Expedition '02 : Kentucky Kingdom

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Thursday, August 8, 2002 6:54 PM
This park has probably received more negative comments than any other since these boards were created, and some of that criticism has been mine. KK still has a long way to go, but it's finally making some progress.







Entry. From I75 or I64, take Watterson Expwy to Crittenden Drive and turn into the parking lot. Seems easy enough but with 75 mph traffic changing lanes catching the correct turn can be tricky. If you think the parking lot is huge now, imagine it before they carved the park out of the original. Surely this is the least inviting amusement park entrance in America : stone walls and barbed wire. It looks like a federal penitentiary. Who are they trying to keep in or out ? Nine ticket windows and one open with a mile long line.



This park was born when the State Fairgrounds Commission decided the five big carnival companies all charged too much for a yearly state fair midway so they would create their own. After the 20 day Fair closed someone noticed that now the whole setup would sit idle for 49 weeks. They tried to run it as an amusement park, but it lost money and needed a tax dollar bailout. While this went on, they also created a water park across the four lane highway. After a red ink decade they put the two up for sale. Enter Six Flags. They bought both, built a footbridge between them, and added major rides on both sides of the road. They also dug up some of the asphalt and did some landscaping. The young trees have finally matured enough to provide a little shade and green, and a few flower beds help with color. But there's still too much asphalt.



Rides. KK has always been confused about which rides are its best. It heavily advertises the wrong ones and keeps the best a secret. It also hires three ride op crews to run four rides so anywhere in the park one of four rides is always down on a rotating basis. For those of us who ride everything, this requires repeated crisscrossing to catch idle rides when they are reactivated.



But my biggest problem with KK is that it charges a Ride All Day price, then charges extra for eight rides. That policy is abusive wherever it is used, but eight is the worst I've seen.



Chang is KK's heavily hyped standup, 4000 ft. long and 154 ft. high. T2 is your generic suspended. They're both only average.



Twisted Cousins. Dueling woodies. Clever design, steep drops, quick turns, good speed, some air, and smoother than most wood. This is really an underappreciated ride. Were it in a more popular park, it would get a lot more attention. Each train offers its own personality and a reasonably long ride.







Roller Skate. KK's version of Woodstock Express. Doesn't beat WE, but offers a smooth ride with quick drops and turns. Too short.







Thunder Run. KK should promote this as its signature ride. It makes a stop at KK worthwhile, and deserves its own chapter in a coaster design text. Various coasters have their own flavors, and this one features Flat Out Speed. It is unusual in that it has one lift hill and really only one drop. The entire rest of the course is bunny hops and helices, making it almost a horizontal ride. But that one drop is a hairy one, surpassed only by the Legend. And our laser gun indicates that this coaster maintains a higher speed more consistently for a longer time than any other woodie out there. For example, they had to move the trackside camera back to the final turn because everything up until then was a blur. Yet, this is not a rough ride. The cars are well upholstered bottom, back and side; the lap bars and hand grips are heavily padded; the wheel tolerances, car couplers and track spans are very precise; and the bends are intensely banked. The result is no lateral Gs, whiplashing or knee banging. You alternate grabbing air and careening into intense turns, so you get a workout, but you don't come off with a headache or sore muscles.



The only ride which approaches this consistent speed throughout is HW's Raven. Somebody should call Discovery or Travel.



Roadrunner. This isn't the highest, steepest, fastest, longest or scariest rodent coaster out there. But it is definitely the best and most extensively themed. We counted over 100 Coyote and Roadrunner statues, buildings, scenes, artifacts and backdrops, and took several photographs. It's smoother than most of its brethren and has more comfortable cars.



KK has built a really attractive ride mix other than coasters.



Vekoma Giant Wheel. Ferris wheels are becoming an endangered species, and this one shows what a mistake that is. It is a magnificent wheel, offering great views of downtown Louisville, the airport and the park. Gondolas with facing benches give a long and smooth ride. KK's emblem should feature this coaster and Thunder Run.



Adult Carousel. This is only a three row model, but is unique with its galloping roosters and bears, rocking sleighs, and rotating gazebos. It has intricate detail and a good sound quality.



Turbo Bungee. Bizarre experience. You're harnessed to long bungee cables hanging from high poles, and step onto a large trampoline. The effect is to magnify your jumping ability. You end up soaring and flipping 20 to 30 feet in the air.



Go Karts. Smaller karts but longer track and much longer ride cycle than CP.



Slingshot. Two riders are strapped into a wire basket suspended from two bungee cables hanging from extremely high towers. They crank up the tension and fire you into the air. Then you bounce up and down for a few minutes, spinning around all the while.



Rafting River. The most extensively themed rafting ride anywhere, to the motif of Penguin in Batman. Unfortunately, the land is flat here, and while the average rafting drop is 10 ft., this is only six. There's no speed, and the only excitement is from waterfalls and waterguns.



Kiddieland. Nicely done. Our rugrat delegation thought the Pounce Bounce, Daffy Ferris Wheel and Kiddie Carousel were the best rides. Carousel is unique in that rather than animals it has musical instruments; you can ride a violin, a saxophone or a sousaphone.



Water Park. As a standalone, this would be merely average, but as an inside the park attraction, it ranks among the best, especially the wave pool. A lazy river is only 1000 ft. long, but the slides make up for it.



Scooters. The round floor eliminates the corner pockets, but this is too small. Unique ceiling is a grate instead of metal plating, and transmits consistent current. Scooter Nazi (elderly woman ride op) stops the ride to lecture drivers on proper techniques, shoos kids off the railings, and fusses at teenage girls who show their belly buttons.



Drag Race. You strap yourself into propane fueled slingshot racing car and explode down a quarter mile track in a cloud of burning rubber, while light strip compares your time to competitors. As much fun to watch as ride.



Breakdance. A Scrambler on steroids. A smooth ride with a long cycle.



Flying Dutchman. Circle swing ride themed as wooden shoes. Cute.



The other rides are routine versions of those seen everywhere : Drop, Pirate Ship, Turnpike, Rainbow, Enterprise, Quake, Bus, Boat Plunge, Balloons, Skycoaster and Climbing Wall.



Shops. Reasonable prices but very generic merchandise.



Games. Outrageous prices for cliche games. $6 for one game of Wacka Mole ?



Food. KK spent its money on theming restaurants very nicely but the food is overpriced and bland.



Staff. Not professional. Mostly high school students who give little evidence of training or supervision. The coasters have the best ride ops.



Himalaya. This justifies a whole separate block because it's the most bizarre scene I've ever witnessed at a park. This is a basic tilted circle speed ride, themed to rap music. The ride ops are inner city cool and really into the sound track. Half of their riders are inner city teenagers who know the words and the movements. The ride ops let the riders know as long as they keep their hands pointing and swinging and their bodies swaying to the beat the ride will continue. Pretty soon the kids in line are joining in and the whole place is a big party while the ride continues at top speed. I timed cycles at 11:00, 9:30, 9:00 and several 8:00s. Meanwhile, parents with kids or other riders who just happened by stagger off with eyes glazed, holding on to the railing. This is clearly a Happenin' and the place to be in the evenings. I shudder to think what a supervisor at CP, KW or Disney would think of such a scene.



Conclusion. This place is beginning to have some potential and justifies an annual stop. It still has problems but four good and two average coasters and half a dozen other legitimate attractions are worth the annoyance. And you can always sit on a bench, sip a soft drink and watch the entertainment at the Himalayan.

*** This post was edited by Trekker Park on 8/8/2002. ***

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Friday, August 9, 2002 12:15 AM
Funny that I hardly agree with anything you said. :-)

Chang is excellent and extremely underrated, IMO. It's everything Mantis should be.

Twisted Sisters is the worst CCI creation I've ridden and is a complete bore. It's rough, painful, and uninteresting. I'd rather ride Thunder Run once than TS all day.

Penguin's Blizzard River is the second best rapids ride out there (behind IOA's Popeye). The theming is incredible and I thought the ride felt *quite* fast. If only it were a bit longer.

The rest of the park is very forgettable. :-)

-Nate

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Friday, August 9, 2002 4:52 AM

I agree with most of what Trekker said. However, I really enjoy Chang. It's my favorite B&M standup (better than Mantis, IMO).

Thunder Run is a fantastic ride. The one train operation can make for lines long on weekends, however (I hear they're trying to modify the coaster for 2 trains).

I think Twisted Twins a good coaster, but doesn't stack up to other CCI's I've ridden (Raven, Legend, Villian). A bit on the short side, and rough in some spots. The dueling aspect adds a little bit to it, though.

KK would do themselves a favor if they would remove T2 (Vekoma SLC) and install a new, world class coaster (Intamin Impulse, anyone??). I'll continue to be a SFKK season pass holder simply to enjoy Chang and Thunder Run. I just hope SF doesn't neglect KK much longer in the coaster department.

Good trip report, Trekker!

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Friday, August 9, 2002 7:56 AM
I don't think we really disagree. I didn't say Chang was a bad coaster; I only said it didn't live up to the hype, and doesn't rank up there with the best standups. Its best feature is its length. There's nothing else it does that causes you to say, "This is the best feature of this kind that I've experienced anywhere."



I, too, would rather ride Thunder Run than the Twisteds. But I've ridden some pretty rough woodies and I didn't think either of the twins was bad. As far as boring, I thought T2 was lots more boring than the twins. I certainly don't think the twins come close to Raven, Legend, any of KW's three, CP's two or PKI's three. However, I stand by my statement that I still think it's a pretty good coaster and does not get the credit it deserves.



As far as the river, I specifically said it was the best themed river rafting ride any of us have ever seen. However, it's also the shortest, slowest (mostly because the total water drop is the least), least intricate, and least exciting.



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Friday, August 9, 2002 8:03 AM

Agreed, Trekker, Twisted Sisters and Thunder Run are both VERY underrated. Twisted Sisters is no Gwazi but it gives a fairly intense ride nonetheless. And Thunder Run is one of the best, if not the best, woodie outside of Holiday World and PKI (where my top 4 woodies reside).

I thought Chang was great, but the wait was too long and the crew was too terrible for a second ride. I thought it lacked the intensity of Mantis, though.

Road Runner was the surprise of my visit. It's the only mouse I've ridden besides CP's Wildcat (not sure if that's a mouse but whatever it is it sucks) but it has me looking for wild mouse coasters wherever I go now.

Crews, though....By far, hands down, without a doubt the WORST ride op crews of any park I've ever set foot in. That alone will prevent me from visiting again for a few years at least.

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PLEASE READ: This post wasn't meant to offend or anger anyone; I apologize in advance if it does. So please don't post a reply just to rant about it. :)

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Friday, August 9, 2002 8:07 AM

I think that if the Twisted Ts were at another park or on another plot of land, they would be held in much higher regard. A little grease wouldn't hurt, either. :)

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"When will you stop all your buzzing?" - The Flaming Lips "Oh My Pregnant Head"

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Friday, August 9, 2002 9:29 AM
I honestly haven't had a bad time ever at Kentucky Kingdom and although the smoker's in line were beginning to drive me insane, I still loved Thunder Run and had good rides on T2 and Twister Twins. The original Roller Skater can't be missed either and I like that one quite a bit. The park is pretty nice to go to for a few hours and I'm glad you felt it was improving. Nice trip report!

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Danny
Movie Coaster and Enthusiast White Pages Directory

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Friday, August 9, 2002 10:40 AM

chris, they don't use grease at SFKK....they just have the patrons spit out their chewing tobacco "stuff" on the tracks....;)

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Friday, August 9, 2002 10:53 AM

KK - I've enjoyed both of my visits, as well.

gator - Thanks for reminding me. I have a picture that I need to share with everyone. Hopefully before the end of the day today.

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"When will you stop all your buzzing?" - The Flaming Lips "Oh My Pregnant Head"

*** This post was edited by chris on 8/9/2002. ***

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Friday, August 9, 2002 11:28 AM
6 bucks for a game. That's horrible.

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-Sean

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Friday, August 9, 2002 12:25 PM

Trekker: I think you need to hit the books on your Kentucky Kingdom history. Six Flags had NOTHING to do with creating that footbridge business. And frankly, I doubt that there were EVER two distinct parks. I nice little article that I read a few years ago ( http://www.louisville.com/loumag/jun97/hart.htm ) does a much better job than you "Trekking" though the park's history (as well as introducing you to the developer who eventually sold the park to Premier).

As for your "opinions", if you believe TR carries its speed so well (I personally do not) you should check out the Hurler coasters @ PKD and Carowinds. Similar layout, but higher lift heights give greater initial speeds.

And Chang rocks without a second thought to be had. No overhyping is possible IM(not so)HO.

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"To get inside this head of mine, would take a monkey-wrench, and a lot of wine" Res How I Do

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Friday, August 9, 2002 6:10 PM

Chang doesn't even rock Roadrunner Express which my dad and I thought was the most "intense" coaster at the park even though others were more enjoyable (Chang barely included). Georgia Scorcher is my favorite B&M stand-up, so far followed way behind by Iron Wolf.

I thought Cheetah was much worse than Twisted Twins on almost every level.

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Danny
Movie Coaster and Enthusiast White Pages

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Friday, August 9, 2002 7:41 PM
2Hostyl : I agree with you that Hurler, especially at Carowinds, is a great ride with a higher initial drop. But when we last rode it six parks ago, it did not maintain its speed as well. I felt a little more lateral slippage, probably arising from looser couplings and more span variance, dissipated some of that momentum.



My knowledge of the park's history comes mostly from personal experience and from daily reading the Louisville Courier Journal. I've been going to Freedom Hall for the Kentucky State Fair, State Tournament, Kentucky - Indiana Summer Series, NCAA and other events long before KK was suggested, and I kept up closely with its planning and construction. My "historical summary" might be a tad cynical, but you have to admit it has been a lot rougher beginning than other parks experience. I've also noticed there has been some revisionism going on the last few years in the literature SF and the Fairgrounds distributes. But, hey, I just wanted to make the point that KK faces more of an uphill struggle than its brethren elsewhere, so I cut it a little more slack. Exactly who built the bridge is not as important as the fact that the park is cut in half by a four lane highway.

On Chang, let me ask : Do you truly believe it has set five world records ? That's just hype. I didn't say it was a bad coaster, but I said it was a victim of Six Flags hype. People drive to KK with expectations greater than the coaster can live up to. If KK spent some of that hype promoting RR, TR, RS and the twins, and just said Chang was was a great standup with a 4000 ft. length and 154 ft. height, riders would come in with lower expectations and leave more satisfied.
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Saturday, August 10, 2002 7:00 PM
I went on tuesday. The crews were friendly and the rides were all open. Except quake which looked like it hasnt been in a while. I enjoyed myself and I got PKI right down the road. The crews were friendly and quick. see my TR for more I think this is a great park

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Part of a Flight Attendant's arrival announcement: "We'd like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you'll think of us."

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Sunday, August 11, 2002 7:21 AM

Trekker Park said:
"On Chang, let me ask : Do you truly believe it has set five world records ? That's just hype. "

Okay so what world record did they claim that Chang did NOT meet when it opened?
Tallest Stand Up? TRUE
Loopiest Stand Up? TRUE
Longest Stand Up? TRUE
Fastest Stand Up? TRUE
Biggest (not tallest) Loop? TRUE
I mean, all the so-called records mean little to me. But just because I dont care doesnt mean that they dont exist.

And I called you on your "flashback" because I got the impression by the original presentation that you were trying to give a factual account of the park's history. Not some background of personal perception.

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"To get inside this head of mine, would take a monkey-wrench, and a lot of wine" Res How I Do

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Sunday, August 11, 2002 12:19 PM
I guess where we see Chang from different perspectives is that I consider it a steel coaster and rank it against other steel coasters. KK (and 2Hostyl) consider it a standup and rank it against other standups. The problems I see with that are (l) there aren't many standups out there so it's easy to beat the others in various aspects and (2) people aren't going to drive a long distance to ride a particular kind of coaster; they're driving long distances to ride a coaster that seems to be one of the best they've ever experienced.

Chang certainly gives a long ride. But despite its 63 mph and five inversions no one I talk to walks off it saying "man, that was intense."

But, hey, maybe I need to rethink this. Maybe Chang is as underrated among steelers as I said Thunder Run and the Twisteds are among woodies. I may go back and reride it, then go back and reride some of the others, and consider moving it up on my preference list. On all these boards, all we're dealing with is personal perception anyway.

But if Chang is yet another KK ride not given the proper respect, that is just more evidence that the park is coming into its own.

*** This post was edited by Trekker Park on 8/11/2002. ***

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Sunday, August 11, 2002 7:21 PM
The whole Himilaya thing sounds funny,, becuase you got people wanting to ride,have fun and listen to music and then like you said you have the parents with there kids just stting there asking when its ganna end. Is it the type with the swinging cars? if it is they have one like that at Astroland and they run it foward for like 5mins then backwards even faster for another 5mins or untill they feel like stopping it.
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Saturday, August 17, 2002 9:04 AM
I agree the problem is one of definition but I'd suggest a slightly different twist. I grant that of all the standups I've ridden, Chang really is the best. The problem is, I don't know anybody who really likes standups. I'd say of the people I talk to, among woodies, suspendeds, hypers, etc., standups are just a bizarre curiosity that we ride because they're there but I don't know anybody who would consider this their favorite category. If KK is banking on a standup to bring in crowds, they're putting their money in the wrong bank. It's kind of trying to sell some esoteric sport to American fans; you might have the world championship team but you're still not going to fill a big stadium or get tv coverage because people are watching football, basketball or one of the other popular sports. So yea, Chang beats all the other standups but we're all going to HW to ride the woodies or PKI to ride Top Gun, Beast or even Face Off.
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Saturday, August 17, 2002 10:54 PM

I know I'm a bit behind the times here but anyhow, great TR. I haven't visited KK this season as I virtually swore it off last season. I vowed that I wasn't going to get caught up in that park again. Truth be known, as I type this response, I have a one day ticket to KK that has yet to be used and I just really am having a hard time pushing myself to that park before it closes this season. I really like KK deep down, but I just can't see waiting in line for the rides. I guess I got spoiled by other parks running all trains available on coasters and getting people through lines as quickly as possible. It just really irritates me to go to a park and see all that laziness (for lack of a better term) go on. How much harder could it possibly be to stick the second train on Chang or T2? You would definitely increase the amount of PPH provided stacking doesn't occur. (Which at KK is a major reality.)

I want so badly for SFKK to break out of the doldrums that they are in. Nothing would make me any happier in fact. But in order for that to happen, a lot of investment needs to occur in some very key areas in that park. I truly believe that the park has got some major potential and in reading the initial TR here, I can see that some improving has actually happened. There is still a long way to go in this battle though.

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Proud member of the Frequent Flyer Club of CBuzzCon '02

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Saturday, August 17, 2002 11:51 PM

Geezer said:
It's kind of trying to sell some esoteric sport to American fans; you might have the world championship team but you're still not going to fill a big stadium or get tv coverage because people are watching football, basketball or one of the other popular sports.


Uhhhh huh huh huh huhhuh huh huh... you said "esoteric" ;)

For the record, I loved Chang. That doggone Bill underhyped the peeturkey out of it. :)

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Why do we fear Mack trucks, but not Mack Wild Mouse coasters?

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