City Considers Closure of Portion of Pier Park Drive

The City of Panama City Beach is considering closing two blocks of the “main drag” in Pier Park in an effort to make it more pedestrian friendly.  The blocks proposed to close are from the round-about by the Grand to the intersection that hosts Hofbrau Beer Garden and Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.  Traffic would still be able to pull into Pier Park from Front Beach Road, but they’d have to turn right or left at Hofbrau or Tootsies.  Same with the round-about – visitors would still be able to circumnavigate it, the Pier Park Drive South turnoff would just be blocked off.

These two blocks are the same two blocks that are often closed for special events, such as the July 4th Star Spangled Spectacular and the New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop, the latter typcially closing the roads all the way to Front Beach Road.

Closure during summer months.

Panama City Beach Police Chief Robert Harding is proposing the closure occur one of two ways, both to begin from Memorial Day and end after Labor Day each year.

  1. Close the two blocks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
  2. Close the two blocks 7 days a week during that entire summer period
Benefits of the closure.

Currently there is already some disconnect as to the nature of the southern portion of Pier Park Drive.  During almost any summer day, there is so much foot traffic, mixed with cars, it’s actually quite a hazard.  There are designated walk-across areas, but with all the activity, it’s not uncommon for pedestrians to cross where they want.  Safety is a concern, and a clear benefit to the closure.

In addition to safety, the closure would allow more room for Pier Park visitors to freely move about from shop to shop during a time when there are literally tens of thousands coming through each day.  It would open the venue up dramatically.

Traffic ingress and egress would be minimally impacted as routes behind the shop’s buildings would still be accessible, through the parking areas.

What do you think?

What are your thoughts on this potential traffic road closure? Do you think it would help pedestrian safety?  Do you think it would enhance Pier Park?


IMAX Theater Open in Pier Park

With the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, The Grand Theatre in Pier Park opened their IMAX screen, which has been in the works for a couple months.  If you’ve not seen a movie in IMAX, you have to try it – it truly takes you into the movie.

Dubbed, “the world’s most immersive movie experience,” IMAX touts 12,000 watts of digital surround sound, crystal clear images, the world’s largest movie screens. This sounds fascinating and fun, but how does it do this?

How IMAX works.

IMAX combines a huge screen with a state-of-the-art projection system and a very advanced sound system.  The typical IMAX screen is 52′ x 72′ – which is the size of The Grand’s. In addition to the huge size, the screen has a curvature to it that helps to “bring the viewer into the movie.”  What really makes the magic happen is the two projectors that push the imagery onto the screen and the rumbling sound that you feel in your gut.  The projector uses xenon short-arc lamps that fire a light so bright, the video on the screen is crisp and clear.  The sound system is a complex array of surround sound speakers that offers a crystal clear listening experience and seat-shaking bass.  You hear every crackle, pop, and whisper with complete accuracy.

What’s showing and the price.

Currently Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is playing IMAX at the Grand.  And let me tell you, it’s simply amazing.  They only have one IMAX theater, so only one feature film will be playing at a time.  Harry Potter is expected to play until August 4th at which point Sector 7: An IMAX 3D Experience is expected to play until the 9th when Cowboy’s Vs. Aliens comes out.

The ticket price is as follows:

  • $12 on Tuesdays
  • $12.50 for matinee
  • Evenings are $15.25 for adults and $12.50 for kids

At this time, an additional IMAX theater is not being planed for for The Grand, but there is another theater room that would be suitable for the upgrade, should the demand arise.

Have you been to our IMAX or another one?  What were your thoughts on it?

Borders at Pier Park to Close

Borders announced this week they’ll be closing all 399 of their stores, including their Panama City Beach store in Pier Park. At their peak, they had over 1200 stores, including their Walden Books chain, but over the years, they’ve slowly worked their way down.  In February, when they filed for bankruptcy, they had just under 650 stores.

Currently Borders employs just under 11,000 Americans, all of which will be laid off when the shutting down of Border’s is final.

The Pier Park store is expecting to begin liquidation on Friday of this week, but they expect to be around until the end of September, reported Amy Hernandez, manager.  “We’ll know more about our closing timeline as we move through liquidation,” said Hernandez, “we employ 30 locals and appreciate all the community support we’ve received.”

Amid online competition and digital book sales, the big-box book store concept is struggling.  Borders was second in size only to Barnes and Noble.


TDC Organizes 3 Large Fall Wknd Concert Events

Every year, about the second week in August, school starts back, rent-rates drop and the beach slows down.  For some, it’s a welcome change, but for others, it’s the ‘so-long’ of the bustle of a busy season.

For years, local tourism officials have dreamed of that mythical unicorn – the annual tourism season – and fall events have always helped extend that season just a bit to keep the life-giving tourism dollar flowing.  This year we have some nice surprises amongst the great fall weather to keep bringing people to our beaches.

Weekend events, famous people and music.

The Tourist Development Council (TDC) has put together a very interesting sequence of events to drive fall tourism.  They’ve orchestrated three weekend events that range from a Christian Music Festival to a weekend-long pirate’s festival.  They’ve structured the whole series very interestingly.  The only way to get tickets to any of the events initially is by booking through one of the TDC accommodation partners.  Any accommodation provider that has a valid tourism tax account has access to this.  On all the events, around two weeks prior to the event, any remaining tickets will be available to the general public.

Fun Never Sets Christian Music Fest

  • Located at Aaron Bessant
  • August 26th (Friday) – Matthew West, Petra, Third Day (headliner) – doors open at 5 pm
  • August 27th (Saturday) – Jamie Grace, Family Force Five, Peter Furler (formerly of the News Boys), Switchfoot, Toby Mac (headliner) – doors open at 2 pm
  • August 28th – Worship service, no time yet, but will be at Aaron Bessant Park

Fun Never Sets Country Music Fest

  • Located at Frank Brown Park
  • September 23 – Justin Moore, Randy Rogers Band, Miranda Lambert (headliner) – doors open at 5:30 pm
  • September 24 – Opening acts yet to be named, Jason Aldean (headliner) – doors open at 2 pm

Fun Never Sets Explorer of the High Seas Fest

  • Event will be from October 7th – 9th at Aaron Bessant Park
  • Miranda Cosgrove (iCarly fame) in concert on the 9th at 2 pm
  • Krewe of Dominique Youx will host a pirate parade
  • There will be a Beach Ball Drop
  • Dueling fireworks show between County and Russell Fields Pier
  • Pirate Ships will be in the Gulf
  • Dubbed a wonderful family and kids festival weekend
  • More details will be available on this soon
Video promoting the fall.

New Amphitheater coming to Aaron Bessant Park

Improvements to Aaron Bessant park have been in the works for a few months.  In fact, talks of improvements have been going on for years, but money has always been a challenge.  This year, BP money in excess of $1 million, will help make park improvements a reality, and last week the Panama City Beach City Council approved the improvements.

Improvements include a new, larger amphitheater.

The new improvements will be a welcome addition to a heavily used facility.  Currently they have several large events there each year that requires spending 10’s of thousands of dollars on erected staging and equipment.  The new facility will have a large covered stage, integrated electrical and a solid infrastructure to host events with a capacity of 10,000.

All the improvements include:

  • 60’x40′ amphitheater with permanent roof and walls suitable for theatrical productions, orchestral performances and musical events
  • Expanded amphitheater lawn area (see diagram below
  • Vegetative buffers around the parameter to prevent the need for temporary fencing
  • The Festival Lawn (the sandy area that’s used as overflow and vedor parking behind the park) will be improved to the quality of Frank Brown Park’s festival area
  • This area will support parking, play fields, and will have sod and irrigation
  • Additional bathroom facilities
Renderings, conceptual and imagery

The teal boundary area is the existing sidewalk paths around the amphitheater area.  The purple lines indicate the other sidewalk areas and paths that lead around the park.  The black lines will be the new amphitheater lawn area.

This is a conceptual of what the amphitheater could look like. The final product will have a beachy feel and should be consisten with the look and feel of neighboring Pier Park.  The stage area could be approximately 60 feet across and 40 feet deep offering 2,400 square feet of space.  There will be permanent walls and roof.

This is an example of another amphitheater.  Ours could look similar.

What are your thoughts on this?  Do you think this will bring more traffic problems to this area?  Or do you think the improvements will be better for the community as a whole?

Free 7 night vacation at Splash – 2 bedroom

Have you heard of Splash Resort?  Having spent tons of time there, and having had handfuls of friends that’ve owned there, I can tell you it’s one of the best all around resorts in Panama City Beach.

What makes it so great.
  • There’s an onsite waterpark
  • They have a lazy river with floats provided
  • They have dive-in movies all summer long
  • The arcade is one of the largest resort arcades I’ve seen – quite possibly the largest in Panama City Beach
  • The condos are all large and most of them have bunks
  • There is an onsite mini grocer and beach shop (apparel, toys, sunscreen, etc.)
  • The beach there is fantastic
  • It’s on the quiet end of the beach (west end)

Seriously, I really could go on for an additional 10 bullets, at least.  Can you tell this is one of my favs?

Sterling Resorts is the onsite property management company and they’re running a huge promotion right now where they’re giving away a free 7 night vacation in one of their premiere two bedroom condos.

How to enter.

Getting signed up is super easy, all you have to do is go to their Facebook page, click on the tab on the left labeled “Win Free Vacation” and fill out the form.  If you haven’t Liked the page, you’ll have to in order to see the form.

Click here to visit their Facebook page.

That’s it!  Good luck!

Disclaimer: This vacation promotion is being administered by CYber SYtes, which is the owner of

The Beach Show hits 100 EPISODES!!

The Beach Show has a long history with  I founded it more than two years ago with Karen Smith of Beachy Beach.  If you ask her, she’ll tell you The Beach Show has played a huge role in the growth of her business.

The Beach Show’s origin.

The whole idea behind The Beach Show was to bring you the best real estate deals to be had in Panama City Beach, each week.  Over the last two years, we’ve only missed a small handful of weeks and have increased the real estate exposure of the Panama City Beach area dramatically.  Tons of people have copied the idea and some have stood the test of time, but none have created the same amount of Buzz.

Click here to sign up for The Beach Show’s newsletter.

Karen’s career as she’s done The Beach Show

When her and I first started doing The Beach Show back in April 2009, she was an agent at Beachy Beach Real Estate.  At the time, it was owned by it’s original founder, a good friend of mine, Gabriel Stephani.  As she grew the brand of Beachy Beach with her natural pizzazz, she realized how much a part of her it really was.  She ultimately ended up purchasing it from Stephani in 2010 and began a quick and strategic growth.  Stephani went on to found Pineapple Properties and Karen now has several agents working for her and is having the best summer of her career.

The 100’th Episode of The Beach Show

Laser Show This Weekend at Pier Park

Looking for something different to do this weekend?  Try out the Laser Show that’s going down at Pier Park this weekend.  Sponsored by Miracle Strip at Pier Park and located right across from them at the Beach, this is something totally new to the area and should be a total blast for your kids, friends and family.

Event details.
  • The event is on July 15th, 16th, and 17th.
  • The gates open at Sunset each day
  • The show starts at 9:30 pm
  • Tickets are $5
  • Miracle Strip @ Pier Park Daily Armband Holders will get free admission.