Hard Rock Park

This TPS Report hits close to home.  While geographically speaking our “home park” is Carowinds, our hearts really went out to the folks who created Hard Rock Park.  It wasn’t a perfect park, of course, but there was sufficient groundwork there to make us believe that (once they got it up and running) it was going to be something special.

Hard Rock Park - sign

Touted as the largest tourism investment in South Carolina history, Hard Rock Park was a $400 million 55 acre park located a few miles from the coast of Myrtle Beach.

Hard Rock Park - Entrance Road

If you’re unfamiliar with the Myrtle Beach area, it’s a major tourist draw.  They average 14 million annual visitors.  It’s not Orlando, but that’s still a solid number.

Line to get in

The park started “soft openings” on April 15th, 2008.  We were there.

Hard Rock Park - Josh and Brandi at Entrance

This TPS report spans the entire period the park was open, so the cast of characters involved will rotate a bit.  Josh and Brandi were with us nearly every time.

Hard Rock Park - prices

I’m not going to waste time hypothesizing what led to the park’s premature demise.  But I will point out things that are questionable.  $50 admission isn’t really THAT bad, but where’s your childrens ticket?  Also, unless you get to snort coke off a groupie’s ass, I’m passing on the $200 ticket.

Sorry that was blurry, btw.  I’d go retake the picture if I could (spoilers!).

Hard Rock Park - tickets

These are the normal tickets.

Hard Rock Park - gates

We did upgrade to Annual Passes, which ended up being a great value.  They were more expensive than Cedar Fair or Six Flags, but they included free parking.  Of course, they ended up being a remarkable value down the line, but that’s another story.

Hard Rock Park - All Access Merc

The All Access Entry Plaza functioned similar to Disney’s Main Street or Islands of Adventure’s Port of Entry (albeit in a much truncated version).  The purpose of this area was to act as a sort of “buffer” between the outside world and the park.

All Access Merch

All Access Merchandise was the largest store in the park.  They carried products that ran the gamut from shirts, hoodies, and glasses all the way up to customized guitars.

Hard Rock Park - I Want Candy

Obviously I Want Candy was a candy shop, but it was also oft-cited as being indicative of the park’s questionable family-friendliness.  There was a poster outside the shop of a topless girl whose breasts were completely covered by large lollipops.   We didn’t even think it was risqué enough to warrant taking a picture, and I really like boobies.

Hard Rock Park - Bali Carving Wide

The park was filled with crazy things like this Balinese wood carving…

Hard Rock Park - Bali Carving CU

This gorgeous piece was carved from an Indonesian Litchi tree on the island of Bali, and was a gift from the Hard Rock Café and Hotel located there.

Hard Rock Park - Amp'd wide

I wasn’t a fan of Amp’d, but I’m kind of a Starbucks snob so whatever.

Hard Rock Park - In Throough the Out Store

Many of the shop names in the park are puns – this is a riff on the name of a Led Zeppelin album (but I suppose you can make it a Prince lyric if you want to).

Nirvana arch

A lot of the park design was clearly lifted from other parks.  The layout here is nearly identical to Islands of Adventure, right down to the arch you have to pass under.

Hard Rock Park - show posters

As you cross under the arch, you pass show posters (similar to the attraction posters you pass as you walk under the Main Street train station to enter the Magic Kingdom).

Hard Rock Park - Entrance Mural

Of course, everything has a Hard Rock themed spin on it, so these should be taken as homages.  It’s not like Walt invented the hub and spoke design, people.

Wait, what?  Shit, apparently Disney did invent that.  Nevermind.

Hard Rock Park - Origins Theater

The true purpose of Origins Theater was never fully revealed.  I can’t imagine they intended it to just be a venue to see a model of the park.  There must have been a grander design, right?  That said, it was a pretty cool model.

Hard Rock Park - Riff Note 1

Posted throughout the park were these Riff Note signs, passing on interesting tidbits of musical history.  If this one was true, that would make Michael Jackson the only person on the planet who actually knew what the hell South Carolina’s anthem is.

Seriously, if it ain’t “Sandstorm” or “Also sprach Zarathustra,” I don’t care.