Hard Rock Park Opens in Myrtle Beach


Big day arrives for Hard Rock

Apr. 15, 2008

By Lisa Fleisher – The Sun News

Way back in 2001, Jon Binkowski was still moonlighting as an emcee at the theaters he owned in Fantasy Harbour to save money, when he came up with the idea to build a theme park there.

Seven years and $400 million later, today’s the big day when Binkowski, the park’s chief creative officer, will share his vision with paying customers.

On Monday, he was touring Hard Rock Park, adjusting costumes, listening to music, making sure everything was just right.

“I am sprinkling my pixie dust throughout the park,” Binkowski said.

The park on U.S. 501 will open at 4 p.m. today for what it calls a soft opening, which means park officials are not guaranteeing all the rides and shows will be running at all times.

This is the time for tinkering, for adjusting. This is the time to figure out how many times the Roadies Stunt Show needs to run in a day to please all guests. This is the time to talk to guests, taste the food at the park’s restaurants and food stands, and figure out how to make traffic flow as smooth as possible.

That’s what park CEO Steven Goodwin was doing on Monday.

He ordered a bunch of food at The Whammy Bar to taste the quality, and sat at the bar and had a beer as he watched the final preparations for the opening.

He said he was calm and confident about the park’s debut.

State inspectors predicted that four rides will not make it in time for the opening: Maximum RPM, Slippery When Wet, Sole Train and Dune Buggies.

Park spokeswoman Megan Winnett, however, said the park is trying to get Slippery When Wet open. The park’s signature ride, the spiraling Led Zeppelin – The Ride roller coaster, is ready to go.

The department’s inspectors will be at the park today for any last-minute inspections, said Duane Scott, administrator of the S.C. Office of Elevators and Amusement Rides, which must inspect and license the rides.

On Monday, landscapers were putting finishing touches on the ground to make sure the park would look its best, and construction workers were taking down their equipment.

The ground was dusty, and it still looked like a construction site, although the buildings and rides were practically ready to go.

“There will be a massive cleanup effort [Monday] and [today] to make sure everything is spotless,” said Kerry Graves, vice president of sales and marketing.

The park is the area’s first theme park, and tourism leaders are hoping that its success will help drive new visitors to the area.

The park expects to cater to up to 30,000 visitors a day, and 3 million throughout the year.

It plans to be fully operational by May 9.




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