Hard Rock Park | The Birth of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Theme Park
Hard Rock Park officially opened for business last week with much fanfare. The $400 million Myrtle Beach park was six years in the making. In May I visited the park for the Media Preview during the Sound Check or soft opening. As a seasoned theme park enthusiast, I was impressed by the level of detail and ingenuity that the creators employed while creating the world’s first rock ‘n’ roll theme park. During my behind the scenes tour I got to sit down with Jon Binkowski, the Chief Creative Officer.

This is Hard Rock’s first foray into the amusement park industry, so the creators weren’t hindered by a template they were forced to adhere to. This allowed them to use their creativity to come up with some really unique ideas both large and small to create a one-of-a-kind experience. The fledgling park is laid out to encourage families to stay together. Each rock-themed section has attractions for the youngest family members, teens, and adults.

Hard Rock Park - Free Air GuitarsDiscoveries Make a Unique Experience
As guests explore the park they will be surprised by “discoveries” that enhance the experience. There are too many to list, but a few examples include: the red London phone booths in the British Rock Invasion section, the interactive statue in Cool Country and the trick mirror in the bathroom in Rock & Roll Heaven. Guests should keep their eyes peeled as they enjoy the park, because they’ll be likely to run into some unsuspected surprises. From my interview with Binkowski and the special media tour, it was clear that Hard Rock Park went above and beyond in designing a unique experience that incorporates rock music beyond the major attractions. Hard Rock Parks has infused attitude and ingenuity into nearly every aspect.

Led Zeppelin - The RideRock & Roll Heaven
Rock & Roll Heaven has a tropical paradise feel. Guests can cool off in the Reggae River Falls, get some island eats at the upscale cafeteria with tikis of famous artists or enjoy the Malibu Beach Party show which features beach music, stunts, and diving. The Rock Garden is a memorial area with dozens of bricks that pay homage to deceased musicians from Johnny Cash to Tupac Shakur.

Rock & Roll Heaven is also home to the park’s marquee thrill ride, Led Zeppelin – The Ride. More than just another state-of-the-art looping roller coaster, Led Zeppelin features an immersive experience including a mini-live concert and onboard speakers blasting the band’s hit “Whole Lotta Love”. With a twisted layout that’s partially over water, six loops, and speeds of 65 mph, it’s quite a memorable ride. Check out my full Led Zeppelin coaster review.

British Invasion
Next, guests can hop across the pond to the British Invasion area. Complete with red London phone booths where guests will receive calls from the likes of Sgt. Peppers and a Magic Mushroom Garden this is the possibly the park’s best themed area. Most will be immediately drawn to Maximum RPM! It’s a first-of-its-kind roller coaster that features a unique lift mechanism that resembling a ferris wheel or in this case, the London Eye. More on Maximum RPM!…>>>

Like the park’s other attractions, music is infused into several aspects of the ride. Guests waiting in the air-conditioned queue line will be treated to 80’s New Wave karaoke performances from volunteers in line. So, if by chance the line moves slowly, at Nights in White Satin The Tripleast you’ll get to hear some guy murder an old Duran Duran song. Once aboard the British sports cars, riders will get to choose a song for their lift and for the rest of the ride.

British Invasion is also home to the dark ride Nights in White Satin The Trip. It’s a psychedelic 3D journey into the Moody Blues classic song with some great imagery. There’s also the Roadies Stunt Show, a London cab-themed spinning ride, and a groovy 60’s style restaurant complete with authentic English food like bangers with mash. There’s even an Austin Powers look-a-like with two babes on his arms entertaining the masses.

Born in the USA
Located, in the Born in the USA section, Hard Rock Park’s Live Amphitheater holds up to 10,000 fans that have already enjoyed acts like The Eagles and Kid Rock. It’s set to feature a summer full of acts to round out the rock experience. Shake Rattle ‘n’ Rollercoaster is the park’s kiddie coaster. It will be a good attraction for parents who want to ride with their kids and it even features a parent swap area in the station.Hard Rock Park

Slippery When Wet is a suspended roller coaster adjacent to the Kids Rock! State Park. It’s a camp-themed area that includes rock climbing, rope bridges, forts, and water play areas. On Slippery When Wet four person cars are lifted five stories in the air then released to begin a winding path over the water play area below. Meanwhile, onlookers can man large water canons and take aim at the riders flying overhead. More on Slippery When Wet…>>>As with most attractions, Hard Rock Park, adds an innovative spin to this concept. While riders are in danger of getting sprayed, they do have a way to retaliate. Every car features a green button that sends a radio signal to shower the heads above the people who are using the canons. The buttons weren’t operational when I was there, but it sounds like revenge will be sweet.

Cool Country
Cool Country is home to Eagles: Life in the Fast Lane. It’s a mine train roller coaster boasting an on-board high-fidelity digital audio system, with a special version of the Eagles “Life in the Fast Lane.” Rock Cow Billy - Hard Rock ParkIt’s more tame than Led Zeppelin – The Ride, but still offers a fun ride that’s packed with some mid-level g-forces via twists and turns and two lift hills. Eagles will be a great ride for the whole family.

In Cool Country, guests will also enjoy the giant swing ride and the Ice House Theater. Binkowski owned the theater before the park was built. In front of the theater is another discovery. Rock Cow Billy, a bronze statue of a rockabilly cow interacts with greets guests, flirts with ladies, and may even spray you with its udders. Inside you’ll find a very entertaining ice show called Country on the Rocks. The show features a cast of talented skaters and Country/Rock hits like “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)”.

Bohemian Rhapsody Fireworks & Laser Show
Guests can finish their day at the park with the Bohemian Rhapsody fireworks and laser show. Right over the pond, fireworks are synchronized in time with the classic Queen hit. Even the 70-foot Gibson guitar gets in on the act. For a brand new park, Hard Rock Park has excellent theming and a lot to offer.

You have to tip your hat to the ingenuity of the creators in creating something memorable and different when they could have created another paint by numbers theme park with the same stale ideas. Hard Rock Park should be on anyone’s short list of new attractions to visit this summer.

For more, visit the web site: Hard Rock Park

Have you been to Hard Rock Park? What’d you think? Leave a comment below.

About The Author

Founder of CoasterCritic.com. My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.

12 Responses

  1. sestrich

    My family and I (wife & daughter, Me-51, wife-47 and daughter-19 YO) are theme park lovers. We have been all over riding, roller and thrill coasters, rides of all types, food and entertainment of every catagory of park.While nastalga and thrill drive me, my family kinda weighs every thing. While there are all kinds of parks around the world, in the US, I feel that the standards for quality, creativity and the whole expirience and strive for excellence has to go to Disney and the Universal parks. Using these as standards, and then including all the Busch, Paramont, Six Flags and small independents…Well HARD ROCK MISSES THE MARK. While the park was clean and new, and the concept great, the execution simply didn't come off.With maybe 3 exceptions (LED ZEP COASTER, NIGHTS IN WHITE SATIN, SLIPPERY WHEN WET,the rides where almost unridable by adults. The shows would be juvenile, even for the youngest of viewer (except ice show), the food horrible and expensive. Almost all shopping closed most of the day.Living squarely in the middle of the East Coast, we waited, we watched, we traveled to the back stage and preopening in Myrtle Beach. We were simply thrilled to be having a theme park so close.Well it stunk. Save your money. The park will either improve vastly or be gone in 2 years, I guarantee it. I have been theme parking for almost all of my 52 years.You would be better served to drive to, run down, Carowinds, or the old (but now gone) joke of a kiddie park, Jubilee in Carolina Beach NC.This park was really a let down.We attended HRP on 6/14/08 and were 1 of maybe 150 cars in the lot the whole day. Plenty of staff but no attendees.I hope this park improves, but someone else will have to pay to get me in to prove it. I won't pay again.

  2. Anonymous

    Bitter much?I loved it.. so you can eat that 'Sestrich'. All the rides where top mark, and it had a 'Universal' feel to it. Very much worth my money. The food wasnt that bad…

  3. Coasterluv

    well good news if anyone hasn't seen the onride POV of it on youtube yet, Maximum RPM is now taking on riders. I like how the onboard audio actually somewhat syncs up with the ride as most onboard audio should with a coaster, unlike the other coasters in the park. I'm a little worried a about the park. I really want the park to grow with attractions and end up being a massively attended park, being that i live in NC, a popular home park other than the horrible Carowinds, would be great. But I'm looking at this attendence and hope the park doesn't go bankrupt. Attendence, means money,means more and better attractions and expansion. with as many tourist that visit Myrtle beach a year,(as they predicted Myrtle beach would be the next Orlando) you would think attendence would be better, especially now in peak season, but looking at pictures and youtube videos within this peak season at different times of the day, i'm still seeing alot of empty coaster trains, and unused walk space. While I don't usually go to parks during peak days (saturdays n major holiday weekends) I am purposely going to go to HRP on July 5th (the buisiest holiday weekend for theme parks) in hopes to see a crowd, and have to actually wait in line for rides, being there is so few, hopefully a crowd can turn my park trip into a full day affair, and liven up the place.

  4. The Coaster Critic

    Coasterluv, it's probably a bit early to be calling for the demise of HRP. But I do agree that if the park is empty over the 4th of July weekend that's not a good sign.Come back and let us know how it goes. I enjoyed Hard Rock Park and I hope the beach crowds flock to the park.Sestrich, I don't know when peak season is for Myrtle Beach, but I would have to think that when you visited it was pre-peak season. So again, it's a bit early to say that HRP's not doing well.I'm really surprised that you & your family didn't like the park especially when you went to the preview events. With regards to admission, it's only $39 if you're an NC or SC resident. There's also a money back guarantee, so if you check out the park and don't feel like it's worth you can get your money back.It's not a huge park, but I really think there's plenty to do for your money. Hard rock Park just opened and no one should expect this park to be on the level of the Orlando parks, but as I've said it's a completely unique experience and in my opinion, worth a visit.Thanks for the review.

  5. Hard Rock Park Fan

    Give the park a break people. I went to Hard Rock Park (6/31/08) and I greatly enjoyed it. There are wonderful concepts there (karaoke line as an example). Although the park has not fully developed, it's still a FANTASTIC park. A few staff members had told me that they plan on adding more rides by doing away with the staff parking.The staff was also very polite and friendly.Sestrich, you must be a giant or something to deem the rides 'unridable by adults'. Also, the food, while kind of expensive, was not as horrible as you make it out to be.Overall, the park is great. It is one of my favorite parks. The people who despise it, give it a break. It's the first year of operation for the park. Many people may not know it's out there yet. There is PLENTY to do for the money that you pay to get it. It is well worth a visit. I will be going back.

  6. Anonymous

    I went to the park when it was first opened and was very disappointed. The food cost WAY to much and was not good at all. I agree that no one was there, which was great for my husband and I not to wait in line, but not good for the park. They need to drop their prices more than just 39 dollars for locals. It's the locals that will keep the park going with the bands that will pay. The 30min or your money back deal is dumb. There is no way you can walk around the park in 30min. Such a waste. They really need to get the locals more involved, because most of them are not from around the area and have families that visit Myrtle all the time. I also really don't think that kids will enjoy it either. Hard Rock Park is no Disney and I'm sick of hearing people trying to compare it to Disney. My best advise to the CEO's, drop your prices to 25-30 dollars and kids 6-15 and up get charged 15-20. You need to get people into the park to spend money. If no one goes to the park, their not going to spending money on food and clothing. Also have a genreal admission price, because not everyone wants to ride the rides. They want to walk arouond and enjoy time with their family.

  7. Anonymous

    Why charge a general admission price for those who do not want to ride? I understand there are people who do not like to ride or want to ride stuff, but you still get the entertainment from the shows.

  8. Anonymous

    We live in Myrtle Beach and have annual passes. We love the place. The attendance has picked up greatly since it opened.No, it is not a Cedar Point or Six Flags Great Adventure. But those parks took YEARS to develop into what they are now (parking lots for coasters…not Theme Parks). Alot of people complain about those places too because they have to wait 2-hours to ride a 30 second coaster. Hard Rock Park was just born a few months ago. Give it a break. The economy is horrible now, which may greatly contribute to the park not being very busy.Their website has an elaborate animated map. So if you go to this park and don't know what you're getting yourself into, then there'e no excuse for being surprised.

  9. megan

    we have just come back from hrp…. After staying only 2 hours… we left… we were bored… dying from heat exposure… Hardrock did nothing to protect its paying public from the s.c sun!!!….and we left very angry… The park if very small.. very few rides.. most of which would be consider filler rides at other theme parks…. Hardrock is trying to cash in on its name… I can not believe the developers thought its worth the price of admission….. take my advice.. save your money and DON'T GO.. its crap and a waste of money !!!!

  10. Anonymous

    I live just a mile from the Park. My wife and I watched with much anticipation for the opening. The opening was just so-so, and believe me, I'm not trying to be critical since I have vested interest in it doing well (my home and neighborhood). The last thing we need is another Waccamaw in the neighborhood.In reading what you folks are saying in the positive vein in this comment section I have to say, yeah, if you like a Park with hardly any lines where you can ride once and then turn right around and ride again in two minutes then I can see your point. But face it people, this is a Business and no line or short lines mean the place is failing and the reason is probably the management of the Park.One other big problem, well, that would be Myrtle Beach's city fathers and their foot dragging on the road that is supposed to connect to the park from HWY 17 over the Inland Waterway. It's not done now and by my guess and the way works get done around here it may be two years before it's done. That should be just enough of a tourniquet to cut the money off until the place dies.Right now it smells like failure and I hope it doesn't start to stink like a dead carcass.Shiva H Vishnu

  11. Anonymous

    Hard Rock Park is a joke ,but you must look at the big plan first . Sc puts in a bridge and roads and tons of money along with Myrtle Beach . Overprice everything from the start . Tell the cab drivers in town they will have to buy a permit to pick up and drop off if not their cab company. what do you think cabbies said when people asked about the park ? it stinks . Great word of mouth . OK , lets go to phase 2 and get it rolling . Start the Paridise hotel . Build the slot and gaming parlors. Folks , its only 1 1/2 miles from the Airport. Trump owns ground here , lots of it . Search under the fake front corporate names he uses in Conway deeds . Oh yeah , and that golf course he owns on 501 . You say that gambling is illegal in SC? Our seminole indian friends will change that soon . They have way more money than city council and the city . Lets be smart this time . Its coming soon , sorry or happy to say . Why do think all of the building is still going on here on the beach ? See ya , Bubba

  12. Ken

    Hi Folks,you may or may not know HRP closed last september.

    Currently a new company has put down 2.3 million as part of 25 million to buy the park,possibly make some changes,add some rides and re-open by late May if all goes well.

    It will be operated by new management that has many years theme park expeariance.


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