Fury 325 Media Day Report

From announcement to track completion, and everywhere in between, Coaster101 has been on top of Fury 325 construction at Carowinds Amusement Park in Charlotte, NC. On Wednesday, March 25, (3/25, get it?) a mere 217 days after I attended the announcement for the United States’ tallest, fastest and longest giga coaster, I attended Fury 325’s Media Day.

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The event started at 11:00am, and we (my younger brother JT and I) arrived at about 10:15am. There was something new about the park immediately. Carowinds recently finished a complete overhaul of the park’s entrance plaza, starting with a new parking gate, and including more than 900 parking spaces that are very close in proximity to Carowinds’ new entrance gate. The old plantation style buildings are gone, instead replaced by a more modern gate. Walking towards the entrance, park guests immediately get to interact with Fury 325, as the coaster flies over the path, into an overbanked turn, and then dives under the pedestrian bridge.

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Left: Carowinds’ New Entrance Gate, Right: The Carolina Panthers “Purrcussion” Drumline

We checked in, and literally walked the red carpet into the park. The Peanuts characters were out taking photos with guests and the Carolina Panthers’ “Purrcussion” Drum Line were performing just inside the gate. Walking to the “Thrill Zone” section of Carowinds, Fury 325 was making its presence known throughout the park. The coaster’s 320′ drop is visible from many points in the park. Fury 325 t-shirts and merchandise had appeared in the storefront windows, and even the “Thrill Zone” midway games and Dippin’ Dots seemed to have caught a case of Fury Fever. The park’s new 300′ Tall Slingshot attraction has been completed as well, providing another sky-high thrill for Carowinds’ guests.

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Left: The Classic Water Race game received a Fury Facelift. Right: Fury Freeze Dippin’ Dots

We mingled in the new Fury 325 area for about half an hour until the program and ribbon cutting started at 11:00am. Around the main stage area, there was a live DJ, and local sports mascots (The Panthers’ Sir Purr and MiLB AAA Charlotte Knights Mascot Homer) were mingling around and interacting with everyone in attendance. Fury 325’s gift shop, The Hive at 325, was open, and had some of the coolest theme park merchandise I had ever seen. (Once I process my annual pass, I’m sure my bank account will take a minor hit in that store.) For an area that formerly housed a Skycoaster and GoKart Track, it was great to see everything in area refreshed in celebration of Fury 325.

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The Hive at 325 Gift Shop

Carowinds VP/GM Mike Fehnel took the stage, and began hyping Fury 325. He was interrupted via “FaceTime” congratulatory messages from South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, and Charlotte Mayor Daniel Clodfelter. Fehnel thanked everyone he needed to thank — and made a point to note that the two construction companies involved in Fury 325’s construction were both local companies. From there, Fehnel went on to talk about all of the new and exciting things at Carowinds this season, and introduced Rob Decker, Carowinds Senior VP of Planning and Design.

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Top Left: Carowinds VP/GM Mike Fehnel, Top Right: Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley. Bottom Left: North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory. Bottom Right: Charlotte Mayor Daniel Clodfelter

Decker talked of the process involved in bringing Fury 325 to Carowinds. A quote of his that stuck out to me was: “The finish line for us is now the starting line for you.” I thought it was a perfect way to describe the day for everyone in attendance. Decker recognized several members of the crowd who were representatives for Bolliger and Mabillard, and noted that Fury 325 was B&M’s 96th coaster, and perhaps the “pinnacle” of their design to this point. I don’t disagree with him. After a video that highlighted the construction process of Fury 325, Decker took the stage again and hinted at Carowinds future. Though he wouldn’t announce the new attraction, he said that “In August of this year, we’ll announce our plans to make a big splash at Carowinds in 2016.” I don’t know about you, but splash makes me feel like water is involved in some capacity. Just a hunch.

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Rob Decker, Carowinds SVP of Planning and Design. 

Carowinds Director of Marketing John Taylor took the stage, and highlighted the Cam Newton Foundation, the benefactor of Carowinds’ “First Ride” Auction. The 96 seats on the first three trains of Fury 325 were auctioned and raised $18,320 for the Cam Newton Foundation. Cam Newton was not in attendance, because he was taking a final exam at Auburn University, where he is currently working to finish his undergraduate degree.

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Carowinds PR Manager Laresa Thompson presents a check to the Cam Newton Foundation. 

Armed with 3 pairs of Giant Scissors, Decker, Fehnel and Taylor sliced through the vinyl ribbon, and blue and purple confetti filled the air while pyrotechnics were fired from the roof of the Juke Box Diner and behind the stage. It was finally time to ride.

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The Ribbon Cutting for Fury 325

I was ecstatic. It was going to be my 100th different roller coaster, which as small of a milestone as it is in the enthusiast community, was still a milestone nonetheless, and to set it on this record breaking roller coaster that sits in my “theme park backyard” added to my excitement. I dumped everything I had brought with me in a locker, and got in line. It wasn’t a long wait, only about 30 minutes or so. Anticipation was building. We got to the front of the line, and were placed in row 4, grabbing the two seats on the far side of the train. Buckled my seatbelt. Pulled the clamshell restraint down. It clicked once and locked. Let’s light this candle.

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The Sun Came out later in the day. 

I hear a number called over the loudspeaker. “44.” It didn’t take a genius to figure out that the 4th seat in the 4th row, which was presently occupied by me, was facing an issue. Apparently the clamshell restraint needed to click twice. We tried again. Sit straight up. All the way back. Try again. Nope. No go. My legs were too big by the slimmest of margins.

This wasn’t happening. I didn’t drive two and a half hours to Carowinds for this to happen today. I took the short “walk of shame” out of the exit. There was no use in arguing. My emotions were half angry, half sad, all frustrated. I tried to cool down and decided walk to the front of the park. Intimidator was running, but I had no desire to ride it. Same clamshell restraints, and I didn’t need to be told twice in 10 minutes that I couldn’t ride. I told my brother to go ride it, so at least someone could ride something today. (To his credit, when I exited Fury 325, he followed me and refused to ride, telling me “when we do things like this, we do them together.”) He rode Intimidator, and I was somewhere in the middle of the middle of the Kubler-Ross stages of grief, writing half-snarky/half-depressed tweets from a bench near the replica Dale Earnhardt #3 racecar in front of the Intimidator.

About the same time that my brother was exiting Intimidator, a Carowinds supervisor came up to me on my bench. He saw the Coaster101 logo on my shirt.

“Coaster101.com, eh? I bet you really enjoyed Fury 325 then!”

I told him “I probably would have, had I gotten to ride.” I then explained what had happened. He seemed to be sympathetic towards my situation and told me to go back and try again.

“You came all this way. Try again. I’ve got a feeling if you go back, you’ll get on it.” It was the best advice I’d heard all day. (Unfortunately, I didn’t make note of this gentleman’s name. If anyone from Carowinds is reading this, and wants to help me figure out who that guy was, email me at [email protected] and I can do my best to provide more detail.)

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We walked back to Fury 325, and I was doing my best not to get my hopes up. I put all my stuff in the locker again, this time, removing my wallet from my back pocket, and the pullover I was wearing. Anything I could to increase the space between me and the clamshell restraint. Walked through the queue again, and this time was assigned to Row 8, the last row of the train. I slid into the last seat in the row and did my best to pull the restraint down the two mandatory clicks.

“84” came over the loudspeaker. Not again. The ride op in charge of checking the seat belts came over, gave a little push, and along with me pushing on my own, the restraint clicked a second time and locked. My eyes turned to the operator in the booth in charge of the dispatch. He looked at his board, and gave us all a thumbs up. SUCCESS.

I was going to get to ride Fury 325. My 100th roller coaster. On media day. In the last row. My favorite spot on a roller coaster. I was pumped. The emotional switch flipped from upset to ecstatic. Let’s go.

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Several of Fury 325’s Overbanked Turns

The train edged forward out of the station, straight into the 325′ tall lift hill. There were two things I noticed about this ascent. First, the chain moved the train at a faster pace than most lift hills of roller coasters I’ve been on. It didn’t feel as fast as Intimidator 305’s cable lift hill, but still moved at a pretty good pace. Second, it was remarkably quiet. Instead of a brief dip before the drop like Apollo’s Chariot, the lift hill transitioned directly into the 320′ first drop. There was a good amount of ejector air as we were pulled in the last row over the crest of the lift hill.

I know it’s brand new, but riding Fury 325 was glass-smooth. The transitions between the different elements were seamless, and even the overbanked turns felt amazing. The coaster flies over the entrance bridge with an overbanked turn facing towards the new parking lot, and then ascends into yet another overbanked turn before diving below the bridge. The park has installed plexiglass windows where the track goes under the bridge instead of a fence, a great touch.

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Fury 325’s Dive Under The Park Entrance

It was after the tunnel under the bridge where my favorite (and I’m betting underrated by many people) elements of the ride occurred. Three smallish hills near the end of the rides cycle provide some of the best negative G-forces/ejector air time of any coaster I’ve ever ridden. The ride hit the brake run, and I put my fist in the air like I was Emilio Estevez at the end of “The Breakfast Club.” Obviously, there is the “newness” factor of the ride, both new to me, as well as new overall, but I’m comfortable in putting Fury 325 somewhere in my personal top 3, if not 1st overall. It had everything I love about roller coasters. The height. The speed. The smooth ride. The ejector air. What more could you want?

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I was able to squeeze in (pun intended, maybe) another ride in row 5 on Fury 325 before we grabbed lunch. I love the back row experience though.

The park had set up a great buffet in Harmony Hall Marketplace, featuring several of Carowinds’ 45 new menu items from the different dining options in the park. We picked up a Fury 325 gift pack from the park, and headed home.

Again, if anyone from Carowinds is reading this, thank you for hosting us at the Fury 325 Media Day. It was an incredible experience, and congratulations on the opening of the United States’ tallest, fastest and longest Giga Coaster.

If you’re in the area, and even if you’re not, Carowinds is worth the special trip. Not just for Fury 325, but for the other 13 roller coasters (14 total, good for tied for 4th most at any park in the world) the incredible food, and southern hospitality that is demonstrated by all of Carowinds’ team. But if you’re only going for Fury 325, it will be worth the inevitable wait.

Are you planning on visiting Carowinds this season and riding Fury 325? Let us know in the comment section below!

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18 Responses

  1. J says:

    I’m glad you got to ride..sounds awesome..Question:.do you think it would be necessary for me to buy a fast lane past if I goto the park next Tuesday 3/31..I’m thinking during the week there won’t be a crowd?

  2. Andrew says:

    @J — I haven’t been on a K-12 Spring Break schedule in a while, but I think that is the only reason Carowinds is open during the week March 30-April 3, and April 6-April 10. Be prepared for some crowds, but it really depends on how much you want to get done.

    If you get to the park early, you should be able to get everything accomplished that you want to get done, without the use of a Fastlane Pass. I went on the Last Day of Operation last year, (pre Fury 325 obviously) but I rode every ride that I wanted to accomplish multiple times (Intimidator, Nighthawk, Afterburn, Thunder Road, Carolina Cobra, Hurler, Drop Tower, etc) by about 2:30pm, after arriving at 10.

    If you don’t want to get the Fast Lane pass, there are several opportunities to play Plinko in the park to win 1-Use Fast Lane for Nighthawk/Intimidator, and I think I saw a Plinko Board over by the Juke Box Diner on Wednesday for Fury 325.

    My advice would be to get there, ride as much as you can early, and get a feel for the crowds starting at about Noon. If you want to spend the money for the Unlimited Fastlane, it will work in your favor, and you’ll get to continuously ride, but you have to determine if multiple rides on certain things are worth the extra fee you’ll be paying.

  3. J says:

    @Andrew- thanks for the great advice.. I appreciate it.

  4. Tyler says:

    How do you believe the ride stacks up against other giga coasters? (Millennium Force in particular)

  5. Andrew says:

    @Tyler – as far as Giga Coasters, I’ve been on Millenium Force, Intimidator 305, and now Fury 325. I’d rank them:
    1. Fury 325
    2. Millenium Force
    3. I305
    Fury to me was the smoothest of the 3, and that’s a big thing with my personal roller coaster preferences. I’m also a B&M snob (8 of my personal top 10 [out of 100 total] are B&M tracks.), so that plays into it as well. I want to go to Canada’s Wonderland soon and try to experience Leviathan.

  6. Eric says:

    So far, Cedar Fair has installed 4 giga-coasters. Millennium Force (Cedar Point), Intimidator 305 (Kings Dominion), Leviathan (Canada’s Wonderland), and Fury 325 (Carowinds). It would be interesting to see which Cedar Fair park could be next in line to receive a giga-coaster.

    Six Flags has yet to invest in a giga-coaster. The only Six Flags park I could see eventually receiving a giga-coaster would be Six Flags Magic Mountain, even though chances may be slim at best. Otherwise, I would lean toward California’s Great America or Knott’s Berry Farm being the next Cedar Fair park (first on US west coast) to receive a giga-coaster.

  7. Andrew says:

    @Eric — Though Six Flags hasn’t opened a Giga Coaster yet, they are the only parks in the U.S. receiving the Rocky Mountain Construction Wooden Coaster Conversions (6 so far: Goliath at SFGAm, Iron Rattler at SFFT, Medusa at SFMexico, New Texas Giant at SFOT, Twisted Collosus at SFMM, and Wicked Cyclone at SFNE). I guess each chain has their own thing that they want to be known for right now.

  8. Nick says:

    Personally, I’d love to see Kings Island get the next Cedar Fair Giga! Imagine what they could do with that terrain, though their recent trend is going right over the front gate.

  9. JOHN says:

    I appreciate your commentary on Fury. However didn’t you like forget to describe almost two thirds of the ride?? How was the first drop? How was the second hill/overbanked turn? What about the super high speed lower turns after that? What about what looks like good air time on the 180 degree turn? Please let us know! Thanks!

  10. Smurf says:

    I really enjoyed reading about your experience with Fury. After getting my fair share of Intimidator, I think I am going to love Fury. I have been skeptical lately due to what seems like multiple times on the ride people were trapped. I really wouldn’t like that. Question, which do you feel is better, front or back?

  11. Andrew says:

    @Smurf I loved the back! I get to ride during Coasting For Kids on June 7, so I can give a different perspective of different rows.

  12. Andrew says:

    @Smurf — Also, don’t worry about the ride getting stuck. It happened once. And Fury functioned just like it was supposed to in that situation.

  13. Kash says:

    Was reading up about Fury and came across this article. Completely agree about the final bumps being some of the best. I also rode Fury 11 times in a row this Sunday (Thanks to a fast lane pass :D). (Wonder if I set a record of any sort lol). The regular lanes were extremely long and slow but the fast lane was empty 95% of the time! Was completely worth it.

    Kash

  14. Lee says:

    So is there a weight restriction or big boy seats on the Fury 325? I plan on going this summer and don’t like doing the walk of shame….

  15. Catherine james says:

    Does the Fury have bigger seats? Compared to Intimidators seats?

  16. Andrew says:

    @Lee – I’ve ridden several other times this summer without much of an issue. I was right on the line. Use the test seat if you’re unsure!
    @Catherine — they’re pretty similar. Both require two-three clicks of the clamshell.

  17. Jay says:

    So glad you got to ride it man! I’ve ridden Fury a total of 106 times in its inaugural season and it never gets old! My goal for the season was to reach 100 rides and I got it, 325 is my goal next year! Each and every time seems to just get better and better! It’s so smooth, the speed is amazing especially in the front and back rows (in my opinion, you can feel it the most there – it just does not stop!), the first drop goes on FOREVER, g-forces are incredible in those turns especially in the horseshoe, killer airtime, definitely the best airtime I’ve ever experienced. If I were gonna rate it, I would give it a definite 20-10. I hold a platinum pass and am the biggest coaster nut! I’ve been to Carowinds this season a total of 12 times, including Cedar Point and tried to get to Kings Island but it was closed for a private event when I went to Ohio. I’ve probably been on about 200 coasters at mostly Cedar Fair parks, Hershey Park, Six Flags parks, etc.! Comparing Millennium Force to Fury 325, for me, Fury wins big time! To me, it eats up MF and pukes it all over the place. But, Millennium is still a great ride don’t get me wrong. Unfortunately. tje season has come to an end but look forward to more fun next year! Will be going to most parks next year including Cedar Point to ride Valravn, Kings Island and Canada’s Wonderland! Bottomline, RIDE Fury 325 it is a 3 1/2 minute thrill of a lifetime you will never ever forget!

    My top 3 favorite gigas are:
    1. Fury 325
    2. Millennium Force
    3. I-305

    My top 3 favorite coasters of all time:
    1. Fury 325
    2. Millennium Force
    3. Top Thrill Dragster

  18. Greg Bentkowski says:

    Nice article. Just because you are big does not mean your fat. Im 6-4 and a lot of legs. I hav trouble on the millennium force. We live one hour from cedar point so we buy platinum passes and go as much as we can. Maverick might be the best overall coaster but I agree, Fury 325, MF then I305. Last year we spent a few days at Kings dominion and dorney park. We just got home from Carowinds. We have been to kings island and are planning a trip to Canadas Wonderland to try Liviathon and Bohemoth. Its nice to have been on the roller coasters that other people compare so I can offer my thoughts and agree. The Top thrill at cedar point is a great short ride but needs to be removed. It is a waste of space. It is broken down way too much.

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