Myrtle Beach's Hard Rock Park breaks ground2006-07-17
By Russell Meyer: Some may say that a park themed solely around rock music will be nothing more than Rock n' Roller Coaster expanded to a whole-park scale. However, designers of the Hard Rock Theme Park, to open in spring 2008 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, suggest otherwise. Both Steven Goodwin, CEO of HRP Myrtle Beach Operations LLC, and Oliver Munday, Vice President of Hard Rock International feel that the Hard Rock Park will be an "evolution of theme parks," and a place to "showcase some of the finest pieces" of rock memorabilia.
In fact, Mr. Goodwin and Mr. Munday, along with Mark Sanford, Governor of South Carolina, arrived to the groundbreaking ceremony last week in the Beatles Magic Mystery Tour Bus, which will have its permanent home at the park. The three also shoveled Myrtle Beach sand with custom-made Gibson Guitar shovels to officially break ground for the park's construction. Even Bob Hendrix, cousin of Jimi Hendrix and representative of his estate, was on hand to experience the beginning of what could be a very special theme park.
The $400 million park will be built on 150 acres. It is expected to draw an estimated 30,000 visitors per day and create more than 3,000 jobs, and is the largest single investment in South Carolina history. "Mount Rockmore" – a large sculpture created out of sand, gave attendees of the groundbreaking a taste of what guests can expect from the Hard Rock Park, as likenesses of Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, and Bob Marley presided over the ceremony.
Why build a theme park in Myrtle Beach?
Oliver Munday pointed out to me that Myrtle Beach has an average length of visitor stay that is greater than many tourist destinations in the Unites States, including Orlando. That means that while the millions of visitors to Orlando split their dollars between Disney, Universal, and numerous other destinations, the millions of visitors who visit Myrtle Beach each year will have just one major theme park, along with the typical beach attractions, where they can spend their money. The only difficult task will be to convince families to spend a day or more away from that sand and tantalizing ocean breeze. The lack of competition should help, but can a theme park really be successful just over a mile from one of the most popular beaches on the east coast?
I, along with probably everyone else who visits Theme Park Insider, was most interested in what rides and attractions guests could expect to see in the first major theme park built in the Unites States since Universal's Islands of Adventure debuted in 1999. Much to my chagrin, the Hard Rock Park's designers were rather tight-lipped with details. For more information about parks lands and attractions, including concept art that looks suspiciously like a B&M coaster, visit our Hard Rock Theme Park page.
And let the speculation begin: What happens when you cross a theme park with a Hard Rock Café?
Could we see a 70's Elvis All-You-Can-Eat Buffet restaurant?
How about a Woodstock Mud Wrestling Arena?
What about a dark ride that features animatronic figures incessantly singing #9 from the Beatles White Album?
I highly doubt we'll see anything that cheesy, but it will definitely be a challenging task for park designers to create a rock n' roll theme park that the entire family will find entertaining. I wish the designers the best of luck, and look forward to experiencing the world's first rock n' roll theme park in the spring of 2008.
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