Concepts Revealed for Rock Park's Rides
By Dawn Bryant
The Sun News
April 10, 2007
Three major roller coasters, including one themed by an undisclosed band, a cafe reminiscent of the '60s and a Jamaica-themed water play area are among the attractions that will fill the Hard Rock Park.
Six zones surrounding a pond will cater to music fans' different tastes, from country to British rock. A heavy-metal comedy act dubbed "Roadies Stunt Show" will feature acrobatics and pyrotechnics.
The 140-acre park's developers, who have worked on the $400 million financing and concept for more than five years, unveiled the details Monday, kicking off a six-city promotional tour at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City.
"[The attractions] better be good," said Dennis Speigel, a theme park consultant who has spent 42 years advising, developing and operating parks, including Carowinds in Charlotte, N.C. "They are really going to have to generate a lot of people to make that a success. It isn't going to be a grand slam by any stretch. They are going to have to draw a lot of tourists."
The Hard Rock Park is scheduled to open in spring 2008. Tickets will sell for $46.
"We've been dreaming up Hard Rock Park for the last few years, and we can't wait to start showing people what they can expect to experience," Steven Goodwin, the park's CEO, said.
The park's entrance will be toward the planned Fantasy Harbour bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway. A large Hard Rock-style guitar with spotlights shooting into the sky will protrude from the former Waccamaw Pottery site.
Park-goers will stroll through six zones including the entrance, each featuring exhibits and rides based on a genre. The zones focus on country music, the '70s disco-punk-glam era, the British invasion, American music and the feelings behind the music.
A 10,000-seat amphitheater will have a live daily show and special concerts featuring headliners and tribute bands. The concerts will become a big part of the lineup in the spring and fall, with shows at least every weekend. Concert-goers must buy a ticket to the park to see a show, with no separate tickets for the amphitheater.
"We really will mix up [the concert lineup]," Goodwin said. "We see huge potential outside the summer period."
Rides and attractions
Two roller coasters - one jamming '80s hits, another blaring Southern rock - will be among the park's major rides. There also will be a Jamaican-themed water play area, '60s style cafe and stores.
The lineup should attract several generations, a smart approach for a new park, said David Mandt, spokesman for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, a trade group of which Hard Rock Park is a member.
The most recent new park in the U.S., aside from expansions of Disney's parks in California and Florida, is Legoland, which opened in Carlsbad, Calif., in 1999.
"[The Hard Rock Park has] got a very broad demographic appeal," Mandt said. "Mom and Dad are going to love it with the rock 'n' roll music. They have roller coasters for teens and attractions for young kids. That appeal is very important."
Park officials declined to give specifics on the rides, including the height, lengths and speeds, saying that information would be released later. Tidbits about more of the park's planned 40 rides and attractions will be unveiled during the next 10 days.
On Friday, officials will give details on a roller coaster branded with a band, a marriage of rock and rides in the same fashion as Aerosmith's Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at Disney's MGM Studios. Officials wouldn't name the band.
Though thrilled with the rock 'n' roll roller coasters, some people were in real awe of a ticket price pushing $50.
All guests, regardless of age, will pay $46 to get in. By comparison, an adult ticket for the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World is $67. Entry to Carowinds near Charlotte costs $39.95 per person. Legoland in California charges $57 for an adult admission.
"We certainly hope [the park] will be able to get that price," said Brad Dean, president of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. "For this market, it may be considered high. But that ticket price is not out of the realm of possibility."
Will people plop down that much?
"Maybe once," said Patricia Sourlis, an owner of The Boathouse restaurant near the planned park. "I want to at least go and check it out. But that's steep."
The price, though a bit less than Disney, shocked Ryan Weatherwax.
"At Disney, at least you get to see the mouse," he said.
Stephanie Ward of Myrtle Beach was glad to see her favorite type of music - country - get a dedicated area.
She doesn't mind paying $46 to see it.
"It's kind of pricey, but I think it will be worth it because it is so big."
Magical Mystery Bus tours
Now that ride details have been released, officials are hitting the road in their first and most high-profile piece of memorabilia, the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour Bus, to promote the park.
The bus will stop at Hard Rock Cafes in six cities then return to Myrtle Beach on April 18 for the opening of a preview center. Rock group Sister Hazel will perform at each stop.
The preview center - dubbed "Backstage Tour" - is on the park site in Fantasy Harbour off U.S. 501 and will give people a glimpse at what the park will look like.
The park plans to operate every month of the year except January and February and expects to have more than 30,000 guests per day during the summer.
"We are very focused on promoting Myrtle Beach," Goodwin said. "The reason is to drum up excitement in the critical markets."
This week's promotional tour is a crucial step for a park that can only work if it attracts new visitors to Myrtle Beach, not just tap some of the 14 million who already come, Dean said.
"The numbers clearly show that for the Hard Rock Park to work it cannot be based on attracting those who are already here," he said. "It has to bring more visitors to the area."
Speigel, the theme park consultant who is president of International Theme Park Services in Cincinnati, estimates the Hard Rock Park must have 2 million visitors a year to survive. "It better be a really, really good thing," he said.
About the park
| Spring 2008
| off U.S. 501 in Fantasy Harbour
| $400 million
Among the park's attractions
| A convertible car-coaster that races to 1980s new age hits
| A Southern Rock roller coaster that careens through a creepy abandoned lumber mill.
Reggae River Falls
| A Jamaican-themed water play area.
| A foam ball play-station
Three other roller coasters, including one branded by an undisclosed band
Carnaby Street Cafe
| A 1960s joint featuring gigantic lava lamps and traditional British fare
Roadies Stunt Show
| A high-action comedy starring heavy metal riggers performing acrobatics and pyrotechnics
A 10,000-seat amphitheater
Mainstreet Gas & Gifts
| An old gas station converted to a surf shop where antique glass gas pumps become kid- powered whirlpools.
The park will have zones catering to different genres:
Rock & Roll Heaven
| Explores the feelings and emotions "behind the music," including the influences and the legends
| Celebrates rock 'n' roll English-style. The look and feel of London creates a backdrop to explore rock's most influential artists and musical genres
Lost in the 70's
| An indoor mall featuring the '70s genres of punk, disco and glam
Born in the USA
| Salutes the birthplace and "melting pot" of rock
| The music of the South
SLIDESHOW: See what the future park will look like
Travel Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Theme-Park Heaven
By Gene Sloan
April 13, 2007
First Aerosmith gets its own theme-park ride. Now Led Zeppelin. The creators of the Hard Rock theme park, under construction in Myrtle Beach, S.C., will announce details today of the park's signature ride: a 150-foot-tall steel roller coaster with a Led Zeppelin theme. The looping attraction is one of more than 40 rock 'n' roll-themed amusements planned for the 140-acre theme park. It's scheduled to open in spring 2008.
The park, built by private investors under license from Hard Rock International, which operates 123 Hard Rock Cafes and eight Hard Rock Hotels, is the first major new park planned for the USA in nearly a decade. As on the Aerosmith coaster, which made its debut in 1999 at the Disney-MGM Studios park near Orlando, riders on Zeppelin will experience a musical immersion from speakers.
"Led Zeppelin are the icons of hard-rock music," says the park's CEO, Steven Goodwin. "Parents and kids alike can relate to the band's music."
Artist's Rendering of "Zeppelin" Roller Coaster