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Day Trips & Destinations: Carowinds- Thrill Capital of the Southeast (Family Amusement Park)

Part of MBP's Summer Splash

We were recently given the opportunity to take a family trip to Carowinds, the Thrill Capital of the Southeast. Carowinds is a family-friendly theme park, which has been around for decades. Located in Charlotte, NC, the theme park is actually split over the state line, which leaves half of the park in NC and the other half in SC. Formerly a Paramount park, Carowinds is now owned by Cedar Fair, who also owns the famous Cedar Point in OH.

I remember the excitement my family shared when we visited Carowinds for the first time, after moving to NC 21 years ago! My sister and I loved the rides and all of the exciting things there were to see and do within the park. Of course, the park has changed tremendously over the past 20+ years. I couldn't wait for my husband and I to take our son there, to see how much fun he would have in the big, big theme park.

Beautiful grounds...

Carowinds is a lot of fun for all ages. We loaded up the car, packed plenty of sunscreen and headed up the interstate to the family fun park. The cost for daily parking was $15.00, and because we didn't arrive super early and the south ticket gate was closed the day we went to the park, we did have to park quite a distance away and walk to the ticket gate. Once we had our tickets in hand and made it through the security check, we walked through the welcome area, which was loaded with lush flowers, gorgeous plantings and lots of shops! I grabbed a park map, because we hadn't been there in several years, and lots of things had changed,

Planet Snoopy- filled with rides and attractions for kids and their families!

Balian and Sacha, walking the path to Planet Snoopy...

A quick turn to the left, and we were on our way to Planet Snoopy, a fun-filled area just for kids! We did walk past some awesome thrill rides, like The Intimidator, a newer roller coaster, which my husband did ride the day we visited and said it was totally awesome and super fast!

In line for the Flying Balloons...

We were excited that Balian was able to ride a lot of the rides in Planet Snoopy, as long as there was an adult with him. We first rode the Flying Balloons, a ride which my sister and I loved as kids. We forgot, however, that it's a little intense, because of the way it dips, and how fast it goes. Balian did not care for it, so we didn't ride it again... though I would have liked to!

Pirate Boats, in front of The Intimidator, and in the center of the Helicopter Ride!

One we convinced Balian to ride the carousel, which is a beautiful carousel, featuring lots of pretty horses, dragons, and other exotic animals, he calmed down, and was ready to try out some other rides in Planet Snoopy. We let daddy go off on his own for a few minutes to ride the Afterburn coatser (one of my favorites!), which scores a 5 on the aggressive thrill scale! Balian and I found Snoopy's Yacht Club, which were cute little boats that sat in the water, and could be 'driven' by little boaters.

Snoopy's Yacht Club Ride...

The boating life...

Balian had a lot of fun choosing a boat to drive, steering and ringing the bell. He even let me ring the bell a time or two... I felt special! We rode the yachts about three times, and then because it was so, so hot the day we visited the park, we needed to take a serious water break. We met up with my husband at a nearby concession stand, where we were able to get a daily deal on bottled water- four for $10.00. They were all gulped down pretty quickly and we were good to go for the next round of fun.

Snoopy's Train

Next, we took refuge from the blistering sun on Snoopy's Train. Balian had so much fun on this adorable train ride, that we rode it at least six times throughout the entire day. There were very few people in line, so we walked right onto this ride (and most others) all day long!

Woodstock’s Whirlybirds
Woodstock's Whirlybirds

Balian's other favorite ride, was Woodstock's Whirlybirds. This tame helicopter ride has passengers peddling their way through Planet Snoopy on a mid-air track. We probably rode the helicopters ten times, my husband and I each taking a turn, riding with our little pilot! Balian is totally into helicopters right now, so it was not surprising to us that he absolutely loved this sun ride!

After we spent the morning in Planet Snoopy, it was time to take a walk to explore the rest of the park. We went back through Planet Snoopy, so we could take Balian on the Sky Tower, which rises high above the park, so you can look over the entire Carowinds property. This ride takes you 262 feet up in the air! Balian loved being able to look over the entire park and see his favorite rides... and the parking lot!

Best deal of the day- buying a refillable cup at Wings Cafe!

After we walked a little more, we let daddy take a turn riding one of his favorite coasters- the Vortex, which you actually stand up on. Next, we walked past some of my favorite rides, like the Scrambler, White Water Rapids, the Carolina Gold Rush and the Carolina Cyclone. We soon found ourselves just outside of Boomerang Bay, the huge water park located inside of Carowinds! We knew we'd be hitting the water park before the end of our day, but first, we needed to cool off and have a little lunch.

We wound up at our favorite place to eat in the whole park- Wings Cafe, where there are burgers, chicken tenders, pizza, fries, etc. We all shared some chicken tenders, and I think my hubby had a cheeseburger. We were excited to see that we could purchase a big refillable cup for around $12.00. It entitled us to free refills all day, which sure beat having to pay $3.00 for a bottle of water! We bought one cup and shared, and refilled with water and lemonade for the rest of the day. The cups are reusable on future trips, and entitle you to refills for $0.99! Again, beats the price of a regularly priced drink!

Carolina cobra
The Carolina Cobra

After lunch and a potty break, we stopped off in front of one of the newest coasters to grace the grounds of Carowinds, the Carolina Cobra. My husband loves coasters, and couldn't wait to ride this! He pretty much walked onto the ride, while Balian and I sat in the shade and watched. This twisting coaster is 125 feet! It lasts about two minutes, has a total of six inversions and shoots you forward, and then backward! My husband said it was completely awesome and that I would love it!


After lunch, we wanted to take Balian back to Planet Snoopy, because he was asking to ride the Whirlybirds again. On our way there, we spotted one of the newer thrill rides, WindSeeker. We watched as riders were lifted into the air, and then as the arms fanned out and riders soared through the air, round and round. I had to take a turn riding a ride, and couldn't wait to ride this one! WindSeeker is not for anyone who is afraid of heights, as it is the tallest ride in the park. Once you're settled into your set, you are gently lifted into the air, and the ride circles round and round for about three minutes. The view is incredible... not only can you see the whole park, you can almost see the entire city of Charlotte, NC! It was a beautiful gentle ride, and I have heard that it's spectacular to ride after dark! I recommend giving this one a try!

Balian, waiting for me to get off of WindSeeker

There are lots of benches throughout the park, many of them in the shade. There are semi-clean restrooms, and even family restrooms, which we appreciated (you sort of don't take notice of these things until you're a parent). Though it was a very hot day, there were plenty of places to stop and get water from a fountain, and concessions at merely every turn. We never felt too hungry or thirsty.

View of the Sky Tower from Snoopy's Junction...

View of the Intimidator from Snoopy's Junction...

One last time on the Whirlybirds...

We made one more trip to Planet Snoopy, so Balian could ride his favorite rides one more time. Even though my husband and I love riding the thrill rides, and we didn't get to go on most of our favorites that day, the important thing to us, was that Balian had a wonderful first time at Carowinds!

After that, we wrapped up our day at Boomerang Bay, the huge water park located inside of Carowinds. Entrance to Boomerang Bay is included in your park ticket price (many people don't realize this before they go to the park, and miss out on the water park!). We waited for a very long time to get into one of the family changing rooms... which was hot, slimy and gross! My advice is to just wear your suits to the park and don't bother with the changing rooms... I will never do that again!

Kookaburra Bay

We spent a lot of time at three of the children's areas within the water park. There were tons of spray water features, and shallow pools for infants and toddlers to splash and play in. It was great fun for Balian, and Sacha and I enjoyed sticking our toes into the cooling waters. The water park was more crowded than the rest of the park, and the lines at the concessions were much, much longer. 

Splashing and having fun in Boomerang Bay...

Getting spritzed and sprayed...

What a fun day we had!

Balian loved Boomerang Bay. To me, even though you can come to Carowinds and experience the thrill rides and the water park, you almost need to do either or. The water park is so big, that you almost need a full day to experience all of the water rides. The lines were pretty long when we were there, and we didn't attempt to go on any of those rides. It was so hot, everyone wanted to be in the water, and we didn't blame them.

Family Rides 1
Rip Roarin' Rapids

We had a great day at Carowinds, and my husband and I can't wait to take a day to go back there, sans little B man, so we can ride the 13 roller coatsers, and all of our other favorite thrill rides that we were unable to ride that day. Balian has asked about going back to Carowinds almost every day since we visited the park, so I know for sure that he had a fantastic time! We can't wait to take him again next year- he'll be a little older, taller and he'll have even more fun on these awesome rides!


If you're in the NC/SC area, you've got to plan to spend a day at Carowinds! There is a campground for RV camping at the park, there are summer concerts, there's live entertainment all day long, and thrill rides that will knock your socks off! With 13 coasters in one park, and tons of other amazing rides for the whole family, you won't be disappointed, and you might even be tempted to do what my husband wants to do when Balian is older- buy a family package of season's passes to the park- for endless summer fun!

Want to Go? Plan a Visit!

To start planning your family's trip to Carowinds, head to their website to check out all of the amazing fun that awaits you! You'll find helpful information for planning your visit- everything from things to do, height requirements, parking info and more. You can purchase your tickets online, and daily ticket deals start as low as $41.99/per person, with add-ons available for Dinosaurs Alive, as well as other things like meal deals, etc. Don't let summer slip by without taking a trip to Carowinds!

Connect with Carowinds...
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Have you ever been to Carowinds? 
Which rides are your favorites?

Special thanks to Carowinds for providing our family with comp media tickets to their park in exchange for a review feature story on Mommy's Block Party.

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  1. It looks like you all had a wonderful time! I have been to Carowinds once when I was a young child, so I barely remember anything. I would love to go again one day!

  2. That looks like such a fun time! I've never even heard of Carowinds, but we just moved to the east coast and aren't too far from NC! We'd probably have to make it a two day trip to go to the water park, too. =)

  3. You all looked to have had a fantabulous time!! I am not one for rides--but if you are that definitely looks like the place to go!!

  4. If you substitute my family members for yours, these could be photos from our trip to Kings Dominion last week! They are owned by the same company so we also have a Planet Snoopy and WaterWorks area. BTW, the platinum season passes for one park will grant you access to all the other parks owned by Cedar Fair!

    I wrote an Amusement Park Family Fun Guide article based on our visit to Kings Dominion last week with tips on how to prep for a great day (http://wondermomwannabe.com/amusement-park-family-fun-guide/) and would love for you to add suggestions based on your trip.

  5. My friend lives close by and raves about this park!! GREAT DETAILED review.

  6. Looks like a super fun day! Glad you all had fun :)

  7. What a fun day trip! Looks like a bundle of Fun!!

  8. I'm not in the area, but if I ever am, I would love to check it out! Looks like you guys had a blast!!

  9. This looks like so much fun! I have never been here, but I do remember being a kid and seeing a travel brochure for it and wanting to go sooo bad!

  10. The Carolina Cobra looks scary and yet I'm so tempted to ride it. Haha!

  11. My daughter loves to go to Carowinds. We have season passes.


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