Four Days of Fun in the Sun...(TR) Part 2, Family Kingdom and more

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Note: Editing Format!

Myrtle Beach, SC
Family Kingdgom and MB Grand Prix
Sept. 20, 2004

On Monday of my Myrtle Beach trip I actually got to sleep in! I wasn’t out very late Sunday nite, but I was still not feeling that well, so I slept for a while after the parents and grandmas’ left for breakfast and strolling around. I had checked the websites for both Family Kingdom and Myrtle Beach Grand Prix to see if they would be open so that I wouldn’t have to cram everything into Sunday, and sure enough, they were both open during the week. I looked at the time on Family Kingdom and could have sworn it said the park would be opening at 1:00 pm until 6:00 pm today. Grand Prix had similar operating hours.

So I got up, put on my shorts and shirt, and headed out to the Family Kingdom around 1:00 pm as I needed a hit of Swamp Fox badly. I also had really wanted to ride their log flume and drop tower, both of which were not so new, but I hadn’t been able to ride on my previous trips.

Imagine my shock when I drove down to Family Kingdom and saw nothing open. No ops anywhere, and the electronic sign just kept flashing that it would be open on the weekends. You mean I came all this way, skipped a ride the nite before, just for the website to have lied to me?

I was very disappointed, but thought that maybe the park opened at 3 instead. So with a little bit of hope, I hopped on up to North Myrtle Beach for a spin on my first spinning mouse. I could see that nothing was open when I got there, so I pulled up to the front and saw that the park doesn’t open till 3:00 pm. Great! I can go back down to House of Blues for lunch and a drink before I ride. This was good because I was starving.

So I went to Barefoot Landing and headed straight for my second favorite place to eat at in Myrtle Beach, the House of Blues. There weren’t many people there (gosh I just love the off season), so I was seated right away. A few min. later I was waiting for my Blues Burger while sipping a Southern Comfort and Lemonade. The food, as always, was good. Music was great. Alcohol? It was good too, but not as strong as I’d have figured. But I got to keep the funky glass it came in as a souvenir.

After I finished eating, I headed back to MB Grand Prix. There weren’t very many people there at all. In fact, there was a group of 3 small boys and their parents. This was going to be interesting. I went and sat by the Crazy Mouse waiting for some ride ops to come over, but none did. There were only a few working, but every time the kids moved from one ride to another, the ride op had to follow them. No one paid any attention to me sitting alone by myself at the mouse. I sat for about 20 min., and, hoping that someone would realize that I’m in the park and have tickets, got up and walked around. There were a few flats I had wanted to try, including a Top Star Tour and an oddly themed Rainbow, but alas, no one was running them!

Finally, some more people came in, and someone asked if the Roller coaster was running. One of the ride ops said sure, and went over to open it up. I was able to get on with the man and his girl, and was happy about this, cause I wanted to get some spinning action.

Crazy Mouse- (my first spinning coaster) Crazy Mouse was definitely interesting. We were the only people riding (Yay! No trims!), but I didn’t trust the ride op with my safety. In fact, he told us all that we didn’t have to buckle the safety belt. All we needed was the bar that came down. Now, I’m sure that the safety belt is just a redundancy as the bar was more than enough to cover, but I’ve never had anybody operating a ride tell me not to use a safety feature. I had a good mind to complain, but doubted it would do any good.

So anyhow, off we were. Is this a clone of Exterminator at Kennywood? I’m not sure, but it sure was fun! It was a rather long mouse. You get to the top and go thru your typical mouse section before a drop and turn around hill. Then there is another drop, which leads to a double up that goes to the next typical mouse section. The difference here is that you hit the spinning switch. We started spinning fairly good, and the ride got even more fun. There were quite a few dips and bunny hills to this ride. I will go so far as to say that at this time, Myrtle Beach is home to my 2 favorite mice. At least until I go to Kennywood…

So I got off and then got right back on again. I needed another spin, but this one would be by myself. Same thing, but by myself this time, I really loved this mouse!

After the second spin, I needed a bathroom break, so I ran over to the restrooms. Myrtle Beach Grand Prix isn’t really that large. It is an open park with tickets or a POP wristband that I’m glad I didn’t get. The park was clean, but looked like it was just a carnival on the side of the roads with some nice cart tracks nestled in between. I can remember how popular it was when I was a kid. There are 2 rides sections, one with mostly adult rides like a Rock-N-Roll that was down for maintenance, and a Top Star Tour that I really wanted to ride, but didn’t feel like bugging an op to let me on. Then across from that on the other side of some go cart tracks there is an area with mostly kids rides and the funky Rainbow.

There is supposed to be a log flume somewhere, but I didn’t see it. Shame, they could have gotten more of my money had they just been operating. Maybe had I went later in the day with more people there and more rides up it would have been better. I’ll give it a shot next time I’m there in-season. So after my potty break and waltz around the park, I took one last spin on Crazy Mouse. I couldn’t get enough…

But I’m again not going to do my normal coaster spiel for every ride, as every ride was the same, sans father and daughter. I’d like this in my yard along with Mad Mouse at the Pavilion, please.

So I got in the car and headed back to the motel. I wasn’t hungry, but the family was going out to eat, and I wanted dessert. I got back and changed cloths into something I figured would be warmer. We decided to ride towards Surfside beach for some food, and my dad steered me to an Italian Buffet. It mustn’t have been very good, but they didn’t have any dessert, so I was out of luck. Oh well.

We got back in my Xterra, and Dad wanted to show my grandmothers where Alabama’s Theater was in North Myrtle Beach, so away we headed. Imagine my surprise, and delight, when I saw the Ferris wheel at the Family Kingdom running as we went by! We went on down to N. Myrtle and back, and I got in my Xterra and headed down the street for my shot of the Fox.

I got to the park, parked, and bought the POP wristband. It had already gotten dark, which was great cause I haven’t ridden Swamp Fox in almost 10 years, and can’t remember the last nite time rides I had. This was going to be fun. A Chance Slingshot, a Log Flume that looked like fun, a Coaster, and another Sally Dark ride, this one interactive? Heck yeah!

For those of you unfamiliar with the Family Kingdom, or for those that haven’t been there in a long long time, let me give you a bit of history. What was once known as both the Grand Strand amusement park as well as the Swamp Fox Pavilion has undergone a lot of changes over the years. I don’t even remember the park before it re-opened after Hurricane Hugo, but Hugo did major damage to the Swamp Fox in 1989, and the coaster was rebuilt. This is a classic John Allen Figure 8 seaside coaster with 2 PTC trains, though one must be hidden for the off-season, as it wasn’t in the station. Even though they have 2 trains, the park only ever runs one.

I can still remember my first ride on Swamp Fox. It is a really great wooden coaster. The park has been opened consistently since the early 90s, and has added and switched out some of the other rides. It has mostly all fair rides, as well as Sally’s first interactive Dark Ride, a nice carousel, and a decent selection of flats. The park used to sit beside what was once known as “The Fun Spot Fun Park”, a very carnie feeling go-cart park that had a couple kiddy flats and a Ferris wheel, but Family Kingdom bought them out and expanded across the little river. This is now mostly the kids section, with the Chance Slingshot, Pistolero (the Sally Dark Ride), Go-Carts, and the Log Flume. It looks like a smaller Six Flags, to an extent as it is all on what was once a parking lot…Okay, maybe it has no resemblance what so ever to a Six Flags.

So I walked in the parks parking lot entrance and bought my POP, and headed straight to Swamp Fox. If you’ve never been on this coaster, it has the oddest station. I guess they never get really long lines, as there isn’t anywhere for a long line to go. It has a load and unload station, and on this nite, only had one operator running the ride, weird! As I was getting in line for the back, there were to 20something girls getting off of the ride and telling me that the back was “Just Brutal! The front is nothing compared to the back”. I smiled and said I knew, and then boarded the ride.

Swamp Fox (The beginning)- Mmmmm…Buzz Bars! I pulled the seat belt as far as I could, and off we were. There is a large turn around to the lift, which has a wonderful light package, IMHO. The lift is short, and the view is sweet, esp. with the ocean air blowing towards you. Then you turn around to head for the first drop. I had thoughts of HC5 from the day before as I was flung over the hill in the back seat. The only spot of roughness, and it isn’t bad at all, is at the bottom of the first drop. I wish there was more air over the second hill, but it doesn’t detract from the ride one bit. After that, though, its crazy! I was out of my seat on every hill. And I don’t mean an inch, but literally standing up. I was so glad that I had that seat belt to hold me in; otherwise I wouldn’t have had the chance to write this trip report. I felt ejected on every hill afterwards. The turnaround was quick, and the small bunnies after it kicked my butt even more. This is still my favorite wooden coaster!

After that insane ride, I decided it was time to test the other side of the park, as I’ve ridden everything on the Swamp Fox side that I wanted, and didn’t feel up to a lot of flats tonight. So I crossed a bridge and headed straight to Pistolero. At first I didn’t think it was open, but there were 2 ride ops on the platform. This used to be an old Mexican restaurant, and was Sally’s first Shoot’em up dark ride. I was the only person riding. My only complaint was that only 1 of the guns work if there is only one person riding. I like to play Jon Woo style, but I didn’t get to on this one.

Pistolero- Fun little ride. I don’t remember what my score was, and there were a few spots where something jumped out and scared me, but this is typical Sally goodness. I would and should have ridden more, I don’t know why I didn’t, but the one trip was rather fun. Every park should have one of these. The scenes were nicely done, but the last room with the “explosion” could have had more to it. All in all, though, a great ride!

So that was fun, what to do next? Why there is the newest thrill ride in the park the Sling Shot Drop Zone, a Chance slingshot. It looked intimidating, and no one was riding, but there were ride ops standing on the platform, so I went to get on.

Sling Shot Drop Zone- The name was kinda corny, but the ride was pretty sweet. I hadn’t seen it run all nite, so I asked the ride op if it shot up or was just a drop tower, and he told me both. He was pretty friendly, and I got to face the park as I was going up…alone. I’ve never ridden a tower alone before. I’m still very afraid of drop towers. I don’t mind the shooting up at all. I loved Power Tower at Cedar Point for this. The ride is only 110’ (and I figure that also means the platform it sits on), so I knew it wouldn’t be like any thing I’ve ever done before, tower wise.

You rise up about 6 feet, and then the car lowers a bit. The tower looks very S&S-esq, with a smaller next-get Intamin-esq car. The tower had a great lighting package, and was painted yellow and red. After lowering a bit and the ride op going thru his whole spiel, I was launched. The ride was rather weak compared to most other launched rides I’ve been on, but I didn’t mind that one bit. The shot up was a lot of fun. Still, you don’t shoot to the very top of the tower. Going to the top of a drop tower is the part I hate most because I have time to think about dropping. But once I got to the top, it wasn’t long before I fell. This was odd, as you fall until about 6 feet from the bottom. On most other drop rides, you break way before that. Still, the breaking wasn’t at all hard, and the ride was rather smooth, and very quiet. It was even more quite with me riding, as I didn’t make a sound the entire way up or down.

Okay, so that was fun, what’s next? How bout my long awaited trip on the Log Flume. I remember them building this ride, but I’ve never ridden till now. Again, no one was riding, as the park was nearly empty.

Log Flume- Another great ride by myself! This is one of the choppier log flumes I’ve ridden. It’s a concrete course, and as I left the station towards the first hill, I knew I was going to get wet. I went up the first smaller hill with anticipation. I knew there was a bunny hill at the bottom, a first for me on a flume. The first drop on the flume goes under ground level a bit where there is no water, and then hops up into a small pool. Splash! I was soaked. Good stuff!

Then, it was more choppy water heading to the big hill. The flume is situated in between the Go-carts to give both some cool interaction. Again, down the big hill and Splash! I’m wetter. The drops on both hills on Family Kingdom’s Flume seemed much steeper than Pavilions. I like both, as both have their up sides, and no down sides to speak of.

So I was wet, now what should I do? Of course, walk around, and then head to Swamp Fox. This time I would get my front seat ride.

Swamp Fox (more!)- Have I said how much I love this coaster? One train wait for the front of another almost empty train, but something weird happened. Because someone couldn’t figure their seatbelt out, the train ended up being almost full. Sweet! Okay, turn to lift, up the lift. Wonderful lighting package, and there she blows! I had tears streaming from the wind in my face, and I loved every second! Though not nearly as forceful in the front, you get a different ride. This is how wood was meant to be ridden! Thru the course and onto the skid breaks into the unload station. I want more!

I then got another ride, this time from the middle. There was a small delay again, but that is par for the course if you only have one ride op working. Still, she was doing her very best, and dispatching, loading, and unloading a dual station coaster by herself.

The middle provides different air, as well as different points of air than the front and back. I so can’t wait to live close to this monster and be able to ride when I want during the season. If you haven’t ridden yet, you don’t know. Another great ride in the middle.

Okay, so I had my ride from everywhere on the coaster. I probably could have picked a seat and marathoned, but didn’t. I did, however, head over to the drop tower for another go.

Sling Shot Drop Zone (take due)- Can I have this in my back yard along with my mice? This time I was on the back facing towards Ocean Blvd. and the Ocean with 2 young Russian Chicks. There were also 3 people around front. The shot up again wasn’t forceful, but good enough for me. This time, it didn’t seem to take as long to fall back down, but that could have been due to the fact that I could tell we were still moving till we got to the top as I had visuals to pinpoint my location. Another great drop, and I could marathon this as well. Next time, baby, next time!
So my nite was almost over. I could have stayed till close, but I was tired. Plus I was still in the mood for dessert, and all this amusement park food was working on me. What to do? Why, take another back seat spin on Swamp Fox, and then head to that Dunkin Donuts I saw behind the park last nite that was closed.

Swamp Fox (my fond farewell)- The back is the best. Again, I was out of my seat most of the time. I really like this coaster, and it will go down as one of my all time favorites. I will spend time marathoning this thing next trip. I can only imagine what the thing runs like mid-summer, running all day with greased track that is heated from running all day. I will be back sooner for some more of this coaster. Never waiting that long again!

So that was it. I rode downtown to see how dead it was down there, and then circled around for my Donuts and Pizza. I love Dunkin Donuts. I ate 2 chocolate filled powdered ones before I even got my Pizza. Now it was time for bed, I had a long day of swimming and shopping for tomorrow, but this was the end of my riding days at the beach. If you want to read the rest, check my personal website, the final day will be up soon!

BullGuy's avatar
You're right on about Swamp Fox. I would imagine it's running a bit slower at this point in the season as opposed to during the summer, but it's still a fine ride. One of my favorites as well. As for Myrtle Beach, there's nothing better than sitting at the beach during the day, and hitting up either the Pavillion or Family Kingdom at night. The atmosphere in those places on a summer night is just perfect. I really want to get back before the Pavillion closes it's doors, but I don't think it'll happen. *** Edited 9/27/2004 8:59:41 AM UTC by BullGuy***

Never Has Gravity Been So Uplifting.

Yep, the Crazy Mouse is a clone of Exterminator.

When I was there a few weeks ago, the ride operator "pulled the pin" for us on both our rides after asking. I have only done this on one other mouse and that was in England. Out of all the Reverchon mice I have ridden, I have only been asked to use the seat belt one time.

I was also surprised that Grand Prix has a very relaxed camera policy. After asking I was able to shoot video on every ride we went on, including the Top Star Tour. No joke!

I guess you didn't care to ride the smaller coaster in the park. It was a slightly modified Wacky Worm but with a banked turn at the end. Also, part of the sign fell off and it now reads.


Go figure.

While I enjoyed Swamp Fox, I felt the ride was running pretty slow as we crawled over every hill. There is no doubt this was because of the very high winds coming from the ocean. I did enjoy the ride and was glad to finally take a ride.


coasterqueenTRN's avatar
I really enjoyed your TR Clint! Swamp Fox is very special to me as it was one of my first coasters, and I always looked forward to visiting it every summer as a kid. The Swamp Fox, as well as the Pavilion's defunct Corkscrew and Galaxi, will always be dear to me. I think I have old video of the parks and the Strand circa 1984/85 including all the coasters (using those HUGE VHS camcorders that came out about that time..remember those?)

I will have to look that up (wanting to transfer all my videos to DVD eventually).

I haven't been to MB in 14 years, and I probably wouldn't even recognize it as I have heard how much it's changed.


*** Edited 10/2/2004 11:17:19 AM UTC by coasterqueenTRN***

Of course Swamp Fox is very sentimental to me as well (see screen name). This was my first major woodie when I rode in 1969. It's hard to believe I get that same glow every time I see and ride this baby. In fact, I was there back on Sept. 18-19 for my annual beach/coaster outing. We were expecting a rainy weekend due to the recent hurricane but it was probably the most beautiful weekend I have spent at the beach in many years. I walked the Pavilion but didn't ride the Hurricane. Last year it was so rough I just didn't even bother with it this year. I stood there watching and could easily see the back seat riders jackhammering in their seats throughout the ride. Not for me! But, my good ole Swamp Fox made up for any lost Hurricane rides.

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