Lost And Never Found Again: My Myrtle Beach Pavilion Season Pass

Published on March 18th, 2010 in: Lost & Never Found Again |

myrtle beach neon sign SMALL
Photo © 2006

Myrtle Beach provided me with a rather idyllic childhood: a laid-back, relatively safe beach town with just enough activities and picturesque landscape to keep me engaged. To top it all off, we had the Myrtle Beach Pavilion. With a little over 40 rides packed into an 11-acre parcel just off the ocean, the Pavilion was the best place to spend a day.

It had the standard park fare and a mix of modern and classic rides (some of which predated the 1948 debut of the park). Both worked well with its surroundings. Rides such as the Rainbow were positioned so that passengers could observe the slightly dilapidated (but still exciting to me) Myrtle Beach skyline and occasionally see a dolphin or two diving in and out of the Atlantic Ocean. Having seen a few other amusement parks in person and on television, I knew the Pavilion to be a rather unique experience and felt lucky to have it located in my backyard.

By the time I was eight, the Pavilion’s admission price was slowly increasing to a point where frequent visits were simply not financially feasible. Wanting to continue taking me somewhat regularly, my dad decided that we should get season passes. For what amounted to the price of two regular admissions, we could go as often as we wanted during the park’s spring-to-fall operating season. The idea excited me when presented as a gift that Christmas and shortly thereafter, my dad and I headed downtown to have our pass photographs taken and laminated for use the following season.

That summer, my father and I went to the Pavilion a total of. . . one time. Or maybe it was two. In either case, it would have just paid to buy a wristband when we felt like going. My father tried in vain to get me to take advantage, reminding me of why we bought them and how he thought I loved going there. Yet nothing worked on me. To this day I cannot remember why I didn’t want to go. Was I, in the still rather innocent years of late elementary school, outgrowing the amusement park-loving days of my childhood? Or was it just the ease of being able to go that made it no longer exciting?

Our passes expired at the close of the season, never to be purchased again in subsequent years by my family. Though I would return to the Pavilion, visits were few and far between as life got in the way and park visits no longer satiated my cynical, adolescent mind. My family’s move away from Myrtle Beach during high school would mark the end of my opportunities to go, even though I swore each and every time we would stop in for a visit that “I should try and go with one of my friends.”

The Pavilion would celebrate its last season of operation in 2006, with the owners citing various reasons for closing, all of which amounted to wanting to capitalize on valuable beachfront real estate. The closure coincided with major changes in my own life; these essentially prevented me from taking one last nostalgic trip to the park I’d loved as a child. Visiting the space years later, I was saddened to see it reduced to a grassy, lonely park in the middle of an ever-changing town that barely resembles the one I grew up in. As I looked out on the emptiness, I felt the tinges of regret for not taking advantage of my season pass and engaging in a part of my childhood that I can never return to.
—Jesse Roth

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