History of the Myrtle Beach Pavilion
Take a ride through the ups and downs
In a couple of months, tens of thousands of country music fans will congregate – singing, dancing, and stomping their feet on the oceanfront lawn between 8th and 9th Avenue North for the Carolina Country Music Fest, founded in 2015. Flashback more than a century, and this same land gave birth to The Pavilion, a Myrtle Beach landmark that would live on for nearly 100 years.
We want to walk you through the timeline of this historical venue that has created years of happy memories for generations of families. You just need to hang on for the ride!
After the Seaside Inn, the beach’s first hotel, is built in 1901, the Myrtle Beach Pavilion is first built on the hotel’s property. The one-story, open-air building serves as a gathering place for guests.
The Herschell-Sillman Carousel is built, and would become one of only a handful of its kind left in the world, with only a single lead horse. The ride also features frogs, lions, zebras, and dragons.
The original pavilion burns, replaced by a new, larger oceanfront pavilion on the southeast corner of 8th Ave. North and Ocean Boulevard. Built over a wooden boardwalk that stretches north to the 14th Avenue Pier, the two-story Pavilion features a bowling alley, a .22-caliber shooting gallery, and space for dinner and dancing.
In tandem with the growing population and tourism of Myrtle Beach (and the same year the town is incorporated), The Pavilion also expands to include amusement park rides on the property; a concrete walkway replaces the wooden boardwalk.
Another fire burns the pavilion’s rebuild down to the ground on Dec. 28, 1944. It’s said that the cause was the fires built by locals under the elevated ceiling to stay warm in the winter.
Myrtle Beach Farms (later to become Burroughs & Chapin) partners with a traveling carnival at the nearby Conway Tobacco Festival to officially become the Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park on 11 acres on the west side of Ocean Boulevard. Meanwhile, a reinforced concrete pavilion is being built to withstand winds up to 150mph on the east side of the street. The new pavilion opens in 1949, featuring a large, wooden dance floor on the second floor, a stage, and grandstands.
Fourteen new rides, including a few more carnival-style flat rides, and new concessions are added.
This is the lifeline of The Pavilion’s first roller coaster, the Comet Jr., a smaller wooden coaster.
The German Baden-Band Organ debuts at the Pavilion after being on display at the 1900 World Exposition in Paris and touring Europe on a wagon for decades. The iconic organ weighs more than 2 tons, measures 11 feet tall, and features 400 pipes, 98 keys, and intricate cherubs and twirling figurines.
1954 also marks the monumental year that Hurricane Hazel slams into the Myrtle Beach coastline, wiping out most oceanfront businesses and attractions, piers, and parts of the boardwalk to total $420 million in damages. But the reinforced Pavilion remains standing.
This is prime time for The Pavilion, as Myrtle Beach balloons into one of the top vacation destinations on the coast. The Pavilion shines bright along “The Strip” of Ocean Boulevard, hosting 2,000 visitors, shag dances, and concerts put on by beach music bands, along with A-list performances by Jerry Lee Lewis, The Temptations, and more.
The virgin ride of The Pavilion’s first steel roller coaster, the Corkscrew, commences. The ride features a 70-foot drop and two twisting corkscrew loops. Thirty years later, the Corkscrew is replaced by The Hurricane: Category 5.
Another landmark ride, The Haunted Hotel, opens this year: a dark, terrifying indoor ride past animatronic ghosts.
The Pavilion continues to add new rides, including the Enterprise, the Mind Scrambler, and the small train-themed coaster, the Little Eagle, in 1986.
The amusement park expands into a portion of Chester Street between 8th and 9th avenues North from Ocean Boulevard to Kings Highway.
The $2 million steel Mad Mouse coaster replaces the Galaxi roller coaster. The ride features small cars that race around a track with many quick dips and sharp, hairpin turns.
The Hurricane: Category 5 roller coaster opens for thrill riders as the tallest, fastest, longest wooden coaster in South Carolina. Features are a 3,800-foot-long out-and-back style layout with 14 turns, a 100-foot drop, and a top speed of 55 mph.
This year marks the beginning of the end. Burroughs & Chapin announces that the Myrtle Beach Pavilion will close at the end of the season on Sept. 24, due to several financially challenging years leading up to this time. Demolition begins in 2007, with some of the rides relocated to the Pavilion Nostalgia Park at Broadway at the Beach, which opened later that year.
In wake of the 2008 recession, the land where The Pavilion once lived is resuscitated into a new mile-long oceanfront Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, live music stage, and beach sand volleyball courts. Two years later, Myrtle Beach Adventures opens its zipline attraction, which features six 600-foot ziplines to give fliers a ride at 40 mph and a free-fall experience from a 60-foot tower.