It's seems that it's becoming a tradition for me to hit Myrtle Beach in Oct. The rates are cheaper, the weather is still nice, and most of all, the crowds are lighter.
Once again, I couldn't resist the urge to take the 170 mile drive from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach to close out Family Kingdom's last operating day of 2004. We stayed at the oceanfront Comfort Inn directly across from Family Kingdom so coming and going was a breeze.
The park opened at 1pm and we were told that they would close depending on the crowd, but no earlier than 6pm. With the Pavilion already closed for the season, there was no shortage of people at FK. Although the crowd was there, the coaster was still a walk-on. The parked ended up closing at 9pm.
We bought our POP wristband and headed straight to the Fox. The trains were going out one-half to two-thirds full, with an occasional train taking only 4-6 passengers. I prefer mostly full trains as I believe that it does increase the speed slightly. These early rides were fun but I could tell she hadn't completely warmed up. The second and third hills still delivered but the final turn into the skids was a might sluggish. I'm used to being pinned to the right side of the train on that turn.
We thought it would be fun to time the ride, and come back later in the evening to see if there was a difference. My friend has a wrist stopwatch so we timed several rides with various capacities. Most were a half train or more. The time from the moment he released the brake from the moment we hit those skid brakes was averaging 1:52 seconds. More on this later.
Let me tell you, the folks at Family Kingdom keep the Swamp Fox meticulously maintained. Ever since the ride was overhauled in 1992, this coaster has always looked and felt like a new coaster. The red train looked to be freshly painted and the blue train is currently being refurbished off the property. The operator said they will be running the blue train for the 2005 season while they refurbish the red one.
We left Family Kingdom around 2pm and decided to do some other things. We went to a Crafts Fair at Chapin Park, went Para-sailing and got back in time for plenty of night rides.
The park still seemed pretty lively and Swampy looked and sounded to be running a little meaner than it was earlier in the day. I absolutely love the front seat of this ride!! Normally, I would gravitate to the back on this coaster so as to feel the twisted 2nd drop to it's max, but for some reason, the front was what got my attention Sat. night. There was no doubt that it was running faster. Ohhh, that final turn into the brake was much more powerful.
We used the stopwatch to time the coaster in the same exact manner as we did earlier in the day. This time we were getting approx. 1:44 seconds. That's 8 seconds faster!! Anyone know how to equate that into mph??
What a way to end the season! Swamp Fox was my first major coaster in 1969 so I have a certain sentimental attachment towards it. I love cresting the lift and looking out over the ocean before all hell breaks loose. With the recent loss of Miracle Strip Park, and possibly the Pavilion, I just hope the owners of Family Kingdom realize how important they are to Myrtle Beach. If there were no coasters at MB, I would have no reason to go. Long live Swamp Fox!!!
Side note: Unfortunately, neither of the 2 major amusement parks in MB have yet to grasp the concept that closing in late Sept. (Pavilion) or early October (Family Kingdom) is just too early in the season for a major destination like Myrtle Beach. The weather (and crowds) could most certainly warrant the full month of October (at least) and even some of Nov. Most theme parks in the south are open through Oct. and Carowinds has actually added the first weekend of Nov. this year. So, why can't MB's amusement parks run on a "weather permitting" schedule through Fall.
Note: the photos were from my visit on Sept. 18th and the TR is from my Oct. 9th visit.
*** Edited 10/13/2004 2:08:55 AM UTC by swampfoxer***
And, yes, the coaster still looks new. Do they paint it daily?;) I mentioned that in my Sept. TR, its like it just got built every time I go down there. Now if only they'd teach MBP how to maintain a woodie, or rent out their unused train for HC5 so as not to have the crappy G Train, I'd be a much happier camper.
I rode in the front seat and it was awesome. Got thrown into the buzzbar multiple times. Much better than the Hurricane.
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