Carowinds Theme Park: Everything You Need to Know

December 21, 2017

Planning your first trip to Carowinds? Use this quick guide to maximize your time in the park.

Opening in 1973, Carowinds theme park has been a family travel staple in the Carolinas for decades. The classic theme park is located right on the North and South Carolina border off of 1-77. With 11 roller coasters, live entertainment, a water park, and more, families from across the country flock to Carowinds for a day of never-ending fun.

Photo Credit: Carowinds / Facebook

Carowinds Rides

Everyone goes to a theme park for the rides, right? Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or parents bringing your kids to a theme park for the first time, Carowinds has rides for every thrill level.

Thrill Rides at Carowinds

Those who want to scream at the top of their lungs will find extreme thrills at Carowinds theme park. Make sure these roller coasters and daring rides are part of your day.

Fury 325
As the longest steel coaster in North America, Fury 325 is the biggest and most notorious thrill ride at Carowinds. In fact, fans recommend leaving this coaster until closer to the end of your day so you can appreciate the speed and excitement of the other coasters—because this one knocks them all out of the park. Fury 325 is the world’s fastest and tallest giga coaster with a peak height of 325 feet, an 81° drop, and speeds of up to 95 miles per hour.

Nighthawk
Nighthawk is a flying coaster with eight inversions and a 115-foot drop. Reaching speeds of up to 51 mph, Nighthawk allows riders to “fly” face down. At certain points in the ride, you won’t know which way is up!

Intimidator
Like Fury 325, Intimidator is one of the top 10 tallest steel coasters in the country. This hypercoaster boasts seven drops, over three minutes of ride time, and speeds of 80 mph.

Afterburn
Originally named “Top Gun: The Jet Coaster,” Afterburn is a fan-favorite. As the park’s 3rd tallest and fastest coaster, Afterburn includes a 113-foot drop, speeds of up to 62 mph, and loops riders on the outside of the track.

Other thrill rides at Carowinds theme park include:

  • Hurler
  • Vortex
  • Drop Tower
  • Electro-Spin
  • Ripcord

Kids riding Kiddy Hawk at Carowinds - Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Family Rides

Don’t worry, parents! Carowinds knows not all visitors love roller coasters. For rides the whole family can enjoy, check out these attractions:

Boo Blasters on Boo Hill
Travel through a haunted southern plantation and capture Boocifer and his ghost friends with the help of a special weapon known as a Boo Blaster. This interactive ride is perfect for all ages. Plus, guests can purchase 3D glasses for an enhanced ride experience!

Plants vs. Zombies™ Garden Warfare 3Z Arena
Exclusive to Carowinds theme park, Plants vs. Zombies™ Garden Warfare 3Z Arena is an intra-active 3D attraction. Based on the popular video game franchise, riders choose their side—plants or zombies—and embark on a quest to find the golden gnome. Rack up as many points as possible for your team and win!

County Fair Rides
In 2017, Carowinds added four new family-friendly rides to the park. The County Fair area includes rides which pay homage to a classic Carolina County Fair. These rides include:

  • Zephyr (Swings)
  • Rock ‘N’ Roller
  • Do-Si-Do

Additional family rides throughout the park include bumper cars, the Carolina Skytower, and Rip Roarin’ Rapids. Do note some attractions may require children to ride with an adult.

Just for Kids

If visiting Carowinds with smaller children, Camp Snoopy is the spot for you. At Camp Snoopy, younger children can enjoy a variety of rides created just for them!

Kids can ride their first roller coaster on the Woodstock Express and Lucy’s Crabbie Cabbie. Or, for the daredevil child, the Flying Ace Aerial Chase coaster dangles riders beneath the track for a one-of-a-kind (but still kid-friendly) thrill.

Other Camp Snoopy kiddie rides include:

  • Flying Ace Balloon Race
  • Peanuts Pirates
  • Character Carousel
  • And More

Splash around at the Carolina Harbor waterpark, included with admission.

Special Experiences at Carowinds Theme Park

In addition to exhilarating attractions for all ages, Carowinds also offers a whirlwind of additional fun. Don’t miss these special theme park experiences.

Carowinds Shows and Events

While spending the day at Carowinds, take in a show. The theme park hosts a variety of shows each day. Shows range from seasonal productions to pop-up performances throughout the park. Be sure to check the performance schedule for the day when you enter the park.

Throughout the year, Carowinds also offers special events including the all-new Winterfest. Events range from concert festivals to seasonal fun.

Carowinds Carolina Harbor Waterpark

Did you know admission to the Carowinds Carolina Harbor Waterpark is included in your theme park admission? The waterpark boasts gigantic waterslides, a 3-acre children’s splash area, and water play structures. Be sure to bring a bathing suit and towel to take advantage of this massive waterpark.

Dinosaurs Alive!

As you walk through Carowinds theme park, be careful! Dinosaurs are on the loose. Ok, not really…
Dinosaurs Alive! is an interactive walk-through attraction featuring 50 life-size animatronic dinosaurs. Plus, children can discover fossils at the hands-on dig pit. These scientifically accurate dinos and activities are the perfect addition to a day at Carowinds.

Mother and Son riding Do Si Do at Carowinds - Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Tips and Tricks for Maximizing Your Day at Carowinds

As with any theme park, there are a few things you need to know before you go. Keep these handy tips in mind as you navigate Carowinds.

Know What to Bring

The items you bring to the theme park can have a huge impact on the outcome of your day. For a wonderful time at Carowinds, make sure you bring:

  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Swim Attire
  • A Towel
  • Extra Money
  • A Valid ID
  • Phone Charger/Battery
  • Camera and Batteries

Parents, you’ll want to bring a few extra items for your kids, including:

  • First Aid Kit
  • Diaper Bag and Supplies
  • Small Toys
  • Antibacterial Hand Wipes
  • A Water Bottle
  • Stroller

Quick Tip: Camp Snoopy offers parents a Baby Care Center for a quiet, private retreat.

Also, parents can rent a stroller from the park on a first come, first served basis. Single strollers are available for $16 ($10 deposit) and double strollers are $20 ($10 deposit.)

Since carrying all of these items in a purse, backpack, or bag will be cumbersome, lockers are offered in various areas of the park. Locker rentals vary in size and start at $17.

Know What to Wear

When visiting a theme park, be prepared to walk. A lot.

With this in mind, you need to wear the right attire. Make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes and dress appropriately for the weather. Most guests choose to wear shorts/pants, a t-shirt, and bring a light jacket in the case of rain or chilly weather.

Make the Most Out of Your Trip

To maximize your time at Carowinds theme park, use these quick tips:

Don’t Buy Water Bottles
Free cups of ice water are available at all Carowinds concessions stands. All you have to do is ask!

Plan Your Day from the Start
Make sure you start your day off right! Thrill seekers: head to either Nighthawk or Intimidator first. Then, follow it up with Fury 325. Families should head to either Camp Snoopy or the County Fair section to allow kids as many rides as possible.

Know Height Requirements Ahead of Time
If you know your child’s height, check the height restrictions on rides in advance. This way you know which rides your child can enjoy right away. Rides also have measurement signs outside the line queue for easy measuring.

Download the Mobile App
Carowinds offers an easy-to-use app which you should download before you get to the park. Within the app, you can remember where you parked your car, discover wait times, and use an interactive map of the park.

Determine if You Need a Fast Lane Pass
The Fast Lane Pass and Fast Lane Plus Pass help you skip long wait times for popular rides. Although, most families find this pass is not worth the added cost. However, if you are visiting during a peak season such as summer, it may be advantageous. This ticket add-on is completely up to you.

Outside Food and Beverages Are Prohibited
With the exception of guests with dietary restrictions, outside food and beverages are not allowed inside the park. Carowinds theme park offers a wide range of restaurants, concession stands, and eateries for guests to enjoy.

Remember to Get Your Hand Stamped
One way guests maneuver around the “no outside food” rule is by packing snacks or a meal and leaving it in the car. You can leave the park and re-enter by getting your hand stamped before exiting. This allows families to have a carside picnic, save money, and return to the fun!

Buy Tickets in Advance
Our last tip is the most important. Skip the ticket line and save money with discount Carowinds tickets from Tripster! Don’t wait in line only to pay full price.

Photo Credit: Carowinds / Facebook

Spend the Day at Carowinds Theme Park

With all of this handy information in your back pocket, you’re ready for a memorable trip to Carowinds.
What tips would you add to our guide? Comment below.

    • Teresa says:

      Hello Tamela! Bags (and fanny packs) are allowed into Carowinds. However, all bags are subject to search before entering the park.

    • avatar of Teresa in blue tripster shirt
      Teresa Tripster says:

      Hi Kennedy! Yes, small hand-held fans are permitted in the park. Are you heading to Carowinds soon?

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