I would gladly take a bullet for my daughter. Without a moment’s hesitation, I would step in front of a speeding bus for my beloved only child. There is no doubt that I would walk over hot coals for that sweet baby ‘o mine.
However, Carowinds on a hot summer day? That would be a big, fat no.
I don’t know really know why I why I joined the anti-Carowinds crowd. Maybe it was some form of local snobbery, like how New Yorkers won’t be caught anywhere near Times Square or the Empire State Building. Maybe I’m just a joy suck.
Despite Carowinds basically being in my backyard, I had stealthily kept it off my daughter’s radar for the first six years of her life. I lived in fear of the day that she would realize that there was an amusement park less than 10 minutes from our house. That day came not long ago.
Soon after she realized that it was there, she played her ultimate trump card. She told me that going to Carowinds was the only thing that she wanted for her birthday. She had me cornered, I could fight and claw my way out but that would only mean throwing a birthday party.
So, on my favorite day of the year, exactly seven days after my daughter came into the world we took our maiden voyage to Carowinds. I feared that it would be much like the first trip of the Titanic. Fortunately, I was wrong. It was a pleasure cruise.
I did pick some up do’s and don’ts:
Go on a weekday. I know that this isn’t always possible, but if it is take advantage of the smaller crowds and shorter waits.
Get there very early. Ride the rides first and then hit Carolina Harbor. It’s Charlotte. In the summer. It’s basically like going to an amusement park on the surface of the sun.
Head over to the Philly-based Chickie and Pete’s. Why? Crab fries.
Download the Carowinds app. It shows fairly accurate wait times for rides and alerts you to specials and shows.
Spring for a locker. They are expensive. Just keep your pool bag in the car and walk back to get it.
Skip Planet Snoopy. Even if your kids are older, this area offers some fun, fast-paced ride.
Board the pirate ship right after visiting Funnel Cake Emporium.
Forget that Frugal MacDoogal’s is right beside the park.
Carowinds is located 15 minutes from uptown Charlotte at exit 90 (Carowinds Blvd.) off Interstate 77 at the North Carolina/South Carolina border.
Park Hours: 10:00am - 10:00pm (check website for complete schedule)
Carolina Harbor Hours: 11:00am - 7:00pm
Daily Admission Ticket: As low as $45.99