Tourism Talk | Freestyle Music Park rides to stay put

From wire reportsNovember 14, 2010 

The former president of Freestyle Music Park says he will not be using any of the rides from the closed attraction in a new amusement park he’s planning in Orlando.

Steven Baker resigned as president, along with most of the Freestyle board of directors, after creditors foreclosed on the park in August. The Orlando Sentinel reported in October that Baker Leisure Group, of which Baker is president and chief executive, was involved in a new project referred to as “Orlando Thrill Park.” Baker told The Sun News in a Nov. 4 interview that he is involved personally in the Orlando project, although his company is not.

Bloggers immediately began to speculate that the Orlando park might use some of Freestyle’s rides. Baker said that’s not the case. The thrill park has already made a master plan and Freestyle rides are not a part of it, he said.

“None of the rides at Freestyle park are in our plan that we submitted, none of them. Nothing from Freestyle is part of this,” Baker said.

Coasters at the park include water ride Soak’d and mine train ride Iron Horse. The largest coaster is The Time Machine, formerly a Led Zeppelin-themed ride under Freestyle’s predecessor, Hard Rock Park. One other coaster called Round About remains subject to a lawsuit by automaker BMW, which says the cars on the ride too closely resemble the BMW Mini and seeks an injunction to prevent future use.

“They blog, and they talk with absolutely no information at all. They make it up.”

The park is in foreclosure, making it impossible to go in and take the rides, Baker said. The thrill park in Orlando is in early planning stages, Baker said. That park is planned for the southwestern Orlando area near Universal Studios Florida and would require zoning changes to the area.

The foreclosure suit against Freestyle is slowly making its way through Horry County courts. The mortgage holder, FPI US LLC, named 22 of the park’s other creditors as co-defendants and all must be notified and given time to respond. before the suit proceeds.

The longer the rides sit, the more they will be damaged by salt and weather, Dennis Speigel, an industry consultant not affiliated with Freestyle, said in an August interview. Speigel appraised the rides for Hard Rock Park in 2008 when the attraction first encountered financial difficulty. He valued the rides at $25 to $30 million at the time, but that figure continues to decreaseas they are worn by exposure, he said.

The Baker Leisure Group, founded in 1988, had done projects in North and South America, Europe and Asia, including work with big names such as Coca-Cola and FIFA, organizer of the World Cup, prior to its work with Freestyle.

Baker says he is no longer involved in any of Freestyle’s operations. His company has no plans to do work in Myrtle Beach, he said. but would welcome future opportunities in the area.

Contact JAKE SPRING at 626-0310.

Contact JAKE SPRING at 626-0310.

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