By no means an all-inclusive list, but here are a few easily reachable by car. To see what's new at parks outside the immediate area, including a few in Orlando, see Page 15D.
Off I-77 at N.C./S.C. line
New this season is the Carolina Cobra -- a coaster that covers 935 feet in 2 minutes, 12 seconds -- with three inversions (including a cobra roll and loop) on the way out ... and the same on the way back.
Admission (one day): $46.99 ($36.99 when purchased online); $21.99 for ages 3-61 who are under 48 inches tall (in shoes) and for anyone 62 and older; 2 and younger, free. Parking: $10.
Discounts online and at Harris Teeter stores (N.C. and in Rock Hill), Bi-Lo (S.C. only) and Charlotte area Bojangles' (through July 19).
Details: 704-588-2600; www.carowinds.com.
Great Wolf Lodge, Concord
New resort at I-85 and Bruton Smith Boulevard (between Concord Mills and Lowe's Motor Speedway) has full-line indoor water park -- 11 water slides, four pools, plus four-story interactive treehouse water fort -- on 80,00 square feet. Also, outdoor water park (outdoor pool, spray fountain and other water activities). Resort also has adult and kid spas; video arcade; MagiQuest; outdoor min-golf course, etc.
Admission: Must stay at resort to use water park; rates vary with room availability. Contact for specifics. Discounts and specials available online.
Details: 866-925-9653; www.greatwolf.com/Concord.
Wet 'n Wild: Emerald Point, Greensboro
More than 36 rides and attractions at this water park off I-85 Business. New is Dr. Von Dark's Tunnel of Terror, a thrill water slide with a 40-foot drop.
Admission: $31.99; $20.99 for 48 inches or shorter; 2 and younger, free.
Details: 800-555-5900; www.emeraldpointe.com.
Tweetsie Railroad, Boone
Venerable park in mountains has trip on historic steam locomotive as its centerpiece; Free Fall, Roundup and Tornado rides; boat rides (for kids); deer park; a Main Street with a jail and saloon (live music and can-can dancers). Other shows and activities (including panning for gold). New: Professor Peppercorn's Magical Extravaganza (magic).
Admission (includes all rides): $30; $22 for ages 3-12 (tax included); 2 and younger free. Closed some days for special events (check schedule).
Details: 877-893-3874; www.tweetsie.com.
Freestyle Music Park, Myrtle Beach
Hard Rock Park, open for the 2008 season only, returns with new name, new owners and new (lower) prices.
New this year: Kids in America area with four new rides aimed at younger kids; also, new shows (one geared toward ice skating, the other toward skateboarding and BMX X-treme-style competition). HRPs signature ride -- the Led Zeppelin coaster -- has been painted pink and is now called The Time Machine.
Admission (tax included): $42.95; $32.30 for ages 3-9; 2 and younger, free. Check with the front desk at your hotel/motel for discounts.
Details: 843-236-7625; freestylemusicpark.com.
Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
New attraction is SkyZip, a multi-line zip-line experience -- 125 feet off the ground -- with lines ranging from 100 to 1,000 feet in length. Doing them all takes 60 to 90 minutes. Extra charge for this: $40 plus tax per person. New 45-minute musical show (included in admission) is "Sha-Kon-O-Hey!," with eight new songs written by Dolly Parton celebrating the people, history of Great Smoky Mountains (not offered Tuesdays).
Admission: $53.50; 60 and older, $50.20; ages 4-11, $42.35. Dollywood Splash Country water park: $43.50; 60 and older, $41.25; ages 4-11, $37.90. Packages available. Prices include taxes.
Details: 865-428-9488; www.dollywood.comcq.