Zamperla is the principal supplier with new ride package
Aeronautica Landing brings impressive new land to Carowinds
AT: Tim Baldwin
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Often tied with license plates touting “First in Flight,” North Carolina has a history with roots in aviation. Carowinds, which straddles the state borders of both North Carolina and South Carolina, is embracing that heritage with a brand-new area called Aeronautica Landing. It’s a big addition for the park in honor of its 50th anniversary.
The new land is a stylized area featuring whirling rides, artistic sculptures and a retro-cool look. Within is an aura of both the past and future.
“What birthday celebration would be complete without a big gift?” said Manny Gonzalez, vice president and general manager, Carowinds. “Countless team members — explorers and dreamers in their own right — worked more than five years to make Aeronautica Landing a reality. Immersive theming and storytelling combine with kinetic energy and steel to bring guests an enhanced, family-friendly theme park experience that showcases the rich historic heritage of the Carolinas.”
Of the six rides there, four were supplied by Zamperla.
“The essence of Aeronautica Landing is an immersive area within the park that feels different from any other space you’ve ever been in,” said Ramon Rosario, sales director, Zamperla. “In collaboration with Cedar Fair’s design team, our rides are designed to seamlessly integrate into the space and provide kinetic energy. They become a component, rather than the star, to enhance the space. During our collaboration, when we’re provided with the styling book or storyboard, it is our job to complement the vision set forth. Aeronautica Landing is more than an expansion of ride installations — it is a space that celebrates flight through flawless integration of attractions, merchandising, food/beverage offerings and so much more for guests to enjoy.”
“Aeronautica Landing was a big collaborative effort to take an area of the park and strip it down to nothing and take out some aging rides that were problematic and open the view of Afterburn. We had this amazing B&M inverted coaster, and you couldn’t see it,” said Clayton Lawrence, corporate creative producer, Experience Design & Creative Studio, Cedar Fair. “If we leaned in and opened that up, it had a flight theme to it, and we felt we should continue the flight theme. We wanted to get a collection of flats that told the story of the Carolinas.”
Terminal A is a new food location that features craft beers. An outdoor patio complements the indoor space. An aviation-themed games area creates a fun zone and revenue stream in the new area.
“We’re also looking at our restaurants with a story-based approach so that it is a unique and fun dining space,” said Lawrence.
Much of the magic comes from the theming and detailed props on both the rides and within the surroundings. The artistic look of each attraction elevates them above the off-the-shelf appearance of similar rides.
“We teamed up with Zamperla because they are doing great things with ride molds and the theming overlays on top of their attractions,” said Lawrence. “They’ve been a great partner in bringing our story together. Sometimes their rides are really ‘blinky,’ and they look like a country fair. Sometimes we don’t want the blinkiness of it; we want the theming. They’ve been great partners.”
“I love all my children equally!” laughed Rosario. “Cedar Fair’s objective was to create a broad-appeal area for their guests. Having these four fan-favorites (WindstarZ, NebulaZ, Skater, and Air Race) incorporated into Aeronautica Landing will bring plenty of smiles to children — and adults — of all ages at this special space in Carowinds.”
A delivery of all-new bumper cars from Majestic Manufacturing brings the upgraded attraction into a modern aesthetic. LED lighting on the vehicles gives a futuristic and sleek vibe to what is now called Hover and Dodge. Just outside is a flight control tower giving further presence to Aeronautica Landing.
Elsewhere in the area is a rethemed Trabant, a classic ride from Chance.
The offerings of the six rides range from thrill to family, so there is something for everyone.
“A project of this magnitude often starts simply enough with a walk-through of the site by myself, the park president and members of the design team at Cedar Fair,” Rosario told Amusement Today. “From there, we have meetings with our design team and begin the collaboration. Organizationally, we have continued to evolve from a reliable ride manufacturer to a leading choice for IP applications to a team capable of creating custom attractions based on any vision. We have such a deep roster of talent in our art department and production departments, which has been cultivated over the years. Cedar Fair has recognized this ability, and we are proud of the process, our capabilities, and bringing their wonderful vision to life.”
Throughout the area are props and sculptures accenting the spirit of flight. In the center of Aeronautica Landings is a large sculpture in honor of the pioneers of early aviation. A plaque on the sculpture reads: “Dedicated to all those who made the dream of reaching the skies a reality.”
“We decided to look at every attraction as a piece of history and equipment that celebrates flight,” said Lawrence. “We have the Air Walker, which is a nod to Kitty Hawk and the wing aerialists; Windstar is a nod to hang gliding; and we looked at each [ride] as its own individual piece of the story.”
“Aeronautica Landing is a tribute to the Carolinas spirit of invention, exploration and aviation, where guests immerse themselves in flight,” said Gonzalez. “It represents a new age for Carowinds. We honor what was and what is while we inspire what could be.”