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.