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Originally posted: 10/26/2002

Last updated: 8/7/2005

 

 
 Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom

 By Chris Cowan
 themeparks@insightbb.com
 

Kentucky Kingdom has height restrictions due to its location next to the Louisville International Airport. (Photo courtesy of the Louisville Courier-Journal)
 


Quick Stats

Location: Louisville, KY

Date Opened:  1987

Owned by: Six Flags, Inc. (since 1997)

Size: 58 acres

Last ride added: Tornado (water slide) (in 2005)


 Kentucky Kingdom

1987:

Kentucky Kingdom opens on 10 acres adjacent to the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville.

The park has four theme areas:

Carousel Plaza:

  o  Crystal Carousel
 
o  Park entrance and guest relations
  o  Derby Delights
  o  The Emporium

Old Louisville:

  o  Starchaser, an enclosed steel roller coaster (Schwarzkopf Jet Star II) with a disco ball on the floor to produce the “stars.”  [This ride was purchased from Beech Bend in Bowling Green, Kentucky]
  o  Smash-Crash-Bash'em (bumper cars)
  o  Kentucky Whirl (Zierer Wave Swinger)
  o  Whirlaway (Chance Trabant)
  o  Pontiac's Tin Lizzy Junction (Arrow Antique Cars)
  o  Round-Up (Hubretz Round Up)
  o  Celebration Station (amphitheater)
  o  Pepsi Plantation Playhouse
  o  The Generation Gap
  o  Picnic Pavilion
  o  Showtime Snacks
  o  The Greenery
  o  Arcade
  o  Lickity Splits Ice Cream Galore
  o  several carnival-type games

Kentucky Frontier:

  o  Ohio River Adventure (log flume)
  o  Tornado
 
o  Frontier Theater
  o  Country Craftin' store
  o  Cumberland Valley Gifts
  o  Wagon Wheel Pizza
  o  Tiffany's Fine Toys for Girls & Boys
  o  The Coors Gazebo
  o  The Mad Hatter's
  o  Brass Ring Bistro
  o  Brass Ring Bazaar

The Enchanted Forest (kiddie area):

  o  Kentucky Barron
  o  Rascal's Retreat
  o  Butterfly
  o  Fantasy Float

The weather that summer was particularly nasty—alternating between excessively rainy and blistering hot.

The park files for bankruptcy after one season due to low attendance.


1988:

Kentucky Kingdom is closed all year. 

The rides are auctioned off as part of the bankruptcy proceedings.


1989:

The park, or what’s left of it (mostly buildings), remains closed. 

Ed Hart, the man who will nearly single-handedly guide the parks future for the next eight years, along with a group of  227 of the parks unsecured creditors, form a partnership and begin plans to reopen Kentucky Kingdom.

Starchaser, which was auctioned off, but still on site, is repurchased by the park. 


 Kentucky Kingdom - The Thrill Park

1990:

Kentucky Kingdom reopens under the new ownership.  Theme areas are abandoned. 

  o  The Enterprise (Huss Enterprise) is added near Starchaser in an area where an arcade was previously located.
  o  The Ranger (Huss Ranger) replaces the Round-Up.
  o  Tin Lizzies (Arrow Antique Cars) are added on the same course that was used by Pontiac's Tin Lizzy Junction.
  o  Bumper Cars replace Kentucky Whirl.
  o  The Whirling Dervish (Huss Breakdance) replaces Tornado.

In the area where the log flume was formerly located, four things are added:

   o  The Vampire (Vekoma Boomerang steel shuttle roller coaster) that was originally built in 1985 at a park in China which wanted to unload it because park patrons thought it was haunted and wouldn’t ride it!
  o  The Squid (4 wet/dry water slides)
  o  Bluebeard’s Bounty (Huss Pirate Boat)
  o  Picnic-in-the-Park Pavilions

Rides in the children's area:

  o  Dukes of the Road
  o  Queen's Quadrille
  o  The Castle Walk
  o  Merlin's Magic Wheel
  o  Jester's June Bugs
  o  Royal Air Force

  Other changes:

  o  Smash-Crash-Bash-Em' bumper car building is converted into carnival-type games and an air-conditioned arcade.
  o  Coors Gazebo and the Mad Hatter's are converted into carnival-type games buildings.
  o  Pepsi Plantation Playhouse is renamed The Singing Cafe.
  o 
Celebration Station is renamed Summer Moon Amphitheater.
  o  Frontier Theater is renamed Pull-A-Few-Strings Outdoor Theater.
  o  Country Craftin' becomes Fudge-A-Little (candy).
  o  Cumberland Valley Gifts becomes the Fontaine Ferry Museum.
  o  Wagon Wheel Pizza becomes The Hamburger Construction Company.
  o  Derby Delights is renamed Incredible Eatibles.
  o  The Brass Ring Bazaar is renamed The Gift Box.
  o  The Brass Ring Bistro is renamed For-Pizza-Sake.
  o  Tiffany's Fine Toys for Girls & Boys is renamed Lions & Tigers & Bears.
  o  Lickity Splits Ice Cream Galore becomes A Sundae Kind of Love.
  o  The Generation Gap becomes Picture Perfect Shop.

Admission this year is $9.95.

The park is closed every Monday and Tuesday.


1991:

Thunder Run (Summers/Dinn wooden roller coaster) and a Vekoma Giant Wheel are added in a new section of the park across a major Fairgrounds access road.

Crossing guards holding Stop signs are used to allow guests access to and from the new section until construction of a footbridge is completed.


1992:

Hurricane Bay water park opens (also in the new section).  A new park entrance and parking lot is added just for Hurricane Bay patrons.


1993:

Hurricane Bay is expanded. 

The 227 unsecured creditors who became partners in the new park exercise their right to be bought out for $400,000. 

Ed Hart and several investors remain in control of Kentucky Kingdom.


1994:

Mile High Falls (O.D. Hopkins Shoot-The-Chute water ride) is added.

Roller Skater (Vekoma Roller Skater junior steel roller coaster) is added.

Starchaser is temporarily closed following an accident on July 26 in which two cars collide, injuring a 7-year-old girl who suffers a collapsed lung and a lacerated kidney.  Five lawsuits will eventually be filed from this incident.

The Ranger is removed at the end of the season.


1995:

T2, Vekoma’s first Suspended Looping Coaster in North America, is added.

The Rainbow (Huss Rainbow) is added.

The Hellevator, a 16-story Intamin Giant Drop ride, is constructed throughout the season near the front gate, where a carousel was located in 1987.  It opens in October during the park's Halloscream weekends.

Park admission this year is $20.95.

Starchaser
is sold to Darien Lake (New York), which renames it Nightmare at Phantom Cave and installs new brakes and a computerized safety system.  It will only operate there for 2 seasons before being moved again, this time to The Great Escape (also in New York) where it's renamed Nightmare at Crack Axle Canyon.


1996:

Thrill Park Theater, a motion simulator ride, opens in part of the building which was used to house the Starchaser.

Top Eliminator Dragsters (an upcharge attraction) opens mid-season near Thunder Run.

Thunder Run, which has already undergone minor track re-profiling in an effort to make the ride smoother, gets a new yellow PTC train to replace the problematic (and much-less padded) red one.

Admission this year is $24.95.


1997:

Chang, a B&M stand-up coaster, is added. At the time of its opening, Chang held World Records as the tallest, longest and fastest stand-up roller coaster, as well as having the most inversions and the highest loop. 

Chang breaks its lift chain on the second day of operation.

The parking lot for the water park is closed because Chang is built on top of it.  The park entrance at Hurricane Bay is converted to a pass-through from the water park into the new area created around Chang.

Approximately $75 million dollars is invested in the park between 1990 and 1997.

On September 27, the park is sold to Premier Parks, Inc. for $64 million.

Admission this year is $24.95.

 


 Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom

1998:

On April 1, Premier Parks purchases Six Flags for $1.9 billion.

Twisted Sisters
, dueling CCI wooden coasters (with metal structure), opens mid-season near Thunder Run and Mile High Falls.  [This coaster was originally going to be called Double Trouble.]

The park is renamed Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom on June 21, 1998, a day after Twisted Sisters debuts.  It is the ninth Six Flags park.

The Squid is SBNO this season.


1999:

A Batman stunt show is added.

Penguin’s Blizzard River
, a Batman-themed white water rafting ride, opens mid-season (parts of this ride was originally Grizzly River Rampage at
Opryland, although most of the rafts were sent to AstroWorld).

A decision is apparently made by Premier to rename the newer section of the park
Gotham City, to rename T2 as Batman: The Ride and Chang as Riddler’s Revenge.   These changes are shown on park maps.  T2 is repainted from red to black and the souvenir shop at the ride's exit begins selling Batman: The Ride merchandise.  But at some point, they changed their minds!   T2 and Chang are never renamed.

Chang is repainted purple and yellow—the original all-yellow paint job didn’t stick correctly and began chipping off in its first year of operation.

On April 7, The Vampire’s brakes fail on the return trip to the station, causing the train to roll back and stall partially upside-down in the cobra roll.  Some guests are stuck hanging against their shoulder-harnesses for over 3 hours until fire-fighters with a "cherry-picker" are able to reach them.

The Vampire stalls again just 3 days later, although fortunately right-side-up near the second lift hill this time and guests are able to walk off of it.

Despite Vekoma coming on-site to work on the computer and brakes, the Vampire again rolls back into the cobra roll on June 4, stranding some riders upside down for as long as 4 hours.  Perhaps the Chinese were right about this ride being haunted :-)

After the season, the Vampire is moved to
Six Flags New England and renamed Flashback

The Squid is removed at the end of the season.

Attendance this year is 1.3 million.


2000:

Road Runner Express (Maurer Sohne Wilde Mous Classic steel wild mouse coaster) is added in the area vacated by The Vampire and The Squid.

Ed Hart’s “10 year plan” of heavy investment and expansion for the park ends.  No major new rides will be added for 3 years.


2001:

The Skycoaster (upcharge attraction) is added.

Attendance this year is 1.2 million.


2002:

The Slingshot (upcharge attraction) is added.

Twisted Sisters are renamed Twisted Twins after a member of the Twisted Sister rock band threatens to sue the park.

Admission this year is $34.99.  Parking is $4.00.

 

 


2003:

Greezed Lightnin' (Schwarzkopf steel Shuttle Loop roller coaster) is added.  This ride was originally installed as Tidal Wave at Great America (Chicago) from 1978 to 1991, then as Viper at Six Flags over Georgia from 1995 to 2001.

Thunder Run receives some re-tracking.

Slingshot is re-painted with an American Flag theme.

The track for Tin Lizzies is rerouted to make room for Greezed Lightnin'.

Slingshot is removed at the end of the season.

Super Heroes shop and Big Kahuna (swimwear store) are removed at the end of the season.

Admission this year is $35.99.  Parking is $4.00.
 


2004:

Stargate SG-3000 replaces Dinosphere in Thrill Park Theater.

Both sides of Twisted Twins get some re-tracking.

Rollerskater is repainted.

Several buildings and queues are repainted.

Name changes:

  o  Top Dog changed to Snack Shack
  o  Sunset Chillers changed to Sunset Strips
  o  Pizza Prima changed to Snack Factory
  o  Flags changed to Exclusively Flags
  o  Typhoon Tommy's Tubes changed to Typhoon Tube Rental
  o  Looney Tunes Amphitheater changed to Amphitheater

During the Kentucky State Fair in August, at which time the rides in Kentucky Kingdom become part of the fair's midway, it takes $7.00 worth of ride tickets to get on Greezed Lightnin', a 26-year-old roller coaster that has a ride time of 30 seconds.

Quake and is removed at the end of the season. 

Slingshot is moved to Six Flags New England for the 2005 season, but is not installed due to local government not approving the ride (then moved and installed at Elitch Gardens?)

Bavarian Beer Garden is removed at the end of the season.

Admission this year is $36.99.  Parking is $5.00.
 


2005:

Tornado (Proslide Tornado funnel shaped water slide that uses four person cloverleaf or two person "whirl wheel" tubes) is added in Hurricane Bay in Quake's former location.

Thunder Run and Twisted Twins get some re-tracking.

Hellevator is repainted.

Turbo Bungee is moved to Slingshot's former location.

Caricature Portraits is added.

Greezed Lightnin' gets new landscaping and the race car is moved to the area near Twisted Twins.

New entrance/exit and ride signs are added.

Name changes:

  o  Blizzard River Sno Cone changed to Blizzard River Shaved Ice
  o  Front Gate Photo changed to Six Flags Photo
  o  Goody Two Shoes changed to Top Dog
  o  Old Time Photo changed to Ashley's Antique Photo
  o  Paramarx Arena changed to Six Flags Arena
  o  Snack Chang changed to Chang Snacks
  o  Snack Shack changed to Goody Two Shoes
  o  Totally Tweety changed to Sugar Plum

Admission this year is $37.99.  Parking is $5.00.



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