In many parts of the country, operators who have customers interested in traveling find many destinations are closed to groups due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That isn’t the case in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where The Carolina Opry Theater and other attractions are open for business and ready to host groups. They are also taking safety precautions to prevent the spread of the disease.
Caitlin West and Margaret Wallace of The Carolina Opry recently joined a UMA Town Hall to explain to members how the 2,000-seat venue is “doing everything they have to do to keep everyone safe when they get here, and to entertain them, too.”
“Myrtle Beach is a great Christmas destination,” said Group Sales Coordinator West.
Carolina Opry Christmas Special
The Carolina Opry Christmas Special often called “The Christmas Show of the South,” opened its 35th season of holiday performances in early November.
The Carolina Opry is considered a “top attraction in Myrtle Beach” according to CNBC, featuring polished productions and a talented cast that entertains with music, comedy and dance.
Special guests are joined by new cast members, including Delvin Choice, seen on NBC’s “The Voice,” young up-and-comer Rory John Zak, the renowned All That! clogging group, Tangena Church, Christie Templeton and Chas Croft Sorrells.
Other performers include Nashville recording artist Brad Long, fiddling champion Trent Wideman, a bonus seasonal brass section and 35 of the nation’s most talented vocalists and musicians.
All performances are accompanied by the Calvin Gilmore orchestra, led by Kevin Hughes, with the Margaret Rice dancers in the holiday-embellished Carolina Opry Theater.
There’s even a real horse-drawn sleigh and snow.
“We’re just glad to be open and able to still share the Christmas spirit with everybody,” said Wallace, Group Sales Director for The Carolina Opry.
Seats begin selling a year in advance and, with the possibility of limited seating this season, early reservations are strongly recommended.
The theater’s transformation into a winter wonderland takes a crew a solid week to complete. The result is 30 Christmas trees, 75 wreaths, 5 miles of tree-lighting wire, countless tree ornaments and mounds of Christmas snow. The centerpiece is a stunning 30-foot tree with more than 25,000 lights.
House photographers are available for family photos in front of the splendid tree. Many of these photos have ended up on generations of family Christmas cards, according to West.
The Christmas Special is a two-and-a-half-hour performance with a 15-minute intermission.
Excited to host group tours
The theater continues to welcome group tours. Space to the side of the theater is dedicated to motorcoach parking.
“We greet all of our coaches and escort passengers into the theater to their seats. We have been very excited about everyone being excited about coming back to see us,” Wallace said.
The theater reopened in early September after the state lifted guidelines for establishments.
“We are doing all the social distancing and the masking that our state government and CDC is requiring us to do,” Wallace said. “People just put on masks when they come in. They’re just ready to be doing something again, and we’re just glad to be a part of that.”
Wallace echoed West’s sentiment that Myrtle Beach is a great Christmas destination in general.
“It’s really easy to spend a couple, two, three days here and really immerse yourself into the Christmas spirit,” she said.
Headed to Myrtle Beach
During the online Town Hall, UMA Board member Alan Thrasher shared he is heading to the popular South Carolina oceanfront destination. The Southeastern Regional Motorcoach Operators is holding its annual meeting there Nov. 15-17. The visit will include an evening at The Carolina Opry Theater.
Many members of the 13-state regional SRMO wanted to meet in person — although others have opted to participate virtually. In total, 80 are attending, including 35 operators. The group maxed out its meeting space because of the social distance guidelines in place.
“This is the first we’ve had a meeting since all this mess started,” said Thrasher, President of Thrasher Brothers Trailways in Birmingham, Alabama. “A big shout-out to the Opry in Myrtle Beach for hosting us.”
The Carolina Opry Christmas Special runs through Jan. 6, with regular evening performances and selectively scheduled matinees. For a full schedule, more safety information or to book tickets, visit TheCarolinaOpry.com or call 843-913-1450. Caitlin West can be reached directly at 843-913-1451.