A decade ago the once-thriving Myrtle Beach Pavilion was demolished to make way for upmarket apartments, a sad decision forced through despite the park making record profits in what had been announced as its final season. The site has been largely vacant ever since, and when we drove past it today the only tenant was Myrtle Beach Zipline Adventures, occupying no more than five percent of the north-eastern corner of the ground. One wonders just how much money might have been made in the intervening years if the owners had been a little less enthusiastic with the wrecking ball.
8th July 2016
Pavilion Park is located at Broadway at the Beach, a tourist trap attraction in Myrtle Beach featuring all the essentials of an American resort, such as overpriced fashion shops, a wax museum, mini golf, an aquarium, and a Hard Rock Café. There are three sets of rides located in different parts of the facility, and we headed for the western location for Myrtle Turtle (#2258), our fourth SBF spinning coaster. The ride felt much the same as the three we'd done earlier in the week, with the four car train clattering around the track in a clunky fashion that suggested that the wheels might not be entirely round. The other rides in the area were targeted at children, and included a Carousel, a small Ferris Wheel, a Frog Hopper, and Red Baron Mini Jets.
We skipped over the central location entirely, as it had yet to open for the day when we drove past it, but we did make a brief stop at the eastern location which was anchored by Rocket, a Funtime-built spin ride originally purchased by German showman Michael Goetzke and one of just two rides of its type worldwide. Both of us had tried the somewhat taller version in Russia back in 2013, and Megan was anxious to see how this one compared. I took the decision to remain in the air-conditioned car when it became apparent that tickets were ten dollars, and I'm reliably informed that I didn't miss much.
Family Kingdom Amusement Park
8th July 2016
It was fiendishly hot and muggy at Family Kingdom Amusement Park when we arrived shortly after the 4:00pm opening time, to the point that the two minute walk from our car left both of us dripping with sweat. Our trip plan gave us two hours to make the most of the various rides using the discounted wristband offer available to enthusiasts, but we ended up cutting that time by half an hour despite draining several bottles of water as it was simply too uncomfortable to remain outdoors any longer. It is amazing to me that some people choose to spend full length holidays in such an awful climate; personally I prefer something a bit more temperate.
The signature ride at the park remains Swamp Fox, a classic wooden coaster that celebrated its fiftieth birthday just three months before our visit. During the celebrations members of the American Coaster Enthusiasts presented the park with a Roller Coaster Landmark award, the citation for which now stands on a display board at the queue entrance. Ten years ago the ride was lively and full of airtime, marred only by a pothole at the base of the first drop, and while that particular issue was gone today it's fair to say that the experience on the whole was a lot more involved, with powerful airtime hills interspersed with hard landings that were right on the edge of what I'd classify as comfortable. The feisty nature of the layout suggested rather strongly that some track work will be needed in the not too distant future.
Our next stop was at The Great Pistolero Roundup, a dark ride that was the first of its type to feature an interactive target shooting mechanism. The design subsequently won an IAAPA award, and while the gun calibration in our car was completely off it was nevertheless very neat to be able to experience a historical attraction preserved in its original condition. The ride tells the story of a comical Federale trying to catch a band of sneaky banditos who are hiding out following a robbery, theming no doubt influenced by its construction inside a former Mexican restaurant.
Some years ago the park added another coaster in the guise of Twist'n'Shout, a relatively rare example of a Zamperla Zig Zag. This ride wasn't a new credit for me, as I'd ridden it in its previous home, but I was curious to learn whether anything had been done to smooth out what had been a particularly uncomfortable ride. Based on our experience today it would appear that the answer to that question is yes; the tracking was for the most part smooth, with decent enough laterals on the various corners. The only nasty moment was an abrupt stop on the brake run, but we were warned about that in advance and I've experienced much worse.
There was clear signage on the Kiddie Coaster forbidding anyone over 58" in height from riding, and while some enthusiasts have managed to tick the ride off over the years that has generally happened only during special events. We nevertheless took a few photographs for posterity before heading to the Giant Wheel, where we learned of a new policy falling firmly into the only in America category. The vast majority of wheels around the world have no operational restrictions of any kind, but here we found a minimum height requirement of 42", effectively preventing children under the age of five from riding with their parents. We saw one middle-aged adult who was caught out by this rule, and he didn't mince his words, using the word retarded backed up by a string of expletives.
O. D. Pavilion
8th July 2016
Our final stop of the day felt very much like a travelling fair, and the presentation of both the rides (and the operators!) was very much in line with what one has come to expect from such things in the United States. We learned that the initials at the start of the name officially stood for Ocean Drive, but after a few minutes of wandering round we both concluded that overdose was a better fit. Nowhere was this clearer than on the electrical distribution box for the coaster, so in the spirit of a picture being worth a thousand words, here it is:
We didn't have particularly high hopes for Zyklon Roller Coaster (#2259), but it turned out to be a remarkably good ride thanks to smooth tracking and a pleasant view of the nearby ocean. There was apparently a minimum weight requirement for each car, but in our case this was met by an operator who jumped into the back of the car so quietly that we didn't actually notice he was there until about half way up the lift hill. After disembarking we took a brief look at the powered Go-Gator, but the operator informed us that it was reserved for children only, and as there was nothing else on our hit list we decided to return to our car.