Hard Rock Park files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Posted Friday, January 2, 2009 3:59 PM | Contributed by SupermanFan1

After failing to find a buyer, Hard Rock Park asked a Delaware bankruptcy court today for permission to liquidate, signaling once and for all that it will not be able to reopen.

The park asked the court to convert its bankruptcy from a Chapter 11 to Chapter 7. Under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a business can continue operating while it tries to reorganize its debts, but under a Chapter 7, a trustee is appointed and the property and assets are sold off to pay creditors, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Read more from The Sun News.

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Friday, January 2, 2009 4:22 PM

This is such sad news, although not at all unexpected. Given the credit crisis, it would be difficult to find a buyer willing to put up the money.

Friday, January 2, 2009 5:21 PM

My family wants to buy the Nights In White Satin ride. :)

Friday, January 2, 2009 5:31 PM

I was hoping for this park to make it.

I was sooooo looking forward to them having concerts like WhiteSnake, Slayer, Reo Speedwagon and Quiet Riot....

Oh well, there's still hope for Conneaut...


Friday, January 2, 2009 9:51 PM

That's a shame. I still believe that it could have succeeded. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but it seems that all it needed was a few "tweaks" in marketing and pricing from the beginning.

Friday, January 2, 2009 11:06 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
My family wants to buy the Nights In White Satin ride. :)

I'll donate to the cause if you let me ride it. :)

Saturday, January 3, 2009 10:44 AM

You know what gets me! Hard Rock International allowed them to use the name, but Hard Rock International never advertised the park at any of their establishments. Therefore, how can Hard Rock International be concerned with their image? If they didn't do anything to help the park knowing that their name was attached then why should they care now!?

This just really makes me upset, the park was a nice park. We went there this year. I mean they could have lowered the prices for what they had in the park, little to do. But the shows, the detail and scenery was outstanding. To top it all off! They had a great closing firework ceremony! I enjoyed myself and I wish the park was going to open.

Just to let everyone know, I have one of the only music videos from an official Coaster Enthuasiast site. So if you have never seen the park or any of it's rides in action check it out!

Saturday, January 3, 2009 10:54 AM

Wow, this may go down as one of the largest themepark failures in history. Scary times people.

Saturday, January 3, 2009 11:06 AM

It is one the biggest Theme Park failures. Think about the amount of time, money and man power that was spent to build this place. $400 million and it failed! I would think this takes number 1!

Saturday, January 3, 2009 2:24 PM

One of the biggest? I think this IS the biggest theme park failure in history. Can anyone think of a bigger one? I can't at the moment...

Saturday, January 3, 2009 2:25 PM

Coasterfusion said:
You know what gets me! Hard Rock International allowed them to use the name, but Hard Rock International never advertised the park at any of their establishments. Therefore, how can Hard Rock International be concerned with their image? If they didn't do anything to help the park knowing that their name was attached then why should they care now!?

That's not what the business arrangement was. They were licensing the brand, that's it. What you're suggesting implies that Viacom should be giving free advertising to Nick Universe at Mall of America. Viacom doesn't get anything extra for that.

Saturday, January 3, 2009 3:20 PM

For what it's worth, Hard Rock Park was listed with all of the cafes, hotels, casinos, etc. in HRC ads.

Saturday, January 3, 2009 4:00 PM

Hard Rock International endorsed Hard Rock Park at ALL of their establishments. In the Cafe's case its printed right on the menu.

Hard Rock International has valid reasoning to be concerned with their image. Companies don't just allow the use of their name in return for payment. There are terms and conditions included in the licensing agreement to protect the brand's image. I think it would be safe to assume that during the downfall of the park leading up and to the point of chapter 11, the conditions of the agreement at some point were broken.

I think its important to keep in mind that the park opened during a recession just months before financial institutions began failing globally and unemployment rates climbed to a 15+ year high. It's impossible to determine whether or not "tweaking" admission prices and spending more money on marketing and advertising would have prevented this outcome.

Saturday, January 3, 2009 6:01 PM

I don't think it's impossible at all. Even Six Flags managed to get closer to profitability in the same environment, and everyone else made adjustments as well.

It was the stupidest "marketing plan" I've ever seen. If they were going to rely on free Internet buzz, perhaps they should've done a better job at least courting the voices who occupy that space. I never even saw a press release from them, where as I get them regularly from Holiday World, the various Cedar Fair parks, Dollywood, even Lake Winnepesaukah. You don't create awareness that way.

No one, and I mean no one, that I've worked with in the last year knew anything about the park. That's a marketing fail.

Saturday, January 3, 2009 6:43 PM

"Adjustments", as you put it Jeff, is hitting the nail on the head. Operating costs at the park were ridiculously high. The park was staffed as if they were expecting the 30,000 guests/day that we've all heard about but never saw. The number of full time staff considering the size of the park was also quite large. Not to mention the amount of money spent on operating supplies, which I've read and heard to be excessive.

The fact that the park failed to make appropriate necessary adjustments to reduce their operating costs may have been equally as harmful as the poor marketing decisions and admission price.

Media coverage of the bankruptcy has focused on high admission price and a lack of marketing. I think there are more pieces of the pie that haven't been thoroughly scrutinized than these two issues alone.

Last edited by Hard Rocker, Saturday, January 3, 2009 6:45 PM
Saturday, January 3, 2009 7:09 PM

Here's a slightly related question. When's the last time a new park-- a brand new, built from scratch, amusement/theme park was built that is still regularly operating? Not talking FECs evolving into full-fledged parks, not talking parks rebuilding themselves a la Wyandot Lake/Jack's Jungle Landing. And not including Disney, which can support a park for a decade until it makes money. When was the last time a brand new park was plunked down into a vacuum that is still going today? (Not a quiz or a trick question -- I'm racking my brain trying to think of the last new park to make it.) Wild Adventures, maybe?

Saturday, January 3, 2009 7:44 PM

Ensign Smith : Fiesta Texas And Islands of Adventure spring to mind although they were part of chains - Opryland and Universal. How about Bonfante/ Gilroy Gardens.

Hard rock Park actually advertised as much if not more than Carowinds here in Charlotte but the ads weren't that good "He must've been to Hard Rock Park!" I wish they could've held on one more season.

Gas prices are down now and combined with a realistic admission price they might have had a good second season.

Saturday, January 3, 2009 11:10 PM

Even with the financial disaster that has since come to pass, hard to believe they weren't capitalized enough to withstand even one season of underperforming operational income. Can't conceive of any marketing scheme or pricing strategy that would have increased MB traffic, and HRP business, by the 300-500% necessary for the park to meet the unreasonable projections for attendance this past year. Even still, new businesses are typically told to expect a year or two without drawing any serious income from operations...clearly HRP didn't have that kind of capital/financing in place.

Sunday, January 4, 2009 3:50 PM

Hard Rocker, you make an excellent point about the operating costs, and anyone who visited the park can tell you how overstaffed they were, even towards the end of the season when things were looking bad.

There is a lot of focus on the admission and marketing side of things because that is what we outsiders can easily see. There are certainly other issues as well, but those are issues which are much less obvious.

Something I wonder about, though...
While it is a large park, Hard Rock is not a particularly well developed park. I have to wonder what the Chapter 7 filing really means in terms of liquidating the park's assets, given that the park doesn't have that much in the way of assets, and I can't think that the land is worth too terribly much given that it already failed once as a retail center. There is a handful of rides, and a bunch of concert venues that are little more than steel shells with bleachers or chairs and a few lights. Heck, the most marketable asset that could be yanked out of the place might be the impressive collection of all-weather speakers!

Even the Hard Rock name and logo are not really assets; in fact they are liabilities to the park. What is left is a piece of ground with an impressive amusement park infrastructure, a couple of rides, and a few odds and ends. I wonder if there is still some hope, sort of, in that the Chapter 7 filing could mean that instead of trying to sell Hard Rock Park as a going concern, this leaves open the possibility of selling the whole thing as "under-developed music-themed Myrtle Beach area amusement park" and a buyer could then decide whether to maintain the licenses or not.

I wonder if that is a possibility. Or are we pretty certain now of a visit from the Men in Red Jackets?

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Sunday, January 4, 2009 4:26 PM

I'm beginning to develop an unreasonable disliking for those red jackets . . .


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