Hard Rock Park Closes, Files For Bankruptcy

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) - Hard Rock Park has closed for the year after losing a whole lotta money.

The owner of the Myrtle Beach amusement park filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Wednesday, ending an inaugural season that fell far below projections for the 55-acre, $400 million rock 'n' roll attraction. When it opened in April, park officials planned to stay open through what it called "rocktoberfest" and even have some programs during the Christmas season.

The park, which included roller coasters based on Led Zeppelin's classic "Whole Lotta Love" and the Eagles' "Life in the Fast Lane," plans to reopen in 2009, park spokesman Jim Olecki.

The park will keep 75 workers through the offseason. It had 2,000 employees at its peak, Olecki said.

The attraction never had enough money for promotion when it opened in April and the worsening credit crisis made it impossible to raise more, Olecki said.

Executives suggested the park could attract 30,000 visitors a day and 3 million for the year at $50 a ticket, but those numbers fell far short. In August, it cut operating hours.

Owner HRP Myrtle Beach Holdings filed under Chapter 11 in Delaware bankruptcy court. The company licensed the brand name from Hard Rock International, which owns the restaurant chain.

A bankruptcy judge will decide what will happen to people who hold annual passes and other tickets.

The park, which opened this year after seven years of planning, couldn't have picked a worse time to start because of a drop in tourism based on rising gas prices and other economic problems and the credit crisis, experts said.

"The stars were clearly not aligned for them to get going this year, some of which was their own doing and some of which were other factors," said Don Schunk, a research economist at Coastal Carolina University who studies tourism.

The park should be able to attract more visitors in 2009, but Schunk isn't sure things can turn around.

"Given everything that's going on right now, how likely are they to go out and attract new investors? With the kind of markets we have right now that's a challenge for any business," Schunk said.

The park was the biggest investment ever in South Carolina tourism.

"We're naturally disappointed, as we were hopeful Hard Rock Park would establish itself as an anchor attraction for the Grand Strand, and clearly that has not happened," said Brad Dean, president of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. "Clearly in the future, we would encourage them to revisit the pricing strategy and consider more out-of-market advertising."

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  • by MyrtleVegas Location: IBX on Sep 26, 2008 at 09:40 AM
    "The attraction never had enough money for promotion when it opened in April and the worsening credit crisis made it impossible to raise more, Olecki said." They MUST be talking NATIONAL promotion because their "not-so-smart" ads were on plenty around here (eastern NC). Its turning into Myrtle Vegas and many people are choosing to keep their dollars in NC!
  • by ED Location: Greene Co on Sep 26, 2008 at 09:22 AM
    Rock and Roll may never die but Ill bet the park will ! TOOO much money lost due to way to many high prices!~!
  • by whatever Location: NC on Sep 26, 2008 at 05:53 AM
    Ticket price was too high for what the park had to offer. You would have thought it was DISNEY WORLD!
  • by Janelle Location: Washington on Sep 25, 2008 at 03:19 PM
    My husband and I went while we were on our honeymoon. It was fun, but I'm not sure it justified the ticket price, plus the ridiculously priced food. We spent $25 for the 2 of us to have a BBQ plate each. The Zeppelin ride was pretty cool, and Nights in White Satin, but everything else was pretty lame. I grew up going to Six Flags Over Texas practically everyday of the summer as a kid, so that is what I can compare it to...and it does NOT compare. They should've spent more money on roller coasters instead of the lake w/the attack swans, and the cheesy Barbie girl show they put on in the lake. It could be such a cool place if they had done a bit more in the way of rides.
  • by Chris Location: Greenville on Sep 25, 2008 at 02:41 PM
    I've to Hard Rock Park. It is nothing special. The best two attractions they have are the Zeppelin ride and Nights in white satin. The "LIfe in the fast Lane " ride is a joke, and a big waste.I didn't even have to turn my hat backwards to keep it from flying off, it was sooooooooooooooooo slow. Whoever designed the rides and attractions needs to have their head examined. The food was reasonably though.They wasted around 5 acres with a lake, what for? There is a country music portion to the park , when did country music become hard rock? Overall I am glad it was a slow day, we got to ride everything we wanted at least 5 time with minimal waiting time.
  • by BusinessClimate Location: NC on Sep 25, 2008 at 12:44 PM
    Oh come on now -- why file bankruptcy now - just wait until the Obamanation gets into office and he will bail EVERYONE out with his own funds -- see he's like this billionaire rock star who will be helping to support everyone.
  • by here Location: here on Sep 25, 2008 at 11:39 AM
    Rockin' Roll will NEVER die!!!
  • by Drew Location: Greenville on Sep 25, 2008 at 11:30 AM
    Maybe if they didn't waste so much money with their stupid commercials they would have some money left. I think this is hilarious. Why doesn't the government just bail them out?
  • by VBush Location: MHCY on Sep 25, 2008 at 11:19 AM
    Maybe we should add his bill to the national bail out. Maybe we should bail everyone out. No one should go out of business. We'll just keep paying for everybody's bad decisions. I think the government should pay for my house. I am not behind on my mortgage, but why should I pay for it? I think I'll just have my bill added to the national debt. Yeah, that sounds good.
  • by Mike on Sep 25, 2008 at 10:47 AM
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