GRAND STRAND AMUSEMENT PARK
FAMILY KINGDOM AMUSEMENT PARK
300 North Ocean Blvd
Myrtle Beach, SC
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
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
resort and they renovated and
reopened the park in 1992, changing its name to "Family Kingdom Amusement Park".
Discover Myrtle Beach article
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
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 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
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
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.
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?