The Dane and I recently took a trip to Carowinds. For a while, when the kiddos were younger, we took them every year. This is the first trip there without them.
When The Dane came up with the idea, I wasn’t too sure about it. I mean, do adults just go to the amusement park without taking some kids in tow? Shouldn’t we ask the kids? Shouldn’t we take the grand-kiddos? He shook his head no to all these questions. He said, “I just want the two of us to go and have a Big Kid day.”
I started thinking back to the last few times we went. At that time, the kiddos really weren’t hanging out with us and we really were pretty much doing our own thing anyway. The only difference this time would be that I wouldn’t have to fret over the kids doing something stupid and not getting back to check-points on time. As we drove to Charlotte, I thought about what a relief it was not to have to set a schedule this time.
The first time that I visited Carowinds, I couldn’t help but compare it to my childhood days at Six Flags. As I’d only ever been to Six Flags, I felt like a fish out of water at Carowinds. Gone were the Looney Tunes characters and in were the Peanuts gang. The park felt somehow smaller, though it’s well over 100 acres more at Carowinds. And it felt like Carowinds only had roller-coasters, though in reality there are 13 at Carowinds and 12 at Six Flags. I suppose the difference all just boiled down to one thing, I sorta missed the familiarity of Six Flags. Here I was in this new park and I didn’t have a clue which direction to go in and what things would be fun to ride (especially since as I’ve gotten older things that whirl make me hurl).
This time; however, going to Carowinds felt a lot like it used to feel at Six Flags. I’ve got my bearings about me and I have lots of fond memories of the place now.
So, with all that said, here’s PJ’s guide to enjoying Carowinds…
First stop is to take a picture at the North/South Carolina line, preferably with some sort of wacky antic.
The next thing to do is take a look around.
Decide on a destination. Ride some rides!
There are basically eight themed areas:
1. Celebration Plaza
-Carolina Skytower (o.1973) is a 262-foot gyro tower that allows you to see all over Carowinds and Charlotte. *During Winterfest it turns into a Christmas tree made of lights.
-Action Theater (o.1994) 3D intra-active experience. Currently Plants vs. Zombies
-Afterburn (o.1999) an inverted roller coaster with 6 inversions
Grab a bite to eat. (Vendors will give you free water, just ask)
3. Carolina Boardwalk
-Carolina Cyclone (o.1980) a steel roller-coaster with two vertical loops and two corkscrews.
-Carolina Goldrusher (o.1973) a steel roller-coaster (one of the original rides).
-Ricochet (o.2002) a steel mouse roller-coaster (reminds me of that game, Mouse Trap).
Take a picture in a silly hat.
4. Carolina Showplace
-The Scrambler (o.1973) a twist ride.
-Vortex (o.1992) a steel stand-up roller-coaster
5. County Fair – previously this was Country Crossroad County Fair. New coaster have been added this year.
-The Flying Cobras (o.2009) a boomerange model roller coaster. On this ride, you start out being pulled up backwards and then you are released going downhill forward, then it reverses.
-Electro Spin (o.2017) floorless gondolas (it looks like a pinwheel)
-Zephyr (o.2017) a swing ride that moves in a circular, wave motion.
-Rock N’ Roller (o.2017) moves around and around to music
-Do-Si-Do (o.2017) a troika (sort of looks like a spider to me) that sends you flying through the air on giant rotate arms at increasing speeds and elevations.
6. Thrill Zone
-Fury 325 (o.2015) a giga coaster themed after Charlotte NC’s nickname the “Hornet’s Nest.” It’s the tallest non-launch roller-coaster in the world. It crosses the NC/SC state line.
-Drop Tower (o.1996) a tower that drops you from 160 feet
-Hurler (o.1994) wooden roller-coaster
-Scream Weaver (o.1979) – classic flat ride that has gondolas that spin out as an arm raises. As the ride speeds up, riders are eventually up-side-down.
7. Planet Snoopy (kids zone)
Take a picture with a Peanut Character.
-Character Carousel (o.1973) carousel
-Charlie Brown’s Wind UP (o.1973) swings
-Flying Ace Aerial Chase (o.2003) family coaster
-Flying Ace Balloon Race (o.1987) balloon ride
-Lucy’s Crabbie Cabbie (o.1998) roller coaster with cars that look like taxi cabs.
-Peanuts Pirates (o.2005) a flying Dutchman ride
-Snoopy vs. Red Baron (o.1973) planes go round and round
-Snoopy’s Junction (o.1973) small train ride
-Snoopy’s Space Race (o.2010) rocket ride
-Snoopy’s Yacht Club (o.2005) speed boat ride
-Woodstock Express (o.1975) wooden roller coaster
-Woodstock Gliders (o.2005) flying scooters
-Woodstock’s Whirlybirds (o.1998) monorail with helicopter cars.
8. Carolina Harbor – Water-park that is included in the ticket price. The water-park has it’s own entrance to the park.
Bring your bathing suit and have fun in the water
-Blackbeard’s Revenge (o.2017) 6 story water slide with three attractions.
-Pirates’ Plank – a vertical free fall
-Captain’s Curse – twist/turns through enclosed chute
-Cannonball Drop – intense drops and turns
80 play elements
423 gallon tipping bucket
spray jets & water guns
6 water slides
net bridges and water wheels
-Myrtle Turtle Beach
-Kitty Hawk Cove
spray jets and splash areas
-Surf Club Harbor
100 gallon bucket
four-person raft slide taht swirls to the bottom of a 4 story, 564 foot-long route
-Tidal Wave Bay
slide with giant tubes
open tube slide
-Sand Dune Lagoon
children’s area with gushing mushrooms and jet sprays
lazy river ride (this is not continues, rides have to get off and back on)
-Dorsal Fin Drop
open slide that spins
slide from an angled wall
4 enclosed water slides
dual tube slide for two people to slide together
9. Paladium – outdoor
amphitheater (o.1975) – separate admission from the park
Scarowinds includes the following 12 attractions (o.2000):
The park opens with The Great Pumpkin Fest. The park closes at 5:30pm and reopens at 7pm with Scarowinds 1st lady of terror, Lilith. Not recommended for children under the age of 13.
1. Urgent Scare (2014) – a maze
2. Dark Harvest (2016) – a maze
3. Defex (2010) – a maze
4. Blood Yard (2014)
5. SlaughterHouse-the Final Cut (2015) – a maze
6. Psycho Circus (2016)
7. London Terror (2013)
8. Mass Acres (2012)
9. The Playground (2009)
10. Scary Tales (2013)
11. Silver Scream STudios (2008/redone in 2015) – a maze
12. Zombie High School (2013) – a maze
1. Blood Drums – a drum light show
2. Rocktoberfest – 80’s cover band
3. Skeleton Crew
Coming this Winter, Carowinds will transform into a Winter Wonderland. This will include holiday lights and decor, as well as, live entertainment.
Most of all, have some great family fun (even if it is just the two of you)!
Until next time, keep things funny…