by Danny Miller
I know this is a bit of older news, but I wanted to discuss this a little bit and give my thoughts on the Koch family’s recent acquisition of the former Kentucky Kingdom land that is now planned to open in May 2013.
The Koch's, who are world renowned for owning and operating Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana as one of the most successful parks in the world, have decided to “expand,” for lack of a better term, to the Louisville market. Last month, the Kentucky State Fair Board approved the lease agreement that will allow the Koch’s to operate the park formerly known as Kentucky Kingdom, which is slated to re-open as “Bluegrass Boardwalk.” The Koch’s have stated that they plan to implement many of the earmarks that appear at Holiday World, including free soft drinks, free sunscreen, and free inner-tube use for their water attractions.
Many people have become quite excited about the news, while others have seemed to become concerned about the park, asking numerous questions. “Will this ruin the reputation Holiday World has?” “What will the direction of the park be?” “Why do they need a second park when Holiday World is already so great?” These are just a few of the burning questions that have coaster enthusiasts and general fans buzzing about the recent news.
According to bluegrassboardwalk.com, the Koch’s have made what I consider to be a perfect analogy, describing the park as like having a second child. When a couple has a child, it is perfect, so why have another? At the same time, many people do have more children, and often many. Perhaps this is not the best route for the Koch’s, but I certainly am excited about them having a second park. After all, as the Koch’s stated that there would not be “cookie-cutter” rides appearing at their parks. Each park would instead consist of unique rides, giving guests (and maybe season pass holders that get entry to both parks, but I will comment on that later) reasons to visit both parks.
I agree with the move, personally. It gives the Koch’s an opportunity to try something new without completely starting from scratch. It is not totally known just yet what rides, if any, will leave the park prior to the opening, although at this point I would not expect anything to be removed immediately. Likewise, it has been rumored that they will be adding thrill rides to the park along with what is currently at the park, in order to “fill out” so to speak, the barren areas left by the rides that left at the end of the Six Flags era.
When you look at the big picture, I think this is a smart move to try and capitalize on the opportunity to take over a park that once was a direct competitor to the Holiday World market. After all, numerous theme park fans in Louisville have longed for their park to come back, and most certainly the majority have probably ventured to Kings Island for their fix. With the acquisition of this park, the Koch’s will not only draw in a Louisville market that they previously had struggles to reach, but they can also offer passes that will allow guests entry to both parks, which will likely lure in even more guests nearby Louisville.
Like any new park, there are still logistics to be worked out and things that need to be finalized before the park opens, but I would look for the Koch’s to really turn this park into a destination in the years to come, while still keeping the family atmosphere that Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari have become famous for.