How do you $385 Million dollars and have your park close in 4 months?
Apparently by opening a Hard Rock Theme Park. So how does a park which at the time (2008) still had such a well known IP falter so quickly? Was it the national financial crisis in 2008 with banks crashing left and right or an increase of $4.00 per gallon for gas? According to Jon Binkowski it was just a matter of poor timing collectively and a lack of sustained investment.
The initial cost of the park actually only reached about $225 million with the remainder of the roughly $000 million being used to repay debts and “additional financial costs”. The park was highly financed and borrowed from investors and with no help in sight, the park was forced to close down. Investors refused to give more cash to keep the park afloat and saw it as being easier to just let it fail. Had the capital needed been added during the first couple of years (as is customary with opening of most parks) the park may have thrived in the Myrtle Beach, Florida market. With a focus on different musical eras and evoking the mood and visuals to accompany music by hand-picked artists like Led Zeppelin and The Eagles, Hard Rock had the makings of a park that would at least see it through for a time, if not for the lack of initial back up capital.
Rides such as Nights In White Satin and the Led Zeppelin Coaster have been hailed by the few who were lucky enough to ride them as some of the most incredible attractions created to date. With immersive theming and in-depth layers of music and special effects, the attractions at the Hard Rock were pushing boundaries. Sadly the park never made it past its learning curve stage and never had the chance to see what worked and what did not. There is no denying the level of detail and love that was pus into the park. From intricate use of colour and music to more garish details, like the guitar fountain that when touched in the right order played stairway to heaven.
There are some who blame the location and market there for the fall, pointing to the attempted revamp of the site one year later as “Freestyle Music Park”. That venture opened and closed in the same year (2009), never to be reopened again. The site currently sits mostly intact but abandoned and has not been developed since, despite many rumours of interest.
The park was one of many to close over the years and we are looking forward (though with heavy hearts) to covering other amazing themed parks and installations that you may have missed over the years.
We want to give a special thanks to Theme Park Sushi for the use of their pictures taken during Hard Rock’s operational year.