Interview: Freestyle Music Park President Steve Baker Part 2

Steve Baker, President of Freestyle Music ParkThis is the conclusion of my exclusive interview with Steve Baker, President of Freestyle Music Park. In Part 1, I spoke with him about his experience in the amusement industry as well as Freestyle Park International’s vision. With reports of low attendance last year, most of my questions in the second half focused on the park’s obvious first hurdle; getting guests in the park. Again, I was not able to tape the interview so Baker’s answers are paraphrased.

How Freestyle Music Park Hopes to Launch a Rockin’ Revival  in 2009

Hard Rock cited marketing as one of the reasons for the downfall of the park. How do you plan on marketing Free Style Music Park?
Baker bluntly responded he was going to, “actually do it,” meaning market the park.  He stated that the former operators didn’t take advantage of Myrtle Beach’s well-defined infrastructure including using hotels, motels, timeshares etc. to sell tickets. He also mentioned in-room advertising and billboards.

Commentary: He went on to say that there was no magic involved. It seems like Baker’s going to employ a basic marketing plan that I would imagine is in theme park marketing 101.

Considering Freestyle Music Park is such a new attraction, how do you plan on bringing in the Myrtle Beach vacationers who are already in Myrtle Beach, but may not have plans to visit your park? 
Baker stated that the former operators didn’t educate potential customers beyond the ‘Hard Rock’ name. He would focus on making them aware of the tremendous amount of things to do in the park and also offer better admission prices.

Commentary: The additional family rides and attractions that are being added could help round out the park even more and make good on the ‘tremendous amount of things to do’ promise. Last year, many said there wasn’t enough to do and it sounds like Baker has heard these concerns and is responding accordingly. I’m looking forward to seeing a full list of additional rides to help round out the park.

It would seem that a new theme park would need to build a local, loyal base of customers in addition to the vacationers. What are you going to do to lure locals to the park?
Baker stated that he planned on working with local groups and he listed about every major local group one could name including boy and girl scouts, civic groups etc.

Tell me about the additional family attractions that the park will offer.
Steve felt that the Hard Rock brand was too edgy and too far into the hard rock genre. He said that he wanted to soften the park’s image a bit with more family friendly feel.

Commentary: I remember reading complaints that ‘Hard Rock’ didn’t say familyto them. Anyone who’s been to the park may remember the racy bathroom mural in one of the men’s bathrooms. I’m betting that it will be or already has been removed. To me, softening the image and including more genres of music in the park’s theming seem like good moves as it could really broaden the park’s appeal.

What are some additional efforts that you will be taking to pull in those money conscious visitors during a recession?
Here, Baker stated that they’d hope to promote the park’s great value and again mentioned that there will be a lot to do. He also cited a recent Orlando Sentinel article that reported that parks are still full even in this economy.

Commentary: Value is one thing, but aggressively enticing potential customers should still be in the park’s plan. Anything that says deal could really help them get those new visitors to give the park a chance. In my opinion, they may need to think outside the box (considering we’re in a recession) and maybe even lose a little money to get people in the park. For example, free parking, twilight admission rates, or even something as crazy as free admission and pay-per-ride for a time may help build the new park’s popularity. To be fair, I have no idea what these kind of tactics would do to the park’s bottom line or profit margin.

Lastly, I asked about the changes that the park’s rides and attractions were going through now that the park had a new name.
Baker stated that he couldn’t give any specifics yet as they had just started the changes that week, but that announcements would be forthcoming. They are re-doing ‘Hard Rock’ themes throughout the park. All of the major rides and roller coasters would return for this season with some tweaking. He mentioned that there would be additional genres of music and that the park was going to be family and fun with still some edge to it.

I would like to thank Steve Baker from Freestyle Music Park for the interview. I would love to hear from some readers about what they think of the interview and the future of the revamped park.

What’s Your Take?
What do you think of Freestyle Music Park’s new direction? Do you think the park will fair better in 2009? Do you plan on visiting Myrtle Beach? If so, will you give the park a try? Leave a comment below.

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