The owner of the Dollywood and Silver Dollar City theme parks will take over the Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay amusement and water park in Louisville. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced the deal with Herschend Enterprises in a press conference earlier today.
"This is a partnership that takes a good foundation, a good attraction, and turns it into an international destination to bring people in to see the finest of Kentucky and spend their time both at the park and in our community," Gov. Beshear said.
Built next to the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center near the intersection of Interstates 65 and 264, Kentucky Kingdom is a 65-acre park complex that features several notable roller coasters, including a Dinn woodie, Thunder Run; the RMC Storm Chaser; and The Gravity Group's Kentucky Flyer, which opened in 2019.
"We are pleased to turn the park over to a new generation of leadership. Herschend is an outstanding operator, who will undoubtedly take Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay to the next level. We expect their involvement will add greatly to the Commonwealth’s thriving tourism industry," Kentucky Kingdom's founder, President and CEO Ed Hart said.
Under the deal, Herschend will become the new majority partner of Kentucky Kingdom Theme Park, LLC. Craig Ross is moving over from Dollywood to become the interim General Manager for Kentucky Kingdom.
Herschend's top priority for the park will be "building the appeal for multi-generational families," according to the company's press release. To that end, Herschend promises to expand the season and to add seasonal and themed events and festivals at Kentucky Kingdom. Expect to see some Herschend signatures brought to the park, such as Cinnamon Bread and skillet dinners, too.
"We strongly believe in using guest and community input to create amazing experiences and will be reaching out to the Louisville community for input on enhancements they’d like to see at the park, including attractions, shows and events," Ross said. "This feedback will be critical in creating a long-term plan for success and growth."
Herschend operates 25 properties in eight states, welcoming more than 14 million guests in 2019. In addition to Dollywood and Silver Dollar City, Herschend runs the Wild Adventures park in Valdosta, Georgia as well as aquariums in Camden, New Jersey and Newport, Kentucky, across the river from Cincinnati.
While Kentucky Kingdom is well positioned with the Louisville market, it faces plenty of competition for theme park fans across the region, with Holiday World & Splashin' Safari located one hour to west in Indiana and free, twice-a-week email newsletter. Thank you.Tweet
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