|Bumper Cars||Majestic||bumper cars|
|Flying Dutchman||Intamin||Flying Dutchman|
|Fire Chief||Zamperla||Fire Chief|
|Mile High Falls||Arrow (?)||Shoot-The-Chute|
|Thunder Run||Summers/Dinn||Wood Coaster|
|Giant Wheel||Vekoma||40-gondola Giant Wheel|
|Roller Skater||Vekoma||Roller Skater|
|The Quake||Vekoma||Waikiki Wave|
|T^2||Vekoma||Suspended Looping Coaster|
I think you can see why I referred to it as 'Vekoma World'!
The park is primarily a ride park...I saw a couple of places where they might put on shows, but in three visits to the park, I've never seen one Granted, the weather yesterday was downright NASTY. It is a nice mix of rides, though, ranging from the Break Dance (lunch recycler), the Himalaya (moderate thrill), through to the Hellevator (high thrill). The park reminds me a lot of Adventure World, except that Adventure World has a much more sensible layout.
Kentucky Kingdom looks like it has suffered from a failure of prior planning. I think I can understand the original plan...the park is bisected by a road, and a bridge leads from one side to the other. One side is a nice traditional amusement park, the other is the Hurricane Bay water park. On the traditional side, the park is laid out in a wide oval. The main gate is on one long side, the bridge is on the other, and the 8-ride kiddieland is right in the middle. Then you walk across the bridge, and things get really weird. First of all, the bridge ends with a very long ramp that desperately needs a stairway...you are required to walk a long way away from the waterpark entrance and the rides you want to ride, past the ferris wheel, and back under the bridge and up the hill to the water-park side of the park. On this side, you walk past the Waikiki Wave, the waterpark entrance, and a small grouping of rides and games including the Fire Chief, the Roller Skater, and the Flying Dutchman. Just beyond this is Thunder Run, and a passage beneath Thunder Run leads to T^2, the park's Suspended Looping Coaster. But the path from Thunder Run to T^2 winds around behind the waterpark, making it a very long walk. This park needs a skyride from the Wheel, over the waterpark, to T^2!
I also got a pair of solo front-seat rides on this one, and got to watch 'em take off the second train. As short as this ride is, they can run three trains on it! Interesting...the transfer track has a rotary switch, and once it is switched over, the advancing wheels in the station shoot the train backwards out of the station and onto the storage track. Neat!
Riding this coaster, I noticed the new track on the high-speed turnarounds, but I also noticed the old track work on other areas. And I became more convinced than ever that the PTC trailered car design is seriously flawed. Where this ride used to shuffle and bounce, it now rolls nicely with the articulated cars. As for last season's reprofile, the only part I really noticed was the bottom of the pull-out from the first major drop, which has been opened up a bit. From the top of the lift, the train dips slightly through a 180-degree turnaround, then drops into a high-speed 180-degree highly-banked turn. Two years ago, this tried to shake my fillings loose. This time, it was smooth and fast, as advertised. In fact, it was kind of unrewarding, as the banking is precisely matched to the train speed. But after the turnaround, things get really fun. Three camelback hills, each one slightly higher than the one before, lead to the back-end turnaround. And they deliver! In the front of the train, these hills provide extreme thighs-to-the-lap-bar airtime. You can't accuse me of standing since my feet were in the air too as I wrapped around the lap bar. I don't remember this ride being nearly this good! Whee! I did take a back-seat ride, but only got major air on the third of the speed hills...this is most definately a front-seat ride, particularly with the high seat backs. About the only way to significantly improve this ride would be to put the train from the Raven on it. This was the first major suprise of the day. And it wasn't over after those air-time hills. There is a back-end turnaround, followed by a double-up into a turnaround under the lift-hill peak...and a near-double-down on the other side, leading to another turnaround for the run to the station.
My second big suprise came after the rain stopped and I returned to the ride with my video camera in hand. I asked if I could shoot video on board, and much to my suprise, the attendants told me I could (with the requisite denial of responsibility, which I naturally agreed to). Thanks, guys! That wasn't allowed two years ago. Oh...I got a couple of solo rides on this one, too.
That covers the coasters, but I should also mention the Hellevator. This is one of the shorter Intamin Giant Drop rides, but that didn't much matter to me. I had to laugh when the young girl seated next to me called to her companions from the top of the tower, "I'll be down in a second!" Just for grins, I started a clock when the clamp released...it was 9.5 seconds, actually. It's a great ride, extremely smooth, with a pure free-fall most of the way down. Hmmmm....Can a stand-up version be far behind?
Overall, it was a good day, in spite of the rain. As there was no lightning present, all of the rides (including the coasters and...much to my suprise...the rim-drive Ferris wheel) remained open all day, though the waterpark closed early. For those of you heading for Stark Raven Mad, you might consider spending at least part of Saturday at Kentucky Kingdom.Next trip: Wyandot Lake
--Dave Althoff, Jr.