As parents of a toddler, at least I think our 14 month old is considered a toddler, we still want to experience life to the fullest without being restricted to kiddie rides, swing sets, and play-dates. Not that I mind hanging out with my daughter and taking her to explore new places and things, but we do enjoy adult experiences as well. I spend the better part of my day listening to Toddler Radio on Pandora, teaching Athena the new word of the day, today was “blue”, strolling through the neighborhood, and watching Athena attempt new feats like climbing on the Joovy trike and standing on the seat (I kid you not; that was the challenge of the day). So when an opportunity arises to have an adult day, we take it. Although amusement parks might not be considered “adult”, we couldn’t think of a better way to spend Father’s Day. Darren and I love the rides more than most teens and the whole park is one big adventurous playground with 13 coasters, Drop Tower, and Xtreme Skyflyer. Is it possible, though, to visit an amusement park with a toddler and still have fun? At Carowinds, heck yeah! They have programs in place to make the entire experience more enjoyable. With a Parent Swap Program, a Baby Care Center, plenty of shaded areas, and tons of dining choices, we stayed from open to close and everyone had an enjoyable day.
Carowinds prides themselves on accommodating all guests; their Parent Swap program is a prime example. When we entered the park, we went to guest services and picked up a Parent Swap slip that allowed us to ride each ride without waiting in line twice. As an example, Darren waited in line for the Intimidator and I walked around the area with Athena. When he was finished, I took the pass and accessed the ride via the exit ramp in order to avoid waiting in the regular queue. It allowed us to visit the park and still have all the perks of a regular guest. Plus, we were able to spend the day with Athena. It was a win win situation.
In Planet Snoopy’s Baby Center, we found a comfortable rocking chair, a microwave, and a diaper changing station. While Darren was waiting in line for one of the roller coasters, Athena and I made our way through Planet Snoopy. It’s located in the back left hand corner of the park, making it perfect timing for a diaper change and a snack. With the Parent Swap pass, I was able to take care of all of her needs then hop on a ride as soon as we met up with Darren. It couldn’t have been more convenient.
An abundance of food choices made the easy flow of the day continue. Carowinds Pizza Cafe was the first pick for everyone. Athena loves pizza; she’d eat it for every meal if I’d let her (obviously I don’t). We ordered a pepperoni pizza for $10 and it was enough to feed all three of us. Normally the excessive prices at amusement parks is enough to turn anyone’s stomach even if you don’t get sick on the rides, but you can’t beat a large $10 pizza.
When I rode the Nighthawk, Darren and Athena relaxed in the shade at the food court. He had alone time with her while I was zooming toward the ground and turning skyward just in time for the next inversion. We might not have spent every moment of the day together, but we were grateful to combine adventure with parenting.
Athena may be too young to ride on the rides at Carowinds, but she’s not too young to have a great day with us there. Most parents of infants or toddlers assume they are restricted because of the baby’s age, but that doesn’t have to be the case. The great parent options make Carowinds an adventure for everyone.
What adventure will Athena join us on next? She’ll be flying in a helicopter with me over Ottawa, Canada in two weeks. We’ll see you in the skies!
You can watch us ride two Carowinds roller coasters at Bucket List Publications Video Gallery.