DARKNESS FALLS. EVIL RISES. Every weekend night, Carowinds transforms into a horror-filled nightmare. From mazes with terrifying creatures around every corner to thrill rides that’ll haunt your dreams, it’s everything you fear and can’t wait to experience. Smarties, meet SCarowinds Halloween Haunt.
So what age do you take your kids to SCarowinds? That’s the big question starting in fourth grade. Their official statement is 13. I concur. If you have any reservations about what is the right age for your child, read my blog here from my first time and it will give you a good guideline.
This year, my second oldest child hit middle school and it was Round 2 with the same dream team line-up for a group of moms & dads with tweens in tow for the first time SCarowinds voyage. We lost two girls right out of the gate in the vampire zone – they pretty much ubered home! We experienced the same tried-and-true stall tactics with the girls running to the Fury and Intimidator lines to avoid the scary characters, and boys wishing they didn’t arrange for girls to go since they’re all scaredy-cats. This is my 4th year chaperoning to SCarowinds and I still have yet to set foot in all of the mazes or haunted house. I’m hoping to conquer that when my twins hit 6th grade in two years!
We did however hit the remake of the Slaughterhouse Final Cut Maze, it was pretty intense! One of the girls with us put her hoodie on backwards so it was covering her face and we had to escort her through the maze completely blind. What she didn’t realize is that made it SO much scarier for her. The SCarowinds talent had a blast scaring her whispering sweet scary nothings in her ears the entire time.
Still to this day, my absolute favorite scare talent is this guy who walked around in a black cloak and had inline wheels on his wrists and knees. So he would be walking near you or past you and you wouldn’t think much. Then all of a sudden he would be whizzing by you and weaving in front and behind you with the scariest noise you’ve ever heard. He got me every single time. I’m pretty sure he enjoyed scaring the moms just as much as the kids! He’s worth seeking out, the best scary person ever!
So here are my top Smarty tips for SCarowinds:
1) Pick friends who are not afraid. I know, they all say they aren’t scared. I’m here to tell you they will be – boys and girls alike. Make sure this ain’t their first rodeo at Carowinds either. Nothing worse than a child who’s scared of the dark AND roller coasters. This is not the place for them. Remember, PG-13, 6th graders and up.
2) Go with fun mom gal pals. I promise you, this will be one of your funniest tween mom moments. I laughed so hard I almost cried my first, second, third and fourth time. It was great to share with a fellow girlfriend, who obviously has a good sense of humor. No mother hens allowed.
3) Don’t drop anyone under 9th grade off without an adult. Only the “fast” kids get to do this right out of the gate. That’s a topic for another day. Trust me, they will want you nearby, even if they don’t tell you that. Some of my 9th grader’s friends are still too scared to go solo without a parent. But I would say in general, 9th grade would be fine for you to do the drop-off. They are responsible enough at that age to go solo. Some would say 8th grade, I say it depends on the kid(s).
4) If dropping off, make sure you establish an exact pick-up time, preferably 30 minutes before closing. Traffic is slow getting out of there, ALWAYS. Make sure you start your text communication with your child at least 30 minutes before you plan to pick up. The lines are long, no matter where you are in the park. Teens need reminders well in advance so they can meet you on time.
5) There are “No Scare” Pumpkin necklaces for sale all over the park. The scary people are not supposed to scare anyone wearing them, kind of like a cross held up to a vampire. But there are exemptions, I think the mazes and haunted house are fair scare game even with the necklace. I can’t decide if these things work. I kind of feel like it was a bulls eye beacon of light on your group. But it does give the kids a sense of confidence and strength, even if it didn’t work at times. Smarty tip: bury those things under your sweatshirt and turn off if you go in the mazes. Make sure not one single pumpkin strand is showing, or those scary people will be on your kids like white on rice.
6) Don’t wear white, only dark clothes. White is like having a target on them, ripe for the vampire picking.
7) There is a BAR! So if you have really brave kids, you and your gal pals can sit back and enjoy the hilarious entertainment. But P.S. SCaracters stalk the bar.
Scarowinds Halloween Haunt Hours:
SCarowinds Halloween Haunt
Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays
7:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Late Night Closings
October 24 & October 31
7:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.
For younger children, you can go during the day for The Great Pumpkin Fest, which takes place every Saturday and Sunday in October inside Carowinds’ Planet Snoopy. The Great Pumpkin Fest will celebrate all the fun of the fall season with costumes, games, hands on activities and Snoopy and his pals giving hugs, high fives, and treats. Great Pumpkin Fest activities are included with the price of daytime admission to Carowinds. The Great Pumpkin Fest runs Saturdays & Sundays now through November 1st. Halloween activities are from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Back to SCarowinds…I think for the full effect you should definitely arrive after dark. It will maximize your scare factor. I’m including Scarowinds’ video below to give you some good footage.