MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – (March 5, 2012)
Greenville News by Dawn Bryant
New Strand offerings aim to tempt tourists By Dawn Bryant The Sun News Some beach tourism businesses that are starting to open for the season are showing off more than just a fresh coat of paint.
Several Myrtle Beach hotels, restaurants and attractions have invested big bucks to overhaul their properties, to be poised for a resurgence there.
Businesses typically do construction work during the quieter winter months, with most of them wrapping up as the first round of spring tourists trickles in. Some pulled out more than paint brushes this year.
“There’s a significant uptick in the reinvestment in downtown,” said Dave Sebok, executive director of Myrtle Beach’s Downtown Redevelopment Corp.
Ripley’s has spent about $500,000 upgrading its attractions along Ocean Boulevard, with about half of that going into the Moving Theater, which takes customers on a virtual ride in a seat that moves timed with the images on the screen.
Ripley’s went digital, added surround sound and a screen that is 16 feet tall and 35 feet wide and more special effects, including falling snow and smells of burnt tires and pine trees.
The theater re-opened Friday, and changes to the outside of the building — say goodbye to the T-Rex and hello to an animated dragon — should be ready in the next month.
“You always have to continue to reinvest in your property,” said Chad Netherland, general manager.
Ripley’s also will add components to its other Boulevard properties , including lasers in the Mirror Maze, a new character at the Haunted Adventure and carnival-like shows outside the Believe It or Not! Museum this summer.
The upgrades come as some say downtown Myrtle Beach is poised for a comeback. The boardwalk and SkyWheel, which opened during the past two years, have sparked more interest in the area, officials and business owners have said.
“We really believe the downtown area is coming back,” Netherland said. “We want to do our part.”
Peaches Corner, a staple along Ocean Boulevard since the 1930s, also took advantage of the down winter time to overhaul its property, upgrading the facade, and installing a 4-foot by 4-foot spinning peach.
There’s also a new zipline being built on the former Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park property aiming to open early next month along with an oceanfront Mexican restaurant dubbed Banditos near 15th Avenue North aiming to open in May.
But the upgrades aren’t limited to downtown.
At Broadway at the Beach, Blarney Stones in Celebrity Square reopened Friday after a renovation and rebranding into Rodeo Bar and Grill, which will have a country vibe.
At Kingston Plantation in between Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach, crews will put the finishing touches by the end of this month on a $5 million overhaul to the Embassy Suites’ lobby area and restaurants.
Gone will be the ’80s vibe in the lobby, and guests will have more dining options, including a new 44-seat upscale restaurant called Vintage Twelve, a Coastal Grill family dining eatery, a new lobby bar and an expanded coffee bar with more seats and an extended menu of sandwiches, shakes and salads along with Starbucks products. The new common areas come a year after the hotel upgraded its 255 guest rooms.
For attractions, staying fresh is more important as tourists have more entertainment options.
Last year, several attractions debuted, including the SkyWheel, Wonderworks at Broadway at the Beach and Pirates Voyage, the former Dixie Stampede live theater show.