Swamp Fox at Family KingdomI remember reading somewhere that during the first Golden Age of Roller Coasters the most dangerous roller coasters were the most popular. When a roller coaster got a reputation of sending riders to the hospital the queues overflowed. Guests would line up for a hours to brave the ride. I witnessed a modern day microcosm of this when I noticed Swamp Fox’s longer than usual wait for the back seats. Now Swamp Fox doesn’t have a reputation of injuring riders. Far from it, the ride’s impressively well-maintained and smooth for its age. But, the locals who waited twice as long for the train’s last few seats were fearless thrill seekers in their own right.
Swamp Fox at Family Kingdom at Night
Swamp Fox is the largest ride at the seaside Family Kingdom Amusement Park in Myrtle Beach, SC. It’s an attractive looking classic woodie that dominates the small park. I observed the coaster’s unassuming figure eight layout as we did the kiddie rides with my daughter. It didn’t look too special from afar. To ride guests can either pay for 5 ride tickets or use their all day wrist band which costs $23.50. As I entered the queue I noticed a sign that read: “8th Best Roller Coaster in the U.S.”. I’m assuming it’s referring to the Golden Ticket Awards from years ago, but I’m not sure.

Right away, I recognized the old-school station indicative of classic wooden roller coasters. The whole station platform Swamp Fox's Station - Family Kingdomwas slanted slightly towards the front where trains exit. There were those large 4 foot tall levers, although the ride ops weren’t using them to stop and dispatch trains. It reminded me of the Dragon Coaster and the Coney Island Cyclone‘s station as riders were unloaded towards the back of the station and then loaded towards the front.

I boarded toward the front of the coaster’s sole train. I sat in the front seat of the second car. The cars have single position lap bars that stop well above your lap (about chest high) as well as one long seat belt for the entire bench. The train crept out of the station with no fanfare and immediately around a turn. Just like Great White at Morey’s Piers and the Cyclone, the long, slow, climb gave an amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean only a few football fields away. After the view, the train took a u-turn and plummeted down the opening 65’ drop. As Swamp Fox reached top speed, it hit the perfect balance of offering an out-of-control feel while never approaching a rough or punishing ride. For a 44 year old roller coaster that’s saying something.

Nothing But Air
Next, the train ascended the second largest hill while producing a good pop of floater air as I was lifted (only a bit) outSwamp Fox Roller Coaster at Family Kingdom of my seat. The next smaller hill, which was more like a hump, produced another pop and then it was time for another turnaround. The train dropped back to the ground only to fly through a series of small airtime packed humps and small hills. There are four or five and each one of them sends riders butts skyward. With a good amount of momentum still in the tank, the train finishes (all too soon) with a turn and the station brakes. Swamp Fox’s 2,400 foot figure eight layout left me wanting more, which is a good thing. Luckily, it’s so action-packed that it feels a bit longer than it is.

Houston, We Have Lift Off!
In Swamp Fox’s packed station I noticed that the last car seemed a little more popular than usual. There’s nothing special about a longer wait for the last few seats of a roller coaster. But, Swamp Fox’s wait for the last car was even longer than the front car. I knew that I’d only get one more ride as my family was waiting for me. So, I thought I’d ride in the back to see what the buzz was about. I couldn’t pass up the slightly shorter wait for the last seat in the car in front of the last car, so I boarded there.

Swamp Fox’s back seats might be the best kept secret in all of coasterdom. Those moments of floater air I had felt in the front of the train were transformed into insane ejector air rivaling the most extreme airtime I’ve experienced. I was completely leaving the seat on every drop. After a while, I actually held on because I was being lifted up so high that my legs were lifting the lap bar (that was chest high when I was seated) with my legs as I was shot out of my seat. I’m all about airtime, but this was a bit beyond my threshold.

Good Roller Coaster ReviewsSwamp Fox is well-maintained and thrilling classic woodie in a cool beach city setting. It’s a bit on the short side, but you will definitely get your money’s worth. I recommend that you ride in the front or middle of the train for a fun and exciting ride. And in the back if you want an extreme airtime challenge. Rides like Swamp Fox are why I don’t skip the smaller amusement parks with only a few roller coasters. Huge modern theme parks aren’t the only place that you’ll find roller coaster gems. Final Rating – 7.0 (Good)

Traditional Roller Coasters - Fun For AllThe Coney Island Cyclone is rated ‘TR’ for Traditional. It’s a 2 out of 5 on my Thrill Scale.

What’s Your Take
Have you ridden Swamp Fox at Family Kingdom Amusement Park? Leave a comment below. Image 2 courtesy of CoasterImage.

About The Author

Founder of CoasterCritic.com. My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

21 Responses

  1. Gordy

    Thanks for the review, man! I went to Myrtle Beach when I was very little, so I don't remember much. But if I ever go again, this may be a ride.

    In the back seat, how would you compare the Airtime to the Cyclops at Mt. Olympus? Luckily, there's no launching on this one.

    • The Coaster Critic

      Well, I wasn't even sitting in the very back. I sat in the last seat of the car right in front of the last car. I did wonder if the air was even more extreme back there.

      I'd have to put the airtime on Swamp Fox (towards the back of the train) in between Phoenix at Knoebels and Cyclops. Not quite the as crazy as the launch on Cyclops, but a bit more intense than Phoenix.

      • Gordy

        Yes, having more air than Phoenix is kind of weird to me, considering the lapbar for Phoenix stopped high above your lap.

      • The Coaster Critic

        I described the lap bars on Swamp Fox as being "about chest high". They're likely the same or similar to the lap bars on Phoenix.

  2. Gearhart

    This makes me a bit sad I skipped the back seat cause of an insane line. Hopefully I get back there sooner rather than later, it did surprise me how well maintained it was.

  3. Prof.BAM

    Sounds like a sweet coaster for a small park. And an older coaster at that.

  4. CFC

    Well, I've been to Myrtle Beach several times, but I've never been to this park. If I ever go here, I'll certainly go on this ride!

  5. Mike

    My last trip to KD I rode Rebel Yell for the 1st time and I had a similiar experience. Sat in the back and there were two hills were I had extreme ejector air time! I was actually shocked because I didn't expect and it provided the best airtime I had all day at the park. I honestly thought for a quick second that I was going to be thrown out the train!

    • Brian


      I couldn't agree more. Rebel Yell has some crazy airtime that really sneaks up on you. The back seats on it and Grizzly might be KD's two best kept secrets. And better yet there was virtually no line at all! I only wish I had ridden coasters back when I was younger so I could have experienced rebel yell backwards..

      • Mike

        Yeah I've been to KD 3 times this season basically because of the lure of Intimidator 305 and my first two trips I didn't even ride Rebel Yell. I feel like such an idiot now!! It was a great ride. I only rode a few coasters once: Hurler, Shockwave & Grizzly. I think if I go again (prob next year) I need to ride Grizzly in the back. Next year I want to get a season pass but I'm going to wait to see if they take the trims off 305 first.

  6. Quil

    Err… CC, why dose it say "The Coney Island Cyclone is rated ‘TR’ for Traditional. It’s a 2 out of 5 on my Thrill Scale."… 🙂

  7. Edward

    I rode the Swamp Fox the first year it opened (1966 – I was 6 yrs. old) with my dad. It was my first "big" coaster. Back then there was no seat belt, seat divider or headrests. All you had was the single position lap bar to hold you in (barely.) I was very glad to have him in the seat with his arm around me!! I rode it again a few weeks ago and while it isn't as scary as it was back then, it still packs one hell of a punch. Floater airtime in the front on most hills but total ejector air coming off the 2nd & 4th hills in the back seats plus a great slamming left turn ending. If you're in the area please don't pass this classic by.

  8. Wayne

    My wife in I rode the Swamp Fox in 1970 just after we were married. For our 40th anniversity, we decided to ride it again. The seats seem smaller now for some unknown reason. Great ride, just as much fun as 40 years ago.

  9. John

    My most vivid memory of the Swamp Fox, besides the pasty white horrified face of my Aunt, was when it was on national TV on Games People Play. I still remember the escape artist tied to the bottom of the biggest hill,

    and how he barely escaped in time. The ride is very smooth and well kept, and you definitely want the back seats. A piece of history that needs to be experienced.

  10. Dollie

    My hubby & I just rode this classic coaster and I have to say your review is right on the money. We are fans of thrill rides and this gold oldie didn't disappoint!

  11. Dillon

    Hey CC, I might be going to Charleston SC, in July, do you think this ride is worth driving 2 hours for? (Yes, I would ride in the back seat)

    • The Coaster Critic

      Would you literally be driving up to Myrtle Beach JUST for Swamp Fox? It was a pretty cool experience. Even if you've been on a good number of coasters, there's something different about a wild old woodie like Swamp Fox, but a 2 hour trip for one ride is a tough call. I'd say you should find a few other attractions to check out to assure that the trip is worth your while. That way if Swamp Fox doesn't blow you away you'll still be happy that you got to experience a few other things too. There's a few other kiddie coaster credits in town and there's a new skywheel too.

  12. Pat

    My 11 year old daughter rode the Swamp Fox multiple times today in the last car. Her verdict: absolutely insane. She has only ridden the coasters at Cedar Fair’s Canadas Wonderland. She rates the Swamp Fox as more intense than the woodies Minebuster and Wilde Beast (which are taller and faster but less air time) and says the air time was longer and scarier than the Hypercoaster Behemoth. She says the Giga coaster Leviathan is a much more intense ride (90mph and 310 foot drop) but the Swamp Fox air time and corners were a close second in the fun factor


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