|Freestyle Music Park|
Myrtle Beach, SC, USA
April 15, 2008
140 acres (56.7 hectacres)
On September 30, 2006, South Carolina's premier travel destination lost a landmark attraction. For fifty-eight years, the Myrtle Beach Pavilion had brought the bustling blocks of beachfront property its classic amusement park that every vacation spot requires. Just across N. Ocean Blvd. from the Atlantic, the Pavilion sat on two blocks of prime real estate, with its standard setup of everything from carnival-style rides to average-sized roller coaster tracks. Those roller coaster tracks had been a facet of the attraction since the likes of the Comet Jr.[/i] wooden coaster of 1951 all the way up to the 1998 steel wild mouse known as Mad Mouse and the custom-designed out-and-back wooden coaster Hurricane: Category 5. Unfortunately, that real estate was just a little too prime for its own good. Of all the decades and all the hurricanes that the Pavilion had weathered out, it was the onslaught of redevelopers that would eventually claim its life. The amusement park community mourned.
Earlier on, a landmark attraction for slightly different demographics was lost: the legendary Outlet Park at Waccamaw Factory Shoppes. The middle-to-upper-aged female community mourned. However, a vacation destination that would please all age groups, from toddlers to seniors, had metamorphosed from dream to drawing board the previous few years. In 1999, theme park creative geniuses had first begun scouting out Myrtle Beach as the last major travel-destination of a city left untapped in the area of theme parks. Sure, the Pavilion had provided its carnival-like thrills for years, but now it was time for the dawning of a new era in the timeline of Myrtle Beach vacationing. The beach may be what would always draw the families, but now, developers wanted to give those families another way to spend their annual beach weeks. Orlando already had its theme park destinations. Now, it was time to make another city happy.
There, sprouting up behind the boxy, rectangular pottery superstore, designers envisioned a roller coaster of the Universal Studios and Busch Gardens caliber climbing its lift hill like a stairway to heaven, a seventy-foot tall guitar standing at the other end of the muddy pond behind the outlet mall, little shops and restaurants surrounding the entire acreage, and plenty of ecstatic crowds to go around. Oh, this wouldn't be any ordinary theme park. No—this would be the first leap into the realm of thrill rides for Hard Rock International, the company behind 123 Hard Rock Cafes and eight hotel-and-casino complexes from its founding in 1971 to the time that the park was announced in March 2006. And, on July 13 of that same year, ground was broken on the 150-acre plot of land that would become known as Hard Rock Park, with fifty-five of those acres devoted solely to the rides and attractions—five times the total size of the late Pavilion.
At some $400 million, Hard Rock Park became the state of South Carolina's most significant single investment. And the investment was designed to show, with six themed sections bringing to life the genres from Rock 'n' Roll Heaven showcasing artists like Led Zeppelin to British Invasion where the likes of the Beatles can be found. However, the minds behind Hard Rock Park asked themselves this question: why simply showcase the history of rock and roll when you can bring it to the park live? When the theme park held its grand opening on June 2, 2008, the legendary Eagles came to inspect their namesake coaster and provide live entertainment setting a precedent for the park's future of performing artists. With the exception of certain bands like the Eagles, Hard Rock Park decided against charging a separate admission for any concerts taking place on the property, instead offering bands from emerging artists to the legends of rock and roll with the price of admission. And, due to the musical nature of the park, it wouldn't have been complete without an amphitheater able to accommodate crowds of up to 8,000, all within 100 feet of the stage.
The Hard Rock Park experience begins upon admission into the All-Access Entry Plaza where the first tunes greet guests' ears as they stroll down the midway, past the shops like the Get-Inked Tattoo Parlor and I Want Candy!, then onto the Gibson Vegas High Roller Plaza where they find themselves standing atop a pathway shaped suspiciously like the neck of a guitar. In front of them, the lake stretches scenically to the right and left, with the centerpiece seventy-foot Gibson guitar and park logo straight ahead. To the left lies Rock 'n' Roll Heaven; to the right, Cool Country.
Circumnavigating the lake counterclockwise, guests first pass the spinning rides Muddin' Monster Race, a truck ride; and the classic Wave Swinger that has become a staple of nearly every theme park, known here as Just a Swingin'. The section also contains its fair share of performance space at the Ice-House Theater, a pre-existing building to the time of Hard Rock Park, fine dining at the Rockabilly BBQ. Strolling the pathway, guests will come upon surprises like the Rock-Cow-Billy statue as it stands ready to blast unsuspecting guests with water from its udders. However, the main attraction here is Eagles: Life in the Fastlane. Eagles, in all its twisted glory, is a standard mine-train coaster, with dual lift hills and banked turns galore, all surrounding the theme of an abandon mine and set to a two-minute custom recording of the song in the name. The smaller guests can also find their fulfillment in Cool Country with swing sets and tire swings.
© Hard Rock ParkMoving along to Born in the USA, the coasters continue on their family-oriented theme. The Shake, Rattle & Rollercoaster provides kids with their typical junior coaster experience while Slippery When Wet takes slightly taller riders on a suspended, swinging coaster experience ensuring that no rider is left behind dry. Just in front of Slippery When Wet with its elevator lift system and green-and-brown structure, kids can enjoy the Kids Rock! State Park section if they haven't been satisfied with KidsVille, a themed area geared towards slightly smaller members of the family. Of course, the section needed its own restaurant, so Hard Rock installed the Great Meals Diner; and shop: the Main Street Gas & Gifts; and last, but not least, the Live Amphitheater for all those performing artists.
At the back of the acreage, just in front of the building that formerly housed the Waccamaw Outlets, guests can find something generally considered slightly more exciting than pottery shopping: two themed areas known as Lost in the 70's and British Invasion. While Lost in the 70's consists only of a Sally-crafted dark ride known as Moody Blues Nights in White Satin: the Trip, a shop named the King's Road Boutique, and an arcade; British Invasion spans a few more acres and includes the second-largest and perhaps most unique coaster.Maximum RPM is a mix between roller coaster and ferris wheel. When riders board the ride with an auto-manufacturing plant theme, they first get hauled skyward inside of a ferris wheel before releasing into a twisted custom layout. Yet, this coaster isn't the only monument of the section. Amidst European architecture, guests can find smaller rides like the London Cab Ride, Magic Mushroom Garden and All the King's Horses, the classic carousel. In terms of dining, there's the largest selection here, with the Carnaby Street Cafe, Cod Piece Fish-n-Chips, and Queen's Head Pub.
After passing through British Invasion, Hard-Rock-Parkgoers would get a major glimpse of the entire park's star attraction. As they cross a photogenic bridge across the lake, they can watch the white-and-dark-blue Led Zeppelin: the Ride made its rounds at sixty-five miles an hour through its multi-inversion Bolliger & Mabillard crafted course. After taking a few spins on Led Zeppelin, guests would complete their park experience with a show at another one of the pre-existing buildings, which was converted into the Malibu Beach Party show, or cool off with Reggae River Falls next door. Or if they were craving some theme park flavors, they would stop off at the Kitchen Below for spiciness or Taste of Paradise Grill for meaty specials. Just before reaching the All-Access Entry Plaza again, they would pass by or stop in at the Garden Party Stage for more live entertainment. At the end of the night they would be thrilled by the Bohemian Rhapsody fireworks spectacular.
As Hard Rock Park was going through it’s first season, everything stopped. The park closed early in its inaugural season, and filed for bankruptcy. They laid off tons of employees. This then went through a major court case, and the parks future seemed grim. Hard Rock International said they wanted their name removed from the park, all merchandise to be destroyed, and all of their historical items removed from the park. After the first auction for the park, no one made a bite. Then a month or two later, some one did.
FPI MB Entertainment purchased the park for a total of $25 million dollars. It announced the park would opened by Memorial Day 2009. They stated that they would try to make a deal with Hard Rock International to keep the Hard Rock name. This appears to have not gone through. On April 9, 2009 the park was given a new name, Freestyle Music Park. The new name is similar to another park the company is helped out with in Russia, Freestyle Park. They hope that this will start a new brand of attractions all over the world. Several different shows, rides, and attractions will be added. The park will also receive a complete overhaul with the theme being changed to various types of music. This includes Led Zeppelin: The Ride, Eagles: Life in the Fast Lane, and many more. The Nights in White Satin dark ride will be changed to a more family friendly theme.
Present Roller Coasters (5)Edit
|Iron Horse||Vekoma||Mine Train||4/15/2008||SBNO|
|Round About||Premier Rides||Sit-Down||6/14/2008||SBNO|
|Soak'd||Premier Rides||Roller Soaker||2008||SBNO|
|Time Machine||Bolliger & Mabillard||Sit-Down||4/15/2008||SBNO|