This spring, Carowinds will open Copperhead Strike, which holds the honor of being the Carolinas’ first double launch coaster. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “double launch,” don’t worry, it’s not as intimidating as it sounds.
Before Granny Byrd unveils her prize-winning jam (or whatever she’s working on in that barn of hers) later this spring, we’ll get you “up to speed” on just what it means to have the first double launch coaster in the Carolinas.
What is a double launch coaster?
A double launch coaster is simply a roller coaster that features two separate sections of “launch track.” Copperhead Strike is the first coaster with multiple launches in the Carolinas (and will be the only launch roller coaster operating at Carowinds currently), but it isn't Carowinds’ first launch coaster. That would be White Lightnin’, which operated at Carowinds from 1977-1988, and featured a “weight drop” style launch.
White Lightnin' at Carowinds
Why a launch?
Without getting into too much of a science lesson, most roller coasters need to reach a certain speed in order to make it all the way around the track. This can be accomplished in one of two ways. First, with a traditional lift hill, like those on Carowinds’ other 13 roller coasters, riders will be taken to a certain height, and after going over the top of the hill, will reach speeds that will carry the trains around the track to complete the lap around the track.
With a launch coaster, the speed needed to complete the journey around the track can be reached in a much shorter amount of time, without the need for extra height. This can result in a more exciting ride than a traditional lift hill, as the sudden acceleration takes away a lot of the anticipation that comes with the time you spend on a chain lift. You barely have time to blink, let alone think!
How does it work?
Linear Synchronous Motors (LSMs) on Copperhead Strike's second launch
On Copperhead Strike, the two launches each feature Linear Synchronous Motors (LSMs). The LSMs resemble “fins” on the coaster track, and interact with magnets in the coaster trains that propel them forward. The magnets in the motors will attract the magnets in coaster train and send it forward on the track. The next LSM on the track is magnetized as the previous one loses its magnetic force. This continually sends the car forward until it reaches the end of the section of launch track at the correct speed.
When/Where are the launches?
Copperhead Strike’s two launches take place near the beginning and approximately midway through the coaster. The first launch will take you from a complete stop inside Granny Byrd’s barn, speeding up to 42 miles per hour in 2.5 seconds before taking you through the first vertical loop.
The second launch will accelerate riders from 35 mph to 50 mph in 2 seconds and will take you through the 82’ tall inverted top hat and the second loop, before winding your way through the rest of the coaster’s track. These launches each have the same amount of acceleration as a 2018 Z1 Corvette!
What will the experience be like?
If you’ve never experienced a launch coaster before, you’re in for a real treat. Though 0 to 42 mph doesn’t sound like it will be that fast, the open-air roller coaster trains provide the added sensation of the wind whipping through your hair, and it will “feel” faster.
In regards to the second launch, an increase from 35 to 50 mph doesn’t seem like that much of a difference in speed, but you’ll be able to hear the LSMs in action, as you accelerate and crest the bunny hop shape of the launch and get a huge pop of air-time as you “step up” into the inverted top hat. Many coaster enthusiasts (myself included) think that this will be a signature moment on Copperhead Strike!
Passholders will get the first opportunity to ride Copperhead Strike at Carowinds Season Passholder Preview Night on March 22, before the park opens to the general public on Saturday, March 23. Grab your Gold Season Pass today and get unlimited rides on Copperhead Strike!