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NC alpine mountain coaster closed due to COVID-19 rules

The state has ordered a family attraction in the N.C. mountains to close, citing COVID-19 restrictions which prohibit amusement parks from operating.

The owners of the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster in Banner Elk announced the ride’s closure, effective Saturday.

“With heavy hearts as we have taken the measures asked of us to limit the amount of people coming and other COVID precautions, we have to announce we are closed until further notice,” the company posted on Facebook.

State officials shut the ride down “stating we are an amusement park and outdoor entertainment and cannot operate,” according to the post.

The coaster opened with great fanfare in May, its owners touting it as the only ride of its kind in the state.

The coaster’s 3,160-foot run begins with a cable-pulled climb of 770 feet. From that point, riders control the speed of the coaster with two braking handles. The coaster goes no faster that 27 mph.

To better control crowds and ensure proper social distancing, coaster officials required visitors to make online reservations if visiting on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday through the first part of July, The Charlotte Observer previously reported.

Many other steps, including mandatory mask wearing, were taken to prevent spread of the novel coronavirus, owners of the ride posted on its website.

“We sincerely apologize to our patrons and guests that have registered and had planned to visit our location,” ride officials said.

Banner Elk is 120 miles northwest of Charlotte, about a 2-hour, 20-minute drive.

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Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.

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