Kentucky Kingdom is about halfway between Six Flags St. Louis and Kings Island. It’s a small park that is making a big name for itself in the industry, and I was there on June 29 and 30 when they finally reopened for the 2020 season.
By Justin S. Landers
The park’s operating procedures differ slightly from some of the other parks I have been to. Unlike Worlds of Fun, Silver Dollar City, and Six Flags St. Louis, masks were not mandatory, but highly encouraged. This was a similar policy to Lagoon. The crowds in this park were almost non-existent, though. The longest line was about 15 minutes, and that was for two of the coasters in the park, Lightning Run, and Storm Chaser — when they were open.
This park features six rollercoasters, a handful of flat rides, and an entire water park — all about a mile away from an airport. It is absolutely insane to see planes come flying in as you get ready to go over a 100-foot drop on a steel machine.
One-hundred feet is about their height limit — a limit a few of their coasters bump right up against. T3, Lightning Run, and Storm Chaser all come in at around 100 feet tall, and the new rumor of a RMC Raptor clone — something that would make them only the second park in the country to have two RMCs— could be right around the 100-foot mark as well. They use all 100 feet to their fullest advantage on each of these rides though.
Storm Chaser is the standout ride in this park. It’s an RMC of a smaller size, with just about a 100-foot inverted drop, so you actually do a small roll over before the main drop. It was my first RMC with a barrel drop like this, and it was insane. Even coming in at a smaller height, this RMC packs a punch, like all of the others I have ridden. Unfortunately, I only managed three rides across my two days at this park. Around 1 p.m. on the 29th, it went down for mechanical problems with a decent-sized line that probably would have been close to 30 minutes with their one-train operations. Sadly, it didn’t reopen before I left. I even stopped by on July 1 to check before getting back on the road.
Lightning Run is the next standout roller coaster. This is a unique ride, made by a company called Chance, and is called a Hyper-GTX. This thing packs some crazy ejector air into such a small compact layout that it’s amazing to me there aren’t more of these throughout parks! What an amazing experience. The first drop throws you out of your seat, and the immediate airtime hill that follows is wild. This coaster consistently had a 5-15 minute wait, and I could see why, with it being the best open coaster in the park.
Kentucky Kingdom now boasts two wooden coasters, a family gravity group that provided a surprising amount of airtime even with it’s small drop of less than 50 feet, and a Dinn Corporation wooden coaster called Thunder Run, which I found to be a little rough and lacking in airtime. The family coaster certainly wins the wooden coaster battle here.
They also have an SLC — a Suspended Looping Coaster — and not just any SLC, but the worst one I’ve ever ridden. SLC’s are known through the roller coaster community as being, well, awful. These Vekoma coasters are nicknamed “hang and bangs.” This one, however, suffers from a totally different issue: the restraints are newly-upgraded bars that don’t rest near your head at all, but instead sit on your legs. Then they push tighter and tighter as you are rag-dolled through terrible transitions. Once was too many times to ride this, and I regretted it before we even came off the lift hill.
This park also serves Dole Whip, so for you Disney fans out there, stop by the little shack near the wave pool! Kentucky Kingdom also features two cafeteria-style restaurants with a good variety of food choices between them; I, however, did not eat anything besides Dole Whip during my visit.
Overall, Kentucky Kingdom is a decent park. I wish that face masks were required, that there were multiple trains on each roller coaster capable of running more than one, and that Storm Chaser didn’t go down within hours of the park opening for the season. I guess next year, when they build their Raptor, I will just have to go back.
29-year-old Justin Landers owns Just Shoot Light Multimedia Productions. He has been involved in the amusement and theme park industry since 2013 as a freelance photographer and videographer. You can follow him on Instagram @Inverted_Therapy and Just Shoot Light on YouTube.