by Danny Miller
Here at COASTER-net.com, we have kept you very up to date and informed about the former Kentucky Kingdom park possibly being reopened, first by Ed Hart, and more recently by the Koch family that owns Holiday World. With the name “Bluegrass Boardwalk,” it seemed that perhaps the park had finally found the right people to get the park back up and running.
Coaster enthusiasts immediately started to discuss what could eventually be another great park, and of course it wouldn’t go without its fair share of hiccups, but it finally looked like Louisville would get their park back. The collection of existing rides, while not stellar, was enough to draw people to the park, whether they had been there under the Six Flags operation or not. The idea that free soft drinks, free sunscreen, free inner tubes, and low cost parking would be at the park just like Holiday World had theme park fans licking their chops.
As winter and spring went along, they had seemingly reached agreements with the Kentucky State Fair Board to lease the land and operate the park. The Koch’s announced that the park was going to be ready by May of 2013, just a little over a year from when they announced the news. Due to delays, they soon announced that the park would likely wait until 2014 to open, and it may not include the operation of the coasters.
Anyone who wasn’t already concerned about the partnership now was, with fear that these delays may lead to the end of something great before it even really began. As we all now know, just a few weeks ago, the Koch’s declared that they would no longer be pursuing the park, saying that they feel that leasing the park from the Fair Board would not be ideal for their business model that has been successful at Holiday World. Since then, all evidence of the Bluegrass Boardwalk website has vanished.
I will be honest when I say that I buy it. Holiday World is a fantastic park that I hope to visit for the first time in September. From what it seems to be like to me, Kentucky Kingdom requires a ton of work and money to get back into business. If there is any group that could bring this park back to its former glory, it certainly would be the Koch’s, but all good things need a bit of help and a little bit of luck, and that is something that just wasn’t happening for them. Increasing funds and obstacles seemed to become more trouble then it would have been worth.
As for where the park stands, I have a hard time seeing someone coming in and trying to get something going in the near future, especially considering the two most likely candidates for reopening it both struck out in less than a years time. I can’t see Cedar Fair going after it, considering they have the nearby Kings Island park, Cedar Point not far to the northeast, and Worlds Of Fun not too terribly far to the west in Kansas City. Six Flags obviously just sold the park a few years ago, so the odds of them stepping in are probably less than that of Wicked Twister toppling over on a clear, calm summer day.
It made sense for Holiday World and the Koch’s to step in though. A family owned park taking in another park nearby, which could slowly start to expand an already great fan base core. It is just too bad that things couldn’t be figured out to make this work, because there is no doubt in my mind that both the Koch’s and the Fair Board would have had a ton of money coming in.
As for the rides, we basically have Twisted Twins, Thunder Run, T2, and Greezed Lightnin’ along with a kiddie coaster. That is not a whole lot of big coasters to draw in a big name corporation or chain, but yet it is enough that it would cost a small company or family owned chain too much to come in and get the park back open. So at least in my opinion, I think we may have seen the last bit of smoke from the old Kentucky Kingdom park that we will see for a while, and it is a real shame because there is some great money to be made and great fans out there in Louisville yearning for a park.