Posted Wednesday, September 3, 2008 2:45 PM | Contributed by Jeff
Africa Israel Investments, an international conglomerate with holdings mostly in real estate, wrote off its $10 million investment in the Myrtle Beach theme park "due to liquidity difficulties the park is experiencing due to low attendance compared to its business plan," Chief Financial Officer Ron Fainaro said on a conference call Tuesday morning. The company attributed part of its $25 million net loss in the second quarter to the Hard Rock Park writeoff.
Read more from The Sun News.
It really is sad to see so much negative in a new park, it almost is beginning to remind me of Wild West World all over again, except that HRP will at least make it through it's first season. What's really weird is that from the moment they really started showing the park photos during construction it seemed like something was terribly bad about the parks future to me. I seriously can't think of why I always had this feeling, but I just did.
It's seems very well themed, with decent rides/attractions and all. But something just always seems to reek of "We don't know what were doing at HRP!!" And two great friends of mine who live in Columbia, SC, (roughly 2 hours away) say they can't recall ever seeing any ads for the place on tv, or otherwise.
Hope it makes it to see many more prosperous years, but things better change real quick.
I think part of it is simple numbers:
a/c to Wiki South Carolina has a population of 4.4m, and some of those are probably closer to Atlanta (SFOG) than to Myrtle Beach.
I think we've said all that needed to be said in the previous threads....a perfect storm hit Myrtle Beach, and HRP got caught up. Even ideal marketing/promotion might not have been enough to save the place from a disastrous season, and they were *far* from having those things. There were be more people taking losses in the near future...I should get there this season.
I've talked to insiders that feel the marketing was totally directionless. Combine that with a poor economy and a tourist area that relies on driving tourists and it's a bad recipe.
It sounds to me, if I believe Gonch, that the product is right. The message and the environment at the moment suck.
That's good news then---economies cycle, and (hopefully) marketing can learn, as long as the product is there.
I've basically heard the same thing Jeff is saying. They were banking on a lot of free press and word of mouth. The park is great. Perhaps needs some more flats. I think if they can show attendance is increasing next year they will pick up more investors, add a twilight pass (I had a couple of friends and family that would have went this year just to see the shows but weren't willing to pay $46 to get in since they don't ride rides and coasters) and revise their attendance estimates to something more reasonable then they will be fine.
Well, I was just at Hard Rock Park last weekend.
The good news is that everything in the park is well done except the landscaping, and quite frankly, it's kind of hard to make trees grow overnight. Nothing in the park is "half assed". They feature a B&M coaster, a collection of Huss rides, and a lot of little details that are really impressive.
The bad news is that it's basically a half-day park, but they charge $10 for parking (at least they had eliminated the "preferred" parking by the time I visited...) and $50 to get in, which makes it more expensive than almost any other park around. Basically they are charging Sea World prices, but delivering MarineLand. The park just hasn't got a whole lot of stuff in it. There are five coasters, a dark ride, three Huss ASR rides, and a Wave Swinger-like ride. To add insult to injury, on the day I visited, two of the five coasters were closed. It doesn't help that there are performance sheds all over the park that are very nice facilities, but by their very nature are usually empty, which tends to add to the overall "dead-ness" of the park. The "value" issue is also exacerbated by the food pricing. There did not seem to be any snack foods or light meals available in the park, instead, everything was bundled. The result is that it says right on the menu board that they are charging you $8 for a hot dog. Well, yeah, kind of, but not really. They are charging you $8 for a quarter-pound hot dog (that is a BIG hot dog) and a basket of fries or onion rings, so it ends up being more like $6 for the hot dog, which is high, but not much worse than I can get down at my local DQ. The result? Everybody remembers that it is an $8 hot dog, not that it is an $8 *meal*. Add that to the distinct lack of anything to do in the park besides eating, drinking and shopping, and you get a customer impression that the place is a huge rip-off.
The real issue is that there isn't any way to justify the ticket price, and *that* word is getting out, even as their marketing goes nowhere. Poor attendance is a serious problem, but it is a problem that comes from the fact that the park is not fully developed, and everybody knows it is not fully developed, but they are charging for it as if it were not only complete, but well established.
In my opinion, what they really need to do is leverage what they have already. Fix or remove the two malfunctioning coasters, eliminate the parking fee, cut the gate price in half, and promote the hell out of the place. Offer a half-day admission after 6pm for slightly less, unbundle the food items, get the head count up, and establish a multi-year plan for aggressive midway expansion (with, of course, admission price increases to match). They need to take advantage of the fact that they have a good product, by making that product a good value as well.
--Dave Althoff, Jr.Last edited by RideMan, Thursday, September 4, 2008 11:33 AM
^Dave, can you enlighten me (us) as to WHICH two coasters were down. I'm assuming the Beemer wasn't one of them, LOL, but otherwise it can make the difference in how badly I want to get there THIS year...
Unfortunately, this whole situation sounds exactly like Geauga Lake to me. Same scenario - great product, marketed awfully, price for the product all messed up. Let's hope this does not end up the same way....
Also, I just cannot get away from the thought that some of these parks would be doing just fine if we were not in the downward economy spiral that has existed for the past several years....it's all very sad.
When I visited, "Slippery When Wet" and (no surprise) "Maximum RPM" were closed.
--Dave Althoff, Jr.
How does everything get compared to Geauga Lake? It opened at $25 a head! That was priced wrong?
Remember back when Shamu was at Hard Rock Park? Man, that place was great back then.
...And Geauga Lake actually had enough stuff in it to keep a family of four busy for an entire day, something I can't say for Hard Rock. I'm with Jeff; I think this situation resembles the Geauga Lake failure in no way at all.
I do think it is absolutely weird that a new park in Myrtle Beach would have no flume ride, no rapids ride, and no shoot the chutes ride. No waterpark either, except for a dumping-bucket spray deck that looks like it belongs in a waterpark, but with no changing or drying facilities.......
--Dave Althoff, Jr.
I have thought the same thing about the missing water attractions and the existing bucket attraction, RideMan.
Maybe this CoasterBuzz topic could help the park figure out what the problems are. I think a little change is in order. They have a very good idea implemented poorly.
What's wrong? Imho, it's the price, the ride lineup, and who they are not marketing to. They need to figure out how to get the families into a rock themed park. They need to build some water rides. They need to get rid or the uninteresting coasters and build something that people want to buy admission for.
I'll say what I've said since my original TR shortly after we visited:
If you're going for the rides, you're going to be disappointed; it's not a ride park.
Hard Rock Park is great LITTLE park. That, to me, is it's biggest negative. Lord Gonchar is right, it is not a ride park. It has some great rides and my 11 year old LOVED most of them. We went there just a few weeks ago while on vacation in MB. I'm not sure why everyone seems to feel the admission is all wrong...we went two days and cost us $23 each day. Of course, that was due to a promotion that they ran. You paid for one day at regular price and could get additional days, upto 7, for ten bucks a pop. I think that I even got a few extra dollars off the daily price. Anyway, the first day we were there-a monday-and there were at far more staff than guests. I'd say probably four to one. The second day was a friday and the park had typical Kings Dominion (we are from Richmond) crowds. Not heavy but not empty either. Oh, I have heard ads on local Richmond radio for the park, but while we were in MB, I only saw billboards and a couple of ads in those coupon books you see everywhere down there. NO ads on the radio or tv there. The Myrtle Beach area, though, did look a bit depressed this year, so I suspect that the economy, specifically gas prices, had much to do with the overall lack of tourists down there. Even in August, there's generally a fair amount of out of towners there, but not this year.
You know, I have to question the whole older music theme. My kid only knew the Led Zeppelin was a band. He had looked it up on Wikipedia. Oh and the queue for that thing...OH MY. Way too long, the show you are forced to endure needs to go. Stupid to wait five minutes to ride a coaster when you ARE THE ONLY ONES RIDING.
Nights in White Satin...I don't now what to say about that. Cool ride, but you have to be stoned to understand and that's all I will say about it.
I certainly hope the park sticks around for awhile and I hope they make up with Premiere so Max RPM runs again...that's an interesting ride.
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