Amusement parks are a place of wonder and awe, often bringing back the fondest memories..Despite this, there are a few parks shrouded in mystery and misfortune. One example of this was a park by the name of Magic Harbor. The park started out quaint, located on U.S. 17 South of the Myrtle Beach Air Force. Opening in 1954 it was originally named PirateLand. At a point in time Pirateland leased 41 acres of adjoining land to a company looking to start a camping ground. An agreement was struck and required the new campground to open under the name PirateLand and agree to market together with the amusement park. The campground prospered, leasing an additional 80 acres and offered mini-golf, an Olympic sized swimming pool and more. Despite the attention being drawn by the campground, the amusement park failed.
Over the following year PirateLand changed hands constantly. Hope was in sight when a Geoffrey Thompson from Blackpool, England bought the land. President of the largest amusement park in Europe, many people had high hopes for what Geoffrey could do. In 1972 the park temporarily closed with hopes to reopen bigger and better than before. 1975 saw the opening of the new and improved Magic Harbor. It was a British themed park with rides like the Log Flume, Tilt-a-Whirl, and Scrambler. In addition to rides, ice-skating, country music and a magic show could be seen often. Most infamous of all rides was perhaps “The Black Witch”, a roller coaster in which a young girl perished. The coaster had recently been refurbished and in operation for a total of two days before Sherri Depew, 13 years of age, was violently hurled 30 feet from the ride into a guardrail. A lawsuit was filed, claiming the roller coaster was improperly supervised and that workers attending rides were incompetent. The parks defense attorney argued that it was due to Miss Depew’s inability to follow directions and stated “Had she been seated in her seat, holding that lap bar, this tragedy never would have happened”.
Miss Depew would not be the only person to lose her life at Magic Harbor. A park manager at the time also met his untimely demise in the park when he was murdered by a fellow employee after hours. The park acquired the nickname “Haunted Harbor” and rumors of curses and the sort got around quickly. The park was closed permanently in the mid- 1990s leaving nothing behind. Every standing building and ride was completely demolished or sold off and the nearby thriving campground, still by the name of PirateLand, bought the land.