Set on 55 acres in Myrtle Beach, SC, the new Hard Rock Park theme park officially opened with a performance by the Eagles in early June. Like the Hard Rock Cafe chain, the park celebrates the history of rock ‘n’ roll through memorabilia, but this new, $400 million venture takes such hero worship to a new level, including a Led Zeppelin-inspired rollercoaster — riders' screams accompany a specially arranged version of “Whole Lotta Love” — a nightly pyrotechnics show, and a new, 10,000-spectator open-air venue for touring acts called the LIVE! amphitheatre.
One of four live performance spaces around the park, the amphitheatre's roofed stage is 97' wide, 40' deep, and has a trim height of 30'. The space was large enough to accommodate an orchestra supporting The Moody Blues at the park's grand opening, and many other outdoor touring acts, as well as local talent. Jim Burton, Hard Rock Park's technical director, says, “We have the size and flexibility to load in just about anyone. Kid Rock came with a 30' thrust stage, so it was a really good set up for everyone — not quite in the round but close.”
Each of the spaces has a High End Systems Wholehog iPC console, and Burton relied heavily on High End Systems fixtures, as well. “In the amphitheatre, we have 18 Studio Color 575s, 18 Studio Spot 575s, and a lot of conventional PAR fixtures,” he says. An ice show, Country on the Rocks, also features Studio Spots and Studio Color 575s lighting a 50'×50' ice stage with a complete fly rail system with 40 line sets. Although the audience is covered at the Malibu Beach Party attraction, the stage is exposed to accommodate motorcycle stunts and a diving pool, and Burton relied on conventionals for reliability, with Lycian 1267 Super Arc followspots to follow the action.
Another partially open air show, Roadies: The Stunt Show, chronicles a bungling roadie knocking over equipment on his first day on the job. His mishaps lead to the (staged) destruction of more expensive hardware than even The Who took down in its heyday, and stunt men repel down from a “lighting rig” in a way that, in the real world, would make the rigging standards team from ESTA cringe in horror.
Burton has PAR64s, ETC Source Four 26° ellipsoidals, and Martin Profiles in his rig. “I was at LDI, and I looked at the Martin Profile and thought it would be the instrument of choice for this venue,” he says, adding that, for this venue, it “has the punch we needed.” Roadies uses about 80 different pyro shots supplied by Farmingdale, NY-based Bay Fireworks, who also supplied pyro for the nightly lagoon extravaganza.
Eleven show fountains shooting up to 60' and 125 supporting fountains perform to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” accompanied by pyro on three barges and 40 pylons hosting more than 1,000 shots. A laser show created by Nth Degree Creative sits atop a 70' statue of a Gibson Les Paul guitar and illuminates the eight-acre lagoon with green beams. It's only rock ‘n’ roll, but people seem to like it.