I was able to spend the day at Carowinds a little while ago. It had been a long time since I had the chance to visit the park and I wanted to see how it’s changed over the past few years. Also, I wondered how I would look at the park from the standpoint of a Disney historian and theme park nerd.
Carowinds opened in March, 1973 and was the brainchild of Charlotte entrepreneur E. Pat Hall. He’d visited Disneyland in the early years and felt that a similar park would do well near Charlotte, NC. One of the unique features of Carowinds is that it does straddle two states. Carowinds is now a Cedar Fair park, along with King’s Dominion, King’s Island, Cedar Point and Knott’s Berry Farm. Carowinds also has the reputation of being more of an amusement park offering more coaster experiences than story-based attractions like at Disney parks.
E. Pat Hall1921-1978
An entrepreneur extraordinaire, E. Pat Hall conceived and built Carowinds for the enjoyment of millions of Carolinians, because of his determination to make a reality what most people only dream of, the Carolinas are a far better place to live. Carowinds, which opened in March 1973, is dedicated to the creed he lived by: No idea is too bold; no challenge to great.
Sadly, the flowers and plaque are rarely seen by guests since the entrance from the parking lot skirts the Carowinds flower planting. This could be a really great photo op if more people had a chance to see it!
|The toll plaza seen from the Carowinds planter.|
|The best parking for the North Gate is directly to the left of the toll plaza. You still need to drive all the way around the parking lot to access it.|
As you approach the entrance, you’ll notice that it’s dwarfed by the security gates. These gates were very similar to the ones that you’d find a few years ago at most airports. I only had my camera with me, but I still had to take out my keys and change before I passed through the metal detectors. I’m assuming that a backpack would be more thoroughly searched, especially for food.
|The backside of the entrance building!|
|A view into the park.|
|The fountain at the entrance plaza.|
|Another shot of the entrance plaza and fountain.|
|You can straddle two states in one amusement park!|
Ride Smart…Ride Safe
I didn’t notice this until I left, but it was an easy way to have your child pre-measured for the various rides and attractions in the park. I’m pretty sure that your child can get a color-coded wrist band, but I can’t find any mention of it online.
|I’m not sure Snoopy can ride many of the roller coasters!|
|Obviously, we hit the restrooms, first!|
There were some upcharges available in the park (you can also buy them online). The Carowinds Dining Plan costs $29.99 per person and it allows you to get one full meal every 90 minutes. When we were in the park, most counter-service meals were $14.99 per person. After two meals, you’ve met the dining plan cost. Granted, outfitting a family of four is quite a hefty price tag.
Fast Lane is similar to Fast Pass, except there is an additional charge for the program. There’s the Fast Lane and the Fast Lane Plus.
RIDE MORE. WAIT LESS!
Make the most of your day with a Fast Lane wristband that allows you to bypass the regular lines on 12 rides and attractions including Afterburn, Carolina Cobra, and more. Ride as many times as you want all day long.
Fast Lane Plus
FOR THE ULTIMATE CAROWINDS EXPERIENCE!
Upgrade to FAST LANE PLUS. Enjoy all of the Fast Lane attractions PLUS, unlimited rides on Intimidator and Nighthawk! A very limited number are available each day so buy yours today!
Have you had the chance to visit Carowinds?