Pirates Voyage all settled in former Dixie Stampede location, enjoying holiday shows

spalisin@thesunnews.comDecember 20, 2013 

Pirates Voyage Christmas show features acrobatics with water being a key part of the tale. Captain Scrooge visits past, present and future as he discovers the meaning of the holiday.

BY JANET BLACKMON MORGAN — jblackmon@thesunnews.com Buy Photo

  • If you go

    What | “Christmas at Pirates Voyage Dinner Attraction”

    Where | Pirates Voyage, on U.S. 17 Bypass, near northern junction of U.S. 17 Business in Myrtle Beach

    When |

    • 6 p.m. daily through Monday, and Dec. 26-31

    • 4 p.m. Saturday

    How much | $49.04 or $54.49 ages 12 and older, $23.97 or $29.42 ages 4-11

    Information | 497-9700, 800-433-4401 or www.piratesvoyage.com

    Also |

    • Regular “Pirates Voyage” shows resume Feb. 14, after winter hiatus

    • Dolly Parton’s “Imagination Library,” promoting literacy among preschoolers, mails books monthly for free to Horry County residents from birth to age 5 with such titles as “The Little Engine That Could,” “Take Care, Good Knight,” “Big Sister, Little Sister” and “Big Brother, Little Brother.” Registration details at 497-6615 or www.imaginationlibrary.com.

    Other shows in final yuletide stretch

    ‘HOT JERSEY NIGHTS CHRISTMAS SPECIAL’

    Where | The Palace Theatre, at U.S. 17 Bypass and 21st Avenue North at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach

    When | Through Dec. 21: 7:30 p.m. daily, and 2 p.m. Thursday

    How much | $29.95 ages 13 and older, $9.95 ages 3-12

    Information | 448-0588, 888-841-2787 or www.palacemb.com

    LEGENDS IN CONCERT

    Where | 2925 Hollywood Drive, Myrtle Beach, off 29th Avenue North, at U.S. 17 Bypass, across from Broadway at the Beach

    With | Tribute artists to the Blues Brothers, Neil Diamond, Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton and Elvis Presley

    What and when | Christmas shows 8 p.m. daily through Saturday

    Also |

    • 8 p.m. Dec. 26-30 – regular shows, without Christmas elements

    • 7 and 10 p.m. Dec. 31, for an additional $10 per ticket on all price levels for 10 p.m. New Year’s Eve celebration

    How much | $39.95 or $44.95 ages 17 and older, and $14.95 or $19.95 ages 3-16; booth $50.95 and $24.95, respectively per age group; and VIP $47.95 for all.

    Information | 238-7827, 800-960-7469 or www.legendsinconcert.com

    ‘SORRY! WRONG CHIMNEY’

    Who | Stage Left Theatre Company

    When | Through Sunday: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

    Where | 3064 DeVille St., Myrtle Beach, in The Market Common, between Nevers and Lewis streets, next to Coastal Dance Centre

    How much | $15 advance or $18 at door

    Information | 232-0339 or www.stagelefttheatremb.com

    ‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’

    By | Atlantic Stage

    When | Through Dec. 22: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday

    Where | 79th Avenue Theatre, in Coastal Carolina University’s Myrtle Beach Education Center, at U.S. 17 Bypass

    How much | $27.50 general admission; $22.50 seniors (ages 55 and older)/educators/military; $17.50 students, including Osher Lifelong Learning Institute members; and $10 side section seats

    Also | Flex-pass packages: four tickets for $82.50 adult, $67.50 senior/educator/military and $52.50 student; and eight tickets for $165, $135 and $105, respectively

    Information | 877-287-8587 or www.atlanticstage.com

    CAROLINA IMPROV COMPANY

    Where | Uptown in Myrtle Beach mall, at U.S. 17 and S.C. 22, near Briarcliffe Acres

    What and when | 7:30 p.m.:

    • “biPolar Express” (for adults) Thursdays through Dec. 26

    • “Whose Holiday Is It Anyway?” Fridays-Saturdays through Dec. 27, and on Dec. 23

    • “Whose Year Is It Anyway?” Dec. 28 and 30

    How much | Each $14

    Information | 272-4242 or www.carolinaimprov.com

    ‘THE SOUTH’S GRANDEST CHRISTMAS SHOW’

    Where | Alabama Theatre, at Barefoot Landing, on U.S. 17 in North Myrtle Beach

    When | Through Dec. 31:

    • 7:30 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays (but not Dec. 24-25), and Dec. 22 and 29

    • 3 and 9:15 p.m. Dec. 31

    How much (plus tax) | $39.20, $43.75 or $45.55 ages 17 and older ($41.95, $46.95 or $51.95 for 9:15 p.m. show Dec. 31 only), and $19.95 ages 16 and younger.

    Information | 272-1111, 800-342-2262 or www.alabama-theatre.com

    ‘MEDIEVAL HOLIDAYS’

    What | Holiday preshow performances and music, in decorated quarters, before many knight-jousting shows on Fridays and Saturdays in December, including First Baptist Church Surfside Singers – Dec. 20, 21, 27 and 28.

    Where | Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, off U.S. 501 and George Bishop Parkway

    Show times through early January |

    • 6 p.m., Dec. 23 and 26-30, and Jan. 1-4

    • 5 p.m. Dec. 25 and 31

    How much | $50.95 ages 13 and older, $30.95 ages 3-12, and group packages available for 15 or more people

    Also | For shows through:

    • Dec. 31 – Receive one free admission for a child age 12 or younger, with purchase of one full-price admission for ages 13 and older, with code KFHOL13.

    • Dec. 30 (but not on Dec. 25), packages of admissions available: two for $45 each, three for $40 each, and four for $35 each, with respective discount codes of 2PWEB13, 3PWEB13 and 4PWEB13 at time of purchase.

    Information | 236-8080, 800-436-4386 or www.medievaltimes.com/myrtlebeach.aspx

    ‘THE CAROLINA OPRY CHRISTMAS SPECIAL’

    Where | Calvin Gilmore Theater, on U.S. 17 Business at U.S. 17 Bypass on north tip of Myrtle Beach

    When | Through Jan. 4:

    • 7 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays through Dec. 21, and Dec. 22 and 26-31, and Jan. 1, 3 and 4.

    • 1 p.m. matinees Dec. 17 and 21

    How much (plus tax) | $37.16, $46.47 or $51.12 adults, $24.19 or $32.55 children or for students with ID

    Also | “Light – See the Music” laser show extravaganza, for $13.95 adults, and $11.04 children and students – call for times and days

    Information | 913-4000, 800-843-6779 or www.thecarolinaopry.com

“Christmas at Pirates Voyage Dinner Attraction” in Myrtle Beach makes a splash in multiple ways even before the formal show sets sail to “I Saw Three Ships.”

Based at the theater’s lagoon, known as Buccaneer Bay, Pirates Voyage will soon finish its second season of Christmas shows since Dolly Parton had her Dixie Stampede theater transformed in 2011 into a new sea-faring era for entertainment after 18 years of riding high in an equestrian theme.

For November and December, the show still walks the plank with its raider theme from the rest of the year, but the lead character becomes “Captain Scrooge.” Weaving yuletide songs into the plot in many clever ways, the show builds up to the theme of the season through its adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” and the audience sits on either crimson or emerald sides, with respective pirates for whom to root later in games.

Before entering the arena, all guests, or scallywags, are encouraged to arrive about an hour beforehand for a “carriage show” where jugglers show their flair in flexibility, and in friendly exchanges with folks, such as to see how many U.S. states are represented in the room. Everyone also is asked to practice and polish a collective “Arrrrrrr.”

A pair apiece of macaws – one blue and another scarlet with a rainbow of colors – will take turns flying laps around the arena’s rafters then land gently on their respective handlers’ shoulders.

Juggling candy canes

During the show, as the crowd munches on a meal of creamy vegetable soup, chicken and barbecued pork – or a vegetarian plate – along with corn on the cob, a baked potato and apple pie, tumbling, acrobats, diving and sword fighting consume the pirates. Some will juggle seasonal wares such as large candy canes, and a sea lion will display the deft range of a baseball center fielder by catching flung “salty wreaths” around its head.

Gymnastics fans will lose count of the myriad moves by tumblers down “the beach” lining two front rows of dining tables, such as a back tuck, front and back handsprings, back flips and a “teddy bear” flip routine.

A crew rotating on double trampolines, a larger-than-life “Spirit of Christmas” sporting antlers and beckoning the captain to open your heart for the true meaning of Christmas,” and dancing toys to music from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” ballet under black lights add to many memorable sights and sounds leading to a live nativity with the song “Breath of Heaven,” with a burro and three camels.

Everyone, including the always-on-the-go food servers, gets to play cheerleader for a “Christmas competition,” covering such challenges as a diving contest off a board, plank or platform, as well as a relay of swinging and diving with the winner jingling the bell. Some diners also will join the show games, mainly to ride in a boat pull and help in a bucket water relay.

Parton’s Imagination Library, a literacy program that mails free books to Horry County residents from birth until age 5, also merits a moment in the spotlight, encouraging parents to sign up recipients. More than 600,000 books have been circulated locally, among 50 million around the globe.

Larry McCoy, longtime director of sales and marketing from Dixie Stampede in Myrtle Beach continuing with Pirates Voyage, said each show “flows very smoothly,” not only from the view in the seats, but for the people on the boat-deck stage and underwater making the big pieces move.

Animals happy to shine

He said besides the human performers, the animals such as the three sea lions taking turns and the macaws, show they’re having fun and so easily “energetic.”

“I don’t know gets entertained more,” McCoy said. “The audience or the birds. ... Sometimes it seems like they make more than one flight around. ... They’re so beautifully colored. You don’t get to see them every day in that kind of setting.”

McCoy said the sea lions, for instance, split free time between indoor and outdoor pools, the latter of which is visible trough a fence from the west parking lot side of the building, specially made in the former Dixie Stampede stables, where the camels and donkey have made home for November and December.

Speaking of sea lions – distinguished from seals because they have external ear flaps, and large flippers, including rear ones they rotate, so they can walk on land – McCoy said the Pirates Voyage trio have their own menu and dietician, with a caretaker “there day and night with them.”

McCoy said Pirates Voyage overall has grown into its own identity, just like Dixie Stampede – which continues in Branson, Mo., and Pigeon Forge, Tenn. – and that “you see these kids’ faces” react to this buccaneer brand, with customers’ feedback expressing how “they’ve never seen anything like this.”

“You might think,” he said, “pirates and Christmas: How does that work?”

“Our own version” of Dickens’ classic story about Scrooge, McCoy said, gives “a perfect story” to incorporate in to this show, “and what a way to include a nativity scene. It actually fits into the story line.”

The captain comes around, too, realizing, “I understand now the reason for the season.”

Even Santa Claus isn’t left out of the mix, bringing some buccaneer lingo into his trademark greeting: “Yo-ho!”

Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764.

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