If you want to get out on Christmas Day, we’ve got some ideas for you

spalisin@thesunnews.comDecember 20, 2012 

  • If you go – Open on Christmas Day SAVOR PARKS’ SCENERY Where and when | • Huntington Beach State Park, on U.S. 17, between Murrells Inlet and Litchfield Beach, across from Brookgreen Gardens, 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Also, Atalaya historic home open for self-guided tours 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and nature center 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 237-4440. • Myrtle Beach State Park, on South Kings Highway, one mile south of Myrtle Beach International Airport, across from Seagate Village, 6 a.m.-8 p.m. 238-5325. How much | Each park: $5 ages 16 and older, $3.25 S.C. seniors, $3 ages 6-15 More information | www.southcarolinaparks.com STROLL A PIER • Apache Family Campground and Pier, 9700 Kings Road, open 7 or 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.; tackle shop closed, so admission is free. 497-6486 or www.apachefamilycampground.com/pier.php. • Myrtle Beach State Park Fishing Pier, at Myrtle Beach State Park, on U.S. 17 Business, 6 a.m.-8 p.m.; free with park admission: $5 ages 16 and older, $3.25 S.C. seniors, $3 ages 6-15. 238-5325 or www.myrtlebeachsp.com. • Springmaid Beach Pier, at Springmaid Beach Resort, 3200 S. Ocean Blvd., Myrtle Beach, 6 a.m.-midnight; $1, but tackle shop closed. 315-7100, 866-764-8501 or www.springmaidbeach.com/amenities/springmaidpier/. • Surfside Pier, 11 N. Ocean Blvd., Surfside Beach, at east end of Surfside Drive, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; free, but tackle shop closed until February. 238-0121 or www.surfsidepier.com. SEE FISH AND FESTIVAL OF TREES What | Festival of Trees, with more than 50 decorated trees, covering all U.S. states and territories, spread throughout the building, through Dec. 31 When | 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Where | Ripley’s Aquarium, Broadway at the Beach, off 29th Avenue North in Myrtle Beach How much (plus tax) | Free with regular admission: $21.99 ages 12 and older, $10.99 ages 6-11, $3.99 ages 3-5, free ages 2 and younger Information | 916-0888, 800-734-8888 or www.ripleysaquarium.com. Also | Mermaid dive shows noon, 2 and 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, free with admission (and final “Scuba St. Nick and the Merry Mermaids” shows this weekend) TACKLE SCIENCE What | WonderWorks, a playground with 100 hands-on exhibits and activities When | noon-8 p.m. Where | Broadway at the Beach, at U.S. 17 Bypass and 21st Avenue North, near the Palace Theatre How much (plus tax) | $22.99 ages 13-54, $14.99 ages 4-12 and 55 and older, and free ages 3 and younger; price includes one ropes course; add $3 for laser-tag combo Information | 626-9962 or www.wonderworksonline.com/myrtle-beach/ TAKE A SWING • Cane Patch Driving Range, at 72nd Avenue North and Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (par 3 closed). 315-0301 or www.myrtlebeachfamilygolf.com/canepatch.aspx. • Captain Hook’s Adventure (miniature) Golf, 2205 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 913-7851. • Harbour View Par 3 & Driving Range, 901 U.S. 17, between Little River and Myrtle Beach, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 249-9117 • Midway Par 3 Golf, 3101 S. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. 913-5335 or www.myrtlebeachfamilygolf.com/midway.aspx. • Tupelo Bay Golf Center, 1800 U.S. 17 Business S., Garden City Beach, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 215-7888 or www.tupelobay.com. How much | Rates vary per site, per activity ROLL SOME BALLS Where and when | • Frank Theatres’ Revolutions Entertainment, at Inlet Square, at U.S. 17 Business and U.S. 17 Bypass in Murrells Inlet, 10 a.m.-1:30 a.m. 651-9400 or www.revolutionsentertainment.com. • Little River Lanes, 300 Bowling Lane, Little River, off River Hills Drive, north of U.S. 17, 4-11 p.m. 249-0055. • Surfside Bowl Entertainment Center, 510 U.S. 17 Business N., Surfside Beach, 4 p.m.-2 a.m. 238-2695 or www.surfsidebowlingcenter.com. • Waccamaw Bowling Center, 101 Gray Drive, west of Myrtle Beach, off U.S. 501, just west of River Oaks Drive and the Intracoastal Waterway, 4 p.m.-midnight. 236-1020 or www.waccamawbowling.com. How much | Rates vary per site WATCH SOME JOUSTS What | Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament When | 6 p.m. Where | 2904 Fantasy Way, close to U.S. 501 and George Bishop Parkway, just west of Myrtle Beach and the Intracoastal Waterway How much (plus tax) | $50.95 ages 13 and older, $30.95 ages 12 and younger (Also, special through Dec. 31: Receive one free child admission with purchase of one adult admission – mention code KFDec12.) Information | 236-8080, 800-436-4386 or www.medievaltimes.com/myrtlebeach.aspx LIGHT UP THE NIGHT What | Shadrack’s “Christmas Wonderland” Benefiting | American Red Cross, Grand Strand Humane Society of Myrtle Beach, and Impact Ministries When | 6-10 p.m. (and nightly through Jan. 6, with extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays) Where | TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, on Grissom Parkway in Myrtle Beach, just south of 21st Avenue North Two parts | Drive-through all-LED light-and-music display in parking lot, and Santa’s Village, with a petting zoo and many other activities, some for an extra fee, on the Myrtle Beach Pelicans’ stadium third-base concourse and beach and inflatable area How much | $25.50 car or family van, $40 activity of mini-/half-bus, $50 limousine, and $5 person in a tour/school bus; extra fees for other activities in Santa’s Village Information | 888-321-7547 or www.shadrackchristmas.com IF YOU WATCH What | Opening Christmas Day in theaters: • “Les Miserables” starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway. Directed by Tom Hooper. • “Django Unchained” starring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz. Directed by Quentin Tarantino. •  “Parental Guidance” starring Billy Crystal and Bette Midler. Directed by Andy Fickman. Where | See a list of area movie theaters on Page 11. When | Most area movie theaters will be open on Christmas Day and open the doors at varying times, depending on the time the first movie of the day is scheduled to show. Call the theater for showtimes and details. How much | Prices vary depending on theater and time. Call for details.

Not every place is closed on Christmas Day.

Besides movie theaters, which will premiere “Les Miserables” on Tuesday, Grand Strand residents and vacationers have an assortment of things to do after the presents are opened and people are eager to get out after a family meal – or to take a break from family time.

Before sunrise, both area state parks – Myrtle Beach and Huntington Beach – will open their gates at 6 a.m., just like every other day of the year.

Mike Walker, an interpretive ranger at Huntington Beach State Park, said Christmas Day crowds in the park, on U.S. 17, between Murrells Inlet and Litchfield Beach, are “generally not huge, although the days following it will be quite busy.”

He said that pattern with Christmas week “has really grown over the years,” as many families go camping, with students being out of school and parents taking time off from work.

Two almost daily amenities that will continue on the holiday are the park’s nature center opening from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. – something new for this Christmas Day, Walker said, and the historic Atalaya home 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

At the nature center, guests can observe the “Feeding Frenzy” program at 11 a.m., when its various animals – such as a stingray, horseshoe crab and turtles – will be fed, and visitors can “learn more about their life histories, and even get to touch a few of them,” Walker said.

At Atalaya, signs throughout the National Historic Landmark explain each room’s original use, Walker said, and an audio tour for $4 gives “a very in-depth tour of the building, along with actual recordings of Anna Huntington sharing her experiences at Atalaya.”

Talking by phone from the nature center this week, Walker thanked a crew of volunteers who help at the park on a holiday, who don’t have family in town or plans for the day.

He reminded everyone about the park providing a great spot in winter to view wildlife, particularly waterfowl “and plenty of wading birds,” and looking for sea shells in the surf.

He joked about how “the bugs are not bad” at this cooler time of season, and that a few folks still manage to brave the ocean temperatures in the 50s for a swim.

“It’s not my idea of ‘That water’s fine,’” Walker said, “but there’s always somebody for whom it’s just right.”

Cheer in the alleys

A handful of local bowling alleys will be open on the holiday.

Nikki McDaniel, the marketing coordinator at her family-owned Waccamaw Bowling Center, off U.S. 501 just west of Myrtle Beach, said many families turn out every Christmas night, then a younger crowd hits the lanes as the evening progresses.

“Around dinner time,” McDaniel said, “we get families looking for something to do.”

Then, high schoolers and college-age students start showing up later in the night, she said.

Even working on such a day, “We’re super festive,” McDaniel said.

“Everybody’s pretty extra cheery on the holiday,” she said, “even the customers.”

Lights on every night

Shadrack’s “Christmas Wonderland,” celebrating its second Christmas season at the stadium where the Myrtle Beach Pelicans play baseball April through September, doesn’t take a day off for Christmas. The drive-through, all-LED extravaganza and Christmas village will continue to open at 6 p.m. every day through Jan. 6.

Richie King, owner of Shadrack, based in Bristol, Tenn., said the holiday itself remains “one of the best times to see the show and that Dec. 24 and 25 remain “a couple of our busiest days.”

On Christmas, if people have dined and don’t want to sit around, the lights give “something for the family to get out and do together,” King said.

With extra songs for customers to hear on their car radios – nine in all for 35 minutes of music during the drive – a new tunnel of lights – 18 feet tall and 80 feet long – “has been a huge hit” this fall, King said.

Scanning other improved aspects the 2012 production, for which attendance has climbed about 20 percent since 2011, King said the Christmas movies playing on the video scoreboard have entertained guests and that a portion of proceeds again benefits local causes: the American Red Cross, Grand Strand Humane Society and Impact Ministries.

To enjoy the 11/2-mile-long, guided drive through the parking lot of lights, King said generally 30 to 40 minutes has been a popular pace, with lighter crowds on Sundays through Thursdays, vs. Fridays and Saturdays “being packed.”

Some parties in their vehicles bring feasts of doughnuts or pies in “pizza boxes,” King said, to munch on during the leisurely loops through the lot.

About 1 million lights make up the whole display, driven by 117 computers, King said, explaining how crews spend four weeks to set it all up with nine miles of wires, King said, then dissemble it in just a few days.

“It’s one strand of lights at a time going up,” he said, “and several strands at a time going down. ... We peel it like a banana.”

Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764.

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