Carowinds invited me and a handful of other journalists down yesterday to see the progress being made on the revamped waterpark — Carolina Harbor — which is scheduled to open next summer. I also got to wear a hard hat, askew.

One thing I learned is a water park is really depressing in the winter with no water. See for yourself.

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But I expect the park will look a lot more alive this summer with the new additions.

Here’s what to expect, with my amateur photography sprinkled in.

– The park, which Carowinds says will be the largest waterpark in the Carolinas, is being totally rebranded into Carolina Harbor. Not only will there be new attractions, but the park is giving older slides a fresh coat of paint.

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– Part of that rebranding means no more elephant since, you know, elephants aren’t native to the Carolinas.

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– One new addition: Blackbeard’s Revenge (the metal structure being built in the photo below).

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– The six-story water slide complex has three attractions (six slides): Pirate’s Plank (nearly vertical free fall where the floor drops out from underneath); Cannonball Drop (enclosed chute with four 360-degree turns); and Captain’s Curse (a series of drops and turns).

– Another new addition is the Seaside Splashworks, which will replace one of the wave pools.

This used to be a wave pool.
This used to be a wave pool.

– Instead of the wave pool, there will be a huge spray ground for kids, featuring a 423-gallon tipping bucket. (That’s about 100 gallons bigger than the tipping bucket currently in the park, which will stay.)

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– To replace that wave pool, they’re building a new one called Surf Club Harbor, which will “mimic the high surf of the Atlantic Ocean,” according to a release. That’s gonna happen on this big dirt plot.

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– Finally, there’ll be a new restaurant — Harbor House — that’ll serve things like barbecue and seafood, and a full-service bar — Schooners — nearby. On this big dirt plot.

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Even though some parts of the park don’t look very far along now, Carowinds officials sounded confident that the whole thing will be ready by May when the park opens.

Photos: Corey Inscoe

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