May 23 & 24, 2009
Myrtle Beach SC
The last time I was at Myrtle Beach prior to this trip was in September of 2006 for the final operating day of the classic Myrtle Beach Pavilion. A sad day, and a large part of the reason I hadn’t been back since. However, 2008was the inaugural season for Hard Rock Park, a new theme park which I’d been following the planning and construction of for quite a while. I had wanted to go in it’s first year of operation but never made it down to Myrtle Beach in 2008. Imagine my surprise when, after just a few months into its first season, the park abruptly closed and declared bankruptcy.
This could have been the end of the park, but thankfully a new owner stepped in for the 2009 season, even if they had to change the name and much of the theming as well as rip out lots of other theming. I didn’t want to miss my 2nd chance at visiting the park. Unfortunately the second season would be the last season for the park which has since had all of it’s rides moved to other parks and the site has since been demolished.
I decided to take off on Friday just before Memorial Day Weekend and offered to take my grandmother down to her house in Salisbury NC since I would be staying there overnight on Thursday. The trip to North Carolina was quick and uneventful and on Friday morning I was up early and ready to head further south. The ride to Myrtle Beach was pleasant. I did get slightly turned around a couple of times but still made very good time even with stopping for gas and a few pictures at the infamous South of the Border tourist trap.
I had made reservations at a Super 8 Motel on Highway 17, about 5 miles from the beach. There were not many affordable hotels close to the ocean since it was a holiday weekend, and many had a 4 night stay minimum and I was only staying 3 nights. Check in wasn’t until 2 PM and I’d arrived in Myrtle Beach around noon, even with the traffic. It became very apparent to me as I got close to Myrtle Beach that although I had missed Harley Week I was going down in the middle of Street Bike Week. Lots of large rims, tricked out cars, and street bikes everywhere. Tricked out SUVs and plenty of chrome. I’d heard horror stories of Bike Weeks past, but it was too late to back out now.
As soon as I arrived in Myrtle Beach I headed over to the Freestyle Music Park to see if any rides were testing and get my first glimpse of the park. I took some pictures, rode around the outside, and then headed down to Myrtle Beach proper. The very first thing I noticed was the glaring hole where the Pavilion once stood. It was very sad seeing something that I had always loved and grown up with ripped away for a vacant grassy lot by the ocean. I drove down and turned onto Ocean Blvd. I wasn’t aware that they closed off the Northbound lane of Ocean Blvd for Bike Week, so once I turned onto the oceanside strip, I quickly found out that I would have to drive all the way to the south end of Ocean Blvd in order to get off.
At this point I was hungry and I still had at least an hour before I could check in so instead of riding around longer I headed to Broadway at the Beach. The place was rather dead as I headed to Senior Frogs for some food. After getting situated at the bar I ordered a drink and some type of terrible steak sandwich. I’ll never eat there again. The drink was wonderful, but the food was terrible.
As soon as I was finished I walked thru part of Broadway at the Beach and headed to the Sunglasses Hut to try on some Oakleys. Then I got in the car and headed to the motel. Check-in was a breeze and I was in the room quickly. I took a nap for a couple of hours before heading back out. Around 5 PM I headed back to Broadway at the Beach to take some pictures of the Pavilion Nostalgia Park and walk around. Then I went cruising around down town before parking at the old Pavilion parking garage and heading down town for a couple of drinks. After a while of being kind of bored with how dead it was I headed back to the hotel after making a couple stops to get some food and went to bed.
I woke up Saturday morning earlier than I’d wanted to. I showered and put my swim trunks on and headed back down town to park since I had some time left on my parking pass from the night before. I walked up Ocean Blvd towards the city park and crossed over to the beach, snapping pictures along the way. Once I got to the ocean, I took off my shoes and headed for the water. It was low tide and there were loads of people picking up sea shells.
I decided to walk down to a pier and then decide where to go from there. I love walking on the ocean, its comforting and I lose track of time easily. Once I arrived at the pier I payed my $1 fee to walk out on the pier to watch the fishermen and people on the beach. Mom called and I spoke to her for a few minutes before heading back down to the beach.
Once I arrived at the seaside water park at the Family Kingdom I headed up to the street and over to the park to take some pictures. After hanging around for a while I made my way back down to the old Pavilion area. I walked up the boardwalk and ended up in the Gay Dolphin Gift Cove. Next I headed into a store to buy a cheap pair of sunglasses. that time Matt called and said he’d landed, so I headed to Myrtle Beach International Airport.
After picking Matt up we headed back downtown to have a look around before I took him to the motel so we could change clothes and clean up before heading back out. First order of business was to get some food, so we went to Peach’s Corner for a burger basket. Then I took Matt in the Gay Dolphin. We exited in the back out onto the boardwalk and headed to the beach, walking south towards the Family Kingdom.
Once we got to the Family Kingdom, which had opened by this point, we purchased all day ride passes. First order of business was a ride on my beloved Swamp Fox. We headed to the back seat and got a decent ride. Next we rode the Antique Car ride where I was able to get some nice shots of Swamp Fox from inside the layout. We walked around the back of the park and over Wither’s Swash to the opposite side of the park to ride Pistolero Roundup, an interactive shooting dark ride. I lost to Matt but we had a fun time shooting at bandits.
Then we took a ride on the Sling Shot drop tower before heading back over to the Swamp Fox side of the park to ride the Bumper Cars, which were way too fun. Next up we rode the Tilt A Whirl. I usually skip these because they make me sick. This particular one was evil. We got a great ride. I was a bit dizzy afterwards, but the nausea didn’t last.
Then we took a spin on the Ferris Wheel. Matt was surprised that it cycles both ways. We ended our daytime visit by riding Swamp Fox a few more times. After we’d got our ride on, we headed back over and walked back up the beach to the parking garage. As the day stretched on we cruised around for a bit. I think we ate, but I don’t really remember what or where, though I do remember going thru Sonic for something to drink. Eventually we made our way back to the Family Kingdom.
The first thing we rode at nite was the Log Flume. After that, we parked ourselves on Swamp Fox until the park closed. Swamp Fox was really aggressive at nite and was running very well. Not the absolute best rides I’d ever gotten on it, but what we got were great. Once we closed the park down we headed to the car and headed back downtown. Matt was tired but we decided to go down town and check out some attractions and walk on the beach at nite.
The first place we headed to was the Nightmare Haunted House. I had been thru 2 times in the past, but they change it quite often. We were given instructions and sent in with 2 other guys. Three of us, myself included, did not find the correct way out and ended up going thru their dressing rooms and out the back entrance. Still, it was pretty fun. Then we headed over and walked down the beach at nite for a while. Eventually we headed back to the motel, getting back around 2 AM.