Carowinds GM talks roller-coaster 2020 season and what comes next

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carowinds General Manager Pat Jones has finally welcomed guests back to her amusement park. Granted, it’s for an abbreviated run — and at reduced capacity — after a roller coaster of a season.

Carowinds launched a new event in November called Taste of the Season after Covid-19 kept its gates closed through much of 2020. That outdoor food festival dishes up sweets and savory items amid holiday decor, seasonal shows and even a few rides.

For Jones, it’s a chance to show that Carowinds can operate safely in this new world and entertain people at the same time. She’s spent much of 2020 planning — for opening days that never happened, creating safety protocols and making sure Carowinds would be in tip-top shape when guests returned.

The 400-acre amusement park straddles the North Carolina-South Carolina state line, just south of Charlotte. With some 2 million visitors in a typical year, is among the region’s biggest tourist attractions. It is owned by Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. of Sandusky, Ohio.

“It is time for 2020 to pass, and let’s get on to the next thing. Let’s get on to whatever the future brings. We’re looking forward to a very, very, active and pleasant spring,” she says.

Jones recently spoke with CBJ about Carowinds, the pandemic and what to expect next season. Read that interview here.