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Carowinds plans $50 million expansion

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This photo provided by Carowinds shows their new roller coaster, Intimidator, at Carowinds in Charlotte, N.C. The Intimidator, which opened March 27, 2010, was inspired, the park says, by NASCAR great Dale Earnhardt. (AP Photo/Carowinds, Mikki Hughes) This photo provided by Carowinds shows their new roller coaster, Intimidator, at Carowinds in Charlotte, N.C. The Intimidator, which opened March 27, 2010, was inspired, the park says, by NASCAR great Dale Earnhardt. (AP Photo/Carowinds, Mikki Hughes)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -

The Ohio company that owns Carowinds says it will spend $50 million to expand the theme park on the North Carolina-South Carolina state line. 

Cedar Fair Entertainment officials told the Charlotte Chamber on Monday the company will add rides and attractions, upgrade food locations and make infrastructure improvements. 

Chief operating officer Richard Zimmerman did not go into details about the expansion. 

"I ride everything we build, and I can't wait to ride what we're going to build at Carowinds," Zimmerman said. 

Cedar Fair announced in 2011 that it had bought 61 acres of vacant land next to Carowinds' parking lots and near interstate 77. 

Zimmerman said work will begin next year and will take several years to complete. The expansion will create 15 permanent jobs and 270 additional jobs. 

Carowinds is 40 years old and has 13 roller coasters. 

The expansion will make Carowinds one of Cedar Fair's largest parks among the 11 it owns in the United States, Zimmerman said. 

Zimmerman said the Charlotte region and Carowinds have shown strong momentum, and that helped convince company officials to invest more in the park. 

He said specific changes are being worked out. The company will study traffic, infrastructure and parking, among other things. 

The parking area may be moved but Zimmerman said the entrance will remain and be upgraded. 

"We've got some exciting things in terms of what you're going to see when you arrive at the park," Zimmerman said. "We're really working on the arrival experience for our guests."

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