20 in 2020: Hurricane: Category Five at the Myrtle Beach Pavilion
While researching the 20 coasters on our list that would turn (or would have turned) 20 in 2020, I wanted to do a deep dive on several coasters in my region that were no longer with us, but that I also never got to ride. After writing the article on Flying Super Saturator at Carowinds, located in the North Carolina half of the park, I decided to traverse state lines and head to the coast, to learn a little more about a coaster from Custom Coasters International that only operated for 6 years before closing for good, Hurricane: Category Five, located at the former Pavilion Amusement Park.
If you’re not familiar with “The Pavilion,” it was an 11-acre Myrtle Beach amusement park whose roots dated back to the early 1900s. According to MyrtleBeach.com, the spiritual predecessor to the Myrtle Beach Pavilion was first constructed in 1908. This pavilion was a one-story, open-air wooden building that was part of the Seaside Inn property, Myrtle Beach’s first hotel, which served as a gathering place for its guests. While this pavilion (and the pavilion that followed it) burned in 1920 and 1944, in 1948 the Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park was officially built.
The amusement park was developed after a traveling carnival decided to make its permanent home on Ocean Boulevard, and a reinforced concrete version of the main pavilion building was built on the east side of the street. Over the years, the Pavilion saw its share of roller coasters, including Comet Jr. (National Amusement Device Company, 1951-late 1960s) and the Arrow Dynamics Corkscrew (1975-1999). The latter was removed in preparation for Hurricane: Category Five, which would open in 2000.
Built at a cost of $6 million, the CCI roller coaster known to many simply as “Hurricane” opened on May 6, 2000. It was the tallest, fastest and longest wooden coaster in South Carolina. Featuring 3,800′ feet of wooden track on top of steel supports, Hurricane featured a 100-foot drop and reached speeds of 55mph. The two trains were manufactured by Gerstlauer. It was one of seven CCI coasters to open in 2000, four of which are no longer operating.
Take a virtual ride on the Hurricane below!
Hurricane had a bit of a rough reputation.
“This is absolutely the roughest roller coaster I’ve ever ridden. Its thrilling, but you get off of it feeling like you’ve been assaulted. The hills are nice, but the helixes make the cars feel like they’re going to shake themselves to pieces. Apparently, it was working fine when it first opened, but hasn’t been maintained as it should. Many people blame the Gerstlauer trains for the rough ride.” read one online review.
It was decent for a rough CCI with Gerstlauer trains. Probably the closest coaster to track well with that rolling stock, to be honest.
— Chris Moschella (@EscAuthority) July 21, 2020
For others, it wasn’t a very memorable ride:
The only things I remember about it was the cool visuals and the Gerstlaurer trains
— The Legend (@InTheLoopLegend) July 22, 2020
Following the 2006 season, citing financial instability, the park’s owners announced that the Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park would close. While several of the Pavilion’s attractions were moved to the “Pavilion Nostalgia Park” at Broadway at the Beach or other parks in the area, several rides, including the Hurricane, were demolished in 2007.
The last portion of the Hurricane, the lift hill, was pulled down just after 9:00 am, March 23, 2007
Hurricane: Category Five lived on spiritually for one more year, as Kings Island purchased the coaster’s Gerstlauer trains, for operation on the re-profiled (sans loop) Son of Beast in 2007. The land where the Pavilion once resided is still largely vacant, with a zip lining company occupying a portion of the space.
There have been multiple events, including the annual Carolina Country Music Festival, held on the property over the last several years, but nothing will never quite equal the roar of the trains of Hurricane: Category 5.