Kicking It in the Kingdom

Courtesy Photos

By Mariah Kline

Since its revitalization in 2014, the operators of Kentucky Kingdom have added a great deal of exciting new attractions. On Friday, May 26, Louisville’s local amusement park will reopen seven days a week and officially kick off their summer season. This year, they have more thrills than ever, plus new kid-friendly rides and ways to make your day at the park an educational experience.

For thrill seekers, Kentucky Kingdom has no shortage of exhilarating coasters and rides. For 2017, they have revealed a new looping coaster called Eye of the Storm, which stands 73 feet tall and takes riders backward and forward on 360-degree loops. Last year, they introduced Storm Chaser, which received second place in the Best New Ride for 2016 by Amusement Today and second place in USA Today’s Best New Theme Park Attraction. Other thrilling rides include the gravity-defying T3: Terror to the Third Power, wooden roller coaster Thunder Run, swinging pendulum Cyclos and more.

For small children who aren’t ready for coasters, there’s King Louie’s Playland, an exciting kids’ area with 14 attractions that parents can ride along with their children. New in 2017, the park is introducing Loony Balloony and Rowdy Racers. Loony Balloony takes riders on a mini hot air balloon ride, and Rowdy Racers takes children on a whip-style driving course. Kentucky Kingdom also offers Angry Birds: The Ride, an exclusive 5D cinema experience that makes riders feel as if they’re in the movie.

While a day at the Kingdom is guaranteed to be full of fun and frills, parents can also use it as an opportunity for an education daycation. The park recently introduced the Interactive Gardens, which allows guests to learn more about the thousands of flowers, trees, shrubs and other plants that live on the 63-acre property. Many of the plants now have a small plaque near them with a QR code that can be scanned with your smartphone. The code will reveal interesting facts about each plant and will even tell you how you can grow it at home.

Another nature-related activity is Sea Lion Splash, a live show where audience members watch rescued sea lions playfully perform and learn more about the animals.

“We have five sea lions here who were rescued and couldn’t be re-released into the wild,” explains Julie Johnson, Kentucky Kingdom’s director of sales and marketing. “This show is educational and entertaining. Guests get to watch them do some tricks and learn more about the environmental issues that affect the world’s sea lion population.”

Guests can also see an abridged version of “Kentucky Show,” a multimedia presentation that is regularly shown at the Kentucky Science Center. The show gives viewers a glimpse of the rich history and culture of our great state and is narrated by actress Ashley Judd.

No day at Kentucky Kingdom is complete without a visit to the water park. In case you haven’t visited since the park reopened in 2014, Hurricane Bay is now double its previous size. It features two wave pools, a lazy river, a kid-friendly area and several slides for hours of fun. The water park is home to Deep Water Dive, the world’s tallest body slide that features a 12-story drop at an astounding 70-degree angle. They have also added a special attraction for the adults this year: a 4,000-square-foot craft beer garden.

The park has countless hours of entertainment in store, and their season pass lets guest revisit all summer long for just $59.95. This pass includes free parking, $1 drinks and 20 percent  off all food and merchandise. They also offer an exceptional deal for out-of-state guests. For $29.95, these visitors receive two consecutive days of admission plus unlimited free drinks.

While this will only be its fourth summer since reopening to the public, the staff at Kentucky Kingdom can’t wait to begin another season.

“We’re really pleased to be back,” says Johnson. “We have a great management team here and we operate under local ownership. Our CEO Ed Hart and his partners have some very big plans for the future, and we’re excited to see what’s in store.”

The park has received a great deal of appreciation in recent years, including recognition from the Los Angeles Times, CNN and the Travel Channel. With new rides and new excitement, there’s no better time to pay a visit and experience the fun for yourself. VT