Family Kingdom, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA
I’m late writing this, I know. I’ve been busy lately. Which was why I needed this trip. I wish it’d been longer. I have to go in to some back story here so as to explain my feelings going to Myrtle Beach. We always went to Myrtle Beach for vacation when I was a kid. I loved it, couldn’t get enough, and wanted nothing more than to live there as an adult.
If Myrtle Beach was the same as it was when I was a kid, I would be living there. I love the beach, and we spent much of the day lounging at the beach and pools of the resort we stayed at. At nite, we went to shows, dinner, and usually the amusement parks. But back in 2006, the owners of the Myrtle Beach Pavilion made the mistake of closing down the park. The city then made blunder after blunder of trying to get rid of the people that spent money at myrtle beach, the teens during senior weeks, college kids during spring break, and bikers during bike weeks.
They wanted an upscale resort destination, something Myrtle Beach never was, and apparently never will be. Why they did what they could to deter the people with disposable income (Teens and bikers) from visiting is beyond me. I’ve now been down during 2 bike weeks, and they’re nothing like they used to.
Then there was that whole Hard Rock Park/Freestyle Music Park debacle.
So the city of Myrtle Beach is hardly what it was when I was growing up, and I hadn’t been since 2009, save for a quick drive thru and dinner in North Myrtle Beach a couple years ago to visit friends. And though they’ve made great strides building up a beautiful boardwalk area that has plenty of fun things to do, the heart(s) of Myrtle Beach are gone, ripped away, discarded in a misguided attempt to get people with no interest to come and spend money in an area that always had the reputation of the blue collar vacation spot (with a little golf on the side). I had mixed feelings about going, to say the least. Plus, it was once again bike week (though that didn’t end up being any issue what so ever). I knew I needed some beach time, but I was a little emotional (as silly as that sounds) going back to the place I spent so much time as a kid, knowing it wasn’t the same. And it wasn’t.
So all of that brings me to the actual trip report. I left on Friday afternoon on Oct 4, 2013. I went thru Columbia, SC for the first time in years because of where my job is. This was the quickest way to go. Unfortunately, on the way down, which was a nice drive, actually (More so than when I used to come this way as a kid) I stopped for gas and to spray my car off. I didn’t realize the line to spray the car off was so long (and I’d already paid at the pump), so I was at the gas station for almost an hour. Oh well.
I got in to Myrtle Beach around 5 or 6 and checked in to the Sea Crest Hotel, where we often stayed as a child. The weather was perfect, and the day was beautiful. I got to my room and wasted a couple hours that I eventually regretted as I should have been out eating dinner and enjoying myself. I did finally shower and head out, first driving down town to see some of the newer sights since my last visit. There were bikers about, but nothing like it used to be.
Eventually I made my way to Capt. Benjamin’s calabash buffet. It wasn’t the restaurant I wanted to go to, but it was getting late (I really should have ate dinner earlier as planned). Thankfully, it was situated right beside the Family Kingdom Amusement Park, the only operating park left in Myrtle Beach proper. After dinner I headed over. The park was only going to be open about another hour so I purchased some tickets instead of a POP bracelet. My first stop was a new to me credit, Family Kingdom’s new mouse.
Twist N’ Shout-This ride has been around, originally from Gillian’s, and then to Magic Springs. It looked brand new. This was my first Zamperla mouse, and it was fun. Cute little theme, and nice location in the park. Mice still scare me. I got 2 rides in the nite with no wait. This is the type of coaster the park needed, a middle between the more teen friendly Swamp Fox, and the very kiddy Speedy Gonzalez coaster. I liked it.
I walked around to one of my favorite coasters. I’d missed riding Swamp Fox for the last couple years. Myrtle Beach is so close and cheap enough to do on a weekend, there’s no reason I don’t go here more often. So I got in line for a ride towards the back.
Swamp Fox-I feel it’s totally underrated. It’s a great classic wooden coaster, with good airtime. The ride is kept in pristine condition. It looks brand new. I swear I wonder if they touchup paint it every day. The ride delivered on the first drop and every hill after. It’s got some good ejector in the back and is very well maintained. I got about 4 rides during the course of the nite and it was good every time.
The only other thing I rode was the dark ride, which I didn’t bother shooting anything because I videoed my trip thru. I walked around the park, took pictures, and rode the coasters a few times. My tickets ran out about the time the park closed, which was fine. I headed out to the (sadly not as thrilling as it once was) nightlife of Myrtle Beach for drinks and a late nite snack.
Saturday morning I woke up to perfect weather. I spent the first part of the morning at the beach before heading to the resort’s pools. I spent time between the indoor and outdoor pools, never really got in the hot tubs or lazy rivers. The weather was absolutely perfect. For lunch I walked down to Friendly’s for a burger, then walked thru the Family Kingdom to get some daytime photos. I didn’t bother taking my camera this time, using my iPhone 5 for pictures. For this kind of trip, to a place I’ve been to dozens of times, that was all I needed. I just wish Sprint wasn’t so terrible, as I had no data the entire weekend unless I found wifi.
I went back to lounge around at the resort for the rest of the afternoon, laying on the beach, getting in the water, napping on the grass Oceanside by the hotel’s pool bar (after having a drink), and it was what I needed. Actually, I really needed an extra day.
When the late afternoon set in I made my way down town. I wanted to check out the new Ferris Wheel and boardwalk area. There was a major volleyball competition going on, so I watched that quite a bit. The beach was overrun with bikers and volley ballers. I took a ride on the SkyWheel, which is very well done. The new boardwalk area is what Myrtle Beach always needed. The restaurant and store fronts on the boardwalk are so much better than they used to be. There’s actually atmosphere! The SkyWheel was fun as well, with three rotations. I had my own cabin.
Dinner was at a bar/grill overlooking the volleyball competition (I had a shrimp Po Boy). I headed over to Broadway at the beach at sunset, really wanted to do the UFO museum, but it had just closed. Bummer. I hung out at Broadway a bit, saw the fireworks, and almost went to the dueling piano bar, but passed. I did hang out at the night life that nite again before packing it in and heading to the room late.
Sunday was cut short as I had to be back home for a very special event that evening. I really wish I’d had another day at the beach.
Myrtle Beach will never be what it once was to me. I could never spend a week there as there’s just not enough to keep me occupied like there used to be, but three day weekends would be nice every year. It really is sad, they’ve cleaned up the down town a little (A lot on the board walk), which could use just a tad bit more. If they still had the Pavilion down there, and a new, revitalized down town, I’m sure it’d still pack them in. But for me, the ship has sailed.
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Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
Weather was conducive to the beach/ocean? I *DO* recall it being warmer than usual in early October here in Jersey, and my friend Deb in VA said it was the same there.
The only time I ever visited the area was on my visit to HRP in '08. I wanted to go to Family Kingdom the next day, but, IIRC, they had late hours that were not conducive to my travel schedule (did I just use the word "conducive" TWICE in one post?)
Nice report, Tek.
The amusement park rises bold and stark..kids are huddled on the beach in a mist
Myrtle Beach isnt the only city that found out what happens when their number one attrac5tionj closes down. Nashville (Opryland USA), Houston (Astro0world), Cleveland (Geauga Lake) and Panama City (Miracle Strip) have all lost millions in tourist tax revenue after their resident park closed down. Tank your park and you'll tank your city!
Are you serious? Nashville? No, there's absolutely nothing to do in that city now that there's no amusement park, and nobody goes anymore on account of it.
Repeat incredulous/sarcastic remark for cities 2, 3, and 4.
I heard Houston is nothing but crumbling buildings and tumbleweeds since Astroworld closed.
Wait... maybe that's Detroit and Auto World I'm thinking of.
I read somewhere that the City of Houston Made $70 Million from the sale of the land Astroworld used to be, but the following year their Tourist Tax Revenue was DOWN $150 Million! I don't know how much the land for Opryland USA went for, but a year later Nashville's Tourist Tax Revenue was DOWN $225 Million!
As I said before, Tank your Park and you'll tank your city.
P_S Autoworld was in Flint, not Detroit.
I don't think anyone in Cleveland noticed when Geauga Lake closed except for the wacko fringe conspiracy theorists.
Wait, Geauga Lake is closed?
13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones
Well, it WAS back but then it went away again. Now there's no fun to be had in Cleveland, whatsoever.
Anyway, Tekwardo, nice report and sorry about the distraction there for a sec. Your story opened up the memory flood gate for me. I made my one and only trip to Myrtle a long time ago when ACE had a CoasterCon to the Carolina's back in 1995. Pavilion was in its heyday back then but the only wooden coaster in the area at the time was Swamp Fox. Even though Myrtle Beach is like a mini Ohio at times (everyone from here seems to go there on vacation- we saw more Ohio license plates...), I had no childhood memories of Myrtle or that beach town atmosphere so the sights and sounds of the place were new and delightful to me.
We all loved Pavilion so much, it was like the world's best perma-carnival! We had just about every evening there for night time rides. (and yea, Mike, Myrtle has always had a night time schedule- beach and sun during the day and cruising the strip and amusement activities along there wait 'til night) One morning there was ERT that included Pavilion's outstanding water raft ride, Power Surge, (it had an unusual theme- an electric power plant complete with transformers, lots of bzzzzz-buzzing, and even overhead power lines) All of us guys went down there in our boardies, beaters, and flip flops and rode it over and over. It was one of the most fun times ever, and that's the way to do the water rides!
We liked Family Kingdom but it sounds like it's a lot better now than it was back then. Swamp Fox reminded me of the wooden rides I took as a kid, so it was nostalgic for me in a way. And fun, but I recall it ending a little too soon!
We really enjoyed playing mini golf while we were there and a couple of favorites were Jungle Lagoon in town and Hawaiian Rumble in North Myrtle. I wonder if they're still popular?
I'll never forget the night we went for Calabash- we chose a smaller place that was near Pavilion so we could walk there after dinner. I swear they were sweeping up the place and I was still sitting there with big plates of crab legs in front of me. And the Carolina-style hush puppies are awesome- sweet little football shaped things that you dip in honey butter. Yum.
I guess I'd like to go through there again sometime, but I agree- without the atmosphere of Pavilion in the heart of it all it just can't be the same.
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