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Location: Carowinds is located 15 minutes from uptown Charlotte at exit 90 off Interstate 77 at the North Carolina/South Carolina border. It resides in both North and South Carolina.

14523 Carowinds Blvd.
Charlotte NC 28273.

History: Carowinds was opened in 1973, at a cost of $30 million, by Charlotte businessman Earl Patterson Hall, who was inspired to build the park after a visit to Disneyland in 1956. The name "Carowinds" was derived from the park's original theme and is a combination of Carolina and winds.

In 1975, senior executives from Taft Broadcasting purchased the theme park division of Taft and formed Kings Entertainment Company (KECO) which included Kings Dominion, Carowinds, Kings Island, and Canada’s Wonderland.

In 1993, Paramount purchased KECO and Carowinds became part of the Paramount Park chain.

In 2006, Cedar Fair Entertainment purchased Paramount Parks and is the current owner of Carowinds.

Hours: Carowinds is open from late March through Halloween.

Tickets: Buy and print online. Always try to buy your tickets in advance, to save time when you get to the park.

Reservations: FastLane is available for an additional upcharge, priced depending on date and number of wristbands purchased. The service allows you to bypass the majority of the wait for most of the park's attractions.

Strategy: As with any amusement park, arrive early (at least :30 minutes before opening) and hit the headliner attractions first (coasters).

The new Intimidator coaster will be the main event for 2010, and probably for years to come, so hit it first. Beyond Intimidator, the hottest rides in the park are: Nighthawk, Afterburn, and Thunder Road. Ride them early in the morning (or just before park closing) to avoid long waits.

There is a section of the park set aside for families with very young children: Planet Snoopy. Most of the rides in these areas are pretty standard midway fare, similar to those found at a touring carnival.

Boomerang Bay is free with park admission and offers 20 acres of water-filled activities.

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