A Charlotte theme park, Carowinds experienced a near-miss catastrophe as a large crack in a support beam separated from the track.
Carowinds Theme Park, Charlotte, North Carolina
Carowinds is an amusement park located in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is home to a variety of attractions and roller coasters, including Fury 325, the tallest, fastest, and longest giga coaster in North America. The ride stands 325 feet tall and reaches speeds of up to 95 miles per hour. This is one of the most thrilling ride experiences available anywhere in the world.
Customer Found A Massive Crack In “Fury” 325 Roller Coaster
On June 30, 2023, Jeremy Wagner, a visitor to Carowinds found a large crack in the top of a steel support pillar for Fury 325. Wagner shot the video from the parking lot and reported the issue to staff. The park immediately shut down the ride and began an inspection.
The crack was found in a support beam that is located on a high speed curve of the ride. The beam supports the track and helps to keep the ride stable. The crack was not a structural issue, but the park decided to remove and replace the beam as a precaution.
The new support beam is made of a stronger material and is designed to withstand the forces of the ride. The beam is also welded at a different location, which is believed to be the source of the crack.
However, footage taken by the guest appeared to show the pillar separating from the track as the coaster car passed the support beam and appears to be fairly critical though I am admittedly not an engineer.
“I was trying to shoot the video, and my hands were shaking because I knew how quick this could be catastrophic,” Mr. Wagner said. – DNYUZ
Theme Park’s Response
According to an interview, Wagner reported the incident to four park members before something was ultimately done. He states, however, that the first was a parking attendant. That said, he felt that other staff members didn’t share his sense of urgency and was surprised the ride wasn’t immediately shut down and continued to run following his reports despite park employees being equipped with radio equipment.
Once park personnel became aware of a crack, park officials immediately shut down the park out of an abundance of caution. The ride has remained closed since the discovery of the issue is set to re-open on July 15th when the support beam replacement will be complete.
“Safety is our top priority and we appreciate the patience and understanding of our valued guests during this process.” – Carowinds
The North Carolina Department of Labor also inspected the ride and found no safety concerns.
According to officials, a final inspection to ensure the support column has been scheduled. The park regularly inspects its equipment though it clearly missed this key weld line. Carowinds has stated that safety is their top priority and plan to operate the ride for 500 full cycles before returning to service.
Fortunately, this was a near miss rather than the fatal derailment at a Swedish amusement park the week prior.
The crack that Mr. Wagner captured on video seems substantial to me, and frankly, the it seems to be a pretty important piece of support equipment. That said, Carowinds responded the way I’d hope they’d respond in shutting it down, suspending the ride, and getting a replacement installed. As regular visitors to theme parks, this brings a little bit of pause, but I am confident safety inspections correct potential concerns.
What do you think? Would you get on the Carowinds Fury after the fix?