Goodbye Thunder Road, Hello Carolina Harbor!

By: Ivory Bethea
IG: @godsdesign_ivory

“Grit your teeth… Bear the load… Enjoy your ride… On Thunder Road”

The chant that brought both backwards and forward riding passengers together is no longer in existence.

Some of my greatest childhood memories came crashing down last summer when the Thunder Road was demolished by Carowinds. Built in 1976, Thunder Road straddled North and South Carolina as a rough-riding, noisy, wooden coaster that featured two side-by-side tracks, and even let you ride backwards. Though the curtains have closed on our favorite wooden tracks… It’s almost time to greet our newest attraction that replaced it with open arms.

If you’d like to relive the excitement of Thunder Road, check out this video here: 

You heard that right! The Carolina coastline has moved itself right into our backyard through a brand new extension at Carowinds. Carolina Harbor Water Park is currently under construction and set to open up in the late spring of 2016. Carowinds has been the meeting place between North and South Carolina for over 40 years. Not only are we Charlotteans proud to share our Carolina Panthers, we now jointly share the largest water park in the Carolinas, period.

Things you should know about Carolina Harbor Water Park:

  • There is no separate admission fee to enter the water park. It is included in the price of entry to Carowinds.

  • Carolina Harbor has it’s own entry apart from Carowinds main entrance. That should definitely have a positive effect on the wait time to enter.

  • Surf Club Harbor wave pool is 27,000 square feet. That’s huge!

  • The large pool will be accompanied by a six story water slide called Blackbeards Revenge.

  • Just for little kids, there is an area called “Kiddy Hawk Cove” and “Myrtle Turtle Beach”.

  • There are new renovations and new restaurants.

  • There are additional Cabanas and lounging chairs as well.

There’s a ton of great benefits to the new construction such as:

  1. Shorter entry lines

  2. Less entry traffic

  3. More job openings

  4. More activities

  5. A larger overall attraction

  6. Increase in out of town visitors

As we open the doors to Carolina Harbor this spring, may we forever remember the squeaky tracks of Thunder Road. Don’t allow the 27,000 sq ft pool wash away the memorable butterflies you’d feel right before the roller coaster reached the peak.

Remember opening your eyes and seeing the other backwards or forward Thunder Road shoot pass you? Well, Cherish that memory as well. Those were the last set of wooden tracks we will get a chance to experience in the Carolinas.

Still, I am very excited about the new construction and I hope you all find the time to go out and enjoy your spring and summer at Carolina Harbor/Carowinds.

- Ivory Bethea

For more information on Carolina Harbor, please visit: