Last Update: October 12, 2013
The Myrtle Beach Pavilion was an 11-acre amusement park located in Myrtle Beach, SC at the corner of 9th Avenue and Ocean Boulevard, just a few blocks down from the Family Kingdom Amusement Park, at the “heart” of Myrtle Beach. A pay-per-ride park with no entry fee, “The Pavilion” contained over 40 different attractions for kids and thrill-seekers alike, including the Hurricane: Category 5 wooden coaster. Despite all its best efforts, however, the park lost a battle to redevelopment and was lost in 2007.
The history of the Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park began long before the park ever came into existence. Several Pavilions were built in the decades prior to the parks emergence, each a product of Burroughs & Chapin, one of the main companies responsible for the development of the Myrtle Beach area. Though each of the Pavilions was built with a different architectural style and built of different materials, they all served as a place for the community to gather for interaction and entertainment.
The first Pavilion was a one-story building built in 1908 as part of Myrtle Beach’s first hotel, the long-gone Seaside Inn. The structure was destroyed by a fire in 1920, but was rebuilt out of wood in 1925 as a two-story complex before another fire burned it to the ground in 1943. For its third rebuild, in 1948, the new Pavilion was built out of concrete and steel, with a large wooden dance floor on the second floor, along with a stage and grandstands.
The amusement park itself began development in 1948 on the west side of Ocean Boulevard, across the street from the new Pavilion building. A traveling carnival, which had stopped in Conway, SC for the annual Tobacco Festival, soon made itself a permanent home across the street from the Pavilion, after signing an agreement with Burroughs & Chapin, and the Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park was born. To supplement the carnival, numerous acts—including ice skaters, bear acts, and talent shows—were brought in immediately to boost interest in the new “park.”
In 1950, just two years after its opening, Burroughs & Chapin bought out the Central Amusement Company and added 14 new rides to the park, along with new concessions. Over the years, the park would add and exchange numerous carnival-style flat rides, suffering and fighting through several hurricanes.
Among its most historically significant attractions were the Herschell-Spillman Carousel and the Baden Band Organ
. The Carousel
, which dates back to 1912, featured numerous types of animals—including frogs, lions, ostriches, zebras, giraffes, and even dragons—instead of the classical horses. The only horse on the carousel is the “lead horse,” which was decorated in detail and located on the outside row of the ride. Despite the unfriendly weather and climatic conditions near the beach, the carousel has been well maintained over the years, and continues to operate to this day as one of only 15 working Herschell-Spillman carousels in the country.
The parks other historical feature, the Baden Band Organ, was originally hand-built, decorated, and crafted by Ruth & Sohn in Waldkirch Baden, Germany for the 1900 World Exposition in Paris. The organ then traveled around Europe on a wagon, eventually landing at “The Pavilion.” With over 400 pipes and 98 keys, the giant organ stands at 20 feet wide, 11 feet high, 7 feet deep, and weights two tons.
Other than numerous carnival-style flat rides and a variety of kiddie rides, the park had a log flume called Hydro: SURGE
, the famous Haunted Hotel
dark ride, and, more importantly, was home to six roller coasters during its nearly 60 year life. The park received its first coaster, Comet Jr.
, in 1951. This pint-sized wooden coaster, built by National Amusement Device Company, remained at the park until the late 1960s. The park also had, at one point, an S.D.C. Galaxi model roller coaster, simply called Galaxi
, which was removed from the park in 1997. On the smaller coaster front, the park also had a train-themed Mack family coaster, Little Eagle
, which opened 1986, and the Arrow Dynamics’ Mad Mouse
wild mouse coaster, which opened in 1998 to replace the Galaxi
. After the closure of the park, both of these rides were moved to the Nascar SpeedPark in Myrtle Beach, SC.
In 1978, the park added its first major coaster, the steel looping Corkscrew, which had been relocated to The Pavilion from Magic Harbor. It featured a 70 foot drop and double corkscrews along its 1,250 foot long course. After 31 years of operation at the park, however, the Corkscrew would close, being relocated to Salitre Magico park in Columbia to make room for the parks new signature coaster, Hurricane: Category 5
(known as “Hurricane” for short). Built by Custom Coasters International (CCI) at a cost of $6 million, the 3,800-foot long, hybrid-structure coaster featured an out-and-back style layout with 14 turns and double helices at each, a 100 foot drop, and a top speed of 55 mph. When the park was closed in 2006, the ride was scrapped, but the Gerstlauer trains the ride utilized were purchased by Kings Island
for use on their modified Son of Beast
Shortly before the 2006 operating season, Pavilion owners Burroughs & Chapin announced that it would be the parks final operating season. The park held its last public operating day on September 24, 2006, and held a special “Last Ride” event for select participants on September 30. Oddly enough, the announcement of the parks closure led to its final season seeing record profits and attendance, but there was already no hope of saving the park due to “financial instability.”
While the Haunted Hotel
roller coaster were demolished following the parks closure, not all of The Pavilion was lost. The parks carousel, Baden Band Organ
, and several other small parks were relocated to a “mini-park,” called the Pavilion Nostalgia Park, located at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, SC, which opened in 2007. Though the area still sits vacant, and several nearby business have been devastated by the loss, the Pavilion Nostalgia Park and a commemorative historical marker will not allow The Pavilion’s memory and history to be lost.
"One More Ride, One More Thrill, One More Memory, One Last Time" (Farewell Season Slogan)