DAYTONA BEACH — Despite severe thunderstorms that left many fans disgruntled after two of the event’s headlining acts were knocked off the schedule, the Welcome to Rockville music festival still earned rave reviews on Monday from area hoteliers.
“We love the crowds that we get for this event,” said Rob Burnetti, general manager of the 212-room Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach. “I love what the leadership of that event has done. I think they’ve done an amazing job for the short amount of time they have been in Daytona Beach.”
The Shores Resort & Spa was among many Daytona Beach-area properties that was sold-out or near-capacity throughout the four-day heavy-metal music festival that concluded its often rain-soaked run Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.
The festival’s Los Angeles-based promoter, Danny Wimmer Presents, has announced that Welcome to Rockville will return to the Speedway for its third consecutive year May 18-21, 2023.
Before the rains came:Bang your head! Crowds pour in for Welcome to Rockville at Daytona International Speedway
Fans ready to rock:Daytona, are you ready to Rockville? Here’s what to expect for music fest’s second year
Hotel managers cheered that news.
“On Friday and Saturday, we had sellouts, and we were nearly sold-out on Thursday and Sunday,” Burnetti said. “We’re excited to have it coming back next year.”
Rockville fans also generated big business at hotels owned and operated by Ormond Beach-based Elite Hospitality Inc., said Manoj Bhoola, president and CEO.
Elite’s roster of area hotels includes three properties near the Speedway — the Best Western Plus International Speedway; Hampton Inn by Hilton Daytona Speedway Airport; and the Hilton Garden Inn at Daytona Beach International Airport — as well as the Ormond Beach Best Western Castillo Del Sol.
“(The) Rockville event was very successful for our hotels, restaurants and bars around the Speedway,” Bhoola said. “Although the festival was affected by thunderstorms, the event patrons made the most of spending their time with like-minded customers by spending more time in our lobbies, which include community tables and areas to socialize with other hotel clienteles.
“They told us that they were able to make new friends that appreciate that genre of music and will definitely be back next year,” he said.
A similar story was told by other hotel managers, who often extended hours at hotel restaurants and bars to accommodate fans who encountered frustrating weather delays at the event that resulted in performances being halted early on Friday and Saturday before the headliners on those respective nights, Korn and Guns N’ Roses, could take the stage.
“We did extend all of our food and beverage outlets each night to late-night hours for the Rockville attendees who were dealing with the weather issues at the Speedway,” said Jim Berkley, general manager of the 744-room Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort, the area’s largest hotel.
The Hilton was “sold out 100%” throughout the four days of the event, “with significant rate growth,” Berkley said. “We were very happy with the results.”
Thunderstorms disrupted Rockville schedules
The same often couldn’t be said for rock fans who coped with a series of evacuations and re-openings of the Speedway’s infield as a parade of severe thunderstorms pummeled the track for hours on Friday and Saturday.
Although the festival concluded without weather interference on Sunday, capped by a performance by closing-night headliner Nine Inch Nails, the 2022 version of Welcome to Rockville ultimately will be remembered for the impact of thunderstorms that marred roughly half of the four-day event.
How the weekend unfolded:Welcome to Rockville halted Saturday by storms in Daytona
After the festival was cut short for the second consecutive day on Saturday, there were complaints from fans on the Welcome to Rockville Facebook page about congestion in the parking lots and in the concourse of the Speedway grandstand, as well as demands for refunds on tickets purchased.
A Facebook comment from Tara Munoz, an attendee from Fergus Falls, Minnesota, reflected the sentiments of many fans.
“We realize the staff doesn’t control the weather, but the lack of planning is very evident,” Munoz wrote. “Only one parking entrance open and only 2 gates open to enter. We stood in line to get in for so long that a second round of storms came before we even got back in.
“I’ve been to over 300 concerts and festivals and never experienced anything as poor as this. Danny Wimmer Presents and Welcome to Rockville should be ashamed!”
In addition to Guns N’ Roses, the Saturday storms also knocked other bands off the schedule throughout the day, as the promoter scrambled to re-set the lineup amid the severe weather. The list included Bush, Rise Against, Dirty Honey, Alexisonfire, Sick of It All and Saul.
Along with Korn, the Friday rain delays and show cancellation also nixed sets by popular bands including Skillet, Underoath and Breaking Benjamin. That afternoon, it also was announced that Megadeth would not be making its performance due to “travel delays.”
Nor did Welcome to Rockville unfold without unexpected complications for Ivan Moody, lead singer of Five Finger Death Punch. He was taken to an area hospital for treatment after being accidentally shot in the eye during the band’s Thursday performance by one of the on-stage laser lights that were part of the band’s production, according to Loudwire.com.
“One of the lasers kicked backwards, ’cause I tripped basically over it, and it shot me in the eye,” Moody recounted in a since-deleted Instagram post transcribed by Blabbermouth.net. “And these things are like … they basically have the power of a minor supernova; they’re really bad.”
Refunds not in cards for disappointed fans
Although Rockville attendees who posted on the event’s Facebook Page clamored for refunds on ticket purchases, that’s not in the cards, according to the event’s website, welcometorockville.com.
Online, festivalgoers are advised that while Welcome to Rockville is “held rain or shine,” the event also “may be delayed and/or canceled and the festival grounds may be evacuated if inclement or severe weather poses a threat to patron and staff safety.”
In such cases, “no refunds or exchanges will be given as a result of weather conditions; and no refunds or exchanges will be given for inclement or severe weather that necessitates an evacuation, delay or cancellation in part or whole of the event.”
Representatives for Danny Wimmer Presents were traveling on Monday and couldn’t be reached to comment on whether the refund policy might be revisited or whether consideration might be given to moving the date of the 2023 event to better avoid the potential for storms.
Hotel managers on Monday reported that any fan frustrations with the bad weather weren’t evident among Rockville guests.
“This was a great crowd, and they were all very happy with us,” said Deborah Bailey, general manager of the 64-room Quality Inn Daytona Speedway, just across the street from the track. The hotel was sold-out through most of the event, she said. “We had a great weekend, except for the rain.”