Our son has been begging to go to Carowinds for years. Nagging. Pestering. Pleading. This was his lucky year. We decided to go for a “staycation” of sorts with a super-fun day at Charlotte’s premiere amusement park.
This proved to be a challenge for a family with three kids, aged 2, 6 and 8. But, we were up for it. I tried to do a little recon before the big day, and was glad to see that the heights per ride were listed on the website, which allowed us to manage expectations in advance. Read: avoid a potential on-site meltdown when we discovered that our older son wasn’t tall enough to ride the “Intimidator.”
No outside food or drink was allowed in the park, which was a major bummer for me. Leaving for a day out without a full cooler was a bit surreal. We wound up paying $47 for three meal/snack plans, which was enough carnival food for all of us for the day. With that said, we saw plenty of families tailgating (and one family having a picnic) on our way out. This is a great option for school-age kids who can handle walking back and forth to the parking lot, but would have been a lot for us.
The range of our kids ages necessitated splitting up. My son and thrill-seeking husband hit the big rides first off. The other two and I headed right for “Planet Snoopy,” where I swirled on hot air balloons and gliders, leaving me nauseous and dizzy. Overall, the rides there were “just right” for this mild-thrill crew.
After a lunch that seemed to take forever, we headed over to “Boomerang Bay” waterpark to cool off.
Plenty of people have told me that they don’t like waterparks, and I agree that it takes suspension of disbelief to get past the smelly damp bathrooms and floating band-aids. But, once you’ve accepted those realities, we had an absolute blast. Again, my husband and son hit the big and scary slides while we hung out in the massive kiddie pool. The wave pool also provided excitement for everyone.
The break refreshed us enough to catch a second wind and head back to the rides. I watched our son hit the Hurler a few times, while Dad took our daughter on Ricochet. The kids were half delirious as it neared 8:00pm, begging us to stay for the fireworks. Pulling out a few minutes later, though, our daughter was asleep before we left the parking lot.
Check Carowinds website, www.carowinds.com, for hours and prices – once it gets close to school starting, they’re only open on the weekends. Ticket prices are $54.99 at the door, with significant savings online.