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Six Flags announces Kentucky Kingdom closure

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Published: February 4, 2010 at 8:02 PM

First they closed off a section of the park. Then they suddenly started taking down one of their most popular coasters to transfer elsewhere. Today Six Flags confirmed the final fate for Kentucky Kingdom. It's over.

Here's the statement from Six Flags:

Statement from Six Flags

It wasn't a great park, but it was fun. I'm sorry to see it go.

Readers' Opinions

From Robert Niles on February 4, 2010 at 8:16 PM
Six Flags is trying to blame the State Fair Board for not agreeing to changes in the lease for the park, but let's be clear: competition from Holiday World ultimately did in Kentucky Kingdom. And a new B&M coaster at Kings Island didn't help KK, either.

As Holiday World becomes a major player among Midwestern regional amusement parks, Kentucky Kingdom needed to step up to retain a profitable share of the Louisville area market. But with Six Flags in bankruptcy and the nation in a credit crunch, SF management clearly couldn't raise the cash it would have needed to build the major new attractions that might have lured visitors from Holiday World and Kings Island.

I suspect that's why Six Flags would have turned to the State Fair Board, either to get a lease discount, or help with capital to improve the park. But it's not like states or their affiliated agencies are swimming in excess cash now, either.

Theme and amusement parks are a highly competitive, capital-intensive business. You need to keep building new attractions and upgrading old ones, or you fail. Those who can make great money, which is why this is a good business for capital firms, such as Blackstone. But when credit isn't available for new construction - as became the case for Six Flags in recent years - you have no choice but to cut back, to preserve other properties.

Closing KK allows Six Flags to move rides, creating "new" attractions at several other parks at relatively low cost. That makes this a double-win for Six Flags: reduced expenses at KK and inexpensive new rides for other parks.

As for Louisville-area amusement park fans?

Well, you always have Holiday World....

From 24.90.249.214 on February 4, 2010 at 8:20 PM
I agree this park should be SHUT the accident years ago where Lasitter had her feet cut by a cable from the drop tower means the park has had POOR maintenece and INSPECTIONS of rides. THis park should have been shut YEARS AGO after this incident. THis girl is still not the same and she never will. I am shure her family probably sued them. Could this accident have had somthing to do with it?
From Andy Guinigundo on February 4, 2010 at 8:48 PM
Was it really a competition between KK, KI and Holiday World? Who's the homely best friend in that trio???

Still, I like more variety and more options; the consumer should worry that the other two would get lazy (although, I don't think they ever rest out there in Santa Claus...)

I disagree with the thought that a park should be closed due to a single incident. Should they close down Disney World after the Monorail death???

From James Rao on February 4, 2010 at 8:49 PM
It is sad to see any theme park close imho, however SFKK was definitely a minor player surrounded by a killer lineup of amusement offerings as Robert mentioned above. And honestly, the park kind of blew anyway, so it really is not much of a loss to destination travelers like me. However, I am sure the locals are bummed, and they have my sympathy.

In looking at the park's attractions, the only ride of interest to me is Greezed Lightnin' simply because one of the very first coasters I ever rode was this type of launched quickie (it was called Tidal Wave and it was at Marriott's Great America in Santa Clara). While it is little more than a first generation Mr. Freeze, I would not mind seeing Greezed Lightnin' moved to Six Flags Saint Louis (my closest SF park) so I could revisit its quaint version of fun. Twisted Twins would be okay too, but moving wooden coasters is never easy, and SFSTL already has three of its own. The only other ride of interest might be the Maurer Söhne wild mouse coaster, Road Runner Express, but do you really need a wild mouse and a Gerstlauer Spinning Coaster in the same park?

From Anthony Murphy on February 4, 2010 at 9:13 PM
That makes sense. Walk in the Parks magically disappeared from there on the website. I also was told by the person selling season passes that they are not selling them for every park.

Well, there goes my other option for going to a SF park. I also don't think they got over the "girl losing her feet" thing.

Good news for me: SFGA will likely get some rides (maybe).

From steve lee on February 4, 2010 at 10:02 PM
James, you may want to check your keyboard. It appears that you typed "Thunder Run is the best coaster there" and it seems to have come out as "Twisted Twins would be okay too." You may want to get that checked.

Apparently the news there is reporting that the mayor wants to see if he can do anything to negotiate this and keep the park open...

From James Rao on February 5, 2010 at 3:54 AM
Steve, the last thing I want to see at a park near me is another Dinn corporation back crusher. Yikes! If I want to strain vertebrae, I can just ride the Timber Wolf at Worlds of Fun.

The only reason I even listed Twisted Twins is because it has a dueling element, which would be unique in my home state. Besides, SFSTL already has the ride's trains...they might as well get the track too!

But honestly, we have plenty of wood in Missouri already! =)

From Derek Potter on February 5, 2010 at 4:23 AM
I spent a lot of time in Louisville last summer. I visited the park a couple of times, and it was a ghost town. They removed the big ticket coaster (Chang) and shipped it off to Chicago this off season, Twisted Twins has been SBNO for a couple of years, and of course the accident with the Intamin Drop Tower was hanging over their heads as well. I'm not a bit surprised, in fact it's what I figured would happen, given the fact that it doesn't seem they've put any kind of real money in this park for a long time.

One issue I saw with the park last year was it's operating hours. The park closed at 7pm during the summer....during the summer. The problem with that is that Kentucky Kingdom is an hour away from Holiday World and two hours away from Kings Island, two vastly superior operations that have all the advantages in the ride/attraction department. If Kentucky Kingdom would have been open in the evening and marketed itself as a local gathering place for the city, not to mention the University of Louisville (which was all of 3 blocks away), they might have seen more success. Instead, they operated the park as if they intended it to fail, with limited hours, unrepaired rides, the removal of rides, and lack of proper marketing.

That being said, Kentucky Kingdom's relationship with the fairgrounds seemed less than optimal. While the parking was cheap, it was also sort of landlocked, and the park closed for 2 weeks in August for the Kentucky State Fair last year. Closing two weeks during the summer hurts for a cold weather amusement park. For reasons like that, I'm lead to believe that the lease agreement with the fairgrounds probably wasn't the greatest. When the park was in good shape and likely drawing more visitors, they could handle the hindrances that the agreement had. Now, the park is in such disarray that Six Flags probably feels they need a better deal to bring the park back.

It doesn't necessarily excuse Six Flags...the park was ran into the ground and set up for failure. However, the fair board doesn't want to budge, and the company feels it can't revive the park under the lease terms, and they seemed uninterested when it was open, so I guess it's better for them to take their toys and leave. I think that with the right plan and the right management, an amusement park could still operate and make money there, albeit on a smaller scale than Kings Island. There's enough land to make a go at it.

From Jack Curley on February 5, 2010 at 7:35 AM
I moved to within an hour and a half or so of SFKK a year and a half ago, and never attempted to go, despite being a coaster junkie. I heard the worst things about the park from everyone I know who's been there. That combined with all the terrible experiences I've had over the years with Six Flags Great Adventure, and I had no desire to go. I'm sure the closing surprises no one. There were selling 5 day passes for $30 last year; trying to get what little money they could out of the park.
From 24.90.249.214 on February 5, 2010 at 3:13 PM
Six Flags greatescapes closes at 7pm in the summer and they do ok. so it is DEFINATLY not because of the hours.
From Rod Whitenack on February 5, 2010 at 3:34 PM
Let me just add a small dose of sentimetality to the reality. I've lived in Louisville most of my life. It's one of the biggest small towns in the country, but as a major city it has struggled with identity. Before the recession, Louisville was making MAJOR strides with art & culture making a splash and plans for things like the world class Museum Plaza building, but the recession which hurt all of us basically killed Louisville and ended 15 years worth of uphill climbing.

Even though Kentucky Kingdom was never in a class with King's Island or Holiday World (or even other Six Flags parks), it's sad to see it close. I took my niece there every summer during her childhood and she will miss the place. We had a lot of fun there even when the rides weren't the main attraction. It was a colorful place for us to play only 10 to 15 minutes from home. We could go there to swim or let her play in the water at a moment's notice. She loved the huge Ferris Wheel. I could ride a couple of roller coasters on the way home after a tough day at work. This is another really sad thing to happen to Louisville. It will now be a haunted, empty shell of land by the convention center reminding us of better days.

From Derek Potter on February 5, 2010 at 4:52 PM
Six Flags Great Escape doesn't have anyone to compete with. Kentucky Kingdom has heavy competition from two of the top rated and most attended parks in the country. Closing at 7pm in the summertime is not an option for a struggling amusement park in the middle of heavy competition.

During my time in Louisville, I recall seeing several advertisements for Holiday World, on the sides of buses, billboards, tv commercials. Kings Island had commercials, and several billboards around LVille in conjunction with Kroger Grocery, advertising one day admission tickets for $20.00. I saw nothing advertising Kentucky Kingdom...nothing. There were no special events...no Halloween events, seemingly no effort to stimulate attendance or business. When you don't repair major rides, close off half of the park, are open for bankers hours, and ship your flagship coaster to Chicago, that tells me you've given up.

They are in bankruptcy, and this park isn't like the other ones. They don't own and can't control the land, and likely can't pay the rent because business is so bad, and they are probably paying jacked up insurance premiums because of the accident a couple years back, and the park was in a poor state. Their bankruptcy restructuring likely allows them to terminate the lease with the fairgrounds without really having to pay the early penalty (a few million bucks I think). They were probably planning to close it anyway, as evidenced by how they managed it and the state of the company. They told the fair board and the city that they would leave if they couldn't renegotiate, and their bluff was called by the city and fair board. The problem was that it wasn't a bluff. I think that it would have been closed and sold sooner if Six Flags had actually owned the land.

From steve lee on February 6, 2010 at 9:35 AM
Derek, don't forget the Voyage billboard that was perfectly placed so you could see it on the lift hill of Twisted Twins.

Those folks at Holiday World don't play...

From Derek Potter on February 6, 2010 at 4:01 PM
Actually I think it's still there, and city buses with Holiday World ads on the side routinely make the stops on Crittenden Drive in front of the fairgrounds.
From 75.131.80.205 on February 8, 2010 at 8:40 PM
Years ago in the early 1990's went a roller coast run from Knobals, Hershey, Cedar Point. Geiga Lake, Kennywood, and Kings Island. I found out about Kentucky Kindom as I was about to fly back Louisiana. Never even knew it exsisted but would have gone to visit.
mcjumpp

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