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.
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.
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.
The park started “soft openings” on April 15th, 2008. We were there.
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.
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 is questionable.
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!).
These are the normal tickets.
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.
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 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.
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.
The park was filled with crazy things like this Balinese wood carving…
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.
I wasn’t a fan of Amp’d, but I’m kind of a Starbucks snob so whatever.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.