After a super packed day at Kings Island for Banshee Bash we were able to get a little bit of sleep, but not too much as we had to depart at 6 AM for Kentucky Kingdom. Kentucky Kingdom was one of the parks I was really looking forward to when signing up for this trip. Six Flags had basically left this park to rot much like how they left my local Geagua Lake when they sold it to Cedar Fair. The park sat dormant since the end of the 2009 season and for years Ed Hart the former owner before the Six Flags era tried to get the park reopened. Finally in August 2012 it was announced Kentucky Kingdom would reopen in 2014. I never like to see a park close and getting to see one reopen is an awesome sight to see. I definitely wanted to make it out to Kentucky Kingdom this year just in case things didn’t go well, like Hard Rock Park which only lasted two seasons. Luckily things went better than expected and Kentucky Kingdom is going to continue to expand in 2015 and extend its operating season by about 15 days. So will I be returning to Kentucky Kingdom in 2015? Let’s find out!
We’ve arrived just a little bit early so we have to wait around for the park crew to arrive for our morning ERT.
The park is on Kentucky fairgrounds property and there appears to be convention centers that share the parking lot.
Almost looks like a mall, but that’s the Exposition Center.
We also must be very close to the Louisville Airport.
Park staff has arrived for ERT! Ed Hart on the right talking to Robb on the left about the park.
Ed Hart was awesome and took suggestions from us on what we’d like to see Kentucky Kingdom become in the future. He also was wondering if Twisted Twins should be rehabbed or to be torn down. We told him go with whatever Rocky Mountain Construction tells you to do. Those guys are geniuses. He also explained the reasoning behind selecting Lightning Run as the new attraction for this year.
Joe Draves of Ride Centerline the designer of Lightning Run also showed up to greet us today. He told us when he designed the coaster he made sure not a ounce of track was wasted and it’s high thrills all throughout. He said he can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks of the coaster.
And we’re in the park! Of course gotta grab a picture of the new sign.
Zoom out photo of the entrance, hmm there’s still six flag poles.
That’s a nifty name for a drink stop.
Is that Lightning Run behind those trees?
It is! Sadly it was having some morning issues so looks like we’re heading to Thunder Run first.
Everyone was a little bummed Lightning Run was down at the moment but Thunder Run has been getting some great reviews this year as well so we still have a good coaster lined up.
Neat little theming of the food places around the water-park section.
And here we are!
Ah ha! There’s the entrance.
Thank goodness there’s no line.
Moonshine you say?
Thunder Run was a coaster that was built the first time Ed Hart reopened Kentucky Kingdom in 1990. He must like the Thunder and Lightning names. Since the coaster sat dormant for about three and half years Rocky Mountain Construction was brought in to do a massive re-tracking of the ride. How’s the result? Amazing! The coaster feels like new again and it’s 24 years old! Hopefully RMC can have a similar effect on Twisted Twins when they take that on for 2016 at the park.
Everyone is all smiles on the return.
So let’s go for a ride!
Leaving the station and wrapping around to the lift.
Climbing the lift.
And what a smooth fun first drop.
Here’s a wide shot of the lift and first drop.
Thunder Run wraps around the station before heading into an airtime filled finale in the back half of the ride.
After a few more twists and turns and some amazing bunny hops taken at high speed it’s back to the station.
What a fun high speed airtime filled ride, wonder how Lightning Run compares!
The Legend indeed, except that Amy and Connor are badass and don’t you forget it! 😛
Back to Lightning Run.
Ooh twisty track.
The seats are very similar to Rocky Mountain trains with a very similar restraint system.
The lift isn’t too tall but it climbs it very fast.
The back definitely gives you the best whip down the first drop.
Who’s ready for that first drop?
Surprisingly steep and quick drop.
The second hill provides some great airtime.
The train then proceeds into the turnaround.
And it is sharp.
Meanders around while providing some great airtime.
Has some nice track interactions.
Then the coaster dives down into some amazing direction changes.
You think you’re heading one way, and then the train jerks you another way.
On the way back to the station you experience some great bunny hops that provide amazing air.
Just look at that hair time.
Then the train hits the brakes. Whew that’s an incredible ride. Joe was right not an ounce of track was wasted, the coaster never let’s up! The girl in the back row sure looks like she enjoyed it.
A zoomed out look at Lightning Run from the bridge that crosses the road.
And here’s a closer look at the station and the lift.
Lightning Run is incredible! I’m never been overseas yet so I’ve not had the chance to ride an Intamin Mega-Lite. Intamin is my favorite coaster manufacturer so I do hope to ride one of theses someday. That being said Lightning Run is North America’s first crack at the Mega-Lite concept. Yeah it’s not an Intamin coaster, but it’s got plenty of the same elements that make a Mega-Lite great such as amazing air, a short but sweet first drop, and incredible directional changes. My friend Paul who has ridden one Mega-Lite actually preferred Lightning Run to it and we all agreed that Lightning Run was amazing. Chance Rides who built the coaster called this model the Hyper GT-X which is an amazing ride for a budget price. I really hope the success that I’m sure Lightning Run will receive brings more GT-X models to parks in the future. This is the perfect ride for the reopening of Kentucky Kingdom and makes a great pair with Thunder Run. This is definitely a top ten coaster and has a pretty solid spot in my own top ten at number five currently. Anyway here’s a few more shots I got of the ride.
Ryan and Laura from TPR enjoying a front row ride on Lightning Run.
Hey put that phone away!
After our morning ERT session, Andy and I were determined to ride Deep Water Dive the tallest body slide in the USA. (It beats Summit Plummet at Blizzard Beach by a mere 1 foot) So we changed real quick and headed over to Hurricane Bay first thing at park opening. We were worried about a long wait but we were the first two up the stairs ready to conquer the slide for the day. It’s a very intimidating height and a pretty awesome view at the top. I let Andy go first and then I took the plunge. While scary still, it’s an incredible slide and we rode it three times that day before the line starting building up. I personally think Deep Water Dive is way more thrilling than Verruckt, and I let Kentucky Kingdom management know that. This is definitely a staple attraction for their water park.
Time to check out this monster of a slide!
You create quite a splash as you come down the slide.
Andy and I walking back to conquer the slide. Photo Credit: Stacy Gracinin
We wave hello when we reach the top of the slide. Photo Credit: Stacy Gracinin
The top of the slide has a drop capsule so the scarier part is the anticipation of when the floor beneath you is going to drop out and then you proceed down the slide.
Once the floor opens it’s a steep drop down 121 feet!
Here we go! Photo Credit: Andy Hatzos
You reach high speeds on the way down. Photo Credit: Andy Hatzos
And whoa! That’s an adrenaline rush. Photo Credit: Andy Hatzos
Another look at the slide complex that consists of Deep Water Dive.
So instead of stealing Disney’s name of Summit Plummet how about we reverse those?
This is Plummet Summit also new this year but we didn’t ride it so not sure how it is.
Hurricane Bay is right in the middle of the park and you can see Thunder Run and another coaster from it.
That other coaster would be T2 soon to be called T3 opening up in 2015 with a new paint job and new trains.
The water park looks like it has a great collection of slides.
Besides Deep Water Dive we also checked out Deluge, the last major addition Six Flags put into the park before abandoning it.
Deluge is a water coaster with LIM launchers to get you back up the hills. LIMs are Linear Induction Motors that are powered by magnets. So each raft consists of magnets on them and they are propelled up the hills.
It was our first magnet water coaster experience and provided a great preview as to what was to come later in the week at Holiday World. As you can see the rafts come off the slide a little bit providing great air time.
The water park also has a ProSlide Tornado. *Yawn*
And a kids area like every other one, with a giant bucket. *Yawn*
Dumps a bunch of water just like every other one. *Yawn*
The wave pool looks fun however. That’s a clone that’s always a good time.
The new areas are where the park shines however and that’s back over by Deep Water Dive, complete with a lazy river that goes under the slide.
Lifeguard making sure no one drowns.
The river is nice and wide and looks pretty fun.
Also instead of rafts in this river, they give you noodles instead.
In the old lazy river is where you get the rafts.
Oooh more slides!
And yet another slide!
A nice sign telling you to check your weight?
Appears slide lifeguards wear blue where pool ones wear red. Nifty.
Hurricane Bay also has a pretty fancy…
….bar. Pretty neat huh?
The massive Ferris wheel as seen from inside Hurricane Bay.
After checking out Hurricane Bay it was time for some lunch!
But first let’s get a picture with Jaws!
Plenty of space, and nice tables.
After lunch it was time to get the last credit at the park. Roller Skater!
The cars are shaped like skates. Pretty cool.
Standard family coaster, nothing special but fun.
Everyone looks super excited.
The trash cans in the park are very clean looking.
The carousel located right by the Roller Skater. Didn’t get a ride but looked like fun.
Time to check out the 5D Cinema.
Located in Stage 6.
Pre show area for the 5D theater. Standard action theater stuff, but cool to see one of these still around. The film was Rio, which was just clips from the film synced to motion. Nothing new here.
Would have loved to catch a ride on these as they offer great views of Lightning Run, just ran out of time. 😦
We had saved the last of our time for one last ride.
These Larson drop towers are incredible. Quick forcefull drop, would love to see even a taller version of these.
And down we go! Quick exhilarating drop.
It was quite hot outside so I asked for a water and this is the size I was given. Awesome! Cedar Fair and Six Flags could learn something from this, instead of offering what I like to call water “shots”.
Time to move on to the next park!
And that concludes our morning/afternoon at Kentucky Kingdom. Great to see the park up and running again. So glad to hear that their first season was better than expected, and that they’ll be adding more attractions and more operating days for next season. I’ll most likely be returning in 2015 to get more rides on the incredible Lightning Run and see what’s new for 2015.