While it's meant to be an adjunct to Carowinds, Carolina Harbor is a large park in its own right and is one of the largest water parks in North Carolina. It has most of the water slides and attractions found at standalone parks. A 2016 expansion and name change (the park used to be known as Boomerang Bay) brought new attractions to the park.
As a water park at a theme park, it's like getting two parks for the price of one. Admission to Carowinds includes admission to Carolina Harbor (when it is open, obviously).
Here is an interesting fact: Because the park sits on the border, the the lazy river straddles both North and South Carolina and riders float past the state line.
Slides, Rides, and Attractions
Let's run down the many slides and features at Carolina Harbor. There is something for virtually every visitor to enjoy, regardless of age or thrill tolerance.
One of the newer attractions, Blackbeard's Revenge, is among the park’s most extreme slides. It features launch capsules with near-vertical drops. The anticipation of the drops will get your pulse racing. Other rides on the wild side include Dorsal Fin Drop, a bowl ride, and Surfer’s Swell, a halfpipe ride.
Captain's Curse is an enclosed tube slide that sends passengers racing into four 360-degree turns. Other tube and body slides include Cannonball Drop, Storm Surge, Pelican Plunge, and Barracuda Blasters. Hurricane Falls is a family raft ride that invites four people at a time to brave its twists and turns.
Among Carolina Harbor’s more moderate attractions are Tidal Wave Bay, its 400,000-gallon wave pool, and Surf Club Harbor, a second, 27,000-square-foot wave pool. Coastal Currents is the park’s lazy river that crosses the state line. Seaside Splashworks is a large interactive water play area that includes climbing structures, sprayers, small slides, and a huge tipping bucket that periodically unloads onto guests.
For the youngest visitors, the park offers three play areas: Myrtle Turtle Beach, Kiddy Hawk Cove, and Pirates Landing. They all have toned-down slides, gentle water jets, and other features.
What's to Eat?
There are a variety of dining spots throughout Carowinds. Choices include Sharky’s Grille, which is located inside Carolina Harbor. The quick-service place serves baskets featuring grilled chicken, cheeseburgers, and Sloppy Joes.
In 2019, the park is introducing Blue Ridge Country Kitchen. The air-conditioned eatery will feature rotisserie chicken. Other restaurants include Papa Luigi’s for pizza, pasta, and subs; the food court, Harmony Hall, which offers BBQ, Mexican dishes, salads, and more; and Chickie’s & Pete’s, a sports bar with cheesesteaks, nachos, and mac & cheese crab on the menu.
For sweet tooths, there’s funnel cake (of course), Rita’s Italian Ice, frozen yogurt, ice cream, and a candy shoppe.
Admission Info, Location, Lodging, and Hours
Tickets to the theme park include admission to Carolina Harbor, the onsite water park. Carowinds offers a reduced price for children (under 48") and seniors (62+). 2 and under are free. Discounted two-day passes are available. Group tickets and season passes are offered. Discounted tickets are often available online.
Carowinds is located in Charlotte, North Carolina. Take I-77 to SC Exit 90 at the North Carolina/South Carolina border. The actual address is Avenue of the Carolinas in Charlotte.
The park has an adjacent campground, Camp Wilderness. It includes RV and tent sites, fully appointed, two-bedroom cabins, and a large cvabin that accommodates up to 14 people.
Weather permitting, Carolina Harbor is generally open from mid-May through early September. While the theme park may open earlier in the day, the water park typically opens at 11 a.m.