Last week, I spoke with Steve Baker, the President of Myrtle Beach’s Freestyle Music Park. His company is in the process of transforming the park from Hard Rock Park to Freestyle Music Park with a target opening date of Memorial Day 2009. We discussed his plans for turning last year’s failure into this year’s success story. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to tape the interview so I have paraphrased his answers. In Part 1, we will look at Baker’s background and how he came to be the park’s President.
About Steve Baker & Freestyle Parks International
Tell me about your experience in the amusement industry.
Baker recounted his extensive industry experience. He has over forty years of amusement industry experience starting with his high school job at Disneyland. After moving his way up at Disneyland he was brought in to help develop the Magic Kingdom at a brand new park called Disney World. After twenty years with Disney he started the Baker Leisure Group, a consulting company that has worked on projects all over the World with major theme parks operators like Busch, Universal, Six Flags, and Disney. In total, the company has over 100 years of collective experience in the management of theme parks and attractions.
How did you get involved with the Hard Rock Park sale?
As Hard Rock Park filed for bankruptcy and was put up for sale, Baker was working with Freestyle Parks International on a new indoor ski entertainment resort in Moscow, Russia called Freestyle Park. Baker knew that his client, Freestyle Parks International, was interested in growing a chain of parks so they submitted a bid for the park.
With Freestyle Parks encompassing different kinds of parks, like the indoor park in Moscow and now the music-themed park in Myrtle Beach, what will be the hallmark of the Freestyle Parks?
Baker shared that the ‘freestyle’ name gave the company flexibility to design a park for the market. He also stated that the company wasn’t likely to open another ride-focused park in the U.S. as the markets were already pretty saturated. New projects would likely be anchored by indoor ski and snowboard parks in Europe.
Commentary: It’s easy to see that with Steve Baker at the helm, the park is in very capable hands. Still, with the obstacles the park faced last year (and will likely face again this year), I wanted to ask Baker how he planned on turning last year’s failure into this year’s success story.