That’s what coaster fans around the world routinely seek as they tour around trying to find the next great thrill ride that can deliver those attributes. Roller coaster fans are about to be treated to the next record-breaking scream machine as Carowinds has debuted Fury 325, a Bolliger and Mabillard creation that is billed as the tallest and fastest Giga coaster in the world. The 325-foot-tall steel monument to the coaster gods reaches speeds of 95 MPH with a first drop at 81 degrees. Trains negotiate a course loaded with camel back hills, overbanked turns, and a unique tunnel feature that dives under a newly configured park entrance.
Those who have been north of the border to Canada’s Wonderland will see a lot of similarities between Fury 325 and Leviathan, another B&M Giga. In fact, just like Canada’s Wonderland, Carowinds also has a B&M Hyper coaster, Intimidator. Just like at Canada’s Wonderland, Intimidator and Fury 325 load on opposite sides of the park to keep crowds spread out. However, while Leviathan and Fury 325 have a lot of similarities, there are also many differences. The first difference is that Fury 325 has been equipped with seat belts to accompany the standard clamshell lap restraint. I didn’t find the belt terribly intrusive, but I know some out there would prefer to enjoy the airtime unencumbered by a redundant restraint system. However, the seat belts are likely to increase load times as it’s an additional item staff must check before clearing trains to the lift. On a coaster equipped with three trains when running at maximum capacity, there’s liable to be stacking as the 3-minute, 25-second ride time will be a tough mark to reach to unload, load, secure, and check a 32-person train.
Once trains have been checked and cleared, riders are off on a very fast chain lift ride to the top. The 325-foot summit is reached in under a minute, and before riders have a chance to question their sanity, they are already plummeting down the steep and perilous first drop. The train gains speed at an incredible rate, and like many 300+ foot tall drop towers, riders will get that feeling that they’re approaching top speed only to feel continued acceleration as the train speeds towards the bottom. It is quite a sensation, and as the 95 MPH top speed is reached at the bottom of the hill, the wind in your face will remind you that you’re traveling far faster than you’ll ever legally drive on any highway in North America.
Before you know it, the train is slung skyward and into an overbanked right turn and a slight left turn down the second hill with a good pop of air.
As the train gets close to the ground again, riders again will get a feel for how fast they’re going as trees and track supports fly by at a more rapid pace. Then it’s time for the coaster’s signature move.
After a quick low-to-the-ground serpentine, the track banks to the left and rises over the park’s new entryway.
Then the riders are treated to an upward 180-degree turnaround that then plunges the train under the same entry through an underground tunnel.
This maneuver provides one of the best floating airtime opportunities on the coaster. After coming out of the tunnel, the track quickly goes through another upward left-banked turn and through a magnetic trim brake, which slows the train just enough to provide tons of ejector airtime on the subsequent camelback. The course finishes with a wide left turn and two quick airtime hills before returning to the station.
As with many of Cedar Fair’s big coasters, Fury 325’s theming is minimal but effective. The ride is supposed to evoke the flight of a hornet, and considering nearby Charlotte, North Carolina just got back the Hornets name for its NBA team, the hornet theme and accompanying tag line, “Feel the Sting” is quite appropriate for the ride. The teal and lime green track color scheme (two different track colors are pretty rare) is really interesting to look at from a wide view, as the top and bottom of the track appear to dance back and forth as you view the course, and are pretty close to the NBA Hornets' colors. The signage and design elements for the station feature numerous hexagonal/"honeycomb" patterns that further supports the theme, and the gift shop beneath the station is called The Hive. The theming is pretty solid for a Cedar Fair park, but most Carowinds guests are likely to be more interested in the thrills than any backstory.
As part of the park’s $50 million multi-year revitalization, Fury 325 represents an incredible addition to an already solid regional park. Unfortunately for the well-traveled coaster fan, the comparisons to Leviathan are inevitable, and Fury doesn’t quite measure up to B&M’s first Giga coaster. While Fury 325’s elements are all solid, and the dive and tunnel beneath the new entryway are excellent, they don’t quite measure up to Leviathan’s relentless speed and ejector air. Also, the longer circuit runs out of steam as the train goes over the last two hills at a much slower speed than other parts of the ride, ending with a bit of a thud compared to Leviathan's abrupt ending that begs thrill seekers to hop on for another spin.
I was hoping that the banked turn over the new entryway would provide a similar feeling to Leviathan’s low-slung airtime hill, but it just didn’t deliver. However, it’s hard to complain about a roller coaster that’s 325 feet tall and approaches the 100 MPH threshold. Fury 325 is still an amazing rush, and any coaster fan will be more than thrilled with Carowinds’ newest addition.Tweet
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