Opinion: Hard Rock Park auction could indicate viability of park

Posted Tuesday, November 25, 2008 2:02 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Did the wild-card variables that plagued the Hard Rock Park this year drive it into bankruptcy? Or is the collapse of the largest-ever investment in S.C. tourism infrastructure attributable to poor business acumen on the part of those who built and operated it?

These may be unanswerable questions in the mathematical sense. But next month's auction of the park's assets will indicate whether Myrtle Beach is a viable venue for a 55-acre rock 'n' roll-themed amusement park and whether it's possible to operate that park profitably.

Read more from The Sun News.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008 11:24 PM

Like I said before the problem with this park plain and simple was the Executives. They did little to no research on price or city, just went with their own thoughts. They spent money like crazy, even before opening they spent thousands of dollars allowing people to come into the park and look around for free, which is a great idea, except they had more staffing for this sneak preview event then they ended up having on their very last few days. They overpaid employees, then made a bad deal with foreigners making it a contractual obligation that they got 40 hours so locals and people who had been with the park from the begining got their hours cut. Overpaid for everything in their grand opening event, overpaid in their liscensing, and gave no leway to have 20,000 people a day during the peak season. Overhired too much full time staff ignoring the fact that myrtle beach would have little to no tourists 9 months of the year and having a park calendar that would run 10 months long. They also never learned their lesson and if they had the money were going to change nothing, except maybe staffing, and keep everything else the same. Shame that people who weren't ready for such a responsibiltiy were lent or given by shareholders 400 million dollars and have turned it into 35 million dollars.

I think the park with a cheaper price can get at least 1 million visitors and could slowly increase if the park ever expands its rides more. They don't have alot of room left in the current park but do have room left in the mall and by the old movie theater.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 12:26 AM

I think you're over-simplifying that a bit. Investors aren't going to throw money at a project of this scope without a fairly detailed prospectus.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 9:46 AM

Ithink the park with a cheaper price can get at least 1 million visitorsand could slowly increase if the park ever expands its rides more.

Everyone keeps saying the park was overpriced for the market, but I still don't buy the idea that Myrtle Beach tourists are somehow cheaper than those in the Smokey Mountains (where admission to Dollywood is $51.30). Lodging is generally more expensive in MB in season than in the mountains, so you'd think that the guests MB draws are from a stronger demographic.

Did HRP over-reach in its first year? You betcha. Could the demographics support the price point? Until someone shows me the tourism demographic data that say otherwise, I think it could have.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 10:12 AM

^Just a different take on that point - Dollywood didn't *start out* charging $50+ admission, they developed a strong base, kept growing and improving, and had an ongoing business where people understood the cost and were willing to fork over the admission KNOWING what they were buying into, more or less. I don't think HRP was necessarily *overpriced* at $50 - but I sure would argue in favor of heavy discounts and marketing efforts UNTIL they developed a "track record". If I were one of the main decision-makers, you'd have been hard-pressed to find a local who got in for more than half-price...at least for the first season or two. The discounts would gradually disappear as I saw the park full enough to warrant more full-price admissions - but until you have 15-minute waits for the more popular attractions, the price will stay low. Schoolkids, you read, you get tickets - emergency services, teachers, whatever it takes. Even free tickets generate some paying admissions. An empty park just doesn't feel vibrant - and it won't fill your registers. Selling booze a la Universal, a concert line-up that appeals to locals....people HAVE to fill the park. We've seen what happens with an empty park...and it's not good. Park was too expensive to not generate revenue - take a hit on profitability (at first) to generate some.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 11:58 AM

If pricing is the issue then this is a potential steal for someone with the money to pick it up. Just snag the park at the liquidation sale price, drop admission in 2009 and laugh all the way to the bank.

I don't think it's that easy though.

You had to be blind to be paying full price in 2008. The discounts were there.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 12:22 PM

^But weren't you saying earlier that all those discounted admissions were at the hotels - I recall Tina saying she paid full-price. I'm just thinking the discounts were there for the TOURISTS....the ones who didn't go to Myrtle in '08. I'm talking about generating turnstile clicks from the LOCAL populace....also generates goodwill, and good word-of-mouth when the tourists ask the locals "where should we go on Friday night - we have kids with us"? Clearly, there is no one panacea for all the park's ills. But my take on the situation is that getting a crowd inside the gates is an essential step - necessary without being sufficient.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 12:30 PM

The discounts were on the website all summer long as well. God only knows where else they were.

EDIT - I'd also like to point out that our hotel was 24 miles from the park and still had discount tickets available. It wasn't just the places right in MB.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Wednesday, November 26, 2008 12:35 PM
Thursday, November 27, 2008 9:20 PM

'gator, that's what I mean by over-reaching. They needed to do a better job of communicating the value proposition, and didn't have history and time on their side.

But, there are folks on this board who claim that $50 could never work in Myrtle Beach,. no matter what, because they aren't willing to pay $50 no matter how wonderful the experience. That makes no sense: MB is a vacation destination that is more expensive than the Smokies, so it would tend to attract people with even more disposable income. If $50 isn't too high for the Gatlinburg crowd, then its not too high for the S. Carolina coast either.

Sunday, November 30, 2008 7:46 PM

Much of the discounted ticket pricing was not done until July when the company filing for bakruptcy was almost a forgone conclusion. Maybe I am wrong about the Myrtle Beach tourist but I have always been told that they are looking for a nice cheap family vacation where the main attraction (the ocean) was free. The park was still not getting many visitors after handing out free season passes to locals. The park was defiantly not overpriced on days where you had a concert included in the admission. At the end of the season the parks offerings were horrible they had taken away some of their major shows, cut out all the small entertainment which management tried to hang it's hat on for the $50 dollar price, not to mention the problems of Slippery and RPM in the last month. Even once they seemed to get guests in the park rumor has it there would be plenty of guests in guest services to get thier money back and this is on days with all of the entertainment and rides running.

Sunday, November 30, 2008 10:23 PM

I have always been told that they are looking for a nice cheap family vacation where the main attraction (the ocean) was free.

The ocean might be free, but the room with the balcony from which you can see it is not free---not by a long shot.

Monday, December 1, 2008 3:07 AM

Y'know, I think the concert angle is an important one...

The park was priced in such a way that if there was a major concert going on, it could be a heck of a deal, but on days with no concert it felt more like a rip-off. Especially with 2/5 of the coasters out of service.

A related problem is that the park is *full* of really nice performance spaces which, when dark, tend to make the whole park look that much dead-er than it was already.

Clearly, booked in live-E was a critical piece of the park's operating model. But short of booking in an act for every operating day of the season (which CAN be done; there are local concert venues here in Columbus that do exactly that), is there a way to make that work as part of the park's *business* model? Particularly when a concert venue can agree to offer a percentage of the gate or something like that. What do you do when you're effectively putting on "free" concerts 180+ days a year?

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008 12:25 AM

Bottomline, I`m ignorant when it comes to business practices. But even I know that all businesses are supposed to start up with enough cash to survive with 0 income for the first three years. Therefore, bankruptcy regardless of sales is just unacceptable.

How much did PARC purchase their parks from Six Flags?

Also how much did the now defunct Six Flags Worlds of Adventure sell for to Cedar Fair?

Just curious. Thanks guys!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008 1:06 AM


This article states that Cedar fair made the purchase for 145 million.


Parc had their purchase for 312 million for 7 properties.

I'm guessing Cedar Fair is one of the bidders to purchase the park and then move the rides and equipment to their own parks. Im guessing on the prices but Led Zeppelin is probably 16 million alone, im not sure how much the other four coasters are and the other few small rides. Not to mention food equipment, fork lifts, and other movable items. Then sell the property real cheap to a local myrtle beach real estate company. It would be well worth $35 million, though I hope someone buys it and uses the park for the sake of the locals and the job oppurtunities the park brings.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008 1:42 AM

I did pay full price, and didn't sweat over it. Actually I was unaware of any discounts. Well, maybe I just didn't care. ;) I spent around $100 in that park with admission, parking, food, some arcade games, a T-shirt and hat, and a few beers. I NEVER spend that much in a park, but I was having such a good time that I didn't care if I went broke. It was worth every penny, but you guys know how I feel about Hard Rock. I LOVED it! :)

We all have those days where we say F*** it and spoil ourselves a little. ;) It's vacation!

I am hoping to get back down there next year, IF the park is open.


Last edited by coasterqueenTRN, Tuesday, December 2, 2008 1:46 AM
Tuesday, December 2, 2008 10:08 AM

Just remember that you're posting that on a site where people talk about sleeping in their car. :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008 7:11 PM

Thank you OhioCoasterfan9 for the useful info. I appreciate it!

: )


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