Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hard Rock Return?!?

So I was quite surprised earlier this week when it came out that Hard Rock Park Found A Buyer For 25 Million and this new buyer plans on opening in time for the popular memorial day weekend. My first thought was "SWEET, I am going to get to go to the park I thought that I would never experiance" and I will get to ride the Moody Blues: Nights In White Satin ride that has gotten most excellent reviews and peaked my dark ride loving interest.

Then my coaster dork mind shifted to thinking "Okay, HRP was one of the most collosal failures in the history of the theme park industry, What could a new owner do to prevent history from repeating itself?"

Here is what I came up with:

Focus On The Evening
Most people that are coming to Myrtle Beach are coming for either The Beach or The Golf, and do that during most of the days of their trip. But once the sun goes down, beaching or hitting the links is no longer an option, which explains the sucess of the million Mini Golf course in Myrtle and the entertainment complex, Broadway At The Beach (which is fabulous by the way). So I think if they have a relatively inexpensive 'after 5 pm' admission of say $20, I think sucess could be made. Since HRP was more of a theme park then an amusement park, it is clearly possible that people would come for an evening of relaxing in a cool atmosphere, ride a few rides, grab a beer (just look at how much money EPCOT makes off booze in the evening) and some snacks, listen to the live bands and watch the fireworks. Seems like it could work, but you gotta let people know, which brings me to me next thought.

Better Marketing
While I wasn't exposed to much of the parks marketing, I think it is rather clear whatever they were doing sucked ass. By the crowds seen on this awesome guest AWITP episode from HRP it sure looks like the public didn't get the message. Know I admit, Hard Rock isn't the normal amusement park people are used to, so getting the public to understand just what the park is and why they should spend there money is no easy task. But I think there is enough there if an ad were to show scenes of: Led Zep, fireworks, live music, the giant guitar to peak peoples interest.

Lower Prices
While I would have paid it given the chance, fifty beans with no kids prices is a tough sell to the general public. Also its easier for the Cedar Point/Disney Worlds/Six Flags of the world to charge higher admission because they are institutions in there communites and people have been going for years and know what to expect. This isn't the case for HRP, and its said "You only have one chance to make a first impression" and for many people I think that impression was driving to the park, seeing the $50 admission and $10 parking, and drove on. I am thinking more like $35 and $20 for kids.

Drop Some Licenses
I think one of the articles said the park owed somewhere between 5 and 10 million in licensing fees per year. Thats pretty steep. To me the first one to go would be the "Hard Rock" name which I think they were dropping 2.5 million for, I mean would the park generate 2.5 million dollars in revenue with Hard Rock Park as a name rather than, "The Rock Park" or "Rock & Roll Theme Park". The bands would be a tougher call for me, clearly the eagles and bananna splits should hit the road. But Moody Blues, Led Zep & Queen might be worth paying, but if not bring in Sally to develop a new trippy soundtrack to there ride and pay some musician to develope a score for the coaster and fireworks, I mean Space Mountain & Illuminations soundtracks are incredible and don't have a known name behind them.

Special Events / Theme Weekends
With so many musical groups that have large cult like followings I think it would be smart to cater to those audiences, by having weekend dedicated to those bands. Bring in cover bands for the various stage venues in the park. Have vendors selling all types of merchandise from the groups. And most importantly engage the fan communites by saying "COME TO HRP FOR **** WEEKEND, HANG WITH OTHER **** FANS & LISTEN TO COVER BANDS" because the best part about fan gatherings tend to be meeting other people with the same passion as your own. Some bands with crazy followings that might work:
Grateful Dead
Dave Matthews

So those are my ideas, What ya think? Got any of your own, post in the comments section.


tigellinus said...

I actually dig a lot of your comments!! I think you hit the nail on the head about emphasizing HRP more as an evening attraction (with Starlight pricing) since daytime activities are so competitive!

I'm also with you on the marketing...the park was never truly explained with great accuracy, and that was a problem!! I've also heard that while there was a lot of in-Myrtle Beach advertising, there was little outside MB and so I-95 awareness or NC awareness was not high enough.

Also, I like the idea of using HRP more for events. In addition to cover bands and fan gatherings, why not expand that to fan gatherings for the actual bands as well!! I know the House of Blues at MB gets some good acts, so obviously MB is on the touring radar.

There were two other big issues I heard were problems with HRP. First, I heard the management sucked in a lot of ways, one being closed-mindedness. For example, I heard mgmt did little cross-promoting and discounting with other hotels and MB attractions. I'm sure this mentality also carried over to the lack of event or group bookings.

Second, I've heard the location sucks!! I've haven't been to MB since college (I'm 27), but in college I went 3 times, and I spent a lot of time in North Myrtle Beach, which is the more popular area. From what I understand HRP is located well south of North MB, close to downtown, and in an area that is pretty ghetto. While the location cannot be changed, it just underscores the importance of better marketing and pricing all the more.

But I hope they re-open, cuz damn it, I want my ferris wheel-coaster credit!! ;)

Tim Kretschmann said...

Mr. "Most Electrifying Roller Coaster Podcaster" McCabe:

You are right on the money! They had a lot of cool bands there and no one watching them when I was there. They had built in stages everywhere and they could really do some great things with them. The existing shows were frankly pretty darn good. With all those dinner theaters in town, THAT's who they should compete against with similar pricing. The Mideval Dinner Theater next door to HRP actually had more visitors than it...which leads to the marketing issue. No one knows where the place was!

They need to partner with all the hotels. They need to institute a cheap season pass (nail 'em with the food and liquor sales). Get some free parking action going. They have huge capacity. Always time to raise the prices once it gets crowded.

My two cents. Your pennies were shinier.

TheRapidsNerd said...

Here's a bit of a left turn idea. Since people go to MB for golf, why not hold golf related events at the park. Thinking certain trade shows, golf enthusiast groups/ touring pro or semi pro players could meet at the varoius facilities. There are also a number of musicians who are avid golfers and might support this. Alice Cooper, Hootie and the Blowfish come to mind. Why not use HRP as a convention center of sorts and reach out to the golfers both locally and vacationing? Maybe consider building an adjacent golf course as part as a developement package like Wilderness in the Smokies is doing. Yes there are well established courses already in the area, but another one, particulalry if well designed, could draw the golfers with the cash and establish a better base for future entertainment options.Buddy with and cater some to the golfers, get more local support, and tap into an established market/ resource.