Inside Aeronautica Landing Construction at Carowinds

Back in August 2022, when Carowinds announced that “Crossroads” would close and become the all-new Aeronautica Landing in 2023, it’s been very exciting following the progress of the new aviation-themed land. Featuring five all-new (and one reimagined) attractions, Aeronautica Landing will pay homage to the history of flight in the Carolinas when it opens in Spring 2023. Recently, we had the opportunity to attend a hard hat construction tour of the new land, and even as a long-time visitor at Carowinds, it’s incredible to see the amount of not only attractions, but also theming that is coming to the all-new land.

While photos will most certainly not do this area any justice, we’re going to attempt to convey some of what we saw during our construction tour.

Our tour was led by Steve Jackson, Carowinds’ Director of Maintenance, who has been with the park for almost 75% of its existence.

Gear Spin

Certain to be a visual centerpience of Aeronautica Landing, Gear Spin will be a highly themed NebulaZ from Italian ride manufacturer Zamperla Rides.

This flat ride sends riders in a circular motion as ride arms on each of Gear Spin’s four sides rotate at the same time, resulting in a very visually stunning attraction.

Zamperla created many of the theming pieces that will “live” on the ride itself. This will definitely be a highly themed experience.

Gear Spin can accommodate up to 32 riders at one time. (Two seats per row, two rows per “pod,” two “pods” per arm.)

In a podcast episode with Zamperla’s Adam Sandy, he noted that rides like the NebulaZ (the “model” of this attraction) were designed as much to be enjoyed by onlookers as much as those who are riding. If you’ve never seen one of these in person, you’re going to be in for a treat.

Hover & Dodge

The building housing Carowinds’ former “Dodgems” Bumper Cars has been gutted to make way for a new iteration of the classic attraction.

Per Jackson, there will be 50 futuristic-themed ride vehicles inside of “Hover & Dodge,” increasing theoretical capacity of each cycle by 67%. (There were only 30 bumper cars on “Dodgems.”) The new vehicles are scheduled to arrive during the first week of February.

Air Race

Located approximately where Carowinds’ former “Yo-Yo” swing was situated, Air Race will see riders board four-passenger vehicles and rotate around a central support, but the ride vehicles will also swing from side to side, ending up inverted at points throughout the ride.

Air Race is themed to Piper Cubs, which are predominantly recognized as being training aircraft.

While I originally thought that the 73 on the tail of the attraction was a clever nod to Carowinds’ opening year of 1973, it seems as if the Air Race ride vehicles are themed to actual aircraft! (I couldn’t get an angle on the Blue and Red ride vehicles to verify for sure!)

Air Walker

A Zamperla Disk’O, Air Walker is designed to (loosely) resemble the classic “Wing Walkers” who performed on the wings of bi-planes.

Given Air Walker’s proximity to Afterburn, I think there’s a strong possibility for some really dynamic photography opportunities once the new attraction opens.

Additional Attractions

A concrete slab has been poured for a “to-be-named” Zamperla WindstarZ that will greet guests upon entry to Aeronautica Landing. It’s expected to open later this spring.

While the ride isn’t on-site yet, the operator’s booth has been constructed.

Beyond this basketball game lies the location of Gyroforce, a Chance Trabant that will be located approximately where the entrance to Thunder Road was.

Food & Beverage

Fry Shack has been re-themed and re-named the highly “on-brand” Frequent Fryers, a name which we’ll put up against any other themed quick service dining option at any park for “best themed name.”

Carowinds’ new “Terminal A” restaurant will provide an elevated view of Aeronautica Landing, and is taking over half of the former “Chick-Fil-A” building adjacent to Boo Blasters on Boo Hill. While specific menus weren’t discussed during this tour, we’re holding out hope for Biscoff Cookies, Pretzels and Ginger Ale served in small plastic cups.

Other Miscellaneous Construction Shots

Jackson noted that upwards of 110 contractors had been on site at one time to facilitate the construction process. His estimate was approximately 60 who were on-site during our tour.

The construction of a seating area and shade structure in progress!

If you’re the type of person who misses the Carnival games that were located in front of the former Plants vs. Zombies/Action Theater, you’re in luck. These two buildings will house carnival games, and will flank the new basketball game — which the concept art refers to as “Air Shot.” (Author’s note: “Air Ball” was right there!)

When this area is complete, it’s going to look incredible! The amount of attention that Cedar Fair has put into the theming and detail across the chain in recent years will further be emphasized with Aeronautica Landing.

A benefit of Carowinds’ proximity to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport? Aeronautica Landing comes pre-equipped with its own overhead theming that flies by every few minutes!

Aeronautica Landing is scheduled to open later this Spring. For more information, make sure to check out Carowinds’ website and social media channels: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram