Carowinds calls itself the Thrill Capital of the Southeast, and it has the massive roller coasters to back up that claim. But it's also great fun for even the littlest thrill-seekers. Check out these tips for your family's next trip to Carowinds.
1. Pace yourself. Even more important, pace your children.
It's a really big park and a long day. It's also a really high-energy, sensory-overloading sort of place. Take lots of breaks during the day. Sit under a shady tree and get a cool drink. Your kids' impulse might be to run from ride to ride, but pace them to prevent meltdown and exhaustion.
2. Bring the right bag.
You'll have lots of stuff to carry around - sunscreen, cash or credit card, maps of the park, phone (see # 9) and possibly a big plastic cup (see # 7). The stuff issue gets kicked up a notch if you have to contend with diapers and wipes. Get a bag that will be comfortable to carry. Cross-body bags are comfortable and offer easy access, but if you like a backpack best, or (gasp) a fanny pack, bring that instead. Just make sure it's comfy, because that thing will feel like it's 100 pounds by the end of the day.
3. Wear the right shoes.
You could easily be walking a few miles over the course of a day at Carowinds. Don't wear new shoes, and don't let your kids wear new shoes, because blisters can ruin your day. Choose shoes that are comfortable and well padded and that you don't mind getting wet.
4. Consider your transportation.
I don't mean the car you drive to the park. I'm talking strollers here. If you have a child younger than four, bring a stroller. Not only will it give him or her a comfy ride, but it will also be a good place to stash your bag.
5. Head to Camp Snoopy first.
When you enter the park, make a left and head to Carowinds children's area, Camp Snoopy. You might not want to spend the whole day there, but it's a great place to start. The rides are the right scale and thrill level for children, ranging from toddlers to school-age. It will give the kids a chance to get some rides under their belt and burn off a little of their excitement before the grown-ups want to head into the rest of the park to try out some of the really big roller coasters.
6. Find the Baby Care Center in Camp Snoopy.
This cool, private spot is a little treasure for new parents. Unlike the joyful cacophony outside, the center offers a calm place to change diapers, nurse your baby or just be quiet for a little while.
7. Consider buying an All Season Drink Bottle.
You aren't allowed to bring in food and drinks into the park, and individual sodas are pricey. You can buy an All Season Drink Bottle at any of the places that sell food and drinks and refill it all day long for free. If your family loves soda, lemonade, punch and other soft drinks, it can be a good deal.
8. You can get free cups of water from the concession stands.
It is so easy to get dehydrated on a hot day, but you needn't worry. The concession stands in the park hand out cups of ice water just for the asking.
9. Make sure each adult in your group has a cellphone.
If your family or group decides to split up, it will make finding each other so much easier. Just make sure they're actually charged. Splitting up can be a smart move so that everyone in your family gets to try out the rides they want, from the most terrifying to the most gentle. Just make sure you can find your way back together again.
10. Stash bathing suits in a locker for later.
If you plan to go to the Carolina Harbor, the water park that's included with admission (and you should - it's great!), rent a locker to store your bathing suits and towels so you don't have to lug them around. Go on the rides when it's cooler in the morning, and then you can head over to Tidal Wave Bay after lunch when it gets really hot.
For more information, contact Carowinds.