It finally appears that after all its years of dormancy and trouble, Kentucky Kingdom is officially a survivor. Back in April the Kentucky State Fair Board gave Ed Hart and his developers two months, until June 27th, to secure the finances needed to open the park. As of June 25th, a spokeswoman for the board said Kentucky Kingdom LLP had officially been able to finalize that financing according to WHAS 11 News.
Over the past three years, Kentucky Kingdom has been standing but not operating (SBNO), locked in an epic battle between the Kentucky State Fair Board and potential developers and operators for the park. Ed Hart has on several occasions since 2010 come along with multiple plans to revive the park, but all seemed to fall flat or get thwarted. Even the Koch family, owners of the nearby, highly successful Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari. But there plans to revive the park as Bluegrass Boardwalk were also derailed due to “too much red tape.” Ultimately, the park’s state of disrepair in conjunction with difficult lease negotiations seemed to spell the final doom for the park.
During this past year though, Hart has made a strong push to revive the park in what was seen as Kentucky Kingdom’s final shot at survival. With time ticking away, it didn’t seem like it would happen, but it has finally become official. A lot of rides have deteriorated over the past three years, and several others, including the star B&M Chang roller coaster, are gone, but plans are in place to begin working on the park immediately to have much of the park up and running for a May 2014 reopening.
According to the Huffington Post, plans are to have a new steel roller coaster and a big expansion to the Hurricane Bay water park as part of the 2014 reopening. Hart and his operators are hoping for somewhere in the range of 700,000 to 1 million guests the first year. The team will be investing $36 million into next year, $12 million of which will be spent doubling Hurricane Bay, $7 million on the new coaster, and the rest on renovating the buildings and rides at the park. Hurricane Bay’s expansion will include 3 new slide complexes, a 12,000 square foot wave lagoon, and an adventure river that moves six times faster than the current lazy river. No word has been given on what the new coaster will be, but the park plans to have such major attractions as the Thunder Run wooden coaster, Mile High Falls, the 150-foot Giant Wheel, Thrill Park Theater, and rapid river raft ride open next year.
After that, the investors have another $7.5 million planned for the following 2 years. For 2015, Kentucky Kingdom will see a makeover to its Vekoma SLC coaster, T2, and 2016 will apparently see an upgrade to the parks intertwined Twisted Twins wooden coasters. According to the press release, they plan to continue introducing new attractions each season, with an obligation in the lease to “invest as much as $2.5 million each year for as many as 70 years,” according to Hart.
With a target reopening in just over 10 months, there is a lot of work and a long journey ahead. Hart stated that frequent progress updates will continue to be posted on the parks website.
This weekend Cedar Point celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Cedar Point and Lake Erie Railroad. During this celebration, Cedar Point is highlighting the long standing tradition and history that the railroad has at the amusement park. The event started with a dedication given in front of the Main Station and continues through the weekend with self guided tours of the engine house.
The railroad opened in 1963 through the work of then president George Roose. However, it was not as easy to accomplish. After scouring the country, two steam engines were found that could fit the purpose for what Cedar Point needed. Maud L. and Albert would open the 1963 season as Cedar Point's first railroad locomotives. Since then, the park now operates five locomotives and is one of the few parks that utilizes coal fired steam locomotives. The train would be an especially important part of Cedar Point with the opening of Frontiertown in 1970. At this time, the railroad represented only one of two ways to actually reach the new area with the other being the now defunct Frontier Lift sky ride. That year, the CP & LE Railroad delivered 4.5 million rides to the guests of Cedar Point.
Throughout the years many engines have come and gone. However possibly the most interesting story is that of the most traveled train and newest at Cedar Point. The now named G.A. Boeckling was originally used as a coal mining train but eventually came under the ownership of Marriott's Great America in Gurnee Il in 1980. In 1984, it sold to the private ownership of Bill Norad who eventually traded it to Disneyland in 1996. In 1997, it traveled to Disney World eventually being put on display at EPCOT. In 1999, Cedar Point traded their original engine, Maud L. for it. It stayed at Cedar Point until the 2007 season where it traveled to Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA. It's current home is back at Cedar Point when it returned from Knott's in 2010.
Today, the train is still an important part of the Cedar Point landscape. The fifteen minute ride that traverses two miles of track has served over 116 million guests over its 50 year history. According to Brian Smith, former Assistant Supervisor of the railroad at Cedar Point, the CP & LE offers something different for families and enthusiasts. When asked what in specific he says, "you get beautiful views of the bay and get to go see some of the behind of the scenes parts of the coasters that you might not be able to see any other way." He also adds that this railroad is special because "you get the full experience of being able to smell the coal smoke and the oil. It's a nice way to relax or end your day at a great coaster park like Cedar Point." Like Brian, we hope that the CP & LE Railroad keeps on chugging for another fifty years.
Thunderbolt- whom was immortalized in Woody Allen’s 1977 film “Annie Hall” and then torn down in 2000 to make room for the Mets’ minor-league Brooklyn Cyclones, is making an appearance once again in New York. Reported by the New York Post and The New York Observer, the ride will be rebuilt as a steel coaster by Zamperla USA and will cost $10 million.
The new and improved Thunderbolt will feature a 125 foot drop, a corkscrew, will be 2,000 feet in length, and will travel 5 mph faster than Cyclone at 65 mph. Valerio Ferrari- president of Zamperla USA, said the ride will be “a perfect complement to the Cyclone and can help bring Coney Island back to one of the top tourist destinations in the world.” The ride will run three trains, each holding up to nine passengers.
The ride is set to open to the public next summer and will be located at Steeplechase Plaza in a vacant lot on West 15th Street. The ride will be contracted through Central Amusement International, operators of Luna Park and Scream Zone. “There’s nothing like it in Coney Island right now, and people are going to love it,” said Mr. Ferrari.
The anticipation of what was going to be coming to Busch Gardens Tampa has been accumulating for months. The park has been throwing out hint after hint and most amusement park lovers and enthusiasts were expecting a tower type ride like the one that opened in Williamsburg. Today Busch Gardens in Tampa announced the arrival of Falcon's Fury. Guests are in for a treat as it will be the first of its kind drop tower. The drop tower will be the tallest freestanding tower ride in North America.
According to the release, the park's new thrill ride is supposed to mimic a falcon swooping down at massive speeds to prey on some small animal for its meal. The ride will raise you over 300 feet and then what happens next is something that will excite even the bravest of enthusiasts. The tower train will then tilt 90 degrees where you will be face down toward the ground. The train will then drop and you will free fall toward earth at 60 MPH in a death defying position. The ride is expected to be built this off-season and be open for 2014 season. The ride will be located in the Timbuktu region