Myrtle Beach's Hard Rock Park breaks ground
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.
Sounds like a very exciting project! But I raised an eyebrow when I read that "It is expected to draw an estimated 30,000 visitors per day."
30,000 visitors per day? Seems very steeply inflated to me. They better have some very big deal attractions. Curious, how many visitors per day do the major parks see? I read somewhere on TPI that they are going to have a stairway to heaven coaster? Sounds like they are going for cheese. I'm still up for a "Crossroads" dark ride that tells the story of Robert Johnson and the Hell hound on his trail. I could end with Johnson dying while on the ground barking like a dog. The possibilities are endless with this thing. I just hope they do it right.
Assuming a nine-month, seven-days operation (March-October), and an average 30,000 visitors per day, the park would draw 8.1 million visitors a year, making it the sixth most popular park in the country, lagging only the four Disney World parks and Disneyland.
I think expecting 30 000 a day is a bit much for a park in this location.
Why open a Myrtle Beach theme park? Simple, it's one of the most popular places to go on vacation. I'd pretty much call it the midwestern families destination. It only makes since to cash in on the millions of people who go, and also the fact that there is no competition within a couple hundred miles. My honest opinion? Myrtle Beach is the next Orlando, and once developers see the success of Hard Rock Park, they will line up.
Incidently, while lightening may strike and they may well reach their goal 30,000 per day in the park's opening year, I gotta wonder if they could hit those targets after the novelty begins to subside -- five, eight, twelve years after opening.
First, Russell, your line about the largest investment in SC's history is slightly inaccurate, the press releases from Hard Rock Park states that this is the largest investment in TOURISM infrastructure in the state's history. It's not the largest single overall investment, for instance Charleston just opened a new bridge that cost over $600 million.
The Pavillion is gone so their will be almost no competition. And it will be different so it could attract a lot of people.
Since we don't really know the particulars of this project it is open to conjecture, but from my point of view this park seems rather undercapitalised. 400Mil really is not that much to build up a new themepark from scratch.
^You do make a very strong point. $400 million is a bit low to build a park from scratch. In the artists' rendering of the park, that coaster looks very much like a B & M hyper, and a good B & M hyper, such as Goliath at SFOG, can cost $20 million alone. After loking at the coast of many rides and coasters at various parks, Hard Rock Park, with a $400 million budget, won't have many rides and atractions.
Actually at the press event, Governor Sanford stated that it was the largest single private investment in the state's history. The building of a bridge is not investment by private companies, but an investment by the government for its citizens. The $400 million park is the most a single entity has ever pumped into the state's economy at one time.
Mr. Meyer writes: "I don't expect to see any rides in this park that we haven't seen before ... "
I agree with TH on the statement that we won't see 30,000 per day. The builders have a high, almost unrealistic expectation of attendance. Will they reach that? I don't think so, but it will still draw big. If the park is done well...even with mostly unthemed rides, the sheer amount of people coming into Myrtle Beach will cover most of the expectations. As stated before, don't expect too much for 400 million, however the success of the park will surely be able to feed future improvement and expansion.
I'm sure that much of the R&D is already done and paid for at this point, so those costs probably aren't included in the $400 million.
As an addendum, it's highly unlikely (probably completely unlikely) that Disney/Universal would invest in South Carolina, because it's WAAAAY too close to their Florida properties. They know that building a theme park en route to Florida would steal away some of their Florida money. They usually like to build one theme park per country (America is the exception with two, one per coast--we're big and rich). Busch, however, might be convinced to do so. As with Dollywood (more of a regional park). Six Flags is in Georgia.
Myrtle Beach does'nt have the right climate to be a 12 month destination resort area. It actually does get quite chilly there in January (Avg. high- 57, low 34) and I'm not sure that there is enough seasonal labor to staff multiple theme parks/ attractions given what is already there (outlet malls, small attractions, thousands of Wings beachwear shops).
Actually, J. Dana, Myrtle Beach is NOT the "weekend getaway" location that many people may think. I always thought of it as that, very much like all of the east coast beaches. However, Gov. Sanford was quick to point out at the groundbreaking that Myrtle Beach has a LONGER average stay length than even Orlando. When he said that, I had to do a double-take, but that is definitely what he said. It's obvious those visitor who come to Myrtle Beach stay more than just a weekend, and truthfully there's quite a bit to do beyond just the beach now. Most importantly, Myrtle Beach has become the unofficial golf capitol of the world with over 100 courses within a few miles, and Augusta National (golf heaven) a couple of hours away. The last time I checked, golf is a sport that costs a lot of money, and if those golfers coming to the region bring their families, those wives and kids will need something to do while daddy plays a few rounds over a the course of a week aside from sunning themselves on the beach.
I think that the "Redneck Riviera" stigma was shaken off a long time ago. I've been to Myrtle Beach numerous times over the years, and have seen it transform into a bonafide family destination. Attractions such as Broadway at the Beach and the newer resorts are far from what many would term "redneck". A weeks hotel stay in many of the newer big resorts can cost up to the two grand range for the oceanfronts...and these resorts have everything. I know a few folks who regularly pay that for a weeks stay. During certain summer weeks, it can be a little tough to score a remotely desirable room in any price range. What Myrtle Beach still does have is a lot of family owned resorts who offer good room rates, hence attracting people from all walks of life. There are probably still a lot of weekenders there, but make no mistake, most people now go there to stay for at least 5 days.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the $1.1 billion figure in Anaheim for the entire Disneyland expansion, including California Adventure, Downtown Disney, the Grand Californian, the Mickey and Friends parking structure, the Disneyland Drive reroute and the esplanade work?
You are correct, Robert. And I'm not completely sure that that entire $1.1 billion came out of Disney's pocket. I think it also included expenses that the city incurred for things like infrastructure, water and utilities, new roads, new "Garden District" designations, etc. I think that the whole Disneyland area transformation was upwards of $1.1 bil. Although I'm sure that the parking structures, hotels, downtown Disney, etc did set Disney back by close to a billion smackeroos.
As I remember DCA the original budget was over 2Bil..they cut it down to 1.4Bil which as allocated for DCAs 55 acres, The Grand Californian, and the parking structure.
I just would like to make a couple of clarifications brought to me attention by those who are more knowledgable than I about this project.
Some of you folks seem to think that there's no middle ground between Six Flags and Disney; there is, and it's called "Busch". None of the Busch parks have anything nearly as expensive as Mission:Space or Spiderman, yet they're still well-themed parks that appeal to a wide variety of people.
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