A deserted amusement park is not only disheartening to the economy, but also a negative image to those with fond memories from its previous times. Luckily for Kentucky Kingdom, it has received a new lease on life – literally.
As COASTER-net reported less than two weeks ago, Bluegrass Boardwalk, Inc was the latest company to look into the abandoned former Six Flags park. Bluegrass Boardwalk is made up of the Koch family of Holiday World fame.
Well, the Kentucky State Fair Board unanimously approved a lease for Bluegrass Boardwalk, Inc on Thursday, February 24th, 2012. With the lease approved, the company must now secure financing.
According to WLKY, a Louisville news outlet, it is this step where past attempts to obtain the park have fallen short. The state is unable to provide funding and other companies haven’t been able to manage the massive undertaking.
Bluegrass Boardwalk insists it’s not interested in state money, though. Instead, the company intends to apply for state tax incentives, according to WDRB, another Louisville news outlet. This would provide the Koch family with some reimbursement for its investment as well as some tax breaks.
The Koch family is aiming to invest $15 million to $20 million initially. The park has been abandoned since 2009, and they are hoping to get work crews in as soon as this spring.
"It's like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. All it needs is a lot of love, compassion and tenderness and we'll make it shine," Bluegrass Boardwalk President Dan Koch said, according to WHAS11. "There are pieces we can fix, or we wouldn't be doing this."
Opening the park would create 800 seasonal jobs and several full time positions. Mayor Greg Fischer told WDRB, “Our goal is to keep this open and get people employed and get our community enjoying it.”
The lease has a 50-year term with base rent starting at $400,000, and increasing every year thereafter and the Kentucky Exposition center getting small percentages after the park makes so much. Further details can be found at wave3.
And Holiday World fans need not worry – all of their favorite amenities are still going to be free.
“We’re bringing our business model of exceptional safety, cleanliness, friendliness and value for families,” Natalie Koch said in the Bluegrass Boardwalk, Inc press release. “That means free soft drinks, free sunscreen and free use of inner tubes.”
The only people more excited than fans are probably the Kochs.
“We can’t wait to get started!” Dan Koch also said in the press release. “We’ve got a lot of work to do to get the park reopened in just 15 months, but we’ll get it done.”
Bluegrass Boardwalk is set to open May 2013.
Yet another chapter is unfolding in the seemingly never-ending saga of Kentucky Kingdom. The owners of Holiday World, the Koch family, have put together a team and formed a new company named Bluegrass Boardwalk and are currently working with Kentucky State Fair Board.
The story began in 2010 when Six Flags closed Kentucky Kingdom after negotiations dealing with the park's lease fell through. Since then there have been many proposals and plans to reopen the park, but unfortunately none of them have come to fruition. This could all change soon with the latest plan brought forth by Bluegrass Boardwalk, Incorporated.
According to Theme Park Tourist and the Bluegrass Boardwalk website the plan being put forth by the Koch family would require no public money from the Kentucky Legislature. Instead, the Al J. Schneider company hotel firm has reportedly offered to help finance the project.
The Koch family team is made up of Holiday World president Dan Koch, his sister Natalie Koch, their cousin Kathy Kamp, and her husband, Michael Kamp, who is a General Manager at Holiday World. The trio of Dan, Natalie and Kathy are all grandchildren of Holiday World’s founder, Louis J. Koch.
If all of these plans go through the earliest the park could possibly open is 2013. Until then, you can follow the proceedings every step of the way through http://BluegrassBoardwalk.com, on Facebook: http://Facebook.com/BluegrassBoardwalk and via Twitter: @BluegrassBwalk . And of course, we will be covering the news every step of the way so check back often!
A new development has occurred in the roller coaster story surrounding the struggles for revival of the Kentucky Kingdom amusement park, now SBNO for the past two years. After numerous attempts by Ed Hart and others being brought up, the Fair Board has continually shot them down and has all but eliminated him from the picture, despite always commenting that they want nothing more than to see the park open again.
According to the Courier-Journal, it now appears that the Koch family, owners and operators of Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, are seeking rights to operate Kentucky Kingdom. Local website InsiderLouisville.com first broke the story when the Koch’s issued a response to an inquiry by the website, and it appears they are looking to grow their business in amusement parks by looking towards Kentucky Kingdom. They also reported “the process is still in the fact-finding stage; no decisions have been made by the Kochs whether to pursue this opportunity.”
The Fair Board’s main concern remains getting $20 million from the General Assembly in 2012, despite their tight budget. Ed Hart, who owned Kentucky Kingdom for nearly a decade prior to 2000, returned after the park closed with efforts to get it operational again, and first began pursuing money from the General Assembly last year. He secured the arrangement of $20 million in bank loans from the Al J. Schneider Company, plus $3 million of his loan, he just needed $20 million from the General Assembly to get the park open. Despite his efforts, things just wouldn’t work out, and then in September, the Fair Board announced it was ending talks with Hart, essentially throwing him out of the picture.
Though they haven’t made any offers, they have confirmed that it’s a path they’ve been looking into pursuing.
After long being speculated, Six Flags has formally announced that Kentucky Kingdom will not reopen for the 2010 season. The company has decided not to renew a lease it had with the Kentucky State Fair Board after both sides were unable to come to terms of a new lease.
"We are deeply disappointed to be leaving such a great fan base in the greater metropolitan area of Louisville and we are grateful to the thousands of employees at Kentucky Kingdom and the millions of guests for their dedication, support and loyalty over the years,” Mark Sharpio announced. However, he also stated that this closure would solely relate to the Kentucky Kingdom park and that the rest of the parks will not be affected. This announcement comes while Six Flags is restructuring its company.
The Louisville park was opened on May 23rd, 1987 and operated for 22 years. It was originally operated by During that time period, it operated nine roller coasters, including Vampire, which is now Flashback at Six Flags New England, T2, America's first SLC, and Chang, a large stand-up now in storage at Six Flags Great America. The fate of the rest of the rides, including T2, are unknown, though Six Flags states they have intentions to relocate the rides and full-time employees of the park to any of Six Flag's other locations.
Sad but true, rumors of Chang's demise have been proven true as the deconstruction process began this past weekend. The ride had a good run at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. When the ride opened at the park back in 1997 it stole all of the records previously help by Cedar Point's Mantis in the stand-up coaster category. Indeed Chang was the tallest, fastest, longest, and loopiest stand-up coaster ever built and still places #2 in all of those categories behind only Riddler's Revenge.
But alas, the ride is over, at least for SFKK. Unfortunately this is just the most recent in a long line of problems that have befallen the Louisville theme park. Back in 2007 the park's Intamin freefall tower, Superman Tower of Power malfunctioned when a cable snapped and subsequently severed a 16 year old girl's feet. The incident set the park in a negative light that it has still not managed to over come. But the problems would not end there.
One of the most unique ride's at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, Twisted Twins, did not open with the park for the 2008 season. It was said that the twin tracked duelling woody which opened in 1998 needed some extra time to completely repair and refurbish the ride. As things would turn out however, the ride remained standing but not operating all summer. This year Twisted Twins and the Northwest Territory that encompasses failed to open yet again.
And now this. Chang, the most popular ride at the park, is being dismantled as I type. There is some marginally good news to this story. It is rumored that Chang will not die but simply be shipped off to another park in the Six Flags chain, the leading candidate of which at the moment appears to be Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, IL. The other good news is that the removal of Chang is making way for the largest waterpark expansion in the history of Splashwater Kingdom. To be honest though the big picture does not look good for Kentucky Kingdom and many enthusiasts are already drawing comparisons to the now defunct Guega Lake.
A gruesome accident left a girl without feet and onlookers in shock at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom this evening when a cable snapped on the Superman: Tower of Power freefall ride.
Around 4:45 p.m., one of the thrill ride's five four-passenger cars was just reaching the top of its vertical tower when a frayed elevator-like cable gave way, according to witnesses at the bottom.
The car plunged towards the ground at its top speed of 54 m.p.h.
The ride would have ended without incident in its magnetic brakes had it not been for the stray cable swinging towards the falling car and wrapping around one rider's legs –– brutally severing both feet at the ankle.
The victim, 13 years old, was taken to a local hospital. Her condition has yet to be released as of Thursday night.
Superman was immediately shut down as an investigation seeks answers into today's accident –– the first and only of its kind known to have occurred on any freefall ride.
Superman: Tower of Power holds a place in history as the first modern freefall tower of its kind, a Giant Drop model from Intamin AG of Switzerland. The ride originally opened in 1995 as Hellavator but received a new name and coat of paint this season.
Superman's location directly inside Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom's main entrance and its locally unchallenged height of 177 feet make the red tower one of the theme park's most prominent, widely recognized attractions.
Now, that ride sits dormant "indefinitely" as the investigation looks for clues as to how today's tragedy could have occurred.
Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom has formally announced that the park will be adding a Schwarzkopf shuttle-loop coaster for the 2003 season.
The coaster, which formerly operated at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois and Six Flags over Georgia in Austell, Georgia, will be renamed Greezed Lightnin' and placed near the front of Kentucky Kingdom.
Greezed Lightnin' is expected to open with the park on April 5th, 2003.