Rock Out at Hard Rock Park

Tired of your “staycation” and need a change of scenery? Hard Rock Park may be just the e-ticket experience your family needs to snap out of the last-of-the-summer blues.

Packed with more than 50 rides, music and attractions for the whole family, from the small to the tall, this Myrtle Beach, S.C. theme park is designed to keep the family playing and staying together by integrating entertainment for all ages in each zone.

Enter through the main gates into All Access Plaza, pass retail shops and cafés before you step into the totally awesome world of Hard Rock Park. The attractions wrap around the central lake, where colorful trick kite flyers circle on Seadoos and Malibu Barbie zooms by on a motorized surfboard. In and around the lake, the themed environments — Cool Country, Born in the USA, Lost in the 70s, British Invasion and Rock & Roll Heaven — are filled with music and rockin’ rides.

The top thrill rides for older kids are Slippery When Wet (Bon Jovi), a suspended, and wet, coaster ride; Life in the Fast Lane (Eagles), a Thunder Mountain-style roller coaster; and Maximum RPM, an industrial wild ride with a karaoke queue.

However, the crème-de-la-crème — every rocker’s dream — is Led Zeppelin. Not for the faint of heart, Led Zeppelin is a 65 mph, six-loop thrill-a-second roller coaster that soars 15 stories high while blasting the song “Whole Lotta Love” — if you can hear the music over the screams. For roller coaster (and Zeppelin) fans this is a must-ride, but definitely too intense for children under 10.

It’s not just about the rides. The fast-action Roadies Stunt Show about a roadie-in-training, features 20 minutes of high-action stunts, amazing special effects, explosive pyrotechnics, slapstick humor and, of course, a rockin’ soundtrack. And all along the streets of Rock & Roll are more distractions from the attractions.
Get photographed walking, Beatles-style, across Abbey Road; climb the high ropes at Kids’ Rock! State Park; or chat awhile with Rock-Cow-Billy, the talking bronze cow that cracks jokes, insults and squirts passersby just for fun.

Costumed characters roam the park, keeping it lively and fun for young rockers, too. Winston, a lovable punk-rock British bulldog, and the retro-inspired Banana Splits, cruise the streets of Hard Rock Park greeting little kids, posing for pictures and offering high-fives. And several rides cater to the wee ones, including a carousel, a water playground and the Shake, Rattle and Rollercoaster, perfectly sized for the little guys.

In the British Invasion zone, take a spin on the London Cab Ride, a new twist (and I mean twist!) on the old-school Scrambler, with high-velocity spinning. And while you’re there, take the little blokes who prefer less spinning and more bouncing to the Punk Pit next door. It’s a graffiti-covered warehouse façade housing a bouncy and inflatable obstacle course for kids with a play area next door called Garage Jam and tons of foam balls and musical fun.

For parents of my generation the fun is in the flashbacks. Get Lost in the 70s and take a surreal stroll through streets alongside bell-bottom and beads-clad hippies while listening to retro-tunes spilling out of the speakers. Take a trip on the Nights in White Satin ride. This groovy 3-D experience keeps you walking, riding and moving — almost floating — through dreamlike visuals (aided by 3-D glasses) to the background of The Moody Blues classic 1967 hit. My crew loved it and insisted on taking another “trip.”
This park hits the target with kids 8 and up, and offers plenty for baby sister or brother, too. Its size and proximity to Charlotte make it a No. 1 hit – straight to the top of the charts!

Hard Rock Park
211 George Bishop Parkway
Myrtle Beach, SC
Ages 10+: $45
Ages 4-9: $30
Annual pass: $150
Check Web site for specials and resident discounts.

Eve White is the Editor of Charlotte Parent magazine