Kentucky State Fair & Kentucky Kingdom

Hey, y'all.

I'm a little ashamed to say I haven't been down to Kentucky Kingdom since they reopened under the guidance of Mr Hart. I'm not sure why, either. It's not that far away, but I guess it just wasn't in the cards. I'd certainly heard and read all there was to know about the two new coasters, and all I had left to do was get on them. I found myself looking at a couple of available days this week and decided to head down there for a visit and an overnight then home.

In checking for park hours I realized that this week is also state fair time, which for those of you who don't know, shares the Expo Center and parking lot with KK. My partner and I are big fans of state fairs and try to make it a point to visit a new and different one each year. With the upcoming trip to Europe I had pretty much decided this was going to have to be an off year for any new fairs, so this discovery made it a double bonus for me.

First about the fair. It's not like any I've ever been to before, and it's billed as the largest agricultural fair all under one roof. That's right, it's indoors. Inside those huge expo halls you see across the parking lot from KK is where the fair is held, and 99% of the exhibitions, livestock, competitions, and commercial exhibits are in there. The place is massive, with the main Freedom Hall, then many long concourses of wings, annexes, show arenas, and pavilions.
There are some outdoor activities, but not many. There were some carnival food vendors, the carnival midway, beer tents with entertainment, and the big name outdoor concerts.
So even though this fair isn't the type I'm used to with separate barns, smaller dedicated halls, and huge midways with lots of rides and food, it was actually not too bad. The good thing is if it rains or if it's blazing hot (which it did and it was) they still get an audience and people still make money.
The midway was by North American and they brought what I'd consider to be a small to medium sized unit of rides. But the midway was clean, the rides were pretty and well cared for, and there was a fairly good selection of spectaculars, majors, and kiddies. Most of them played the Big E fair that we went to in Massachusetts last year. So with that in mind, and due to the heat, I passed on a wristband. The fair and parking had already cost me 18 bucks just to get in. And anyway, my main goal all along was to get inside KK and while away the hours on real amusement park rides.

Oh, and about that. For years, since KK came into being, the park would shut down (as a park) and become part of the state fair midway for its thirteen day run. I've never been very sure how that works, so in checking I found that this year, (and maybe last) the park carries a separate admission. KK runs $19.95 for fair goers, but there was also a pre-purchase option from Krogers for the low price of ten bucks. So on my way into town I saw a Kroger store off I 71 in LaGrange and I stopped and bought my ticket. Since it was a weekday, the carnival opened at 2P and KK not til 4P. I hoped and prayed it would be a nice slow day, it wouldn't rain, and rides would be plentiful with lots of time to get em all in. I wasn't disappointed and my prayers were answered.

First I'll say I was impressed by KK in general. Things were kept up, landscaping was nice, the rides look fresh and new and the buildings were in great shape. It still seems like a miracle that they were able to take that depths-of-hell version that Six Flags abandoned, and restore it as well as they did. The water park wasn't open at all, but it looks like a really nice place with lots of new slides. The water rides had a shorter schedule than the rest of the park, maybe 2 or 3 hours during the day.

To my delight, not many took advantage of KK's cheap admission and free soft drinks. Most of the rides were in walk on status all evening. I entered the park as soon as they opened and turned left. (There was a light bag check, nothing that caused any delay.) My first ride, mainly because it was right there, was Breakdance. It was a little bit of a disappointment, it didn't seem as fast or as spinny as it used to be. Then I went for the first of my new credits, Lightning Run. And all I can say about that ride is "HOLY CRAP." For my first ride I sat in the last car and even there the negative g's were some of the best I've ever experienced. It occupies the space where three former coasters lived, at one time or another- Vampire, Roadrunner, and Greezed Lightning. Also in that area are three new flats- a Larson scooter, the new for '16 Cyclos (a spinning, looping ride), and a drop tower. After a few more spins on LR I decided to give my white knuckles a rest and take the long stroll to the back of the park. I passed the giant wheel, the flying shoes, carousel, the roller skater, and the Mile High Falls. All looked nice, maybe grateful they were saved. Then came another credit and highlight of the day, Storm Chaser.

All I can say about this ride is "HOLY !*#%ING CRAP!" This RMC remake is awesome- so forceful and so completely thrilling. It's my fourth RMC ride and probably the best I've tried. Once again, it's the perfect size for KK and I'm so pleased the Twins are enjoying this rebirth.
There were so few customers that re-rides were possible and I sampled more extreme ejector air from a variety of locations in the train.

Side note- On one of my laps I found myself seated in front of Angus Jenkins of Chance rides who, along with some KK men, were entertaining someone with rides in the park. I introduced myself and congratulated him on his new coaster creation, exclaiming in front of them all that a ride like Lightning Run belongs in every park, large or small. He admitted that would be great, and that he has "five or six" different parks looking at it. I offered my phone number so in case any of them needed persuaded they could just give me a ring...

Ok, back to Storm Chaser. Seriously, from the unique, twisted, and scary first drop, the over banks, and the airtime-filled finale, I can't think of a ride that packs such a punch. I was especially happy with the way the ride seems to have broken in- the sustained speed has greatly improved over what I saw in vids and reports from early in the season. I understand there's been a change in the type of wheels used and it's helped a lot. The forces are strong (like, to cut you in half) all the way to the last turn into the brake. I rode as many times as I could tolerate (I'm feeling my age, alright) then finally left the area to finish my tour.

I was anxious to try good-ole Thunder Run, and rode twice in a row in the front seat. I think I should've caught that ride when the new track work was newer. It just seemed awfully rough and not very pleasant to ride. To cap off my day I rode T3 with its new trains, some flats, the wheel, dodged raindrops, and drank some free pop. Then after a couple more hair raising laps on LR I decided to take my tired butt to the hotel.

I'll leave you with a couple of notes. I hope Kentucky Kingdom is successful in its revitalization. It's a nice park, made nicer, and the people of Louisville deserve to have their park back. It's still a little black-topish, a little chain link fence-y, but overall it fits the bill and they've hit it out of the park with the new slides, flats, and awesome coasters. I hope they're not giving the gate away, though, perhaps in an attempt to do nothing but boost numbers. My visit was cheap, cheap, cheap, and I understand it's been that way. Right now they're offering season passes for '17 for something like 59 bucks and that includes free drinks all season. I hope this plan doesn't backfire on them and the park is able to sustain itself.

I hear Enterprise is leaving and a Larson loop is coming for 17 then after that may come a new coaster. So, at least they've got plans.

Thanks so much for reading! See y'all soon!

Last edited by RCMAC,
Vater's avatar

I have a friend who works for the KY Dept. of Agriculture. She worked the state fair and said she really loves it.

It's cool in there, anyway.
There was something a little less, shall we say charming? about the fair. The exhibit halls were cavernous and a combination of modern new, slightly older, then really old. But they were all attached, so once in there was scarcely a need to step back outside. Until it was time to find the vehicle.

The midway rides run along side Kentucky Kingdom near that big gate behind the 5D building (where Star Chaser used to be) It was clear that previously the big gate would open to include KK, but this time it was shut tight.

rollergator's avatar

Storm Chaser was everything I'd been told, and then some. Extremely impressed....but I know it wasn't cheap....

...which brings me to Lightning Run. That is a LOT of ride for the money...really surprised more haven't been built already. As soon as the ride stopped, my first thought was "Fun Spot could really use this." I'd have ridden it more if they had both trains running...

Thunder Run is REALLY solid. Someday, I'll get over the demolition of the transfer shed for that ride....but it's not today.

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

I'm confused. Is there not two trains for that ride? Since it was so slow that day I saw no need for two train operation, most of the time the trains were sent out 40% full. But I clearly remember seeing a green train and a purple train, the green train is the one that we rode.
I will also admit that I wasn't paying any attention to what ever transfer operation they may have, I suppose I should've let the geek in me take notice, but I was just more interested in getting on the ride on a really slow day.
Explain, please.

And when I was hobnobbing for a minute with the coaster men, I made it perfectly clear (in a non-pushy enthusiast way) about my love for that ride and I was serious when I asked him to please, please sell more of those. My comment was that there were plenty of medium-sized parks that could benefit from an inexpensive, kick ass ride like that one. He was really nice, thanked me profusely, and at the same time kind of chuckled and rolled his eyes as if to say "Well, I'm a-tryin'..."

I like your idea for Fun Spot, Mr. Gator.
I've always wondered how busy that park can get, anytime I've ever been there it's been dead empty. Like, almost embarrassingly so. Can they really use another coaster like that?
If so, I imagine where we might find you.

Lightning Run would have to be awfully damn marvelous to improve upon the coaster that once occupied its location. (And no, I'm not talking about the roller skater--which was fun too, actually.)

My author website:

Mr. Gator, never mind. You said Thunder Run has no transfer which is true. My fault, I mis-read.

Mike- What coaster?

Raven-Phile's avatar

I'm thinking Greezed Lightnin. That was a great ride, and it was so close to home...

I like those too. What's left, Knotts?

I was amazed how fun Montezuma's Revenge was, especially for how simple it was. Kinda sad that there aren't many (any?) others left.

But then again, what do I know?

Sorry to be unintentionally vague. Yeah, I was referring to Greezed Lightning. I could ride that thing for hours. In fact, I did!

My author website:

rollergator's avatar

There are seven operating Schwarzkopf shuttle loops worldwide, one in the US. One in storage - that could have been sitting alongside the Interstate in Albuquerque.

What was interesting (disappointing) was looking down the list to all the U.S parks that HAD one...I rode them at SFoG, KD, PGA, SFKK, and SFAW...the only real good news is that at Knott's, Monte rarely has a line, and they'll let you re-ride.

Last edited by rollergator,

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

HeyIsntThatRob?'s avatar

rollergator said:

Thunder Run is REALLY solid. Someday, I'll get over the demolition of the transfer shed for that ride....but it's not today.


It was my understanding that Thunder Run always had one train. And I thought the design was originally meant for Americana (LeSourdesville Lake)?

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