Amusement park rides scare the shit out of me. I have a fear of heights, and moving fast, and just about everything associated with roller coasters. But I can usually still persuade myself to get on one every now and then, secure in the knowledge that surely the ride would not be up and running if it weren’t absolutely safe. Which is why what happened at the Fury 325 “Giga Coaster” in Charlotte, North Carolina on Sunday is so terrifying.
Standing 325 feet tall with an 81-degree initial drop and a top speed of 95 miles an hour, the Fury 325 is the main attraction at the Carowinds amusement park. It would probably be really cool if one of the support pillars didn’t have a clean break running through it so much so that you can actually see the entire thing move as people fly by it at a perpendicular angle.
It was seemingly first spotted by Jeremy Wagner, a season pass holder whose daughter and niece had apparently ridden the Fury 325 eight times on July 2 before the crack was spotted. It wasn’t until Wagner was headed back to get his car from the parking lot that he noticed the catastrophic failure, recorded a video of it, and rushed to warn Carowinds employees about the danger.
“I was like, ‘Y’all need to shut this ride down,” Wagner told the first one he found, according to The Washington Post. “That’s bad news.” Worried about that employee’s “lack of urgency,” Wagner went to tell a second person in Park Services. Still concerned, he tried calling the amusement park on the car ride home but only got the automated system. Finally, he called the local fire department, who then spoke to the park security team, and later confirmed to Wagner that the ride had been shut down.
“Safety is our top priority and we appreciate the patience and understanding of our valued guests during this process,” Carowinds spokesperson Courtney Weber told The Washington Post in a statement. “As part of our comprehensive safety protocols, all rides, including Fury 325, undergo daily inspections to ensure their proper functioning and structural integrity.”
For his part, Wagner isn’t ditching his season pass anytime soon. He’s apparently going to let his kids ride the roller coaster when it reopens, though who knows when that will be. The North Carolina Department of Labor is also involved now, and its Amusement Device Bureau “will be investigating and plan to be at Carowinds on Monday,” department spokesperson Erin Wilson told The New York Times.
As you might be able to guess, the pre-4th of July holiday weekend is a busy time for amusement parks, Carowinds included. Guests won’t be able to ride the Fury 325 right now, but the rest of the park remains open. I’m sure everyone will enjoy scanning every pillar, platform, and bit of scaffolding for major damage while they stand in line.