How to Enjoy Carowinds' Carolina Harbor Waterpark With a Baby

Tips to make a day at the waterpark fun with a baby or toddler in tow.

When you're the mom of an almost 7-year-old and a 7-month-old, juggling the baby routine and big-kid fun requires smart planning and creative thinking. The recently opened Carolina Harbor at Carowinds is one of those places I'm dying to take my oldest son, but wasn't sure about baby, too. This week, however, I was invited to a play date with Emily Maynard Johnson (who made appearances on "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette") and her son Jennings, hosted by OK! Magazine and Huggies diapers. The event gave me the opportunity to scout out Carolina Harbor and explore Myrtle Turtle Beach, the area designated for ages 3 and under. After a morning there solo with only my baby, I feel like I have a lay of the land and am ready to go back with the whole family with these tips in mind.

photo by michele huggins

Emily Maynard Johnson with her son Jennings, and Charlotte Parent editor Michele Huggins with her son.

Bring Your Team. 

Photo by Michele Huggins

Myrtle Turtle Beach at Carowinds' Carolina Harbor.

Rent a Cabana.

For $80, you can get a cabana with satellite TV, chaise lounge chairs, a mini-fridge and table and chairs for eating. It's a shady reprieve for the little ones to take a nap, and the adult who takes nap duty. The fridge also means no worries about keeping food or bottles cold. Oh and the cabana comes with pool-side service. Need a drink? Just ask. If you don't rent a cabana, there are plenty of lockers for storing gear for the day.

photo by michele huggins

The Gear.

Bring your towels and loads of sunscreen and swimshirts, and of course plenty of swim diapers for the little one who wants to cool off in the puddles at Myrtle Turtle Beach. Side note: It's been awhile since I've had to use swim diapers, and I was impressed by how Huggies Little Swimmers don't poof up when wet. The diapers now are made with a unique absorbent material that won’t swell in the water. Watershoes are also a good idea as the concrete is hot where it's not wet, and slick where it is wet. If you have a small pop-up tot tent for the baby to nap in great, and a stroller works well too for cruising around to watch big brother zip down the waterslides. If the big-kid team is going to venture into the theme park to ride the coasters, be sure you pack a change of dry clothes. There is a new family bathhouse and upgraded family changing areas that make it easy to clean up and change.

photo by michele huggins

Ins and Outs.

No need to venture through the theme park to get to the waterpark. Use the Carolina Harbor entrance to come and go as you please. You can have your hand stamped and come back in that day.

Time it Right.

Carolina Harbor is 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on weekdays, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. on weekends. For the event, our group had early morning privileges, but it was sweltering hot when we were leaving around 11 a.m. I'm thinking a late afternoon trip is best for my brood, plus tickets are discounted after 4 p.m.