Myrtle Beach has seen two major amusement parks close since 2006 - the famed Pavilion in the downtown district and the Hard Rock Theme Park. The losses have left a void for thrill-seekers on the Grand Strand.
Enter Family Kingdom, previously playing second fiddle to the Pavilion and Hard Rock but now taking over the top spot - and expanding it. The 13-acre park originally opened in the downtown area of Myrtle Beach in 1966, but the attraction has undergone some serious upgrades as of 2013, including four new rides and a new name and theme for the waterpark.
Twist 'N Shout ride at Family Kingdom — Photo courtesy of Family Kingdom
The most popular addition to the lineup is the new Twist 'N Shout roller coaster, a modern steel construction to go with the existing wooden model known as the Swamp Fox. This rock 'n roll-themed coaster is similar to the old Wild Mouse ride, but with a modern twist. Passengers ride in cars designed to look like classic automobiles of the 1950s.
Also new to the Family Kingdom lineup is the Kite Flyer, a free-fall ride where passengers lie down on their stomachs and experience the feeling of free flight as their feet dangle in the ocean breeze; the Flying Tigers, featuring eight World War II-era planes that whip pilots around in circles; and the Frog Hopper, a ride that bounces riders up and down in the perfect height and speed for the kids to get a kick out it.
The Family Kingdom's waterpark - the only oceanfront waterpark on the Grand Strand - also got a new look and name in 2013. Now known as "Splashes," the seaside water park features new slides and rides. The water park is open through Labor Day weekend, while the amusement park closes on Oct. 5.