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Five 2016 additions that prove Carowinds isn’t just about roller coasters

Photos: Andrew Stilwell
Photos: Andrew Stilwell

When I think about Carowinds, my mind automatically goes to one thing. Roller coasters. It’s an easy thing to do, since Carowinds is the only park anywhere with two of the top-10-ranked steel coasters in the world, Fury 325 and Intimidator.

But as Carowinds prepares to open for its 43rd season on March 25, there are five new experiences that the park has announced for 2016 that I think will prove Carowinds is more than just about roller coasters.

Carolina Harbor

Carowinds is currently in the process of expanding their old “Boomerang Bay” water park into the all-new “Carolina Harbor.” When it opens in May, it will be the largest water park in the Carolinas. There are new family-oriented areas in Seaside Splashworks (photographed above), Myrtle Turtle Beach and Kiddy Hawk Cove, and a new 27,000 square foot wave pool in Surf Club Harbor.

Those all sound great, but I’m most excited for Blackbeard’s Revenge, a tower with six different water slides, including the three Pirates Plank slides, where you’re loaded into a pod and the floor is dropped out from under you.

Blackbeard’s Revenge under constructionBlackbeard’s Revenge under construction

Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 3Z Arena

If you’re not in the mood to get wet in Carolina Harbor, Carowinds is also introducing the world’s first “intra-active” 3D attraction, based on the Plants vs. Zombies video game franchise. In the 3Z Arena, you’ll be divided into two teams and equipped with laser blasters that not only interact with the 3D screen in front of you, but also with your opponents.

If it’s anything like its video game namesake, I think Carowinds has a hit on its hands.

The ride vehicles for Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 3Z Arena

Concept Art
Concept artwork for Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 3Z Arena


Full disclosure: I’ve never had a cup of coffee in my life. I know, weird, right? But I know there are a ton of people whose day can’t begin without a cup or three of coffee. Carowinds’ new 3,500 square foot Starbucks will be located at the park entrance and will be perfect for that early morning caffeine boost; completely necessary for the miles of walking you’re going to do at Carowinds.

Starbucks under construction

Cirque Imagine

Carowinds is also boosting their live entertainment portfolio with the addition of “Cirque Imagine,” a 30-minute acrobatic show. It will be perfect if you love displays of acrobatics and athleticism, and also that feeling of personal inadequacy that you’ll never be able to perform 97 percent of the stunts involved in the show.

BrewFest and KidsFest

After the success of the Taste of the Carolinas and Bands, Brews and BBQs festivals in 2015, Carowinds has announced two new special events for 2016, targeted toward two entirely different groups of people.

Held the first weekend in June, BrewFest will celebrate the craft beers of North and South Carolina. Then on July 16-17, KidsFest will feature interactive games and activities geared more towards kids and their families.

Carowinds opens March 25.

Carolina Harbor will open May 21.

For more information, be sure to visit Carowinds’ website.

Photos: Andrew Stilwell