Trip Report: Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, Lousiville, KY (USA)
May 29, 2006
So begins the final leg of our Memorial Day coaster trip. We awake, get ready, yada yada, partake in the hotel's courtesy breakfast, and decide we want to stop at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom on the way home. We are soon on the road, and with a quick refreshment stop along the way, we soon arrive at the park.
WE follow the signs to the park as we are unused to arriving at the park from the south, and we exit into an industrial area ride accross from the airport. The Twisted Twins rollercoaster looks somewhat out of place in this industrial zone, but we notice Holiday World has done it again and went and put a Voyage billboard up right accross from the coaster.
We almost miss the park entrance, but are soon heading on to the Kentucky State Fairgrounds (Hey, shouldn't that be the Kentucky Commonwealth Fairgrounds). WE are glad to see the parking lot is still run by the fair, so parking is at a reasonable $5. We enter the fairgrounds and drive down the entry road that literally runs right down the middle of the amusement park. This road in the middle of the park is part of the cause for the park's awful layout, as well as for a super annoying pedestrain bridge used to get from one side of the park to the other. Hey it looks like the staff doesn't care much for the pedestrain bridge either, as they have a ground level sidewalk. The sidewalk has a traffic guard using one of those "Stop/Slow" signs you often see at road construction sites. The staff is annoying in that instead of corossing in one clump they decide to go one at a time, and have no sense of urgency. We are eventually admitted to the parking lot and quickly realize there is another event goin on at the fair that is going to make parking harder to come by. In truth our space is closer than any space we could get at PKI, but it is still the furthest out we have ever parked for SFKK.
We park, grab what we need, and head to the park gates. Rideman and John have to deal with guest relations and using their Wyandot Lake passes, I have to deal with the ticket sales people. We split up, I take advantage of the Six Flags fights Gas Prices promotion to lower the $40 admission price to $25. We all take about the same amount fo time and wind up entering the park one after the other. Man it is hot, humid and judging by the fact the parks giant American flag is totally limp on its pole, no wind either. Hey the park did remember to take the flag down to half-staff for Memorial Day.
The park has metal detectors at the main gate, but the person manning them couldn't care less, no matter if the machine buzzed or not they waved you on in. We noted the Hellevator (Intamin Giant Drop) was closed as had been fortold on the sign out front. WE made a left and headed to Breakdance.
Breakdance is a spinning flat ride, and while we waited for it we noted all the changes the park has made to the ride over the years. ALmost all the flash, including the mirrors center spindle have been removed and the paint on the cars is faded. Inside the cars is where theings really get funky. The wheels that were in the cars have been removed, and the bench seats have been replaced with molded bucket seats, complete with a seat divider and a seat horn between your legs. Seatbelts have been added, and when we pulled down the lapbar we noted the self-release knobs have been removed from the lapbar and that mechansim covered over. We lock the lapbar and note short bars have beel weleded to the lapbar that run down from the bar and come to rest on the seat horns, effectively encasing each leg in a loop. Locking doors then cover over the openeings on the side of the tub. Did I mention the ride has no automatic release, so the ride operator has to come around and key release each tub. At least I can report that they give you a nice long fast ride cycle.
As we were riding the Breakdance we saw the Road Runner Express had opened. This is a Maurer Shoene Wild Mouse that has been themed to the Road Runner cartoons. We are able to enter throught the short entrance bypassing the queue maze, and they have this wonderful "Wait at the bottom of the stairs" until called policy. The cars themselves look like minecars, so when we are called, we board a car with Rideman and I in the front, and John in the back. We fasten the seatbelts and lower the lapbars as low as we though it would go. Our car advances but we are stopped because the lapbar isn't lowered to the computers satisfaction, stapling ensues and we are on our way. When I last rode this ride in October it was horrible, this time it was running a lot better. Very few brakes were in use, and the ride didn't seem quite so jerky. I do have to laugh that the lapbars spring open as soon as you hit unload, right before the one time you might want to use it.
We exit Roadruner Express and head past the Skycoaster and the Rio GRande Train. We pass an area of the park that a carnie would refer to as Donikered. The picnicn grove at the end of the pathway is now a storage area, the major coaster that emptied out into this pathway ha been removed, and so the only people using the path are those headed to or from the HUSS Pirat (Bluebeards Bounty) that is set far off the beaten path. There were game joints along this path at one time, but they have been abandoned. I told you it was a doniker location.
We rode the Pirat, and like the Breakdance this one is fading away in the sun. There is just a one cycle wait and the queue begins with a push gate to even enter the queue. Rideman and John get a nice sheltered end seat and I get a semi sheltered second to the end seat. Plently of room under the one position automatic lapbars. I do like the fact the ships mast , rigging and sails are still intact. That theming seems to be the first thing to go in these type rides. Speaking of things going, the park has sealed off the unload platform and done away with flush loading, presumeably so a single operator can handle the ride. They have also reconfigured the queue maze to allow for an exit path, where you exit through the gate with an upside down exit sign. You know you would think maintenance would catch that.
So far today, the ride operators seem just a tad bit more enthusiastic than in years pase, and they are really pushing the 45th Anniversary of Six Flags. We next head around to Greezed Lightnin, which is a Schwarzkopf shuttle loop. There is a one train wait, and we are soon in the backseats. More enthusiastic ride ops, then we are launched. A powerful launch leads us to the forward loop and up the front spike, the train runs out of momontum, so we go back down the spike, backwards through the loop, then return to the sttion where we get braked hard (when did they start doing that, in 2003 you flew up the back spike with gusto), so you hardly go u the back spike at all before returning to the station. The lapbars pop up as soon as the train stops.
We exit the ride, and head past the bumper cars that have lost their enclosure from last falls Halloween event, and the antique cars. We bypass some food and merch stands and cross the darned bridge.
At the other end of the darned bridge we decide to reverse our usual pattern and head towards Belgian Village first instead of towards Chang. We pass Swampwater Jacks and pass the former site of the Quake, a unique flat ride that never seemed to operate. Its ground has been taken over by the waterpark and a Proslide Tornado put in its place. WE noted the park did not opt for the tube conveyor option so those poor suckers have to carry those heavy cloverleaf tubes up to the top themselves. I notice all the game joints and even the arcade in this section of the park have been closed, and one of the games buildings claims it will soon by a Guest comfort station with first aid and other guest services. We take a few moments to look at the parks Carousel, and I note the water fountains on the restroom building near the carousel have been removed.
We decide to take a quick ride on Rollerskater. We pile into the back three cars, fasten the belts, lower the bars and off we go on this consistently fun kiddie coaster. We then opt for a ride on Flying Dutchman. This is a fairly unique ride, its like a circle swing ride except you ride in big dutch (wooden) shoes. I have only seen one other ride like it, at Kings Island, and there are some that claim this is the exact same ride. We board our shoes and you will be stunned to learn Six Flags has removed the lapbbars from the shoes and replaced them with seatbelts. Its a nice cool relazing ride, just what is needed in this hot humid 97 degree day.
We next head to Thunder Run. It is just a station wait and a walk on unless you wanted the frnt seat, like we did. We waited a few trains for the frnt seat. They have added sternly worde signs reminding you to use the safety restraints properly, and I thought these lapbars used to be orange, but now they are black. A new policy has been instituted on the ride where you are to fasten your seatbelt but not pull back on the lapbar. After your seatbelt has been checked the operator will lower your lapbar. Soon we are in the front seat, and man this ride still has short seat belts. I struggle but I do get my belt fastened. We are soon on our way, turnaround, up the lift, turnaround again and the top of the lift is lined with Holiday World style lift hill flags, and down the first drop, though the banked turnaround then out on three nice airtime filled hills, turnaround again one hill on the way in, another turnaround, circle the lift hill structure, then trurnaround and head back to the station. It's very similr to the Hurler line of rollercoasters. Last fall this was running ultra smooth like it was somebody's baby, now its not running bad, but it is running a bit rougher than last year. I notice the Severe Weather (Tropical Storm red with black square) flags in the Waterpark are fluttering about in some kind of breeze from somewhere.
As we exit the ride, we seem to add one of the parks, shall we say day-care-service guests to our group, We start to head around past Top Eliminator DRagster back to Twisted Twins, when alas, Kentucky Kingdom has done it to us once again. I think the layout of the back half of the park changes every time I come. The front half is straight forward, a ring of family rides circling kiddieland. The back half is more or less a ring of rides that circle the waterpark. First they added Belgain Village section with rides games and stuff, anchored by Thunder Run, and the Giant Wheel on the way to the waterpark. In 1998 they added a "Northen Exposure" looking area that runs from Mile High Falls (near the carousel) running back along Thunder Run, the area was lined with flat rides, food stands, merch, and games, and anchored in the back by Twisted Twins.
The section first opend as a big dead end path, accesible only from Mile High Falls area. Either offically or unofficially a path was made through what looked like it was an employee area so as to form a loop that came out by Top Eliminator. The park then sealed off the pathway that ran under Thunder Run in order to make a big old Duell Loop. It was probably the best layour for getting people back by Twisted Twins, but it annoyed those of us used to the walkway between Top Eliminator and Thunder Run to no end. Over time they have ripped out almost all the flat rides in the new section, and closed the food stands and games and stuff. So last fall they used much of the area as a haunt with the area from the Carousel restrooms to the restrooms by Twisted Twins blocked off, making the only access back to Twisted Twins by Top Eliminator once again making it a dead end section. This year they have returned to the original configuration, where the only entrance is alongside the now dead midway from Mile High Falls. At least it looks like theymight be going to remove Top ELiminator so we can hope something better replaces it.
We walk back to Twisted Twins and make a quick stop to find the restroom building air conditioned. WE think we'll just relax here for several minutes. Outside they have nice cool water fountains. See at the park, where they have water fountains they are generally really cold, which is a good thing. There were several guests playing with a water bottle filling it up and dumping or spraying it at each other. This is what happens at a park when its this unbearably hot and humid out, and peopl don't want to pay the concession prices. I remember playing in the lawn sprinklers at Great Escape for much the same reason.
We note a new stage has been installed where Thriller Bees used to be, and they were using it for Karaoke. We go back to Twisted Twins. At elast they have added lots of shade trees and plants to the Twisted Twins plaza, and they have added a new second entrance which bypasses the ridiculously large queue maze you used to have to walk through. Much to our delight they had both sides running, so we go up the front stairs and ride the pink train first. We take a back seat ride. This ride, while not as rough as it was last fall is running noticeably slow and sluggish. There are still two nice airtime moments at the start of the ride, then the ride just sort of meanders around the course until you come to the end. We exit,walk around, and board the teal train, again in the backseat. This side starts off with two strong ejector air moments and runs a bit faster than the pink side. Overall this ride has not aged well at all.
We exit the Twisted Twins area, and stop for water as we watch a horrid rendition of "Devil Went Down to Goeorgia" at the karaoke booth, I mean it was so obvious the guy was merely reading the screen and didn't put any kind of emotion into the song. This was followed by a rendition of "Chantilly Lace" that was only decent because I could not hear the guest star over the backtrack. We start to head towardsT^2, which of course demands we stop for another front seat Thunder Run ride along the way (John and new pal opt for back seat).
We then head towards T^2. Back when T^2 was first built it was the only ride at the very end of a long path that goes around the back of the waterpark. I was sure they would add several flat rides along the way, but they only added Blizzard River, and with the weather like it was today the line for that was totally obnoxious. We did pause at a nice misting fan before pasing some food stands that are literally in carnival grab joints, and headed back to T^2. T^2 was a 1 or two train wait for end seats, and Rideman and I opted for the back seat, and John and Pal headed to the front. The vegetation under the lift hill and around the station approach have not been trimmed in a long time. I find my ride wasn't really that bad using defensive riding posture, Rideman aggravated something in his leg, and John came from the front seat to tell us the ride was awful from up there. Looks like I faired the best out of that ride. Oh, and even with walk on conditions, the park was running two trains on T^2. Thats something I have not seen them do in a while.
We bid our new friend bye, and headed towards Chang. I noted the Chaos has been removed, its mechancials pit filled in, and the area is now a smoking area. I think the smoking area will get more use than Chaos ever did. Only John and I rode Chang, and we were able to walk right onto the front row. I was glad to see the park added shade canvas over the queue area. They were also running two trains on this as well. Perhaps the new owners are making a lot of the right minor changes to operations. I really like Chang, it was a nice smooth, somewhat forceful action backed B&M coaster. Chang is also on its third paint job. You may remember it started out all Yellow, then went to lime green with purple supports, now its yellow again with blue supports.
We went from Chang and took a ride on the Giant Wheel. Ah that was a refreshing cool ride. We then crossed te pedestrain bridge back to the other side of the park. Now I thought the idea of smoking areas as to place them in out of the way areas, but the pedestrian bridge is apparently a smoking area right in the narrow area at the older side of the park. The park has removed the railing down the center of the stairs.
We headed for the HUSS Rainbow. They were filling all the seats, and we got a very nice forceful ride on the Rainbow, one of my better Rainbow rides. We spotted a Smoking Permitted symbol on the front of the Rainbow gondola. Huh?
Ww next headed to Enterprise and noted she was cycling the ride empty, the ride was not running to the operators satisfaction. We watched a second test ride as the ride barely went halfway up then came right back down. Clearly something was amiss with the Enterprise, so the operator did the righ thing and closed the ride.
We noted the motion sim theater is showing the same Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera movie that seems to be playing all the Paramount parks. Gee with Iwerks big movie library why does it seem like all the motion theaters in the parks all decide to play the same film at the same time these days. We skip Thrill Park Theater. We walk past the Himmalayah ride without riding and note that the new paint job on the railings already looks like crap. We cut through the kiddieland and all through the 'old' side of the parks the Loony Tunes characters are walking around, and earlier today I saw them at a distance doing a character show. I really think the new owners of Six Flags are onto something. Take SFKK, I think this is really the best this park has been run in years.
We finish up the day with a double ride on Greezed Lightnin in the back car. We then head to the Crown Victoria Ride.
We exit the park and we get hunger pangs right after we pass La Grange, where is hwere we learn that outside of gas station fast food, their really aren't any convenient food places between La Grange and Florence. We stop by a Ponderosa Steakhouse that was woefully short staffed, and you can guess how the service was. This Ponderrosa was still runnng a seafood fest on selected nights, and they hd strung up the tradition oode of signals nautical themeing. I didn't have my translator guide with me, but I remembered the flags. "L - N- Diver Down - Tropical Storm" in other words the flags they chose really did make no sense. Though I do see in my guidecard that "L" can stand for " "I have or had some dangerous, infectious disease on board."" That's reassuring going into a restaurant...
Soon, Rideman and John drop me off and so ends this weekend of roller coaster excitement,
Of course, I'm a *back-seat Monte junkie*
I like the fact that the "smoking section" at SFKK has a ride in it...LOL! One could theoretically argue that there's less risk involved in a smoking section than there is in a Chance Chaos... ;)
Oh, and nice TR...
Maybe SFKK would be a good place to experiment with different pricing policies. It already has cheaper parking because Six Flags doesn't control it. Why not try some special deals with food and drink? There would be less to lose with this idea here, if it doesn't work out, than in the cash cow parks such as SFGA, SFGAm, and SFOT.
Of course, that also explains the uber-cheap parking... :)
The Gatorade was a GREAT idea by the way, Paula. :-)
Great TR, Dave! I heard Thunder Run and the Sisters, er, Twins were running very well. :-)
OK. SFKK was nice and all, but where is everybody there? We stayed for 2 hours and got on every ride in the park 2-3 times each with NO waits whatsoever. And where was the thrill on Chang, I think I fell asleep on it, no forces no speed, no drops, nothing?
I was kind of wondering that myself. I went to SFKK the day after BeastBuzz (Sunday) and the place was like a ghost town. Not waits for anything really. If this is typical weekend attendance here they have to be losing money big time. I was really shocked at the sparse crowd.
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