Kentucky Kingdom, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
I had read every SFKK TR written in the last year because I knew that I would eventually get there someday, being a close park to SIU. The overall consensus that I picked up was that the park had some very nice attractions, but the aesthetics and operations could/should be improved. Other reports were a little more drastic, with one I believe referring to it as the “armpit of the chain.” With opinions like that, I had some of the lowest expectations ever before going to a new park. However, there is one good thing about low expectations; There is even more room to be impressed.
I started looking for hotel rooms toward the end of the previous week. We both had scored some great deals via my sister during our summer trip, but I decided to book this one on my own. So we went back to our old standby, Motel 6. The location closest to the park apparently likes to torment and starve anyone under 21, forcing us to stay at the Shepherdsville location, around 15 minutes south of the park with their cheap internet rate.
Great! There wasn’t any other planning done besides looking up locations for a few restaurants that we thought about eating at and getting specific directions to the park. You can never ever ever ever be too prepared when it comes to traveling.
On Friday, I skipped my 1 pm Linear Algebra class so that we could get a two hour head start. After making a few pit stops in town, we got on the interstate around 12:30 Central time and arrived in at the hotel around 6 Eastern. There seemed to be some traffic around town that we ended up getting up close and personal with on the pay to the park.
When we arrived at the hotel, and after I interrupted the front desk clerks phone call, she took my money and gave me my key in record time that no other clerk has ever come close to. It also helps when you don’t have to draw on a map of the “complex” or tell me what time the pool closes and breakfast begins. I think there might have been complementary coffee, though. Too bad we don’t drink it.
The hotel was nicer than the last Motel 6 we stayed at last summer, but that isn’t saying much. When we got to our door, I paused before entering, listening to the running water that I heard on the other side of the door. My fear was that someone was already in the room. There ended up being no one in the room, but we made friends with the annoying running toilet. What was even odder was that it seemed to stop running as soon as I walked into the room. Maybe it knew that was king of the throne. ;-)
After a quick change, we ate a bit at the Backyard Burger/Taco Bell next door. I think the concept of the split restaurant is awesome, especially for travelers. Our cashier seemed to have taken a few too many of her Kentucky hospitality pills that morning, but her jokes and personality were definitely appreciated. Our burgers were also both very good, but I forgot to ask to have them make mine without the pickles and mustard. I ended up surviving, as you may have guessed.
The trip back north was a little more difficult than previous one south. Right after the 264/65 interchange, we ran into some major traffic trying to get off at our exit. I quickly got discouraged, thinking that everyone was going to the park. But the then I started to look around and notice that 85% of the people were dressed in red and had University of Louisville flags adjourning their vehicles. **whew** We slithered into the group of cars and continued on our road while they all made a left to the game. The $5 parking fee was much better than the $8-$10 that I have been accustomed to over the last few years.
We weren’t quite sure where the gate was, but we hoped the car in front of us did. We had to fend for ourselves after he dropped off an employee and turned around. I pulled up near the “front corner” of the park and quickly saw the gate once I got out. We slapped on our hoodies and made our way to the gate with our passes. Right before the gate, I got stopped by a terrific employee asking me to spare a few moments for a survey. I figure that this is probably the best thing I can do for the chain, other than spending money in their parks. She again really made us feel welcome. Kudos to her.
My only other fall park experience was PKI last fall. My brother and I did some of the haunted houses, but had embarked on the four hour drive back home before it got dark. I really enjoyed the decorations and extra effort by the park. I was hoping for some of the same here.
SFKK had kept me guessing about their Fright Fest details up unto the moment I saw the inflatable pumpkin and clown on top of two buildings near the game. The website hadn’t mentioned anything about haunted houses, but I figured there would be at least a few houses and some theming. I ended up being blown away. That doesn’t say much when you look at my standards or expectations, but it was still a nice surprise.
Back to the park… We walked into the park and were directly met with some unique “red” fog surrounding Hellevator’s graveyard scene. I was really surprised by their use of fog throughout the whole park, but mostly at the gate.
We started walking counterclockwise in the first half of the park. We passed I believe two haunted houses, with one being marked by the freaky looking inflatable clown that I mentioned. Beth joked about getting pictures of it to show her clownophobic sister. (I’m sure there is some technical term for that.)
Our first ride of the night was Greezed Lightnin’. I think that Beth was expecting a little more from the ride when I described it to her during our car ride and was expecting a ho-hum ride when she saw the slower launch. The slooooow return trip through the loop that tied my stomach in knots really changed her mind. I was a little disappointed, but I don’t think I have ever been impressed with an uncomfortable train. Sorry Anton, but my long legs just don’t have enough room. We both jumped over to the slightly longer Road Runner Express line. Our only other mouse experience was at Hershey. I had enjoyed it, but Beth kept her eyes closed the whole time. I just don’t that girl. She can ride some of the taller coasters in the world, but a little mouse just does her in. The loading procedure was slightly different that the efficient one of Hershey. Are Mack mice the only ones that keep cars moving through the station? It seemed the ops really didn’t have any sort of pattern when loading/unloading. Maybe I just couldn’t pick it up. Anywho, we were both on in probably less than 10 minutes. I do believe that Hershey’s kicked a little more, but it was much more enjoyable for Beth, which made it just as enjoyable for me.
It was now time to move over to the other side of the park. I think that if someone didn’t have map, or know that the park was split, they might not even see the bridge the first time. I certainly expected it to be much wider than it was.
Before I forget, I want to mention one other thing about the park. I know that it is a very small park, but it somehow feels very big when you’re in it. I felt like a mouse in a maze, because I really couldn’t see too much of the other side of the park. The trees and shrubs really separated everything well. That was one of the last things I expected to see. Or maybe the fact that I was dark out helped. Who knows?
As we walked over the bridge, it started to feel very awkward. There wasn’t the hubbub that we saw near the age. It almost felt like we weren’t supposed to be there. Chalk it up to either the lack of crowds, darkness, or fog in the distance.
The third coaster of the night was Roller Skater. I didn’t take much convincing to get Beth on the ride, yet she still thought that we were too big for it. (I kept reminding her of the credit. She still needs a little help on that concept.) We both loved it and agreed that it is the perfect coaster for the “little big kid” that is at that awkward age. Continuing the counterclockwise rotation, we found ourselves at Thunder Run. Of all the coasters at SFKK, this was the one I was anticipating the most. The expected airtime was making me drool. Well, not really, but I was still excited.
We walked right onto seat 2:1. The journey up the lift really was the foundation for our overall first opinion. As we rose, it felt like our wheels were lopsided. Our car would bounce up and down as we went up. I think that we were getting that kind of motion because were in the second car getting jerked by the first, but I didn’t notice any other problems through the ride. The airtime was ok for me, but it really was a lot for Beth (anti-airtime queen). I hoped to give it another chance later.
We walked under Thunder Run, toward Twisted Twins, and stopped to watch the Top Eliminator Dragsters. I can’t say enough good things about this ride, expect the price. $10 for two rides is too much for me, but the realistic sounds and cars would probably convince any drag fan. We watched them run the only two cars twice.
Twisted Twins was only running one side, which was more than enough for the crowd. I think that we sat somewhere toward the back of the train full of annoying little teenyboppers with their pink trucker hats. I have to make a small comment about these little ones. Guy ages 13-16, this is for you. You don’t have to hang around the loud, obnoxious, prissy girls that constantly beat you for attention. There are better girls than that. These better girls will listen to you and won’t empty your wallet, as much. Enough of that… The ride was very nice, but two trains would have been nice. I guess that gives me an excuse to come back in the spring. I can see why some say a ride would fit inside the twins. I swear I saw some dirt work, but maybe grass was never there. It is hard to tell in the dar.
Instead of continuing in our circle, we backtracked to The Giant Wheel. We were in our gondola after two cycles. I was looking all around, and Beth kept her looking straight ahead to avoid looking down. I wasn’t able to see much in the dark, but it gave me a better idea of the size of the park. One thing that I did notice was Greezed Lightnin’ closed. I had seen one rollback earlier, but it was cycling after that. Apparently something else must have happened.
Chang was our next stop. I suggested that we wait for the front row. Everyone in was huddled along the back rows, so it was only a few train wait for the front. Beth ended up loving the ride and thus making one giant step toward becoming a total coaster geek. She said that the ride was really smooth and was having trouble comparing it to previous rides. I threw out the generic names Batman, Superman, Raging Bull. She quickly agreed and learned, from a very geeky coaster lesson, that B&M’s are probably her favorite coasters. Coincidence that her initials are B and M, I think not.
In contrast, she also learned what coasters she didn’t like when we went to T2. The path around/under T2 was very dark and covered with fog. I looked through the mess of metal to see a dark station with people coming out of it. I think I overheard one person say that it was “broken.” I figured that it would be up soon, so we continued to get our last credit of the night. Apparently, the new ride op had turned off the lights in the station, which take 10 minutes to come back on. A dark station meant no trains going out, so we waited as the lights slowly lit.
The only other SLC I have road is Serial Thriller/Thunderhawk at SFWoA/Geagua Lake. I absolutely loved it two summers ago, but T2 made me realize what a hang and bang really was. The train jerked through the inversions and made for a bearable, but terrible ride. I really cannot stand the OTSR that cut into my broad shoulders. Poor Beth was glad to get off of that thing.
We continued around the back side, toward Thunder Run for our second ride of the night. I really wanted to give it another chance, especially in the back. I was kidding Beth about her “scary” first ride. She took a look at the coaster again and realized that it really wasn’t that tall, or fast, or scary. Then she decided that she was going to keep her hands up for this one. I didn’t expect much from the statement, but it proved to be, what I would consider, a life changing experience for her, or maybe just me.
The moment we went over the lift, our hands came up as we enjoyed a much better second ride. I seemed to feel a little more action in the back and Beth was giggling like a little girl. I think she was in tears by the end from her joy when she realized that airtime isn’t such a bad thing. My theory is that she was holding on for dear life, thus fighting the coaster. When she loosened up and let the train do its thing, it was much more comfortable for her. Maybe she can give Screamin’ Eagle another chance now.
The last two rides by Beth and me were, Breakdance and Hellevator, respectfully. She doesn’t drop and I don’t spin, so we split up for the last ride of the night. I thought about hitting Road Runner Express again as I waited for Beth after my walk on, but I didn’t.
That was the extent of our night at Six Flags. We went back to the hotel after stopping by the Dairy Queen for a quick snack. I scored a medium Blizzard for the price of a small when the worker made it too big. I didn’t complain.
Overall, my three dark hours at Kentucky Kingdom was time well spent. The park would probably not keep me entertained for a whole day, even if I was going to spend time at the small water park, but it is definitely a great half-day park that should be on everyone’s list as they drive to/from Holiday World. ;-)
I really wish I could have spent some time in the daylight for some pictures. Again, that will give me a reason to visit in the spring. If you want to see some Fright Fest pictures, I suspect that Paul will have some up soon.
*** Edited 10/25/2004 4:56:43 AM UTC by Neuski***
They have enough to do especially if you visit while the waterpark is open.
I enjoyed my 2 vacations to this park and plan to return since I have an SF pass and it's smack dab between PKI and HW.
You can't go wrong.
Next time you are in the Bluegrass state you should check out the whole horse racing thing. It really is rediculous/fun.
Salukis suck! Go Creighton. Zing!
I do like SFKK despite it's reputation (as we all know people LOVE to complain about things.....lol)
I always joke and say it's a great "on the way" park (as in.....on the way to Holiday World).
Thunder Run is definiately one of the best little woodies out there. I think the last time I was there it was FREEZING cold and slightly raining......TR was FLYING!
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