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SE Trip Lite- silver2005's Trip to Carowinds and Dollywood


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So, I've been thinking about a possible trip this year, and I feel my options are a bit limited due to how parks have been functioning due to covid issues. I feel the best course of action is to do my initially planned SE trip and trimming it down to just Carowinds and Dollywood with a few days in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge thrown in.   There is only a slight possibility I'll throw in KD, but I won't be doing BGW.  I am trying to go on a bit of a budget since I am saving for bigger life things for 2022.  There's also a chance I may do  short trips to CP and/or KK in there as well. 

I'm mostly familiar with the TN portion, but any additional tips on that (since I haven't been down there in a decade) and on Charlotte would be of great help (particularly lodging for both).  The trip will likely be in mid-July.   I'll likely be doing 3 full days in Gatlinburg (1 for the Gatlinburg strip, 1 for GSMNP, and 1 for Dollywood).  I'll be doing Carowinds first. 

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  • silver2005 changed the title to SE Trip Lite- silver2005's Trip to Carowinds and Dollywood

We have made 3 trips to Carowinds. 2016, 18 and 19. Had 2 days at the park for the first two, only one the most recent with fastlane. It was easy to do everything multiple times in one day with fastlane. 

We have stayed at the Hampton Inn Charlotte/South Park at Phillips Place. It's SO WEIRD. South Park is this crazy upscale little area of a few blocks. They still have free parking at this one unlike some city Hampton Inns. We really enjoy it, it's the most memorable Hampton Inn I've stayed at. About 15 minutes from the park and also about 15 minutes to downtown Charlotte. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

As far as Carowinds hotels we have stayed at the Comfort Inn right across the street (it is on the South Carolina side).  It is nothing fancy but it is pretty affordable.

With the Dollywood question, Wednesday would be the best day by far unless the weather didn't cooperate.  I forget, have you been there since Lightning Rod has been there?

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^Dollywood just completed the loop between Thunderhead and Tennessee Tornado the last time I was there.  I've been there 3 times and know enough what I am doing there, even with the new stuff.   I also know what I want to do in G-burg/PF. 

This will be my first time to Carowinds. 

The itinerary as of now is leave for Charlotte on a Sunday, Carowinds on a Monday, travel to Gatlinburg on a Tuesday and wing it the rest of the day there, and spend Wednesday-Friday in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge (one day for tourist-y stuffs, one day for Dollywood, one day for GSMNP).  I am going to try and get in at least 2 alpine coasters as well.  Want to get to at least one restaurant in TN that serves good rainbow trout, too. 

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You should be able to get everything easily done at Carowinds on a Monday.  If you are wanting to do Nighthawk, I'd recommend hitting it early or first thing because it seems slower to load than Firehawk did.  Carowinds has good ops on Fury and Intimidator so you can do those whenever thru the day as you wish.  Copperhead is a little slower to load with less capacity so I'd probably try to hit it early as well.

Of course you'll want to do the Eagles.  Carolina Skytower also gives great views of the park if you choose to do it.  One thing that is unique about Carowinds is one of the states has a higher tax rate than the other so ask about that if you have merch you want to buy.

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Nighthawk does not duel load like Firehawk did. So if its a hot sunny day you are waiting on the brake run staring at hot sun. Try and ride that one at night if the park is open late. When you say Eagles do you mean Mountain Gliders? I rode one like it at Indiana Beach and thought it was terrible. I almost got sick. The park does have cheap hotels right across the street. I have stayed at Best Western and the Motel 6. I prefer Best Westerns but the Motel 6 is likely somewhere around $65 and a nice hotel.

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Yeah, I'll be going cheap in Charlotte since its only 2 nights.  I may go a bit nicer for a hotel in TN.  This isn't a terribly expensive trip if I go super cheap, so I have room to splurge on things including nicer hotels and even go FLP at Carowinds if I want to go nuts.  B) Most of the Gatlinburg/PF stuff I want to do is on the cheap side or even free, I have Platinum from 2020 for Carowinds.  Dollywood is the only big expense outside hotels.  

Would like suggestions for a good Carolina style BBQ joint in Charlotte (outside of Carowinds). ;) May venture downtown depending on what time I get there.   

The target week I have in mind is July 18th-23rd.  

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