Holiday World owners exploring possibilities to operate Kentucky Kingdom

Posted | Contributed by WildStangAlex

The owners of Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in Southern Indiana said Monday they may seek rights to operate Kentucky Kingdom, the Kentucky Exposition Center amusement park that has been idle for more than two years. Kentucky Kingdom has remained closed since the former operator, Six Flags, announced two years ago that it was abandoning the park amid a bankruptcy filing.

Read more from The Courier-Journal.

john peck said:
... why ... make it public of all things?

To clarify - we did not make any sort of announcement. We're in the fact-finding process and someone (not us) leaked that information to a reporter. We provided a brief statement to the reporters who contacted us.

Thanks, Paula

Paula Werne
Holiday World

Pagoda Gift Shop's avatar

There's more than horses in Kentucky.

Oops, wrong owners. ;)

I think you mean "There's more than peaches in Georgia."

My initial reaction on this topic was "great! What great news for the people of Louisville to have a seasoned and successful operator taking over the management of the property." But, the more I thought about it, the more I dislike it.

I assume this partnership, if it were to happen, would look something like the previous agreement with Six Flags. That is, HW would run the park but have no ownership in the land or existing rides/structures. Remember, the Fair Board was burned by Six Flags when they started removing all of the appliances out of their abandoned rental. Six Flags also did this in New Orleans under a similar leaseback agreement.

The Fair Board has to protect itself going forward -- they can't afford another false start with public funds (direct or via tax/lease incentives). Which means, who funds capital improvements and who exactly has the rights to the assets tied to that money? How much in incentive $ or investment will be afforded to Holiday World, and conversely, how much will be required by the Fair Board to put enough lipstick on that pig called KK?

I don't see a lot of upside here for Holiday World. The park is insanely constrained by the parking and facilities for the Fair, so the canvas on which to paint is pretty darned limited. Not to mention, those rides have sat idle for quite some time without maintenance and without painting. The amount of $$$ required to get it back to where it was when it last operated is huge.

I'm sure the only upside that HW is investigating is that of bringing more business to Holiday World because of the association. This could be through shared season passes, coupons/incentives, marketing, etc. They'd have a nice foothold in the center of Louisville for marketing, but don't they already do that well?

Holiday World is and has been growing very rapidly. Seemingly just barely keeping up throughput with aggressive capEx. Could they really handle a rush of new business from Louisville? Would they want to?

There is something to be said for quality of experience. I equate Holiday World in my mind with other best-of-breed businesses like Apple and Disney. That is, they know their audience, that audience will drop a little more money than normal, and that audience remains insanely loyal.

I don't want to suggest that reaching new customers is the only potential benefit -- there is obviously money to be made through park operations as well. But, given the very public history of the Fair Board's dealings with previous owners, I'd be very wary if I were Holiday World.

Personally, I wouldn't want to see HW's core competency operating their small/medium regional park diluted (with loss of money, people, energy, brand recognition, etc.) by taking on a project like this. I haven't even mentioned the baggage with the Intamin accident etc. There's just too much downside IMHO.


CoasterDemon's avatar

I've always kind of hoped Holiday World, at some point, would assemble a kind of 'trainer' package that other parks could purchase. The HW people come in, clean up the park (in every way, operation-wise, etc.). Basically, show em how it's done, and then be done. It could be very lucrative for both parties.

LostKause's avatar

In response to airbuzz's comments...

The rides at KK, form what I've read, have been maintained even thought the park is closed.

Six Flags was the one burned when they left the fairgrounds, in my opinion. They had little choice. It's almost like the Fairground wanted forced to leave, again, from what I've read. I don't know what the Fairground's problem is, as seen with Six Flags and the recent Ed Hart situation, but Holiday World should be weary of them.

However, I kindly respect your opinions on the subject.

Last edited by LostKause,
CoasterDemon's avatar

^The day of the Superman accident, I rode a frighteningly in disrepair Thunder Run. Seat pads were gone, holes everywhere, lap bar popped up. It was bad. Real bad. We saw then park president Jay Thomas and told him. Then spent about 90 minutes on Greezed Lightnin'. Then the accident happened.

I could only imagine how good those woodies would be after HW got ahold of them. Thunder Run was once a great ride; imagine it better and with 2 trains.


^Agreed. Thunder Run was a gem in its day. Combine that with Twisted Twins, Greezed Lightning, and what HW could do with the water park, and you could sell me a few tickets. Oh yeah, and sell off T2 ASAP!

CoasterDemon's avatar

With the way HW works, I wouldn't be surprised if they made T2 a great ride. New trains (and the new, yet unseen, inverted looping restraint ;) )


My hat would go off to anyone would could make a Vekoma SLC enjoyable! :)

Last edited by Tennessee_CP_Fan,

If they really wanted another park, May I suggest Fun Spot in Angola. It could be a real gem with the right people in place. It is small but it could be a great place, and it is still in Indiana but not in direct competition with Holiday World.


john peck's avatar

Raven Maven said:To clarify - we did not make any sort of announcement. We're in the fact-finding process and someone (not us) leaked that information to a reporter. We provided a brief statement to the reporters who contacted us.

Oh, I see now. I thought it was HW that posted that to the website. I just LOVE the media!

Raven-Phile's avatar

john peck said:
the media!


More is not always better. Look at how Six Flags failed when they took over too many parks, and Wild Adventures failure at Cypress Gardens.

ApolloAndy's avatar

I'm not sure that the HW folks would know what to do with some of the larger regional parks. They're excellent at the one park the size they have, but could they really contribute something to a Six Flags Over Texas sized park?

Or perhaps more to the point, I think a huge amount of their success has to do with a top down culture and I don't think a consulting gig can change the culture of a behemoth like Six Flags.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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