One thing is certain about Myrtle Beach: Like Branson, Mo., and Pigeon Forge, Tenn., the presence of tourists – a trickle in winter, a deluge in warm months – makes opening new attractions a never-ending quest. In 2010 it was the oceanfront boardwalk ( www.myrtlebeachboardwalk.com); the SkyWheel ( www.skywheelusa.com) debuted in 2011. Last year brought Encounters: UFO Experience ( www.ufoexhibition.com) to the Broadway at the Beach retail/entertainment complex.
On the way now? the Hollywood Wax Museum ( www.hollywoodwaxmuseum.com), which will probably open in June.
It will occupy the former NASCAR Cafe building at 21st Avenue North and U.S. 17 Bypass. At one point, the 26,000 square-foot building was tagged for reincarnation as a live theater for 1950s singer Pat Boone; that fell through, and early last year, the wax museum project was proposed. Initial plans called for a flashy re-do of the exterior; when city planners blanched, the look was simplified. That said, renderings show its roof sporting an 80-foot replica of King Kong scaling the Empire State Building.
Competitive showmanship is part of the company style. Its flagship museum opened more than 45 years ago on L.A.’s Hollywood Boulevard; satellite museums are in operation in Branson and Pigeon Forge. All the properties are open year-round; that’s also the plan for Myrtle Beach.
Plans call for 80 to 100 reproductions of movie stars, athletes and other celebrities. While the Grand Strand’s museum is mum on lineup for now, the Pigeon Forge waxworks has included life-size reproductions of Bradley Cooper, Anne Hathaway, Natalie Portman, Brad Pitt, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, Morgan Freeman, Clint Eastwood, Beyoncé, George Clooney, James Dean and John Wayne.
It will be a self-guided walk-through, with celebrities’ statues on two floors. The proliferation of photo-taking cell phones plays into the museum’s appeal: You’re welcome to photograph yourself standing alongside the idols of your idols.
Need more celeb fantasy along the Grand Strand? While the Dean Martin tribute production in Pawleys Island, S.C. is out of business, catch the star impersonators at Legends in Concert, at Broadway at the Beach ( http://bit.ly/1o3UOnR).
And know there are more than mannequins to lure you to the Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center. Also operating with the wax museum will be Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors (a technologically advanced fun house, with a walk-through story line) and Outbreak, a haunted house house attraction set in a biotech lab at a time when a gone-wrong experiment has turned test subjects into zombies.
It’s counterpart in Pigeon Forge is Castle of Chaos, a glide-through 5D animatronic affair.
Both attractions have rivals in place in Myrtle Beach: Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze and Haunted Adventure, both on the 900 block of North Ocean Boulevard ( www.ripleys.com/myrtlebeach). John Bordsen