Freestyle Music Park

1st June 2008

This park was known as Hard Rock Park at the time this trip report was written. The ride names from that time have been left in place in this report.

Hard Rock Park is the latest attraction to hit the Myrtle Beach area, presumably targeted at some of the customers who would have frequented the Myrtle Beach Pavilion up until its closure at the end of last year. Though it has yet to officially celebrate its grand opening, it has been in a so-called sound check period since April. The only attraction in the place that has yet to operate is one of its five roller coasters, Maximum RPM, presumably due to difficulties with it novel ferris wheel-style lift mechanism.

Freestyle Music Park

The new park is a particularly impressive sight, with some wonderfully detailed theming and paint which gleams in the sunlight. It has clearly been designed with massive crowds in mind, as could be seen from the car park, which could easily hold the population of a major city. As such, it was just a little disconcerting to see just twelve cars in the non-preferred section of car park when we pulled up less than ten minutes before opening on a weekend. Myrtle Beach doesn't typically come alive until the evening, but even still it was more than a little worrying to see the staff outnumbering the patrons by a large factor in a brand new park.

Part of the reason could be ticket prices. Fifty dollars for a single day admission is more expensive than a Six Flags Season Pass, and while I'm of the view that the latter is too cheap it still serves as a value comparison for the average punter. This is in addition to a ten dollar parking charge, not to mention the usual overpriced food and beverages within. The promoters of this park appear to have forgotten that the American economy is in a downward spiral at the moment, and people cannot afford the type of money being asked for here. More to the point, the place has less than twenty attractions at the moment, putting it firmly into the category of half day park.

The star attraction is a new sit down coaster from B&M. Led Zeppelin: The Ride (#1185) has a staging area where riders are assigned to separate pre-show rooms. We caught two different versions of the subsequent presentation, which should make things a bit less tedious for repeat riders. The video is accompanied by a clever visual effect which simulates at least in part what it must have been like to hear Led Zeppelin live in concert. Following this riders walk out into the Zeppelin-themed station and board their train.

Led Zeppelin

The coaster itself is an example of the modern school of B&M coaster, butter smooth and utterly lacking in forces. It is the latter that is its downfall for me to be honest; it was simply too gentle. This is of course just the enthusiast in me speaking; the rest of the patrons all appeared to love it, which at the end of the day is what counts. While out on course, the onboard speaker system blasts out music that, while not synced with the ride beyond the first drop, nevertheless adds no end to the experience.

Shake, Rattle, and Rollercoaster (#1186) is nominally a custom model Vekoma junior coaster, but it feels no different to one of the standard models. On the plus side, it does have the new style lap bar design, which is very comfortable. It was telling that riders were being sent round for two circuits, which was apparently a new policy as not all the ride operators were aware of it. Two thirds of the seats were empty anyway.

Slippery When Wet (#1187) is Premier Rides' take on the successful suspended water coaster designs built by Setpoint, and to be frank, it is not an improvement. Each brake section on the ride involves a harsh stop, which is not good with a lap bar placed directly across the stomach. Additionally, the Fight Back button on the car seemed to have no effect whatsoever, at least in comparison to the water dropping levers on original models. The ride operator asked me what I thought of the coaster, and when I mentioned the brakes he agreed with me, saying that park engineering is working to sort that one out. We then proceeded to the only other operational coaster. Eagles Life in the Fast Lane (#1188) also had an onboard sound system blasting out the expected music, but other than that it could easily have been the same layout in another park.

Nights in White Satin

We were hoping to try out the Nights In White Satin dark ride, but it was down and the operators couldn't give any indication of when it might open. As we'd completed several laps of the park at this stage we decided to give it a miss in favour of our alternate plan for the rest of the day. Our overall impression of the park is that it is a nice one, which deserves to do well. If it can get guests through the gate it should. Only time will tell on that one.

 

Busch Gardens Williamsburg

1st June 2008

Our original plan for this trip was to visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg tomorrow. However, when it became clear that we'd finish Hard Rock Park very quickly we decided to change plans on the fly, as the only ride we really wanted to do in the Busch park was Griffon (#1189). Our platinum passes meant that there was no cost for park entry, making it easy to justify a visit for only a few hours.

Busch's latest coaster is superb, with a magnificent first drop and an equally good second one. Sitting on the edge seats gives a particular sense of vulnerability especially at the front, as you are positioned a long way off the side of the track. The visual impact of the ride for non-riders has also been cleverly thought through, with a splashdown effect first seen on Sheikra. We spent quite a bit of time trying to obtain a photograph of this in the partial light, and I'm pleased to say I mostly succeeded.

2008


Freestyle Music Park

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Busch Gardens Williamsburg

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