Herschend is a possibility, they did just close Celebration City in Branson in favor of developing "other entertainment" on the site (more shopping malls likely). Perhaps there was another reason for closing it. Their brand may fit nicely in Myrtle Beach, given that they have experience operating parks in high traffic tourist destinations.
I've also heard the name Blackstone thrown around recently...
I'm having a hard time wondering why they are giving up on this project so soon. I realize that a lot of money is involved here, but I'm telling you that this place will fly high if the proper steps are taken. Any investors out there care to take a chance?
One thing for sure is that the marketing for Hard Rock Park needs to be a lot better. Outside of the local area there was little to no advertising. More should be put into advertising so it reaches more people and appeals to all market segments.
However, I agree that we should all chip in and make thia Theme Park Insiders Hard Rock Park!
IF it opens in '09, it won't be with the current management or ownership group and it won't be the same business model at all!
The demographic that you speak of is not the older people who go for the winter, it's the younger crowd and families that start coming by the millions in April and stop in August, the weekenders who come from March to about October, and the regional theme park market that has barely any competition. You are nuts if you think a place that sees 10-15 million visitors a year (most of them families) can't support a well run theme park that can market itself. Experts can analyze numbers and denounce all they want, but I know that town, and I know who goes there because I'm surrounded by them. All HRP had to do was market in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia, Indiana, and a 250 mile radius.
Fix the marketing problem, lower some prices a little, be very nice to your season pass holders (lots of perks), have lots of special events and a concert series (this is Hard Rock Park after all), and develop more attractions. Get people in the gate, even if it costs a little more up front, because you can't have their money if they aren't inside the gate. It will be made up on the back end, and people will return year after year if the park is kept fresh.
And it's all absolutely, 100 percent accurate.
The most damning thing for HRP was their complete and utter inability to adapt when what they had wasn't working. The park opened with a 50 dollar base ticket. No discounts for anyone were apparent. No kid ticket. No senior ticket. No military ticket.
And surprise! No people in the park.
The lack of crowds were there on DAY ONE. That should have set off a warning light. The crowds weren't there throughout the Sound Check period. When the park "officially" opened, there still weren't any crowds. The Eagles/Moody Blues concerts may have boosted attendance, but it was a one day affair only. I have pictures of the Led Zeppelin preshow room with only four people in it. On a Saturday in June. And it was around 11:30.
If the warning light went off on day one, the "OMG This is NOT working" klaxons should have been blaring by then.
There was a Carolina discount program put into effect (either the month of June or July, I forget), but their marketing budget must have already been absorbed. We didn't hear much about it in Columbia (a mere 2 and a half hours away). They did eventually introduce a child ticket, but it was too little too late. They wasted valuable marketing time introducing the pointless "if you're not having fun in the first half hour, you get your money bacK" promotion. It didn't work.
The only way to get people in the park was to lower the gate price. Simple stupid math. It's better to have 1000 people in the park who paid $30 to get in than it is to have 500 people in the park who paid $50 to get in. Plus, the 1000 people have an extra $20 they can spend in the park on the (overpriced) food and beverages. Oh, you'll also be able to keep some of that money in the registers if you have the foresight to send people home when the crowd isn't there. Wandering the park on any given day, you could easily count at least 20 to 30 employees who really had nothing to do. Send them home for the day. You just saved a LOT of money. Keep some of them on call, but don't pay them to stand around.
But this is all Monday morning quarterbacking. We'll never know the answer, because it never happened.
I met a few of the upper-level guys at HRP. They all seemed like really great guys who had really great visions for the park (and, I sincerely hope none of them were the person who sent that email to Robert earlier this year). But there were basic problems with the park that they either couldn't or wouldn't address. And I hate that. I wanted these guys to succeed. I wanted this park to succeed. But for everything three things they got right, they made a fundamental error somewhere else.
I was in the park on opening day and I loved it. Even on my eighth visit (on closing day, not that I knew it at the time), I loved the park. I'd love to have it back. But it doesn't look like this is in the cards.
While you make many good points, you should try to do accurate research. While the park may not have offered many discounts, there were discounts available. There were discounts for North and South Carolina residents, military, and for families of 4 or more.
I really hope someone buys this park and keeps it open. There's too much good in it to let it go to waste. Hopefully the buyer keeps the theme going too. It's a good theme that a lot can be done with.
When the park opened, there were three options. An annual pass for $150, a regular day ticket for $50, or the "VIP ticket" for $200.
Like I said above, they did offer discounts but they waited far too long to institute them. I think their inability to get those realized sooner cost them a lot of business.
It's interesting that the Hard Rock Corporation seems to have pretty much stayed on the sidelines throughout this whole thing. I know that they've collected their money from the owners, but it is their name on the sign. Call me the devil's advocate, but I know that if it were my brand, I would be asking a few questions, and perhaps...seeking out new management if the current management isn't working out.
I have played plenty of RCT in my time. Isn't it funny how the fairly simple principles of that game really do apply in this situation. Then again, I find that most problems in the business world can be boiled down to fundamentals and common sense. In this case, even though the economy was down, the market is ripe. The park is well built and entertaining, so the management plan, execution, and contingency were flawed. Coupled with the economy and cost increases across the board, it made for a colossal failure.
The good news is that it's fixable. I really hope that they open next year.
I'll bet the 'rights cost' for each individual ride/attraction and the HR name is SIGNIFICANT-probably a flat fee based on the 3.0 million visitor figure which skews any sense of reality.
Marketing is an art with a lot of science to back it up-it is EXTREMELY difficult to get the mix right, even in the best of times. Start-ups intensify that difficulty-nobody gets it right, not even the big boys, in the first year...
Can it survive? - sure... buy it pennies on the dollar, renegotiate the rights deals, expand the marketing and partnership agreements, practice better intercept marketing techniques, get off the idea that it is the 'hippest' place on the planet, and moderate (family-ize) the message.
....but then again, you might just want to be the THIRD mouse to get the cheese...
You and I do agree on one thing, management dropped the ball. They probably payed a pile of money for the licensing, but the problem was with the marketing and day to day money management, not the concept and design, and not the market itself.
Business school numbers and terms can be thrown around all day, but the bottom line is the theme park business isn't just money, it's about entertainment. If you have an entertaining product, it will sell...provided the market can support, people know it's there, and you can manage money and secure investors. In this case, they have an entertaining product and a market, but the business side just didn't happen.
Those millions of tourist you talk about from Ohio and other points north, east, west and south PASS BY other themeparks on their way there, or go to their local themepark first, then they go to the beach.
A 300,000 local market is darn near insignificant in the real world. Look at the demos of those 300,000- old people (playing golf year round), beach folk and suppliers/service people. They generally either don't have the money or the desire to go to a themepark.
850,000 to MAYBE 1.1 million max in that market at $30 average maingate and $10-12 other percap with reduced or no royalty payments. 120 day operating season, aggressive intercept marketing and good, developed relationship with the local CVB who believe in the product and will support the shotgun/nationwide marketing campaign.
Any more info and I'll have to charge you....