Fury 325 - Carowinds - Charlotte NC
I know you've seen this. Freaking everybody covered this ride back in March when it opened. You couldn't turn on your local news without seeing a terrified reporter in the front row during a live telecast that day and for weeks afterward pictures and videos were shuffled around social media with incredulous titles like, "OMG NO WAY!" So now that the hoopla has died down a bit, let's see if this thing really is all that.
Firstly, the name: it's pronounced "Fury Three-Two-Five" and not "Fury Three-Twenty-Five". The numbers are in reference to the height of the ride (325ft) and "Fury" will be self-evident once you ride it. The hornet on the logo and the color scheme brings to mind the local Charlotte Hornets NBA team, although that tie-in has never been officially recognized. The numbers are a bit of a jab at sister park Kings Dominion (in Virginia) - in 2010, Carowinds opened Intimidator, a 232ft tall coaster. Less than a week later, Kings Dominion opened a coaster with the same theme, but theirs was much taller at 305ft. They named theirs Intimidator 305 to distinguish the difference - and perhaps to gloat a bit. So tacking that '325' on the end of Fury's moniker seems like a "your move, KD" taunt. Both parks are owned by the same parent company, so if there is a rivalry, it's a friendly one.
At any rate, the thing is HUGE. You probably heard a bunch of those aforementioned news reporters call it the "world's tallest coaster," but it's not. The park touts it as the "world's tallest giga coaster" - 'giga coaster' being any coaster with a height or drop between 300-400ft. As of this writing, that designation is true of this ride, having snatched the title from Japan's Steel Dragon 2000 (318ft), which held it for 15 years. You can see this thing from pretty much anywhere in the park and it's fair to say that people gawk at it from wherever they might be, every time a trainload of folks plummet over the top of that hill.
As you approach the queue, the lift hill seems to go on forever. It is seriously, ridiculously tall.
It doesn't take long to get to the station, either. Carowinds, bless their Southern hearts, runs all three trains on this thing even on slow days. Better still, the ride crew pumps these things out like crazy, making the queue line move at a brisk pace. You might be annoyed at first by the "absolutely no loose articles, even in the queue" policy or the fact that you aren't allowed to choose your favorite seat once you get to the station, but WOW does it make loading/unloading faster when folks aren't crossing the train to stuff their belongings in the holding cubbies and aren't cramming the station up with overflowing queues for the front or back rows. Before long, you're seated and climbing up that hill.
The drop is good. It's really good. The coaster was designed by Swiss firm Bolliger and Mabillard, which often gets a reputation amongst enthusiasts for "over-engineering" their coasters to be so perfect that many of the stronger forces are removed. Well, someone forgot to tell B&M that this is a B&M coaster. The bottom of the drop pulls insanely strong positive Gs that gave me grey-outs a few times. If the drop doesn't suck the color out of your vision, the overbanked turn that follows might do it.
This turn is taller than most coasters at their highest point, yet you'd never know it by the speed at which the train screams around it. It doesn't seem to slow down at all as it leans over and pins you to your seat, your cheeks literally rippling from the 95mph headwind. Yes, ninety-five miles per hour. Your brain knows to keep your mouth closed because eating a bug at this speed will be less than enjoyable, but by the time your brain gets that information to your jaw, you've likely covered at least half of the coaster's long layout.
A neat couple of moments follow: First, the train leans all the way over to the side as it passes over a newly-built entry plaza that connects the parking lot to the park entrance. The effect of looking up at the people on the train is far better than it would've been just looking at the undercarriage. Leaning the car over is a nice touch.
Second, right after flying over the walkway, Fury 325 throws in one of the coolest turnarounds ever.
It's cool because up till this point, everything has been designed to press you into your seat. Even the moments of slight airtime have been vertical. When you hit this turn, however, you race up to the top leaning over at nearly 90 degrees. It's here that the forces stop pressing you into your seat and start to pull at your body sideways, toward the ground. It's completely unexpected, startling, and makes you quite aware that the sides of the train are open. No time to savor the moment, though, as you're already dropping into a lighted tunnel under the walkway you buzzed just seconds ago.
It's unusual for a B&M coaster to focus so much on positive G-forces and either this coaster is an anomaly in that regard or it signals a new direction for the engineering firm. Fury 325's first half is crammed with very strong forces and blinding speed. The trip back, however, is more of what you'd expect from B&M: airtime and fast turns. The airtime is strong and always generated a chorus of "WOOOAAHHHH!!!" from the trainload of riders.
There's also a helix to eat up momentum, but it provides some nice head-chopper visuals, especially to folks on the right side of the train. A couple more good airtime hills and you hit the brakes, still breathless and flushed from all that wind. You can still feel your freshly-rippled cheeks tingling.
So does it live up to the hype? You betcha. It's thrilling enough for the jaded enthusiast while still being smooth and comfortable enough to be enjoyed by the masses. Carowinds have put themselves into the spotlight with this one and it doesn't disappoint.