Inside Funplex Myrtle Beach with CEO Brian Williams

Last week, we reported on the planned Funplex Outdoor Amusement Park that is scheduled to open in Myrtle Beach, SC, next spring. While the initial release did a good job of describing the new “boutique” theme park, of course, we had a few more questions. Luckily, we were able to connect with Brian Williams, CEO of The Funplex, which currently operates two Family Entertainment Centers (FECs) in New Jersey, to learn a little more about Myrtle Beach’s newest theme park.

C101: After two properties in New Jersey, what made The Funplex decide on Myrtle Beach for their next area for expansion? 

Brian Williams: We have been exploring opportunities outside of New Jersey for several years. Several industry colleagues suggested we take a look at Myrtle Beach and it has been on our radar ever since.

The Funplex, East Hanover, New Jersey

C101: The Myrtle Beach project seems like a bit of a different model than the established New Jersey locations – a focus on outdoor attractions rather than the classic large indoor FEC with a few outdoor attractions. How was the decision made to focus more on a smaller outdoor park as opposed to a larger indoor/outdoor FEC? 

Williams: There were two key factors that went into this decision. First, an outdoor model was a more cost-effective capital spend for our first venture outside of NJ. The second was the size and location. We felt that a fully outdoor park really maximized the footprint. Our park in Mount Laurel, NJ also features outdoor rides and felt this was a good model for Myrtle Beach.

The FunPlex, Mount Laurel, New Jersey

C101: Myrtle Beach has had its share of parks that have closed in the not-so-distant past – what sets The Funplex apart from other parks who call/have called Myrtle Beach home over the years, and how will you learn from their mistakes?

Williams: Those parks were huge capital investments and highly leveraged deals that seem to have not been sustainable. What we are doing is a smaller investment that we are comfortable making in a better location.

The Bowling Alley inside of FunPlex Mount Laurel

C101: There’s a lot to do in Myrtle Beach from an entertainment perspective, and most people have only a certain amount of time in the city and can’t do it all. There’s also the “tradition” involved with many families who are creatures of habit while in Myrtle Beach, staying at the same hotels, playing the same miniature golf courses, and eating at the same restaurants year after year. In your opinion, what will make The Funplex brand of entertainment unique and a “must-do” attraction while in Myrtle Beach? 

Williams: While that may be true there is also something to be said about people trying the newest attractions or restaurant. With the level of attractions and the way we will operate the park I am confident that once a guest comes to the Funplex they will create new traditions with us in their plans each year.

C101: How hard was it fitting 7 full-sized attractions inside a small, ~100 space parking lot? Was it a more complicated puzzle than it appears? 

Williams: It was definitely a challenge. We had at least 5 different versions of the layout with different rides in the mix. What we ended up with is 7 rides that reach different age ranges and thrill levels. Also we really wanted a nice size food operation with a bar so guests could enjoy a beverage while they were visiting the park. This was a challenge as well but we are very happy with the final version.

C101: The attractions are all named – but what ride manufacturers/groups are you working with? What makes/models of attractions are they? What are Hang Ten, Hook and Slice, Sunny Day, and Up and Overboard

Williams: All of the rides are from Visa/SBF. They include a Tea Cup, Toy Swing, Reverse Time, Drop N Twist, Big Air Coaster, Space Gun and Tower Planes. We are really excited to be the first in North America to offer the new Tower Planes ride.

The Big Air Coaster at IAAPA 2019. Photo: Amusement Today

C101: The Fun in the Sun roller coaster, at least from the renderings, looks like a custom-version of the SBF-Visa “Big Air” coaster that debuted at IAAPA 2019 – with an extra rotating “hamster wheel” seat. What was it that drew you to the “Hamster Wheel” cars, as opposed to the more “typical” SBF-Visa Spinning Coaster cars? 

Williams: Yes, it is the coaster from IAAPA 2019. We thought having a different “action” with the Hamster Wheel cars would be a difference maker. We try to find and add unique attractions to our parks from small to large and we think this roller coaster is a great addition.

The Pit Stop Cafe at FunPlex.

C101: In regards to the to-be-named Funplex Restaurant/Bar – is there anything planned that will make it a disruptor in the Myrtle Beach food scene? 

Williams: This restaurant/bar concept is still in the final stages of development, but rest assured we will serve some exciting custom offerings. Stay tuned for more.

The FunCoaster at FunPlex Mount Laurel

C101: Myrtle Beach is a city that feels like it has multiple of everything, from dinner shows, to outlet malls to entertainment districts. If the first Myrtle Beach project is deemed a success, are there any plans to expand again in Myrtle Beach – perhaps in the Barefoot Landing/North Myrtle Beach area? 

Williams: We are always looking for opportunities to grow our business. I am confident Funplex Myrtle Beach will be successful, but we do not have any plans beyond that for Myrtle Beach, yet.

Reverse Time at FunPlex Mount Laurel

C101: Is the plan now for a pay-per-ride ticket/wristband system, or will Funplex Myrtle Beach be a flat admission fee with unlimited attractions?  

Williams: We are still finalizing the pricing model for the Funplex Myrtle Beach, but we believe that our park will be priced competitively.

C101: Is there anything else you’d like our audience to know about Funplex Myrtle Beach?

Williams: The Funplex Myrtle Beach will offer a big punch in a compact footprint. It is our intention to be operational by Spring 2021 and look forward to providing a fun, family entertainment experience to all of our guests. Keep an eye on our Facebook page @TheFunplexParks and our website for project updates.