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The Myrtle Beach Pavilion, Ocean Boulevard: 30 September 2006   21 comments


PAVILION AND MIDWAY.
MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA
"AMERICA'S FINEST STRAND"
670 Miles South of New York
735 Miles North of Miami
Home of Miss Universe Pageant of South Carolina

OK, today is an anniversary of sorts. Three years ago today was the final day of operation for the Myrtle Beach Pavilion. As it happens, I was there, and made a video essay to share with friends and family. The fact of doing that, and not really having any good forum for something like that was one of the things that started percolating around in my brain and eventually led to establishing Columbia Closings.

Below is the essay pretty much unchanged from how I wrote it then, followed by a lot of still pictures (too many, I'm sure) that I took on that day and earlier in the year:

Last Ride at the Myrtle Beach Pavilion, 30 September 2006

We didn't actually go to the Pavilion that often as kids, so the closing
shouldn't be that big a deal, but we always knew that there was the
possibility that we might go, and that possibility loomed large in our minds.

In the end, Burroughs & Chapin is a business, and they made a business decision to shut the Pavilion down. That said, they actually did it in a classy way. For the Last Ride celebration on Saturday September 30 2006, they presold tickets, each of which came with park access from 3PM to 8PM, free parking, and unlimited free pizza, burgers, corndogs, funnel cake and ice cream.

As I happened to be at the beach at the time, I reserved a ticket and took a CVS disposable video camera (as well as my regular film camera, and a disposable film camera) to record some last memories.

This page is devoted to the short videos I shot that day. I have converted the DVD which CVS gives you into an AVI file for each scene. While these files are not huge (except for the all-in-one file), you may not be able to stream them unless you have a fast connection. If clicking your left button on a picture does not start your movie player, or if the clip plays jerkily, I recommend clicking your right button over each picture and selecting "save target as" or the equivalent to download the clips. They should be playable with Windows Media Player on Windows, or "mplayer" on Linux.

We start off on the roof of the Pavilion parking garage, looking out at the roller coaster and other rides:

Moving to the South side of the garage roof, we look down at the lines forming to get into the Pavilion:

Coming off the roof, I took a brief shot of foot traffic on Ocean Blvd, noting the fact that the Pavilion Arcade is already closed:

Collecting my ticket and stepping inside the park, we see some kiddie rides:

More kiddie rides:

The very first thing I ever remember from the Pavilion is this 1905 German Band organ. The second thing I remember is the blow dryer in the restroom. I had never seen such a thing! I only remember Daddy being there on that trip, probably because he would have been the one taking me to the bathroom (which is alongside the organ), but doubtless Momma & Sus were around.

I was disappointed that Sugarbug could not see the organ on her trip to the park, but it was closed for repair at the time. When you consider that it is 102 years old, I suppose that's not surprising. I'm not sure it comes across in these videos, but the organ is loud!

The placards describing the organ claim some of the original cardboard punched music sheets are still used. Somehow I doubt that "Ob La Di Ob La Da" was that popular in 1905!

The only actual ride I remember from that (presumed) first trip to the Pavilion is this boat ride, which I thought was possibly the neatest thing in the world:

No trip to any amusement park would be complete without the Bumper Cars:

My attempt to film while driving a Bumper Car ended quickly when the
attendant stopped the ride. I thought I had broken a rule, but he was
after a kid who was old enough to ride, but not drive:

The swings is a nice ride because it goes around, but not enough to make middle aged stomachs queasy:

I hopped aboard a wooden pig for a ride on the carrousel. While not as old as the band organ, it is pretty old. I noticed that the carrousel music was coming from a sound system and not the antique music box. Perhaps they didn't feel it was worth repairing for the time left. I have no idea what will happen to the carrousel or band organ. It would be a shame if they were left to rot:

The Log Flume is the park's intermediate water ride. More wet than the
"boats", less soaking than the "river ride":

There was a pretty good beach band playing at the amphitheatre. The name escapes me, but they had just finished a very good version of "Carolina Girls" when I started filming. This song was well done, but not one I would call a classic:

I wrestled with whether to ride the big coaster or not. On the one hand, I was coming down with a cold and had something of a headache, on the other hand, I'd never have the chance again. Riding the intermediate coaster "The Mad mouse" decided me I wasn't ready for the big one, but here are some people who were:

Here's another shot of the Carrousel, which was strikingly pretty with
the setting sun glinting off the mirror panels. I like this one a lot; there's so much going on in this shot and some appropriately elegiac music for the last sunset on the working park:

Finally, we finish with the band organ again to take us out:

This is the whole video in one 306 megabyte, 20 minute lump:

After running out of video, I stayed until the end of the day, and rode
the final run of the Bumper Cars. It was somewhat of a melancholy experience, but I'm glad I did it.

Ted, 3 October, 2006

Still pix after the jump..

These were taken at the last time I went with anybody, 6 August 2009:

These are from a black and white set I took the next week on the night of 11 August 2009. Some were by the Pavilion, some were on Ocean Boulevard, and some were from atop the Pavilion parking garage:

These were from a color set taken the same night. I think I had ISO-800 color in my 35mm SLR, and was shooting the black and white on drug-store disposable cameras. Admittedly, the exposure is off in many of these. The girls posing were a birthday girl and her friends who were out having fun and desperately wanted their picture taken:

These pictures are the sets I took on 30 September at the Last Ride celebration. We start on top of The Pavilion parking garage looking down on the crowds waiting to go in, then we go into the park itself:

Finally we move on to night in the park, and the final exit:

And we end with night shots from the top of the garage of what was probably the last night the lights were turned on at the park:

View more vanished Grand Strand memories here!

UPDATE 13 October 2009: Added a postcard scan to the top of this post. The card is postmarked May 1960.

UPDATE 16 October 2011 -- Add several "new" pictures below of the Pavilion site from various visits after "Last Ride". Also, change the videos above from direct "avi" files to embedded YouTube versions. This should make streaming more viable than before.

Early January 2007 sees demolition at the ocean-front part of The Pavilion:

13 January 2007 sees continued sea-side demolition, but the roller-coaster is still in place:

19 April 2008 sees both the ocean-front and main Pavilion areas fully demolished and replanted (though still somewhat scruffy):

By 8 October 2010, the Pavilion Parking garage was open again, so I was able to get some elevated shots of the old Pavilion location though the sun was largely against me:

Here are some ground level pictures of the vacant Pavilion lot from 13 January 2011:

UPDATE 3 October 2012 -- The old Pavilion site is now a zip-line. I can see how this makes sense as a way to get some revenue out of the parcel without putting much money into it while waiting for something else to come up..

UPDATE 29 June 2014 -- The German Band Organ has been removed from the Pavilion Nostalgia Park, supposedly due to the sudden realization after 60 years that salt air is bad for it, the Sun News reports. Apparently an indoor venue will be found for it.. eventually.

View more vanished Grand Strand memories here!

Written by ted on September 30th, 2009

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21 Responses to 'The Myrtle Beach Pavilion, Ocean Boulevard: 30 September 2006'

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  1. The band organ and the carousel were relocated to Broadway at the Beach.

    Mike

    30 Sep 09 at 3:18 pm

  2. Yep, though it's badly situated to stop and watch/listen.

    ted

    30 Sep 09 at 3:27 pm

  3. That's too bad they closed the Pavillion down and leveled it all off.. What's there now? Motels? Is the Gay Dolphin still there? along with all the other old stores that have been there forever? It's just one of those things like the saying goes: "all good things must come to an end". This may be true, but still... it's too bad it happens.

    Del

    1 Oct 09 at 9:01 am

  4. It's just a big grassy lot right now. They've re-opened the parking garage, and I was going to take some pictures from the top to show the current status back in August, but didn't get around to it. Maybe this month.

    The Gay Dolphin is still there -- they've closed off the winding stairs to the top though, and the oil-drops-dripping-down-wire thing in the front tower is gone.

    ted

    1 Oct 09 at 10:33 am

  5. It's a shame it is gone. Luckily they did move a few of the rides to Broadway at the Beach. I remember on eBay several things from the pavilion went up for auction at the time of closing. I remember you could bid on the cars from the Haunted House ride. At least we have the memories and the pictures.

    Elad

    1 Oct 09 at 4:42 pm

  6. The thing I remember best about the Gay Dolphin, was that I think on the second level, there used to be one of those "Spin Art" areas that had 4 or 5 (I think) of the barrels you could do your own Spin Art creation for about 2 or 3 mins. I used to have mine from the late 60's til they were stolen.. I wonder if they still have the Spin Art machines there?

    Del

    1 Oct 09 at 9:36 pm

  7. I don't think so, at least I've been in there the past year or so and don't recall anything like that.

    On the other hand, that store has the most confusing floor-plan in existence, so you never know..

    ted

    1 Oct 09 at 11:18 pm

  8. ted

    2 Oct 09 at 11:10 am

  9. Yes indeed, so glad that someone actually drove all the way to the beach to document another end of era happening. Been meaning to comment on this one, but I go on and on and on and forget.

    I quit going to the beach when all the tall hotels started getting built so I actually enjoy your photographic forays into Myrtle Beach to get caught up. I watched all the videos and though I wish you could have had the camera the guy had in your USC Towers demolition video, not too shabby for a throw away. When I first watched these and heard your voice, well, I felt like I knew you, what can I say.

    I'll tell you one thing, you and I have very similar memories with the A. Ruth & Sohn Baden Band Organ, because that's one of my first memories as well, and as much as I enjoyed the ocean and the rides, I never felt the beach trip was complete as a kid without at least once hanging out with the band organ for a spell. It used to give me goose bumps when that thing would roar. In those days you could hang out around back and get a "tour" of the innards on the hour or something to that effect. They may have had that at the time of closing, I don't know. Funny, I never noticed just how naked the women (Sirens?) were until I watched your videos.

    Ted, thanks for doing what you do and then sharing it. I really appreciate your site more than you'll ever know for the catharsis I've had with forgotten memories. Good stuff.

    Michael Taylor

    9 Nov 09 at 4:11 am

  10. Here is my photos of the final day and the teardown -- Hope you enjoy the link

    http://good-times.webshots.com/album/556549885NwpLiV?start=0

    KC

    31 Dec 09 at 9:22 am

  11. Thanks KC!

    ted

    31 Dec 09 at 2:44 pm

  12. I grew up in the 80's and would go to the Pavilion every summer. Wow, this brought back lots of memories. It's amazing how much you can remember from something after 25 or 30 years have gone by.
    These photos brought it back- the organ, the pirate ship, the swings. What a melancholy sight to see it all reduced to a barren lot. There's something poetic about it.
    One question though- what about the Haunted Hotel? I used to love that one.

    Fred

    23 Feb 12 at 4:53 pm

  13. The organ and some rides were moved to Broadway At The Beach. I think others were sold, but I don't know the specifics for hte Haunted Hotel.

    ted

    23 Feb 12 at 10:50 pm

  14. I agree with Michael Taylor. We quit going to the beach as often when the big Hotels started going up. My family would rent, as my Mother called them "A Cottage" right on the beach each summer for a week as I was growing up. We always stayed in Surfside or Garden City. We did this from the time I was one year old until I was fifteen. Back then there were only a few small motels on the beach, 2 or 3 stories high. I remember when the Kingfisher opened in Garden City next to the pier and thought "wow that place is huge". I enjoyed the Arcades, small grocery stores and gift shops, the piers and the small amusement ride areas that used to be at both piers in Garden City and Surfside. I have tried to re-capture the sounds, sights and smells that I remember from those early years by going to different beaches in N.C. and Georgia but am unable to get that content, carefree feeling I remember so well as a young boy at the Beach. They just don't make 'em like that anymore.

    Rick

    2 Oct 12 at 9:56 am

  15. In the summer of 1979, the juke box in the pier's arcade was setup to play "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" over and over until someone put money in it.

    tonkatoy

    2 Oct 12 at 1:47 pm

  16. That's too funny!

    "Forget Pac-Man! For the love of Mike, put your quarter in *there*!".

    ted

    3 Oct 12 at 12:32 am

  17. These pictures make me so sad! I had some of the best years of my teenage life in the late 1990's and early 2000! I'm guessing that mother fletchers and freaky tiki are both gone as well? I remember going there with my fake ID when I was 17 LOL. Myrtle Beach, those clubs and the Pavilion gave me some of the best years and memories of my life. I am so so very sad its gone. I'm so glad you documented all of this!

    Kari

    20 Feb 13 at 8:56 pm

  18. Mother Fletcher's and The Freaky Tiki are gone, but see here and here.

    ted

    21 Feb 13 at 12:22 am

  19. Remember driving along Ocean Blvd. in the 60's just like in American Graffitti. Remember the Magic Attic in the pavilion? My future wife and I going to the rides. and her riding the old wooden roller coaster with me. Scare her to death. Great memories.

    Ron

    16 Jun 13 at 7:31 pm

  20. Oh I forgot. Riding in my 1967 Plymouth GTX muscle car and getting races between lights with a guy in a 1969 Olds 442. Early 70's with my wife to be on Ocean Blvd. Has it been 40years?

    Ron

    16 Jun 13 at 7:34 pm

  21. My family would go down to Myrtle Beach for a week every summer and go camping at either Lake Arrowhead & later at Lakewood between '85-'91. I remember fondly the corkscrew roller coaster, the arcade in the pavillion, the log flume, haunted inn & the rainbow. I even still have memories of a band that played outside of the pavillion called "Cracker" that played cover songs back in the summer of '89. Sadly I haven't been back to Myrtle Beach since '92. Those are memories that I will never forget. Thanks for posting these and giving me a stroll down memory lane.

    Jeff

    18 Sep 13 at 7:45 pm

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