the ride-opening jojo roll is extremely rare. Hydra at Dorney Park is the only other ride in the World that comes to mind. Immediately after leaving the station, riders will be slowly turned upside-down via a heartline roll. Most people won’t have encountered this kind of low and slow inversion. It’s a creative way to start the ride even before the real ride has begun.
It’s great that the park is making the extra effort to provide themed buildings and trains designed to look like 1930’s cars. The first launch will start in a barn and will provide a cool visual as the train rockets out of the building and into the first vertical loop, followed by a corkscrew.
The overall flow of the ride and succession of elements look great. They’re easy to miss among the turns and inversions, but there appears to be a few hills that could provide some “sneaky” little pops of airtime. The tight turns look appropriately serpentine and hopefully they’ll feel as fun as they look. Between the tight layout and the fact that the loops wrap around other track sections, we can expect some great head-chopper moments where it’ll seem as if we’re too close to the track whizzing by overhead. Speaking of flying by other elements, if I could add one thing, it’d be a tunnel or some other structure to fly-through. It’s already a pretty busy and action-packed ride, but I haven’t encountered a ride that couldn’t benefit from a tunnel or covered section. In my opinion, they always enhance rides.
My Take: Copperhead Strike Should Hit the Mark, An Excellent Addition to Carowinds’ Lineup
Carowinds has more than filled their quota for jaw-dropping, skyscraper roller coasters not once, but twice with Intimidator in 2010 and Fury 325 in 2015. So it’s time to round out the lineup a bit and give the excellent Afterburn some competition for the park’s best looping coaster.
After giving it some thought, I’d probably say that this is the best type of ride for Carowinds. Many expected the Hurler to Twisted Timbers conversion as seen at sister park Kings Dominion, but I’d say Copperhead Strike is a more substantial addition. Others might lobby for a new wooden roller coaster, but I’d argue that when it comes to bringing new experiences to the park, generally speaking a themed launch roller coaster will be more memorable for the average park guest.
Copperhead Strike Gets an “A” For Ride Selection
Based just on the selection of this ride type and from what we know of the ride and theme elements, I’d give Carownds an “A” rating. Of course, we’ll see if it actually delivers next year as operation for any ride is tough to predict. The trains do seem a little on the small side, so I wonder about ride capacity and how bad wait times could be. Lastly, MACK’s launch technology better be reliable as down time has been an achilles heel of launch coasters of different types and manufacturers for many years.
Here’s an animated POV video of Copperhead Strike at Carowinds:
Are you excited for Copperhead Strike? Why or why not? How do you think it looks? Let us know below.