If you're looking for a few family-friendly thrills, you can't go wrong with an amusement park. Let’s check out the major (and some of the minor) amusement parks and theme parks in South Carolina. The parks are listed in alphabetical order.
A family entertainment center, Grand Prix features go-karts and offers seven tracks, including a slick track, a pro track, and a high bank oval track. Other attractions include mini-golf, bumper cars, a rock-climbing wall, and an arcade. For younger children, the center offers kiddie rides such as a small carousel, a mini Ferris wheel, and a train.
Hey, you might be thinking, what’s a park in North Carolina doing on a list of parks in South Carolina. Actually, half of Carowinds lies South Carolina, with the other half in North Carolina. The state line runs through the center of the park. It’s a huge, major park with wild thrill machines, including the incredible Giga-Coaster, Fury 325 (which climbs 325 feet and hits 95 mph) and the Dale "the Intimidator" Earnhardt-inspired hypercoaster, Intimidator. Admission to Carowinds includes access to Carolina Harbor water park.
One of a few remaining traditional seaside amusement parks in the country (let alone South Carolina), Family Kingdom offers a great wooden roller coaster, Swamp Fox, as well as a decent collection of other rides such as Sling Shot (a 100-foot freefall tower), a log flume, dodgems, and Pistolero Roundup, an interactive, shoot-em-up dark ride.
A new mini amusement park is set to open in 2021. Funplex will offer seven family thrill rides, including a small roller coaster that will feature “hamster wheel” cars that spin vertically as they navigate the track. (Those prone to motion sickness may want to sit that one out.) Other attractions will include a drop tower and spinning rides. Funplex will offer a walk-up bar and restaurant as well.
Hard Rock Park and Freestyle Music Park in Myrtle Beach
A major theme park based on the Hard Rock Cafe brand, Hard Rock Park only lasted one season in 2008. It included great coasters and rides themed to rock music, such as the Moody Blues-inspired dark ride, Nights in White Satin- The Trip. After it closed, it was rebranded Freestyle Music Park, which operated for one season in 2009. You can read about the short, strange history of the park in our overview.
A small park, O.D. Pavilion includes portable, carnival-type rides such as a Tilt-A-Whirl. a large Ferris wheel, and a tall slide. The "O.D." stands for Ocean Drive, otherwise known as the Grand Strand, the busy roadway that hugs the miles of beachfront in Myrtle Beach. The "Pavilion” part of the name is likely a shoutout to Myrtle Beach Pavilion, a beloved seaside park that operated from 1948 to 2006.
Located at Broadway at the Beach, a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex, Pavilion Park is an ode to the gone-but-not-forgotten Myrtle Beach Pavilion, the now-defunct Grand Strand amusement park that was a vital part of the city‘s summer scene for generations. A handful of the rides, including the historic carousel and band organ, were salvaged from the closed park. Other attractions include a large Ferris wheel, tea cups, and a Wave Swinger.
Motorists traveling along I-95 can't miss Pedroland. The billboards start building anticipation hundreds of miles in advance of the landmark. More a truck stop/roadside attraction that grew to enormous proportions than an amusement park, Pedroland includes a few rides, like a Ferris wheel and bumper cars, among the tacky gift shops, restaurants, and other diversions.