August 28th, 2004
“This dude is really laid back.”
I awoke to the sound of Robert Ulrich knocking on the door of the guest room I was staying in.
”The bus leaves in 5 minutes!” he said.
I picked up my watched and glanced at the time. It was 5:55AM.
We were to leave in 5 minutes!
For some reason, everyone thought I was the first to get up and get ready so no one bothered to wake me up. I jumped out of bed and took a very quick shower. Probably one of my quickest. I was ready to go in 5 minutes. The shower wasn’t enough to wake me up so I was a bit groggy
Jeff Johnson, Sam and Robert Ulrich, and I jumped into the rental car and started the lengthy 7 hour drive to Myrtle Beach. With each mile that was passed, the more awake I became. Myrtle Beach was one of those areas I have somehow avoided as many times as I have been around the area. Today I would finally be getting to pay the place a visit.
On the way, we drove threw Augusta. Robert mentioned there was a small FEC that had a Wacky Worm coaster but wasn’t sure what time the place was to open. He had wanted to ride it for a while now as it was the last coaster in Georgia he was missing. Of course, we had no problem stopping off to ride another coaster.
We drove through Augusta and pulled off the exit where the coaster was located. It wasn’t very far off the highway and could easily be seen from it. We pulled into an empty parking lot. As we drove up to the main building we took a glace at the hours that were posted. Just our luck. We were an hour early. We decided to skip it and continue on to Myrtle Beach. After all, we had a big day in store for us.
The drive, while long, didn’t seem like it took 7 hours. Before I knew it we were in South Carolina and heading into the Myrtle Beach area. The sky was dark looking around the area. We were hoping we would avoid any rain even though the forecast predicted it. Instead of heading right for the beach area, we decided to pay a visit to a park that was located more inland.
====Myrtle Beach Grand Prix===
As we pulled into the parking lot, we were welcomed by a familiar site. A Reverchon spinning mouse. It didn’t take more than a couple of minutes before we had purchased tickets to ride it.
As we were walking up to the coaster, it began to rain slightly. We weren’t sure if the coaster was running or not. We walked up to the ride and were welcomed by a lone operator. He collected our tickets and we sat down in the train. We offered him a tip if he could “pull the pin” for us.
“Oh, you want to spin the whole ride huh?” the operator said.
We departed the station area and curved towards the lift. We weren’t exactly boosted out of the station so we stopped before we reached the first set of drive tires. We moved back and forth to get some momentum. It worked and we were soon heading up the lift hill while rocking back and forth thanks to the free spinning of the car. I had asked the ride operator if cameras were allowed to be taken on the ride. He said it was cool although the park couldn’t be responsible for damage. I pulled out my camera and started shooting footage.
Both Robert and Sam had never gotten a pin less ride before. I had only done it in England. What made this even more special was Robert had only ridden one other spinning mouse, that being Exterminator at Kennywood. Not only was he going to get a ride on a less braked, outdoor version, but he would be spinning the entire way.
As we crested the lift we began our strange journey around the sharp zigzags of the course. We didn’t spin very much but it did feel strange rotating in places you normally don’t. The drops on the ride were taken backwards. For anyone wanting to know why the spinning doesn’t normally occur until the last half of the ride need to ride in full spin mode to understand. The turn after the largest drop on the ride can be pretty intense depending on the direction of the car.
The second half of the ride provided a lot of spinning but we got our largest spin thanks to the final curve right before the final brakes. We knew we had to ride this again soon but wanted to ride the other coaster in the park first.
This coaster was located in a different area of the park. Speaking of the park, there really isn’t much to it. There is a large go-kart track in the middle, an area with some sick looking flat rides, and a small children’s area with some smaller rides.
This version of the coaster looked like all the others with the exception of a banked curve at the end. All of the other versions I have seen don’t have banking to this degree. It wasn’t much but it was noticeable. Perhaps even a reprofile of some sort? One ride consisted of two laps. A family who was having a birthday party for their son looked up at us while we were riding. They all had looks as if they couldn’t figure out why we were riding. The funny thing is that as we were leaving the ride, the ride operator asked if we were one of those “coaster people” and said another “one of you” was at the park an hour before riding.
Jeff, with his usual keen eye for the perverted nature, pointed out something he saw as he was riding. He took us around the back side of the ride to show us. From back there we could see the sign of the ride, or at least part of it. The first part of the sign was missing so the sign now read “KY Worm”.
We headed back to the Crazy Mouse and took another pin less ride. This time we had much more spinning on the first half. We still had some tickets left over so we headed over to the flat ride section. There wasn’t much action going on here. There were some classic rides like a Tilt-A-Whirl as well as a fairly new looking Wisdom Tornado. What really surprised me was I saw a Top Star Tour. I had never see one of these in person before and really didn’t know what it did.
Supposedly I had ridden something similar in nature while in Belgium at a street fair, but the thing we were standing in front of looked very strange. It looked like an inverted version of what I rode in Brussels. Of course, I had to ride it.
We found a ride operator to run it. There was one operator running the entire flat ride section. Images of the now defunct J’s Amusement Park started playing in my head. As Sam, Robert, and I walked into the center area for the ride, I took my camera from around neck and started to walk over to Jeff to hand it to him as he decline to ride. The operator saw me do this and told me that if I wanted to I could carry my camera on the ride but the park wasn’t responsible.
Not only was I getting on a ride that I had no clue what it did, but I would be taping the whole thing. The restraints consisted of a shoulder restraint and a strange curving bar that lurched up and stopped at the bottom of the shoulder restraint, and most importantly, Mr. Happy and his two friends. To say I was expecting some pain was an understatement, but it was more of a freak out moment than anything.
The ride began with our entire vehicle lifting up about 15 feet, leaving our legs to dangle. We then began to rotate fast like a round up. We didn’t do much for the next half minute or so. At first, I thought this is all what the ride did, but I was soon proven wrong as the entire vehicle tilted to the side and we began to flip. There was a very strange sensation felt while flipping. It was one I hadn’t felt on a ride before. It was more confusing than anything but it was pretty neat. The ride continued for another couple of minutes before we were lowered back to the ground and was able to attempt to walk away. Yes, we were quite buzzed and walking was a bit of a chore for a couple of minutes but it was well worth it.
At this point we headed back into the entrance of the park which took us threw a nice air conditioned arcade. We decided to stand in here for a few minutes as the humidity was nasty outside. Sam played a Rescue 911 game while I walked over to try one of those lame put-your-finger-in-the-slot-to-measure-your-sex-appeal machines. I won’t give away my score but let’s just say I didn’t do to well. Robert and I had the same score. Jeff on the other hand was a maniac. Off the charts!
We decided we were cool enough go back outside, jump into the car, and head to our next part. On the way we passed a closed down mall. It appeared that shopping malls don’t do to well in this area so we were confused as to why some developers wanted to tear down the park we were heading to, and build a shopping area. Within just a few minutes we had parked in a parking garage overlooking our next park.
====Myrtle Beach Pavilion====
We had a half hour or so before we were to attend an important meeting so we decided to ride two of the coasters in the park before moving on.
This was my third Arrow Mad Mouse I have ridden. While it did run brakeless, the hairpin turns during the first part of the ride suffered from the same thing that the Michigan’s Adventure version does. It slows down while going downhill. The rest of the ride was quick and more than made up for the strange half of the ride.
The main coaster in the park towers over everything and makes a very powerful visual statement when walking around. As we walked over to take a ride, we passed many other rides. The charm of the park was very evident and provided a nice relaxing feeling.
----Hurricane: Category 5----(#581)
Riding a new-to-me CCI is always something I look forward to. From first glance this ride reminded me of the Morey’s Pier Great White. We could tell the single train that was running was a Gerstlauer.
We walked up numerous stairs before reaching the station. Jeff and I decided to ride in the second to last row for our first ride. As we headed up the lift we got to check out the rest of the park. There was a lot of stuff to do so we knew we had to come back after our meeting.
We dove down the first drop and up and over another drop. So far so good. As we reached the far helix, the ride took on a different mood. The train banged around the track, throwing us from side to side. This wasn’t exactly pleasant, but we toughed it out. I don’t remember much about the second half of the ride other than it banging us around quite a bit in the next helix. I am not sure how much work they do on this ride, or if it is the trains, but we didn’t exactly have a great ride. We would have given it another chance at this time but we did have to leave. After all, the mayor was waiting. =:^)
Our plan was to meet up at something called The Bowery. For those of you that don’t know, The Bowery is a bar that is located near the beach and is the bar that is responsible for the discovery of the band Alabama. I wasn’t aware of this until I read the large sign out front telling me so. Why we were meeting at a bar was anyone’s guess, but I just went with it.
A few minutes later, a man, dressed in street clothes, and a bit scruffy looking, walked out with a letter in his hand. We saw a couple people from the media walk up to the bar and were greeted by the man with the letter. We guessed this was the letter that Robert wrote to the mayor.
The mayor? The man I was looking at was the mayor?
I have never met a mayor before but for some reason I thought the mayor would be more of a business / political looking person. I wasn’t complaining in the least. I actually thought it was cool this mayor was so laid back. We walked up to the man and told him who we were. We followed him into the bar. I told him it was nice talking to him on the phone yesterday. He kind of gave me a strange look and welcomed me to the bar.
As we were waiting for more media to show up, we got to talk about what was going on with the Pavilion. I learned a lot about the future plans and wanted to know how we could help out. The mayor explained quite a bit in his deep New-Yaaawk accent. As he was explaining, more media showed up. One man brought his entire family. I thought this was a bit strange but then again, I was surprised that I was sitting in a bar talking to the mayor of Myrtle Beach. The man that showed up with his family introduced himself as Mark.
We talked a bit outside before deciding to go outside to do a few interviews. Robert did the TV interviews while the rest of us talked about our views on saving the park with a couple of newspaper reporters. What I thought was strange is that Mark wasn’t asking questions. He did stand with Robert in a TV interview where Robert read his letter to the mayor ……….
Oh oh. Did I just do what I think I did?
Yep. I sure did.
Stupidity set in rapidly as I then realized that Mark was the mayor. Mayor Mark McBride to be exact. The man that let us into the bar was the owner of the Bowery. No wonder he looked at me strangely when I told him I had talked to him on the phone the day before. The bar owner supported the mayor’s choice on starting a campaign on saving the Pavilion.
Once I stopped feeling stupid, I talked to Mark McBride about the park among other things. He was a very nice person to talk to as was his family. I think we got our point across to him that we would be willing to help out and do whatever we could to try and save the park.
Once the interviews were over and everyone left, we headed back over to the park to get something to eat. Once we were full we spent some more time riding.
As small as this coaster is, I was surprised with it as it was themed around a small mountain as well as the ride being smooth. The track looked very similar to Intamin track but I later found out this is a Mack creation. The layout consists of a couple of small drops and curves before ending with a curve into a tunnel. One ride consisted of two laps.
We also took a ride on the nearby haunted house. The theming on the outside was incredible and even surpassed stuff that some larger parks have in my opinion. The ride portion wasn’t very long but it did take us up to a second level where I was had more than once by a cheap gag. The ending was quite strange as it consisted of a steep descent back to ground level without any real ending. It is still a must ride for any dark ride fan. Even if you decide not to ride it, you have to check out the guy that hangs out at the balcony at the top.
There was a Rainbow next to the haunted house so we headed there next. We got a great view of the ocean from on top when we weren’t trying to hold thanks to the quick ride.
We soon felt our day at the park was complete so we left and drove a mile or so down the road to our next park.
Finally. This was another park I was really looking forward to visiting. I have been hearing so much about the main coaster at the park for years that I tried to visit more than once but never got around to it. We purchased some tickets and headed right for the coaster.
It was now time to ride. Jeff and I sat in the front row. We had to wait until the train was almost full before the single operator dispatched us. Once we left the station and headed up the lift, we couldn’t help but notice how dark the sky was getting over the ocean. It looked like heavy rain and we were hoping we could ride a few more things before it hit.
The layout of the coaster is more of a double out-and-back. The coaster was very smooth and contained a few moments of airtime, but it wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. I am sure the strong wind coming off the ocean played a part in some of the ride feeling sluggish. For our second ride we rode the back row and had a more extreme ride.
There was one other coaster in the park to ride. We walked over to small, Mexican themed Wacky Worm but were told we were too large to ride it. The ride operator said adults simply can’t fit into the cars. When we told him we rode a coaster almost exactly like it a few hours before, he didn’t seem to believe us and told us to ride Swamp Fox. Now, I had no problem with not riding the coaster, but I do believe there should be a sign at the ticket window stating adults can’t ride the coaster. We looked for one and didn’t see one. Instead of trying to get our money back, we decided to use our tickets on a nicely themed Sally dark ride.
There was one other ride that I looked into riding so I walked up to it to check it out. I got as far as standing in line before I realized this was a Chance Sling Shot. Having ridden one of these things at Martin’s Fantasy Island a couple of weeks back, and not enjoying the ride at all, I decided to pass on riding it and decided to leave as the sky overhead was really getting dark.
It was 5:55pm. We had planned on leaving at 6:00pm so we could get back to Atlanta by 1:00AM. Yes, we were driving back instead of staying in the area or halfway between. Remember what I said in the first part about saving some dough?
As we were leaving the area, we stopped at a gas station to fuel up and stock up on drinks and snacks. I saw many signs in the area advertising boiled peanuts. I love peanuts but I wasn’t sure if I would like boiled peanuts. Sam loves them and purchased a bucket. Once we were back on the road he handed me one. The shell was warm and soft. I opened it up and tried the peanut. It was chewy. What is up with that? Peanuts aren’t supposed to be chewy, at least not where I come from. It only took one boiled peanut to make my decision to not have another one.
Our drive continued and we entered the Augusta area right before 10:00. Remember that FEC that we tried to visit at the start of the trip? Well, we passed it and it looked like it was still open. We pulled off the exit and quickly made our way over to it.
The sign out front said the park was to close at 10:00pm. It was now 9:55pm. We walked inside and quickly bought some tickets to go ride the coaster. The girl behind the counter asked why four people of our age wanted to ride. When we explained to her that this was the last coaster in Georgia we had to ride, she laughed and told us to have fun.
Yes, another Wacky Worm. This one was like most although the antlers at the top of the front car looked like they had been ripped off and re-attached in an odd way. There isn’t much to say about this other than the park was closing as we finished our ride. I had to wonder if we would have been able to ride it if I would have decided to stay ride that Sling Shot at Family Kingdom. The world may never know.
As soon as we were done riding, we left the Augusta area and made our way to the Atlanta area, or more importantly, Marietta. Once again we would be staying with Robert and his family. As we pulled into the area we were welcomed by a thunderstorm. All of us were tired but were awake enough for Robert to show us some video that he TIVO’ed of Sam doing a play-by-play on Superman Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Over Georgia. Nice job Sam!
The next day provided us with another park, but with that came the trip home.
A brief, fun event and a blown chance to visit another park.
Thanks for reading,
I too will be sad if they rip the Pavilion out, especially since Broadway at the Beach is right around the corner. Part of the charm of Ocean Boulevard is some of the seedy places that are there. :(
Sorry you didn't get a great ride on Swamp Fox. It's, to me, the perfect example of a wonderful FAMILY coaster. Sadly, I've heard a few people say they heard how great they HEARD it was and were disappointed that it was NOT a "Raven-style" coaster.
Darn CCI for ruining peoples perceptions! ;) Oh, and darn them for using Gerstlaurs on ANY of their coasters.
Brian, who's never done the Haunted Hotel in 30 years of being alive! Too scared! :-D *** Edited 10/12/2004 1:45:07 AM UTC by Homey G.***
I am not sure the tip trick works all the time. We just asked if it was possible, gave him a few bucks and spun like mad. =:^)
What are you waiting for? Ride the Haunted Hotel as soon as you can!
But I still like them. I like the Nightmare and Ripley's houses down there, but they are quite pricey.
I will keep the "pulling the pin" thing in mind the next time I am down there.
<---who thinks Brian and Clint are wimps but will hold thier hands on the ride anyway should they get scared. ;-)
You are not alone in your phobia of haunted attractions. I know a few other enthusiasts that are terrified of them as well.
I had no idea they offered the pinless ride when it opened. The only one in the country that I heard did that was in New Jersey some years back.
So Sally did the theming huh? I was wondering who did that. Thanks!
I'm going to have to try and tip someone to pull the pin next time I go to MB. I liked the mouse, but the spinning part was much more fun.
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