Carowinds Amusement Park – Your 2024 Insider’s Guide to the Park

This gem of the Carolinas is brimming with ways to have a good time. Soak up all the thrills and chills you possibly can!

As a theme park and water park in one, Carowinds is a deluxe amusement park sure to keep boredom away. Thrill rides, water rides, family rides, and rides just for kids are all in the lineup.

Additionally, you’ll encounter oodles of shows and a walkthrough attraction featuring life-sized dinosaurs! Not to mention, there are delicious bites around every corner to ward off the theme park munchies. Chow down on freshly baked pretzels, crispy fried chicken, and fair fries piled high with toppings.

Carowinds is run by theme park experts. One of the well-known facts about Carowinds is that it’s been around since 1973. This is no naive amusement park newbie! Its convenient location is found on the North Carolina and South Carolina border.

Ready to take your own trip? Follow along as we spill all the Carowinds secrets you’ll need to know to make your experience spectacular.

Carowinds Discount Tickets

Before you start packing your bags, there are a few things to consider. For one, you’ll want to have Carowinds tickets in hand before you arrive! Buying your tickets online ahead of time means convenience as well as savings.

Go easy on the budget when you purchase your tickets with Tripster. Moreover, the online checkout process is super simple. So, that means you’re out of excuses! Get your tickets on the cheap today.

Pro Tip: Planning to visit throughout the year? We suggest you splurge on a season pass!

When to Visit Carowinds

Carowinds’ hours vary throughout the year. So, we suggest checking out the park calendar before booking your trip.

Pro Tip: If you’re trying to steer clear of the crowds, weekdays are going to be your friend. Avoid the weekends at all costs!

Red carowinds sign next to a body of water with a roller coaster in the background
Photo Credit: Carowinds via Facebook

Carowinds Insider Tips

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 to keep the experience stress-free!

Related Post: Charlotte NC Nightlife: In-Depth Guide to Queen City After Dark

Pro Tip: Note that the Carowinds cashless policy means cash isn’t accepted in the park. You can pay by credit card, debit card, Apple Pay, or Google Pay.

What to Bring

The items you bring to the theme park will have a huge impact on the outcome of your day. To make sure you are well-prepared for Carowinds, add these to your bag:

  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Water bottle
  • Hat
  • Swimwear
  • Towel
  • A valid ID
  • Phone charger

Pro Tip: The Carowinds bag policy is that bags are allowed in the park, but not on the rides. If you don’t want to lug all this stuff around throughout the day, there are lockers for rent at the park. Drop your belongings off for a smoother theme park day! Lockers vary in size and are available for an extra fee.

Parents, you may also want to bring a few extra items along for the kiddos, including:

  • First aid kit
  • Diaper bag
  • Antibacterial hand wipes
  • Stroller

Pro Tip: Camp Snoopy offers parents a Baby Care Center for a quiet, private retreat. Additionally, parents can rent a stroller from the park on a first-come, first-served basis.

Airplanes strung up like garland over a walkway at carowinds
Photo Credit: Carowinds via Facebook

What to Wear

When visiting a theme park, you’ll need to be prepared to walk beneath hot sun rays all day long. Keep this in mind as you plan your park getup.

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Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and dress appropriately for the weather. Most guests choose to wear shorts or light pants and a t-shirt. Moreover, pack a light jacket in your bag in case of unexpected rain or chilly weather.

Make the Most Out of Your Carowinds Trip

The following tips will help you maximize your time at Caraway amusement park. Put these in your back pocket for a seamless theme park outing!

Don’t Buy Water Bottles

Free cups of ice water are available at all Carowinds concessions stands. All you have to do is ask! Spare yourself some change on pricey bottles of water that will be gone in a matter of minutes.

Plan Your Day From the Start

Be sure to start your day off right! At a dreamland of endless thrills, there’s no time to waste. Consult a Carowinds map before you go.

Thrill seekers, head to Nighthawk or Intimidator first. Then, follow it up with Fury 325. Families should head to Camp Snoopy or the County Fair section to begin their day. This will allow kids to ride as many rides as possible!

Photo Alert: Before your group splits up for the day, snap some Carowinds photos of everyone outside of the theme park or as soon as you get through the gates! Capture priceless memories for a lifetime.

Red amusement park ride at Carowinds with a theme park setting in the background under a blue sky
Photo Credit: Carowinds via Facebook

Know Height Requirements Ahead of Time

If you know your child’s height, check the height restrictions on rides in advance. Then, you’ll know which rides your child can enjoy without wasting any time. 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 can download before you get to the park. There are many handy features in the app that will help you:

  • Remember where you parked your car
  • Discover ride wait times
  • Navigate the park with an interactive Carowinds park map

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. However, most families find these passes are not worth the added cost.

Although, if you are visiting during a peak season such as summer, the passes may be advantageous. This ticket add-on is completely up to you.

Four peanuts characters standing in a line
Photo Credit: Carowinds via Facebook

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 when you get your hand stamped before exiting.

This allows families to have a car picnic! Save money on delicious noms, then get right back to the fun.

Carowinds Rides

Rides are usually the main draw of any theme park. Whether you’re a well-versed adrenaline junkie or a parent bringing your kids to experience a theme park for the first time, Carowinds has rides that cater to every version of thrill seeker.

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Those who want to scream at the top of their lungs will find extreme thrills and daring rides at Carowinds theme park. However, the theme park knows not all visitors love Carowinds roller coasters. Below, you’ll find a mix of both thrill rides and family rides in our Carowinds fun guide.

Fun Fact: One of the Carowinds facts is that the theme park spans a whopping 407 acres!

View looking up at a roller coaster as people ride it at Carowinds
Photo Credit: Carowinds via Facebook

Fury 325

Serving 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 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!


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 up to 80 mph.

Copperhead Strike at Carowinds on a sunny day in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
photo credit: American Coaster Enthusiasts via Facebook


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

Other thrill rides at Carowinds theme park include:

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

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 interactive 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 to win!

Aerial view of Carowinds theme park
Photo Credit: Carowinds via Facebook

County Fair Rides

In 2017, Carowinds added four new family-friendly rides to the park. The County Fair area includes rides that 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. Note that 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, young 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

Special Experiences at Carowinds

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

Carowinds Shows and Events

While spending the day at Carowinds, don’t forget to catch a show. The theme park hosts a variety of shows each day, ranging from seasonal productions to pop-up performances. Be sure to check the performance schedule for the day you plan to visit.

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

Front sign of the Carolina Cyclone ride with roller coster in background under a blue sky
Photo Credit: Carowinds via Facebook

Carowinds Carolina Harbor Water Park

Did you know admission to the Carowinds Carolina Harbor Water Park is included with your theme park admission? The water park boasts gigantic waterslides, a three-acre children’s splash area, and water play structures.

Be sure to bring a bathing suit and towel to take advantage of all the splashing!

Dinosaurs Alive!

As you walk through Carowinds theme park, be careful! Dinosaurs are on the loose. Ok, not really…

However, there are dinosaurs on-site! Dinosaurs Alive! is an interactive walkthrough 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.

Can You Bring Food Into Carowinds?

Unfortunately, one of the Carowinds rules and regulations is that the park does not allow outside food and drinks. However, you’ll find plenty of eateries on-site to satisfy your appetite! From snacks to full meals, Carowinds has it all.

Check out some of our favorite options:

  • Beach Bites
  • Blue Ridge Country Kitchen
  • Fair Fries
  • Juke Box Diner
  • Harbor House

Of course, you’ll have to wash it all down with a thick and creamy shake from Shake Central!

Blue and yellow roller coaster with riders riding under a blue sky with trees surrounding the tracks
Photo Credit: Carowinds via Facebook

Where to Stay When Visiting Carowinds

It’s no surprise that a long day of theme park fun will leave you ready for a long and satisfying sleep. Do yourself a favor and book accommodations ahead of time online. You’ll save time, money, and stress! A triple threat of travel planning success.

Check out Comfort Inn at the Park first!

Carowinds Parking

Parking is available on-site for a fee. Contact Carowinds directly to find out more.

Other Charlotte Attractions

You’ve already made it this far. Why stop at Carowinds? Get out and about to explore the rest of Charlotte! Here are some of our favorite Charlotte attractions.

NASCAR Hall of Fame

The NASCAR Hall of Fame is the place to be for all speedsters. Explore exhibits and interactive experiences that allow you to dive into NASCAR’s history.


Encounter full-on marine mania at SEA LIFE! This deluxe aquarium allows you to come face-to-face with your favorite sea creatures. Wave at an octopus and say hello to seahorses! Ten interactive exhibits mean there’s plenty of sea-gazing to do.

A family with young kids playing in the touch pool at SEA LIFE Aquarium in Orlando, Florida, USA
photo credit: SEA LIFE Aquarium via Facebook

Discovery Place Science

This wonderland is the perfect place for kids to explore the world around them. In addition to aquariums, Discovery Place Science features lab spaces to learn about science and even an indoor rainforest!

Visit Carowinds Now

So, what are you waiting for? Add a fun-filled day (or more!) to your collection of beloved family memories. Everyone will love looking back on fun times like those found at Carowinds.

While you’re in Charlotte, turn your visit into a full-on Carolina vacation. You won’t even need a travel agent to make it happen! With Tripster’s help, you’ll have your whole trip booked at a bargain before you know it.

What’s Your Favorite Carowinds Attraction?

If you’ve visited before, we need to know which attractions we can’t miss. If you’ve never been, which one are you most looking forward to? Spill your answers in the comments!

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Written by Michaela Satterfield

Michaela is a journalist who views every story she writes as an adventure, leading her to explore new places and meet new people....

16 comments about “Carowinds Amusement Park – Your 2024 Insider’s Guide to the Park”


April 29, 2022 at 4:20 pm

What kind of bags are allowed in Carowinds
What can you carry your money and phone in the park
Are fanny packs allowed


May 2, 2022 at 7:59 am

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

Andrew Daurity

June 29, 2023 at 9:31 pm

Fanny packs are aloud.

Andrew Daurity

July 30, 2023 at 2:24 pm

Yes, Fanny Packs Are Indeed Aloud. (Handy For Rides But You Want To Keep Your Stuff!)

Kennedy Thompson

June 2, 2022 at 7:17 pm

Are mini fans allowed in the park to cool yourself?

avatar of Teresa in blue tripster shirt

Teresa Tripster

June 10, 2022 at 10:07 am

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

Stacie Thomas

July 10, 2022 at 12:13 am

Can backpacks be brought in?

avatar of Teresa in blue tripster shirt

Teresa Tripster

July 21, 2022 at 8:22 am

Hello Stacie. Yes! Backpacks are permitted into Carowinds (except during SCarowinds). There is a bag check before entering the park.

Braelynn Latimer

January 8, 2023 at 6:36 pm

Does a non-rider still have to pay to same amount a rider is paying?

avatar of Teresa in blue tripster shirt


January 9, 2023 at 8:52 am

Hello Braelynn! Yes, there is no discount/non-rider ticket available.

gidget peterson

April 19, 2023 at 6:10 pm

Is there a place to change into a bathing suit?

avatar of Teresa in blue tripster shirt


April 27, 2023 at 8:02 am

Hi Gidget! The waterpark does have changing rooms and lockers to rent for a small fee.

Bridgett Rush

June 24, 2023 at 9:31 am

Can you bring a lounge chair in the water park … my family wants to reserve a family cabana… but we would need a lounge chair for elderly family member

Andrew Daurity

June 29, 2023 at 9:34 pm

I don’t think so. But there are chairs and a fan in there!


July 13, 2023 at 9:28 pm

Can I bring a water bottle?

avatar of Teresa in blue tripster shirt


July 26, 2023 at 8:14 am

Hi Kimette, yes! You may bring in a water bottle.

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