Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom (4/1/06)

Associated parks:
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Sunday, April 2, 2006 12:56 AM
Amanda and I actually stayed in Louisville, KY this weekend so we could attend the opening weekend of our local amusement park, Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. We were curious to see how different the park was since it has changed its management and claims to be more family friendly and consumer oriented. Overall, I will give the park an A- for its opening day. While it was not perfect, we did see many positive things that we enjoyed.

We were at the park from 12:30PM until 5:30PM. We arrived and immediately noticed all the flags, posters and banners hanging all around that were hyping the fact that Six Flags was celebrating their 45th anniversary this year. In fact, when we walked through the gates they told us to have a nice 45th anniversary at the park. All the ride operators all day told us the same thing when we completed our rides. They really seemed to be hyping this anniversary thing. We thought it was a nice touch, even though it is a direct copy of what Disney did with their 50th anniversary, but on a smaller scale.

We got our Six Flags season pass processed and received our Season Pass coupons. There seemed to be more kinds of coupons this year, like one for 15% off their main merchandise store, discounts on some of the extra charge attractions. and a few food coupons. This also contained a list of 45 things you can do at Six Flags, which was kind of cute. The brochure also hyped some of the new things happening at the park this year, which includes a new country show, a new Broadway show, hourly parades, new action adventure characters such as Batman, and new festivals. There were some other new things we noticed as well as we walked around the park.

The weather today was just perfect. The sun was out and bright almost all day, and it felt quite warm. It felt like it was in the 70’s, although I do not know if it got that warm since the expected high was 65. Amanda quickly ditched her jacket as we hiked around the park to check everything out before we started riding. The crowd was not huge, but was very decent in size, and they seemed to have a good opening day.

We noticed all the new smoking areas that were installed since the park is now smoke free. We did notice a couple different people ignoring the ban however. We were impressed to see one Six Flag employee in the kiddie area telling a lady who was smoking that it was not allowed and that she needed to find a smoking area. But at the same time we had some morons in various lines smoking, and then one incident where a polite smoker asked an employee where the smoking area was and the employee did not know. (They are listed for the most part on the park map!) We heard an announcement at one point that said, “After 45 years Six Flags has quit smoking!” which was cute. We definitely welcomed this new change, even though some rude people chose to ignore it. (Or some may not have known since the non-smoking policy is not all that noticeable unless you look deep in the park map or see one of the signs that are not too noticable.)

We did not notice any Justice League characters or see any parades, but it may be too early in the season for them. I know that some of the new changes do not really kick in until the main part of the season. But Looney Tune characters were out in full force. We saw Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Foghorn Leghorn, Tweety Bird, Sylvester, the Tasmanian Devil, Speedy Gonzales, Yosemite Sam, Peppy Le Pew, and Marvin the Martian! Many of them were in the ‘We Got The Beat’ musical show we watched which was really cute. The kids were really getting into it. We also saw a lot of characters posing with people for photos. I happened to be wearing a Daffy Duck t-shirt myself and when Daffy saw me, he ran up to me and acted all excited and pointed to my shirt. Having all the characters around is fun and the kids love it!

They had some nice new t-shirts and cups in the gift shops with the 45th anniversary six flags logo on them which were really nice. I actually bought a few of the shirts. I was hoping to see some magnets and bumper stickers or pins, but they did not have any of those items. Still, the shirts were nice and did have Kentucky Kingdom of them and not just the generic Six Flags name.

The employees in general were extremely nice, especially in the gift shops. We did see some who were indifferent, but most were very nice and pleasant.

They are trying to get more people into the back of the park, where the Northwest Territory is that contains Twisted Twins amd Mile High Falls. They have set up a new stage back there where they plan to have their new country show, and today they were using it for some cloggers and some fiddlers. Also, *all* the food and snack places in the back of the park were open, which we have never seen before. This seemed to have the effect of bringing more people into what is the most isolated part of the park, and seemed to be a good change! They even had an arts and crafts station back there for the kids, which was a nice touch. I hope they keep up with this.

Another new development were the employees they had permenantly stationed at each and every bathroom, making sure it was always clean. This seemed to work well today, and is very much appreciated. I would hate to have that job though!

The area where the Chaos flat ride used to be is now a lanscaped area with benches, which is a large smoking area. Also, the path that leads from Twisted Twins and past the old Top Eliminator Dragsters attraction (which is now closed permanently) is blocked off and not even on the map anymore. It is too bad they could not have added some flat rides back there or something. Perhaps next year!

Papa Johns is now the official pizza of the park, and all the pizza places had their logo up. It looks like Casa Mia restaurant might become just Papa Johns, but I am not sure about that.

There seemed to be a little more effort being given to landscaping, although nothing too fancy. In the middle of the Tin Lizzies antique car ride, the workers put the finishing touches on a little flower display that spelled out Six Flags in flowers and had the official 45th anniversary logo next to it, which was cool.

We spent so much time just walking around and enjoying the atmosphere that we did not ride as much as we planned, but had a great time. Our first ride was Greezed Lightnin’. It had a new loop on it from another Schwarzkopf Shuttle Looper, Paramount’s Great America’s old Tidal Wave coaster. The ride seemed smoother through the loop, although I am not sure. The new loop was freshly painted green and looked great, although much of the rest of the ride was not newly painted.

We then rode suspended looping Vekoma T2, which was fun, and they had BOTH trains running, which really surprised me! It seemed even rougher than usual through the first loop, but the rest of it was running fine, and I still enjoyed it. We were in first row (as we were for all the coasters today!)

We then went off to the stand-up coaster Chang. Chang is finally getting a much needed new paint job, and about 20% of the coaster’s track is painted a lovely bright yellow. Eventually the supports will be painted blue, but none of them have been painted yet. They had a nice sign announcing the new paint job. They did have Chang running today, and I thought it was running smoother than usual, although there was a little vibration in the ride that is rare of a B&M. This coaster will look so beautiful when they finish painting it! Sadly, they were only running one train for this one, which is one of my few negatives for the day.

We then rode the wooden coaster Twisted Twins. They were only running one side which is always a little depressing. But it rode well and was not as rough as we noticed late last year. We then joined the line for the other wooden coaster Thunder Run. This was my favorite wooden coaster in Kentucky before Beech Bend’s Kentucky Rumbler, but is still an awesome ride. The long lines are not awesome though. This coaster has only one train, and is very slow loading because of a terrible seat belt arrangement. But it was running really smoothly and well today, with lots of fun air time. Whoever maintains this coaster does a nice job.

We did notice that both Mile High Falls and Penguin’s Blizzard River were running. Mile High Falls looked all wrong because there was not water coming down the large drop. The boats would just fall down the hill on the rollers which are usually covered with a wall of water. It made the ride less attractive, although the splash at the bottom was as impressive as ever on this Shoot-The-Chute ride. I have never seen Kentucky Kingdom open their Rapids ride Blizzard River this early in the season, and was pleasantly surprised to see it operating, although we were not in the mood to get wet today.

By then we only had time left to ride the Giant Wheel to enjoy the view (and mourn the fact that the Giant Wheel still was in need of a paint job!). We the bought a souvenir cup of Sprite and bought my photo with Daffy at the photo studio up front. Overall, it was a wonderful and fun day at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. The park looked great for the most part, and the new changes were quite apparent. If they can just get more coasters to run all their trains, and keep up with the other positive changes, then I will be prepared to say that Six Flags is on the right path to becoming a more respectable park chain. We liked what we saw today, and the place seemed to have a nice family atmosphere and some fresh energy. I will be anxious to see how the park progresses during the season when it has the parades and hopefully the Justice League Characters! For now, I am happy with the changes.

Oh one more thing! They are having a character brunch in the mornings where the people who pay for it are picked up in an antique car at the front and taken to the bruch area where you have brunch with Bugs Bunny and perhaps some other characters. I am sure the kids will love it. It is located in a small building in the Dutch Village area of the park near Thunder Run and the Flying Dutchman. We looked in the building and it looked rather small, but quite intimate for the people paying for it.

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Sunday, April 2, 2006 1:32 AM
I too visited SFKK on Saturday, and found it to be a very good experience.

Pros:
Lots of celebration, excitement, and inviting stuff
New shows, live entertainment, lots of Looney Tunes characters
Chang finally being repainted
T2 running 2 trains
Restroom attendants
Quick season pass processing (I bought mine online and they scanned the page in, and voila, 2006 SF pass!)
Water rides open (didn't ride either)
Stella ran well
Thunder Run still has great airtime
Employees saying "Thanks for coming" as I left


Cons:
Chang only 1 train
Twisted Twins only Stella running
Food prices even higher than before?
Designated smoking areas: many guests could still care less
Sort of: 45th Anniversary ≠ 1990*

Also, I noticed the train on Greezed Lightnin' looked different.
It must be the train that was used on PGA's Tidal Wave/Greased Lightning - notice the yellow markings on the lapbars.
Can I now say that I rode both Marriott's Great America Tidal Waves at once?

Of course, I can't really complain about parking, as that's run by Kentucky Exposition Center ($5)

Time spent in park: approx. 11:30 am - 5:45 pm

PS, will be going to Six Flags St. Louis on Sat 4/15, so I'm looking forward to a great time there (as well as at new Busch Stadium)

*The current KK opened in 1990, on site of short-lived park that only was open in '87

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Sunday, April 2, 2006 1:57 AM
It's good to here that the employees were getting into their jobs more. We always seem to have a hard time with SFKK's employees. Glad to hear about Thunder Run too. It's still a great little coaster!

Also glad to hear they closed off the Top Eliminator Dragsters. They have never successfully run during any of my 6-7 visits. The three biggest things I loved to hear were:

1. The Northwest Territory being busier, and actually having food stands open.

2. The bathroom crews. Man, am I glad to hear this happen. SFKK had been the site of some of my worst bathroom experiences ever.

3. And lastly, Greezed Lightnin' having gotten it's "newer" loop. Love that thing!

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Sunday, April 2, 2006 5:53 AM
The 45th anniversary celebration was for the Six Flags chain, which began in 1961 with Six Flags Over Texas. It is not meant to be the 45th anniversary of Kentucky Kingdom itself.
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Sunday, April 2, 2006 8:45 AM
Great trip report! I always love hearing things about SFKK since news about the park seems kinda scarce. It sounds like Chang will look really nice when it's done being painted; hopefully the Giant Wheel will be painted next year. I'm also glad to hear about Chaos and Top E being removed/closed off until further expansion, hopefully they'll add a couple neat flats next year to replace TED.
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Sunday, April 2, 2006 11:55 AM
I was also there on 4/1, and agree with everything Mikewhy said. The employees were much more friendly, and the restrooms were VERY clean. The only negatives I could pick out:

-One train op on Chang
-Only one side of Twisted Twins runnung
-Food and drink prices are out of control (almost $4 for a "medium" drink?)

Another gripe is loading procedure on Thunder Run. You get in the train, and fasten your seatbelt. The ride ops then come around and check the seatbelt, then lock the lapbars. They then walk the train again, checking lapbars. TR is already a capacity nightmare, and this makes it even worse. That aside, I still think TR is by far the best ride in the park, and one of the best woodies I've ridden.

Hopefully KK has turned a corner. I'm looking forward to more visits this summer.

Jerry

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Sunday, April 2, 2006 12:10 PM

Mikewhy said:
We did not notice any Justice League characters

This brings up an interesting point I hadn't considered before... It's not like they can just do a Froogle search for "Batman Costume" and get 30 of them delivered around the country next day air. I wonder when we will see the costumes actually showing up in the parks, as I'd imagine there must be quite a design and production process they're going through right now.

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Sunday, April 2, 2006 9:30 PM
Isn't this the typical way a SF season starts off? Friendly employees and one train ops? If the one train ops stay the same and the employees start getting jaded, SF will be in the same situation. Hey SF, Proove me wrong!

I'm in no way going to accept that positive TR's for the first month or so as proof that "SF has changed".

I hope they are going to change, because I just might be able to pay a few new-to-me SF parks a visit this year (not SFGAdv though :) ).

Oh, Great TR, by the way. SFKK doesn't get a lot of TR's on CB.

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Tuesday, April 4, 2006 3:25 PM
Dude.. what is your problem with Six Flags, seriously? Did they steal your first born? Kidnap your mother? Seriously.. what makes you so bitter about this chain that you never pass up an opportunity to rip on them?


I'm in no way going to accept that positive TR's for the first month or so as proof that "SF has changed".

Okay then. What happens when Halloween rolls around and things are more or less the same? You're gonna be saying, "I'm in no way going to accept that positive TR's for the first year under new management that "SF has changed". I really think the only way you're gonna be happy is if the chain shuts down altogether.

The company is making HUGE strides and the new management only got the reigns in what? February? Can't ya give credit where credit is due?

That's fine that you won't visit SFGAd. You'll be the one missing out on what I belive to be the sleeper hit of the year, El Toro. Yes, we all know about The Voyage and we all know it's going to be spectacular. But I think El Toro is going to come out of left field as Superman Ride of Wood.

And.. we don't need to hear your broken record spin again about how long it's taking. That's already been explained.

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Tuesday, April 4, 2006 4:00 PM
I accept his argument completly... do a search for trip reports for the first month of opening of six flags parks. Everyone seems to think they finally "turned around" when just a month later, everything falls apart all over again. It has been like this the last FOUR years; i mention the same thing every year. Employees DO tend to be friendly the first day. etc. They have been this way for years. But what about next month... and the month after... and will the rides hold up w/o being closed down... etc?

-- he merely hopes that things hold up this year. as do I. *** Edited 4/4/2006 8:01:22 PM UTC by SFDL_Dude***

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Tuesday, April 4, 2006 4:06 PM
Kinda seems familiar to me too...I've HEARD the song-and-dance about "all our guest services training" in prior years...it had gotten QUITE tiring to get our hopes up every Spring only to have them dashed within weeks of the SEASON really cranking up...

EVERYONE has a good time at an empty park.....hence, CartmanLand...

Still, I really do WANT to believe the new guys have heard our pleas (please please) and will do their best to maximize OPERATIONS...as well as keeping the restrooms clean, running trams to/from parking, staffing the food-service areas, sweeping up litter, etc., etc. I really DON'T think it's *just enthusiasts* that notice when the lines don't move, it really IS just as important to have multiple trains on the tracks as it is to have smiling employees and nice-smelling restrooms.

Just like Disney... :)

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Tuesday, April 4, 2006 7:14 PM
Another great trip report! I'd really like to get to SFKK this year to see the changes but don't know if I will. Thanks for the pictures of Chang too, it's looking nice.
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Tuesday, April 4, 2006 7:40 PM
Is the season pass at the gate $54.99 or is it more than the on-line price?

Thanks

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Wednesday, April 5, 2006 9:29 PM
Mikewhy, you will be happy to know that as of 4/9, SFKK now has Batman, Robin, Flash and the Green Lantern, but no Wonder Woman yet

Also, this is my 2nd year working at the Kingdom (in the Food Services Dept.), and this year, management has been emphasising "Guests first" when last year no one even mentioned it. For example, when last year we would have prepared several burgers in advance of the crowd, this year we wait until the Guest orders before we start making them. *** Edited 4/9/2006 5:39:36 AM UTC by ClarkKentuckyKingdom***

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Thursday, April 6, 2006 11:00 AM
Keep up the great work Clark. I appreciate it and look forward to my next visit to SFKK...mmm Thunder Run!
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Thursday, April 6, 2006 12:04 PM
That sound like some nice touches to SFKK so far. I visited the park several times between 2002 and 2004 and despite hearing a large amount of negative comments about the place I thought the park was kind of nice. Thunderrun is an excellent wooden coaster. Sadly the line for Thunderrun is incredibly slow. Sometimes you can only get one ride because of the slow moving line and Thunderrun is certainly worthy of at least 5 rides. I will not be visiting this year, but I may next year.
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Sunday, April 9, 2006 1:45 AM
SIXFLAGSTHRILS- Season passes at the gate are $64.99; at Louisville area Kroger's and sixflags.com it is $54.99. To upgrade a general admission ticket to a Season Pass it is $30.
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Monday, April 10, 2006 1:24 AM
Thanks for understanding exactily what I was trying to say, SFDL_Dude and Gator. I know I rip on SF a lot. I want them to do better. They didn't steel my baby, but they have taken a lot of money from me in the past and I am simply fed up with it. I give them chance after chance and it's the same ol same ol.

I've been more tactful in my criticisim of SF the past few days.

SFKK is one park I want to get to this year IF operations can keep up with other parks.

Rob, if Holloween event rolls around and SF is back to the same ol' crap as usuial, I will complain about it. So what! It's MY opinion. It's like a freind who keeps making mistakes all of their life, and it hurts you because you care about him and know he can do better. I hope someone from SF reads what I have to say about them and does something about my concerns. That's not such a bad thing, is it? I actuially think it's a good thing, because it's free feedback.

I'm sorry my opinion angers you so much. I see that as YOUR problem though. It does not affect me at all.

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Monday, April 10, 2006 7:52 AM
I participated in the Six Flags KK parade the other day, and it was the absolute most fun I've ever had at a Six Flags park. And believe me, I've seen several years of Six Flags' first months, and this is by FAR the most excited I have felt about all of the changes. Mark my words...they WONT be the same Six Flags everyone loves to write about by the end of the year.
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Tuesday, April 11, 2006 3:34 AM
I am glad that SFKK has the parades now and the Justice League characters. If they keep this up, there is no doubt things will go better for them. And I am cheering for them because they are my home park! :) Thanks for the update everyone!
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