Copperhead Strike Debuts At Carowinds

From Speculation, to Announcement, To Documenting Construction Progress (And More Construction Progress, and More, and More) we’ve covered nearly every aspect of Carowinds‘ newest roller coaster, the MACK Rides-designed Copperhead Strike, the first “double-launch” coaster in the Carolinas.

All that’s left at this point is for the coaster to actually open, which it will do tonight (March 22), for Carowinds’ season passholder preview night, before opening to everyone else on Saturday, March 23. Yesterday, Coaster101 had the opportunity to get an “early look” at Copperhead Strike as part of the coaster’s preview for the media and VIPs. Here’s a little of what we saw.

The Show Before The Strike

Carowinds literally laid out the red carpet for their guests at the Media/VIP Preview. Even Snoopy and Charlie Brown had their formal attire on!

The finishing touches have been made at the new Blue Ridge Junction, including a Giant Fire Place and stage for Carowinds’ new show, “Busker Jam.”

The stage was set for the 10:00am Announcement.

The presentation began with Cletus, who worked on Granny Byrd’s farm, but also had a few Carowinds-themed jokes. “Granny’s the Original Intimidator, 5-foot-1 of Fury, 3-6-5!”

Cletus warmed the crowd up with his jokes, and it was also his job to rid the stage of snakes before taking a call from Granny Byrd herself, who seemed really concerned as to why there were so many people on her farm.

Carowinds VP/GM Pat Jones welcomed everyone, and thanked everyone who had a hand in the construction of Copperhead Strike.

Carowinds Director of Communications Lisa Stryker was next on stage, telling the crowd about everything new coming to Carowinds in 2019. This year is more than just Copperhead Strike. There’s the Springhill Suites by Marriott at Carowinds, which opens later this year, the new associate dorms, which Carowinds will use to enhance their internship program, Blue Ridge Junction, Blue Ridge Country Kitchesn, Mountain Gliders, and arguably the most important, Copperhead Strike! (Not pictured here, but I feel the need to mention it anyway: Lisa had some awesome snakeskin shoes on, really fitting in with the Copperhead Strike’s theme.)

Next on the stage was Duane Parrish, the Director for the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism. As a bit of a tourism geek, it was really interesting to hear how much tourism in the immediate area surrounding Carowinds has grown in the last decade. As a local, you tend to take this for granted, but it’s interesting seeing it through a different “lens.”

Carowinds VP of Sales and Marketing, John Taylor, took the stage to present the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and Western North Carolina with a check for $10,692, which was the money raised for Make-A-Wish during the “First Rider” auctions for Copperhead Strike.

Cletus came back on stage, and at the instruction of Granny Byrd, tried to scare everyone off the farm with a “big kaboom.” In reality, it was just some fireworks! And with that, Copperhead Strike was open!

A “Striking” Entrance

The Copperhead Strike has a chance to become one of the most photographed places in Charlotte this year. There are some great angles to catch Copperhead Strike in action with the ride’s sign in frame, not to mention, the sign itself is incredibly impressive to look at.

As you head into the entrance, you see some of the first theming details in the queue. The queue theming was some of the most impressive I’ve seen at a regional park, and is definitely the best themed queue at Carowinds.

There’s plenty to look at before you enter the main queue area in terms of props and scenery, however…

If you’re looking for coaster views, the area right before the queue has those as well. This area is really open before getting into the queue line itself, and there are a number of great photography angles! (Coaster photographers, take note!)

 

Despite several warnings, we progressed further into the queue.

We walked right into Byrd Farm, which is incredibly detailed with its level of theming.

I’m fully confident that you will see something new in the Copperhead Strike queue each time you walk through it. The attention to detail is really noticeable.

Lots of vehicles around Byrd farm.

I don’t think the restrooms in the queue are functional, just in case you were curious!

There are even more Copperhead Strike views in the queue. No loose items are allowed on the coaster, but the design of the queue really sets itself up well for coaster photography!

Time To Ride!

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably wondering about the ride on Copperhead Strike itself. If you want to remain spoiler-free for the ride itself, either stop reading, or scroll down until after the video!

Copperhead Strike starts with a JoJo Roll right out of the station. No matter which row you’re riding on during the train, this roll will feel SLOW! This is the first bit of “hangtime” experienced on Copperhead Strike, a theme that continued throughout the ride.

Following a 180-degree right turn, the Copperhead Strike trains head into the launch barn. The attention to detail is great in here, as there are multiple thematic elements in the launch barn itself. I won’t quite spoil it for you, but look to your left when you enter the barn. #WhatsInTheBarn. 

Following the launch, you’re launched from 0-42mph out of the barn. (Eagle-eyed readers, can you see who is enjoying this particular launch in the front row?) into the second inversion, a vertical loop. Going back to the concept of “hangtime,” there are several seconds of “dangling” at the top of the loop. It’s an incredible feeling. From the loop, you’ll head into a corkscrew and a turn around, before hitting the second launch, which takes you from 35-50mph.

It doesn’t feel like that much of a speed difference, but you notice the acceleration into a bunny-hop hill before the inverted top hat, and dive into an overbanked turn, and into the final inversion, a second vertical loop. From there, Copperhead Strike twists and turns you incredibly low to ground level, while featuring several great airtime hills and lateral force moments before returning you to the station. All in all, it’s over in just over two minutes.

It’s tough to pick a favorite moment on this coaster. It could be the hangtime on the first loop, the banked curve after the second loop, the airtime hill following the first loop, the final airtime hill, the inverted top hat, or the first launch. Point being, there are so many great elements on this coaster, that you’ll have to figure that one out for yourself.

As far as the trains? They look amazing. The lapbars are snug, but not overwhelming, and it’s pretty unique to have a lapbar come up from overhead. And if the testing and previews are any indication, Copperhead Strike will give an amazing ride at night, completely with working headlights.

We rode three times, the front row, the third row, and the last row. Each of the rows provides a unique experience, so I highly recommend trying them all until you find one you really like! After three rides, I can’t pick a favorite.

(And for those with larger body dimensions, I sometimes have issues fitting onto Fury 325 and Intimidator, but rode Copperhead Strike with no problem. If you have concerns, there is a test seat out front.)

Any of these details not make sense? Try to decipher our reverse POV video, and see if you can point everything out!

Copperhead Strike truly has a bit of everything. The speed of the launches, some great ejector airtime, the lateral forces of the banked turns, the hangtime of the inversions, and the thematic elements of the launch barn and queue. In short: It’s a fantastic addition to Carowinds’ already stellar roller coaster lineup, and in my opinion, exactly what the park needed. MACK Rides did an incredible job on the construction of this new coaster.

But Wait! There’s More!

After a brief hiatus, the gliders have returned to Carowinds, and have been given the name “Mountain Gliders” to fit into their new Blue Ridge Junction surroundings. Their new decals look fantastic!

Carowinds has also added “Granny’s Ice Cream Shop” to Blue Ridge Junction. For those who are fans of Kings Island and their legendary “Blue Ice Cream,” it appears that the famed dessert will be making an appearance where the Carolinas come together this season!

Carowinds also has a selection of Copperhead Strike merchandise available for purchase. I’m fairly certain that a Copperhead Strike cup will be coming home with me at some point this season!

Details, Details, Details…

One thing I really appreciated, but didn’t really fit anywhere else in this report were all of the “Easter Eggs” on the signage during Media Day. There’s Ricochet and Southern Star at Carowinds, Rivertown and Miami River Lumber Co. from Kings Island, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Centurion and White Lightnin’ references as well.

There are also several other references in the queue to other Cedar Fair parks, including Calico (of Knott’s fame) One thing I noticed was that a lot of the license plates on Byrd’s Garage were from North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. A neat tie-in, even if it’s coincidental.


During the event, I was talking to Carowinds’ VP of Operations, Jerry Helms, who has worked for the park since 1973. I asked him his thoughts about Copperhead Strike Blue Ridge Junction.

“This whole area is one of the best things this park has ever done,” he told me, clearly beaming with pride.

Jerry, I 100% agree. 


Carowinds opens for the season on Saturday, March 23. For more information, be sure to visit Carowinds‘ website, and follow the park on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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