LivingTravelHow intimidating is the bully from Carowinds?

How intimidating is the bully from Carowinds?

The company that designed and manufactured Intimidator, the Carowinds ride near the front of the park, seems to be doing nothing wrong when it launches its signature hypercoasters. Like the similar thrill machines that Swiss roller coaster experts Bolliger and Mabillard have built for other parks, Intimidator is another super smooth ride with delusional moments of floating time.

  • Mountain Type: Steel Hypercoaster
  • Thrill Scale (0 = Wimpy!, 10 = Yikes!): 8
    No inversions, but with wild speed, height, and G-forces, particularly negative G-time
  • Height: 232 feet
  • First drop: 211 feet
  • First angle of fall: 74 degrees
  • Other falls: 178 feet, 151 feet, 105 feet, 90 feet
  • Top speed: 75 mph
  • Runway length: 5316 feet
  • Height requirement: 54 inches
  • Travel time: 3:33 minutes.

The intimidator’s controlled chaos

The anticipation begins even before the guests enter the park. The towering 5,316-foot bright red Intimidator track, out and back, stretches around the perimeter of the park and offers plenty of sneak peeks from the parking lot. Screaming riders can be seen rising from their seats to enjoy joyous moments of airtime as trains cruise through the towering yet graceful roller coaster hills.

Walking towards the Intimidator station, guests make their way through an overpass where post-ride euphoric passengers often wait their turn to disembark on the roller coaster. As with other B & M hypercoasters, the Intimidator’s front and sides of the trains have been stripped away leaving essentially seats bolted to a chassis – best for exposing passengers to the controlled chaos of the ride. Following the design protocol, each car has two rows of two comfortable bucket seats. B & M’s ingenious offset seating arrangement gives all passengers the approximation of a front row view by slightly raising and positioning the two seats in the rear row of each car towards the outer edges of the train.

A discreet lap bar, which is the ride’s only safety restriction, complements the outdoor coaster experience.

No racing helmet required

The front of each train carries a model of Dale Earnhardt’s black Monte Carlo. Nicknamed “the Intimidator,” the NASCAR superstar serves as the inspiration and theme for the roller coaster. After riding operations, complete your security check, “Gentlemen! Start your engines, ‘it booms over the PA, and the train leaves the station to climb a 23-story hill with a fairly sturdy clip.

Then it’s an intimidating 211-foot drop at a 74-degree angle as Intimidator hits its NASCAR-worthy top speed of 75 mph. While Earnhardt may have known a thing or two about high-speed racing with hardly any control, it’s unlikely that he ever felt anything like his namesake’s high airtime when the Intimidator explodes and hits his second hill. Note that at 178 feet, the second hill on the ride is significantly higher than the first drop on most roller coasters.

Intimidator is heavenly soft

But, it’s the third hill that provides the Intimidator’s sweet spot of airtime. The 151-foot doozy sends passengers into a floating headroom that doesn’t allow their fangs to re-familiarize themselves with the travel bucket seats until the train is on its way to the other side. This, my roller-coaster-loving friends, is airtime nirvana.

The drop ends in a change that sends the Intimidator back toward the station, but not before another couple of jumps and air-infused dives next to Carowind’s parking lot. The roller coaster then accelerates on a last-minute make-up brake to briefly slow down its bent (but always heavenly) run to the finish. Two stranger peaks and valleys follow, before Intimidator finishes his victory lap.

Since its debut, Intimidator has been dwarfed by the Fury 325. Carowinds’ “roller coaster” climbs a staggering 325 feet and reaches 95 mph, making it one of the tallest mountains in the world and one of the fastest. It is also manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard. (Carowinds has a host of other great roller coasters. In fact, it’s one of the theme parks with the most roller coasters in the world.) Fury 325 gets high praise and may leave other rides in the dust, but Intimidator remains an outstanding roller coaster at Carowinds – and one of the best roller coasters anywhere, for that matter.

Leaves riders full of adrenaline and a bit stunned. But not so dazed that they don’t want to queue for another lap on the airtime-loving ride.

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