Myrtle Beach
Family Kingdom Amusement Park

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300 North Ocean Blvd
Myrtle Beach, SC
(843) 626-3447

Website: Family Kingdom

It now bills itself as "Myrtle Beach's Only Seaside Amusement Park", which is true- out of the several that once lined the coast, this is the only such park in the entire Grand Strand region. If it wasn't for the 40-year old Swamp Fox roller coaster, that has been kept in great shape, none of this would probably be here.

This park was originally the "Grand Strand Amusement Park"; it was closed after extensive damage by Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and sat for two years. It was purchased by the Ammons family, owners of the Sea Mist resort and they renovated and reopened the park in 1992, changing its name to "Family Kingdom Amusement Park".

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Park Map

This amusement park opened in 1966, built and owned by William Parker. The narrow swash going through the middle of the park was once much wider; a nearby ridge was bulldozed into it, creating the land the park was built upon. The opening was very popular, with Parker making bowties for the lady employees out of $100 bills.

Grand Strand Amusement Park in the 1960s, not long after the opening. These show the chair lift ride which is now gone, and cars on the Swamp Fox about to go down the first hill.
Thanks to Melvin Brafford for these pictures

Grand Strand Amusement Park, in the early 70s; this postcard is postmarked Sept. 1978. Note that the area's first water slide is not yet constructed along the ocean. Also note Brant's in the middle far-left in the corner of the parking lot along the highway; it is now on the side street beside what was once the miniature golf course across the street.
1970 postcard showing an incomplete Sky Diver (left), Toboggan (center) and the Swamp Fox coaster in the background. By this time, the rides had expanded across the swash.

The centerpiece of the park is the Swamp Fox roller coaster, still in excellent condition. This is one of the last few such wooden roller coasters that once lined beaches up and down the east coast. It was built by prolific coaster designer John Allen of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, and originally opened on Friday, June 17th, 1966.

The coaster was damaged by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, and sat unused during the 1990 and 1991 seasons. The park was purchased after the storm, and the Swamp Fox underwent a complete refurbishing according to the original design specifications. The wooden roller coaster boasts 1/2 mile of running track in a figure-8 configuration, and a 62 foot free fall drop reaching 50mph.

The blue train, as pictured below, was originally on the Shooting Star coaster at Lakeside Amusement Park in Salem, VA. The Shooting Star was also designed by John Allen of PTC.

Great Pistolero Roundup, fairly new interactive shooting dark ride. Built by Sally Corp, this is one of the first shooting rides ever. I think that the building was actually a Mexican restaurant long ago.

Family Kingdom has added a historic carousel to a post-1989 section of the park, located the old southwestern parking lot and visible from the highway. This carousel, #87 made by Philadelphia Toboggan Company (the same company that built the Swamp Fox coaster), was originally located in the Casino Pier in Asbury Park, NJ. Family Kingdom has built a protective building for it similar to the one the Pavilion did for their Herschell-Spillman carousel, although its not nearly as ornate as the original carousel building in Asbury Park.

During the decline and demise of the Asbury Park boardwalk and entertainment district in the 1980s, the original wooden horses were sold, and have been replaced with fiberglass replicas. This carousel operated at the Casino from 1932 to 1990, when it was purchased for the new Family Kingdom park.

Family Kingdom Carousel - Information webpage on this ride

Directly across Ocean Blvd, and along the mouth of Wither's Swash, is Family Kingdom Water Park, which was once named "Wild Rapids". This was the very first of the concrete water slides built in the mid 1970s. It is still here, although the concrete slides have been replaced with a variety of fiberglass slides. and pools. The original mountain is mostly still there. (These pictures were taken on Sept. 29, 2006):

These buildings along the back of the Family Kingdom parking lot were once arcades, pool halls, and other businesses. For many years, they have been derelict or home to a number of sleazy night clubs.

A Toboggan by Chance Rides was once set up behind the southernmost buildings, now derelict nightclubs. In the late 70s, this ride was visible from the highway, packed up where it sat for quite some time. Does anyone know what happened to it?

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