See how Carowinds theme park in North & South Carolina looked in the 1980s

See Carowinds theme park in North and South Carolina in the 80s

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What did Carowinds theme park look like back in the 1980s? Here’s a look at the vintage Hanna-Barbera-affiliated amusement park that straddled the line between two states.

Vintage Carowinds Thunder Road wooden roller coaster (c1980s)

Vintage Carowinds Thunder Road wooden roller coaster (c1980s)

The old 80s Carowinds amusement park in 1981

The 73-acre Carowinds theme park will open for its ninth operating season on Saturday, March 21. Carowinds is spending $1.1 million on capital expansion in 1981 for a softening program that includes park-wide landscaping revisions, a new bar-b-que and steak restaurant and expanded live shows within the park.

Carowinds is located 10 miles south of Charlotte, N.C. on 1-77 at the North Carolina/South Carolina border.

Vintage 80s Carowinds press photo - Amusement park in 1981

Carowinds Hanna-Barbera theme park – Kids with Scooby Doo (1981)

Saturday morning cartoon hero Scooby Doo and other Hanna-Barbera characters such as Yogi Bear, Hong Kong Phooey and Huckleberry Hound keep busy entertaining children and adults alike at Carowinds theme park.

Carowinds added the Happy Land of Hanna-Barbera, a themed area designed specifically for younger children, to the 73-acre theme park in 1975.

Carowinds Hanna-Barbera theme park - Kids with Scooby Doo (1981)

Old Carowinds Goldrusher roller coaster and Carolina sternwheeler (1981)

The sedate and the thrilling pass each other for a few seconds at Carowinds theme park.

The Goldrusher on the left is a roller coaster with trains dipping and twisting over 2,400-ft. of curved steel track. The Carolina sternwheeler takes guests for a leisurely cruise along a lagoon in the center of the park.

Old Carowinds Goldrusher roller coaster and Carolina sternwheeler (1981)

Carowinds theme park – 80s Rip Roarin’ Rapids ride (1981)

Carowinds newest attraction, Rip Roarin’ Rapids, is located in the Plantation Square section of the park. Guests experience an exciting white water rafting adventure as the eight passenger boats follow a twisting path down a man-made river accented by geysers, wave lakes, canyons, caverns and waterfalls.

Carowinds theme park - 80s Rip Roarin Rapids ride (1981)

80s Scooby Doo roller coaster ride (1981)

The Scooby Doo roller coaster at Carowinds, located in the Happy Land of Hanna-Barbera, has both adult and youngster appeal.

This coaster, named after the zany Scooby Doo Hanna-Barbera cartoon character, was added to the park in 1975.

ALSO SEE: Vintage Busch Gardens: See the theme park in Tampa, Florida through the 20th century

Carowinds theme park - 80s Scooby Doo roller coaster ride (1981)

Vintage 80s Carowinds White Lightnin’ roller coaster (c1982)

Experts say the White Lightnin’ roller coaster at Carowinds Theme Park near Charlotte, N.C., is like riding on a rocket sled and then jumping out of an airplane.

The 23-passenger coaster train is catapulted from zero to 53.65 m.p.h. forward into the vertical 360-degree loop. The train then climbs a 136-ft. incline, stops and free-falls backward down the incline, through the loop and back into the loading station.

Vintage 80s Carowinds press photo - Roller coaster in 1982

Welcome to Carowinds: Vintage 80s amusement park map from 1987

Ocean Island: Splash in the cool, clear waves of the 700,000 gallon Ocean Island wave pool at a small additional cost once inside Carowinds. Or visit Ocean Island directly from its separate outside entrance on Carowinds Blvd.

Be sure to visit Smurf Island: Smurf boats leave regularly from the dock in Carolina RFD. Smurf Island closes in the early evening…

Vintage 80s Carowinds amusement park map from 1987 (2)

Vintage 80s Carowinds amusement park map from 1987 (1)

Carowinds food, shopping & show guide from the 80s

The 8,200 seat Carowinds Paladium is the hot-spot for big-name concerts in the Carolinas. 

Carowinds amusement park guide from the 80s (1)

Shopping Info!

Be sure to include shopping in your Carowinds visit! You’ll discover over 35 shops throughout the park to offer items you can’t find anywhere else. Some of the many exciting shops, with merchandise ranging from souvenirs to apparel and collectibles are listed below…

Live Show Info!

Fun, fantasy, glamour and first-class entertainment wait park guests in our show locations. Be sure to take in Carowinds all-new line up of dazzling live shows. Plan to See All The Shows! Use the park map (inside) and daily show schedule to plan show stops during your park visit.

Arrive at Show Locations Early! Theatre doors open 15 minutes prior to show times. So that everyone may fully enjoy the shows, guests are not allowed to enter indoor theatres after shows have begun or once theatres are full.

Consult Your Show Schedule! Your show schedule will provide exact shots, dates, times and locations. Carowinds shows run the entire season with the exception of “Those Magnificent Movies” which premiers May 23. The shows appear on a rotation basis so all of the shows listed may not be performed on the day of your visit. Don’t Miss Carowinds All-New Show Line Up! locations and descriptions of Carowinds exciting 1987 shows are listed below.

Carowinds amusement park guide from the 80s (2)


Sweet Country Music: A 25-minute musical tribute to the most-loved country songs. Loaded with familiar audience pleasers, including a superstar tribute to country music’s legends.


In Concert ’87: A slick, contemporary musical production that transports guests back in time with a flashback to the 50s and then returns to the present with a hot contemporary section.

Yogi’s Fantastic machine, a 15-minute character-filled musical starring Yogi Bear and his singing and dancing fan club of local bear cubs who celebrate picnics, friends, and fun. Guest appearances by Fred Flintstone, Snagglepuss and Scooby Doo as well as the Smurfs’ archenemy, Gargamel.


Those Magnificent Movies. This incredible production will appeal to all ages. It features the cast as theater ushers who guide the audience through many of the all-time favorites of the screen. Includes a salute to the silent-movie era…

Carowinds amusement park guide from the 80s (3)

Carowinds amusement park guide from the 80s (4)

Carowinds theme park – Blackbeard’s Revenge (1985)

Carowinds theme park is introducing an exciting new addition in 1985! Blackbeard’s Revenge (located in Pirate Island at Carowinds) is a motion illusion attraction that will delight and amaze all ages.

The combination ride, show, experience simulates a pirate ship ride with the Carolinas’ own pirate..the notorious Blackbeard. Blackbeard’s Revenge is the main focus of a $1 million expansion and enhancement project at the theme park which opens for weekend operation March 23.

Vintage Carowinds theme park - Blackbeard's Revenge (1985)

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