Nearby attractions offer families vacation options

Posted May 26, 2009

This might not be the year for a lengthy and expensive family vacation, but that doesn’t mean a summer stuck at home. Several attractions within easy driving distance of the Triangle are opening or expanding in time for the travel season. So save money on airplane tickets because there’s fun to be had closer to home.

Williamsburg’s Busch Gardens has long offered the opportunity to enjoy a little taste of Europe just up the road. Now, one of the best-known neighborhoods in the U.S. is also part of the amusement park with the recent opening of Sesame Street Forest of Fun.

The 65,000-square-foot kid zone includes places to play and eat and four new rides that are smaller versions of ones at other popular attractions, including a junior roller coaster for parents and children to ride together. Other features include the following:

  • Elmo’s Castle performance stage and wet playground
  • Prince Elmo’s Spire, a shot-n-drop ride for the whole family
  • Bert and Ernie’s Loch Adventure flume ride for parents and kids
  • Oscar’s Whirly Worms family-friendly rock-n-tug ride
  • Oscar’s Yucky Forest playground
  • Sunny Days Celebrations musical performances by Sesame Street characters
  • 1-2-3 Smile with Me! character and guest photography studio
  • Abby Cadabby’s Treasure Trove gift shop

The Forest of Fun expands the park’s kid-friendly offerings, which also include the Land of Dragons play area and junior rides throughout the park. Find out more at or by calling 1-800-343-7946.

West of the Triangle, Wet ‘N Wild Emerald Pointe Water Park in Greensboro celebrates its 25th anniversary with the opening of Dr. Von Dark’s Tunnel of Terror. The new ride is one of two Dr. Von Darks in the nation and includes a 40-foot drop and two high-speed 360-degree spins, all in total darkness.

"Good Morning, America" and The Travel Channel have named Wet ‘N Wild one of the top 10 water parks in America. As part of its anniversary celebration, the park has special discounts and events scheduled throughout the season, which runs through Sept. 7. More information is available at or by calling 1-800-555-5900.

Concord offers a different kind of watery fun with the opening of the Great Wolf Lodge, which features an 80,000-square-foot indoor water park with 11 slides, four pools and an interactive tree house water fort. Other activities include the following:

  • Howl in One themed 18-hole miniature golf course
  • Northern Lights Arcade, with more than 100 video games and a prize center
  • Cub Club children’s activity area, with program content provided by National Geographic Kids
  • gr8_space tech center, with Internet access, docking stations for MP3 players, gaming stations, karaoke, movies and musical entertainment
  • Elements full-service spa and Scoops Kid Spa for children 12 and under

The resort employs more than 100 nationally certified lifeguards and offers kid-friendly guest suites with several different room configurations. Other amenities include two themed restaurants, meeting space and a fitness center.

This is the 11th Great Wolf Lodge to open in the U.S. and Canada. Visit or call 1-866-925-9653 to learn more.

Carowinds has added its 12th scream machine. The Carolina Cobra recently debuted at the Charlotte theme park with a 120-foot drop and three inversions, including a cobra roll and loop, which riders get to enjoy a second time in reverse after the ride reaches the end of the line. The boomerang coaster – it travels the same track backward and forward – is the park’s second-largest and is located, appropriately enough, near the entrance of Boomerang Bay.

More information is available by calling 704-587-9050 or at


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  • TheEnigma May 27, 2009

    Yeah, the wolf lodge was a little expensive. But you could visit the waterpark all day on check in/out day as well. My nine year old absolutely loved it! My two-year old was overwhelmed.

    I would recommend the lodge for kids 3 and up.

  • madpoiuyt May 27, 2009

    You can take a cruise cheaper than staying at the Wolf Lodge for one night. Instead of going to that overpriced water park: For $120 per night, I will let you stay at my house, and I will spray you with the garden hose while howling in your ear.

  • wcumom May 27, 2009

    That is one precious red headed little boy! The rest I could care less about.

  • mewubbau May 27, 2009

    Wolf Lodge is pricey, but keep in mind the water park pass is included with the room. This would be probably $40-60 a person for just the park alone in some places. But yes a little pricey and I think the price might go up after the GRAND OPENING pricing stops on June 19th.

  • yvette May 26, 2009

    The cheapest room for the Wolf Lodge is $179 a night. I really do not consider that affordable family fun.