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“Bring your patience and LOTS of money!”
3 of 5 bubbles Review of Carowinds

Ranked #11 of 175 things to do in Charlotte
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: A mecca of family fun, this 105-acre theme/water park features rides that thrill and live entertainment.
Naples, Florida
Level Contributor
208 reviews
46 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 155 helpful votes
“Bring your patience and LOTS of money!”
Reviewed May 18, 2013

First and foremost, PerryDPlatypus has hit the nail directly on the head. Carowinds personnel need to be better trained on both on the rides and at the concession stands.
Let's start with the prices. Parking is $15, Preferred parking $20 - ludicrous, considering the price you pay just to get in the door, without any discounts. We purchased our tickets (4 adults) online for $39.00 per person plus the service charge of $5.99. This was suppose to be the price of a child's admission for everyone who attends the park through the end of May. Good deal, I think. However, once we arrived, it was clear that the park was very crowded and if we were going to get on enough rides to make it worth the price, we would need to purchase the Fast Lane passes. To be able to ride the two best coasters, the Nighthawk and the Intimidator, you need to purchase the Fast Lane Plus - these upgrades were $50 per person when you purchase 4 or more. So here we are another $200 later and find out the Nighthawk is down for repairs!! WHAT?
They didn't know that when they sold us the Plus passes??? Why not? They also don't tell you that it's not valid for the Thunder Road coaster. Huh? This just isn't right! For the record, Thunder Road is not that great any way. It gave me a headache.
For the most part the ride operators on the day we attended appeared to be thankfully, both efficient and sufficiently trained. I was a bit aggravated when several times we were ignored in the Fast Lane line for more time than I felt necessary considering we paid the extra $200 for the passes. I also remember one ride in which the operator seemed to have a lack of care when it came to securing passengers into their seats. We're talking roller coasters here, people! We need to be strapped in securely!
Now on to the concessions. These people REALLY need to be trained. My husband and son waited in line to get pizza and breadsticks for 20 minutes, then got to the front and guess what? No bread sticks, the pizza was $6 a slice and water was $3 a bottle. I can literally buy a CASE of water at Walmart for less than $3! Total ripoff! Since there were no bread sticks, which really puzzles me, (how do you have dough for pizza and not bread sticks?) I was off to find a pretzel. As I arrived a man stuck his head out the little window and yelled at the people in line that the Icee machine was down, so we might as well all get out of line. What? I don't want an Icee, I want a pretzel! "Oh" was the reply, "I have a pretzel." Big mistake...what I got was an old stale pretzel for $4.79. Ridiculous!
The lesson here is, bring your patience, and brings lots and lots of money. You won't have any trouble spending ALL of it.

Visited May 2013
13 Thank patsjag28
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Level Contributor
71 reviews
33 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“Very Clean”
Reviewed May 18, 2013 via mobile

We Went On May 17 And Got A Season Pass So We Could Go Back On May 18 And Maybe The 19 Before Heading Home To Get Money Worth. They Have A Cup U Can Buy And The Day U Buy It U Get Free Refills Yeah!!!!!! The Price Of Food Is Similar To Dollywood N Other Theme Parks We Have Been To. At The Baby CarE Center U Can Have Your Child Measured N Given A Bracelet So Your Child Is Not Measured Every Ride. We Also Went ToDinosaur Alive N My Little One Loved It. Its Five Per Person Extra N Only Is One Walk Through. I Feel Like They Could Stamp Hand So U Could Come Back Later In Day. But We Had Fun Do Wish There Was More Shows. Height Requirments Are Very Different HEre Then Other Places BecaUse My Little One Is Used To Riding Raging Rapids N Cant Here. Other Rides Are Similar Have Fun N Take Full Advantage Of Baby Area For Bathroom .Mostly Nice staff

Visited May 2013
Thank chunkmonk11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Matthews, North Carolina
Level Contributor
19 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Good entertainment for local families”
Reviewed May 17, 2013

We buy season passes, because it is so close and we can go for a few hours whenever we want and it's not a big deal to get home. The water park is a lot of fun and a great way to beat the heat in summer. The rides are ok but it's so hot on line. If you go at off hours it's better. The tickets are pricey for what you get if you're just going for a day. It would be better if they offer, and they might, buy a day and get a 2nd day free for visitors. We had friends visit with 4 kids and it was pricey for just one day. Also, don't like how they limit how much food you can bring it. Kind of silly if you ask me. They should encourage people to bring food and coolers with drinks, etc, like Disney.

Visited August 2012
2 Thank myblueheaven071105
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Anderson, South Carolina
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Still a "Wanna Be" Theme Park”
Reviewed May 15, 2013

Since Carowinds brands itself as the best park in the Southeast, I think one must review them based on expectations to which they have set in comparison to other theme parks in the Southeast. Given that Six Flags Over Georgia, Disney World and Universal Studios are all theme parks located in the Southeast, Carowinds simply does not live up to those expectations. While I suppose this could be a fun one day getaway for a family there are a number of things that really cause me not to want to go back to Carowinds.

First, and foremost, is the cost of food, and the restrictions of letting you bring in your own drinks if you so desire. Drink costs are on par with that of movie theaters and actually make the prices at WDW look like a bargain. The cost of parking is actually the same as that of WDW and Universal studios with an option for preferred parking which actually exceeds both, despite, the relative inefficiency of the whole parking operation.

Second, and perhaps just as important, is the apparent lack of training and the resulting efficiency of the ride operators and food service workers. Yes, I know that most of those working at the park are college kids, etc. but recall that Carowinds has billed itself as the best in the Southeast. In a word, they simply are NOT the best at really anything when compared the truly best parks in the Southeast. You say they don't have the same resources to train their employees as well as WDW or University Studios? Sorry, if they want to meet the expectations of visitors then they need to find a better way.

In sum, if you have never been to a theme park before and thus have no experience as to what the "best" theme park in the Southeast should be like then you will probably enjoy yourself. If you have small children and can't travel to Florida then perhaps this is also a good choice but for the money and experience I'd rather pack up the family and head to a real theme park. The main problem with Carowinds is that it is simply inefficient. But given that you can purchase a "Fastlane" ticke to speed things up perhaps that is planned. With Carowinds you are at the mercy of their staff as to how many rides you will actually get to enjoy. A staff that is not very efficient or motivated to get you on and off the rides. In comparison to WDW, for example, you have the alternate of taking control of your schedule to maximize your experience with people that are very efficient at what they do.

Finally, perhaps the thing that annoys me the most is that Carowinds charges an additional $5.99 "service charge" if you're buying tickets in advance. Buying in advance is something that should actually help them out. They shouldn't be charging you more for this, in my opinion.

For all these reason, and many more too numerous to list, Carowinds is still a wanna be when compared to the best theme parks in the Southeast.

Visited May 2013
11 Thank PerryDPlatypus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
North Carolina
Level Contributor
21 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Fantastic park so close to home”
Reviewed May 14, 2013

Always have a great time at Carowinds. My kids love roller coasters and they do have a lot of them at Carowinds. Great fun had by all!!

Visited May 2013
Thank Donna S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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