Sunday, July 1, 2018

Family Kingdom: Myrtle Beach's Seaside Amusement Park

We had the pleasure of spending a few days in Myrtle Beach recently. Thanks to this, we got the chance to visit Family Kingdom Amusement Park for the first time in a while. Since this is a ticket park, you are welcome to visit whenever you please during their business hours. This makes it great for lazy beach days when you are moving around at your own pace. We arrived in the evening and took in a sunset on the beach, then we headed to Family Kingdom. This was Brit's first time to the park and we really had a blast. 
The marquee ride of Family Kingdom is Swamp Fox, a classic John Allen/PTC wooden roller coaster. This ride is simply fantastic. It was always a decent ride, but over the last few seasons it has received some serious love, with lots of retracking, and new paint on seemingly every part of the ride.

The park's Ferris Wheel.
The best part of this coaster is the vast variety of airtime. Not one airtime moment is the same. This coaster has a spectrum of airtime that varies from light floater to light ejector, especially in the front seat. This compact wooden roller coaster, with a height of 72 feet, a drop of 62 feet and a length of 2640 feet is phenomenal. With the refurbishment work of the last few years, this coaster is even better.
The coaster's figure eight layout includes many airtime hills that each provide a different style of airtime. The hill on the far side of this photo is part of a double-up that provides some nice pops of airtime.
The park also has lots of quirky little flat rides that range from family rides to thrill rides.
Swamp Fox heading into the turnaround
And heading out of the turnaround.
The park also has a pretty carousel that was once located at the former Asbury Park Casino in Asbury Park, NJ. The carousel is PTC 87, the last carousel that was ever produced by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. Only the original mechanism remains. The horses are fiberglass reproductions of the original carvings.
It was originally installed in 1930 in Jersey and ended up at Family Kingdom in 1990. Back during its Asbury Park Casino days, the carousel is said to have provided inspiration to Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band, who even did a concert in the still extant, and elegant, former carousel shelter in 2010 which would go on to be the final place that Bruce Springsteen and the late saxophonist, Clarence Clemons, played together.
A night scene from the park. 

On most weekdays, the park opens around 4:00, but on weekends it opens at 12. The park generally closes at midnight. This photo shows my camera fogging up after stepping out into the 90 degree weather of the afternoon. It took a few minutes for the fog to clear up. 
The coaster was declared an ACE Roller Coaster Landmark by American Coaster Enthusiasts in 2016. This coaster was severely damaged by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, and both the coaster and amusement park remained in limbo. The Ammons Family purchased the park, then known as the Grand Strand Amusement Park, and restored the coaster, where it has remained a favorite of many.
The park also has a Zamperla Wild Mouse. It is a smooth and enjoyable ride that is a decent family ride.
We highly recommend visiting Family Kingdom Amusement Park. If you vacation at Myrtle Beach, you will be sure to find yourself spending a few evenings at the park.