Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom

Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom
October 2, 2005

"Toto, I don't think we're in Indiana anymore"

Yesterday, we had spent a wonderful day at Holiday World, so today as a way to take a break on the trip back home, we decided to stop by Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom (SFKK). SFKK is not really a destination park, and really isn't worth going far out of your way for, but since we were practically going right past it, why not stop by?

We started the morning with a leisurely breakfast at our hotel before heading to the park. We were quite a ways from the park because the way out hotel was situated the mapping software we used had us driving right past Holiday World. We took it slow and easy and didn't wind up showing up at SFKK till almost 2pm. Once there we pulled into the Kentucky State Fairgrounds were we paid a fairgrounds employee $5 to park in the state fairgrounds parking lot. We drove down the road that separated SFKK into two unequal halves, and proceeded to find a space in section 39 of the lot, which happens to be right next to the front gate. We looked for but did not see section 42.

Before we could enter the park, I had to purchase a ticket as I am one of those enthusiasts that does not have a Six Flags season pass. Using a coupon I picked up at work, I was able to enter the park, only $24.99 later. It seems that the park has its Fright Fest Halloween event going on and the first sign is the fake cobwebs all over the big SFKK sign over the entry way. We entered the park and found out that the big fountain at the front of the park has been transformed into a graveyard scene and a couple signs told us about all the Halloween happenings.

We made a right after entering the park and headed to Hellevator. There was some talk when Six Flags purchased the park that this rides name would not survive, but it in fact has. Rideman paused before entering the queue to observe that apparently Six Flags has outsourced their ride safety signage to Cedar Fair, I mean these signs are dead ringers for the signs found at Cedar Fair parks. Start the rumors now that Cedar Fair is taking over Six Flags, and they have already started to replace the ride signage.

We entered the queue area for Hellevator and found that we were able to walk right aboard and take our seats as the ride crew was just standing around waiting for someone to decide to ride their ride. This ride is one of the first 2nd generation Intamin Giant Drops. They have made some changes to it since then, new seat molds, and new seatbelts. Recall this ride originally did not have seatbelts, then for a while it ran with homebrew seatbelts that were literally tied onto the ride. It looks like they decided to go with the S&S method of rigidly mounting the male tongue of the buckle onto the bottom center of the shoulder bar, and then have the seatbelt fasten onto it. It looks very well done, and as a bonus the ride appears to have been painted recently. We took a very quick but effective freefall ride, and noticed the "If you liked this ride, may we suggest trying these rides" sign along the ride exit path.
We continued walking along the path around the front of the shop, past the gift shop, games and food stands. We next came across a Breakdance, which as the sign out front told us, was closed today. Hey, it’s a Six Flags park, you don't expect every ride to be open on the same day, do you? We continued walking towards Road Runner Express. The Road Runner Express at this park is a wild mouse type ride, I believe an early Mauer Shone model. The line for this was so short they were directing everybody through the Fastlane entrance. In fact again we headed right up to the platform and hopped into a ride car. In this case a mine cart themed car. We noticed that they are using an L-shaped metal ruler as a platform gate. (Hey, it doubles as a height measurement device!) They also don't let the next group of riders climb the station stairs until their car has arrived. So we sit down, fasten seatbelts, lower lapbars, and away we go. This particular Wild Mouse gives a very violent ride, almost as violent as the old time wild mouse rides, the difference is this wild mouse has no padding whatsoever, and the lapbars have a support column in the center of the car pinning your legs into a small space. The ride is brutal on those legs! It's not an experience I care to repeat today.

We exit the ride and head off towards one of the parks infamous cul-de-sacs. This pathway used to head to a picnic grove, and was anchored by the Vampire boomerang coaster, which was designed so that it deposited riders at the far back end of this long dead end walkway. Well the Vampire is gone with its space being taken up by the Road Runner Express and a Skycoaster. Skycoaster was open, but I didn't see anybody fly on it the whole time I was there. Little wonder as SFKK has not yet discounted their Skycoaster. We walked around the Skycoaster and a children's train ride (teeny tiny train that travels a small oval at slow speeds) and after a long hike, we come to a pirate (swinging) ship ride. Not surprisingly the ride was not seeming to do much business. The entrance queue was unusual in that it has a push gate to go through to enter the queue. We were able to ride in one of the end seats on the next available cycle. They only needed to use 2 and a half seats on the whole boat. Someone could be swabbing the decks as the boat itself needs some cosmetic attention. We had a mediocre swinging ship ride and then backtracked back to the main loop of the midway.

Continuing along the main loop, we next arrived at Greased Lightning, which is a Schwarzkopf Shuttle Loop. We proceeded through the empty queue area, up the stairs, into the nearly empty station and into the back car. We lowered the lapbar and waited a bit for them to decide to run the ride. The launch was great, the forwards loop was great, the forwards spike, the backwards loop. Ah, it's a great ride, spoiled by the sudden application of brakes on the return pass through the station. The brakes don't care much for it either as evidenced by the stench of smoldering brake linings. This meant that the trip up the back spike was less than stellar. We return to the station where we are informed that despite the empty station, everybody must exit and walk around. We dutifully exit and unlike the majority of the park guests, we don't hop over the single fence that separates the entrance path from the exit path. I tell you someone is going to get hurt hurdling that fence. We reenter the queue and take a seat towards the front of the train. The ride was about the same except we had a better view of a ride operator who out of a fit of boredom was beating on the track with a wooden pole, more alarmingly he seemed to playing a game of chicken with the oncoming train seeing just when to remove the pole. It's nice to know they take ride safety so seriously here.

Somewhat disturbed we continue our trip around the park. We glance in on the parks kids area which looks pretty much the way it did the last time we visited. I note that the "Turkey" Leg stand is very careful to put quotes around the word "Turkey". Be afraid, be very afraid. We come to the spot where the bumper cars usually sit and we find the bumper car arena has been boarded up. That's not an unusual event in Northern Ohio where parks seem to think bumper car arenas make great locations for haunted houses, and in fact the Road Rage Cage, as the stenciled signs on the yellow and black boards called the attraction was listed as a Fright Fest special. Luckily, its still bumper cars, in a dark building with strobes and flashing lights. To top it off the cars run halfway decently, have adjustable seatbelts that actually fit, and are run demolition derby style with no center pylon and no "One Way Only, no head on collisions" rule. I must say Road Rage Cage is a hit, and is actually a decent bumper car ride, as evidenced by the fast that we actually had to wait a cycle before riding.

After a trip to the Road Rage Cage, we headed to the Huss Rainbow. On out last trip to SFKK, the HUSS Rainbow was not operating normally, that is to say it had developed a nasty forwards/backwards shake, which is strange because the ride is supposed to go up and down and back and forth, but not forwards and back. We walk right onto the ride, and fasten the seatbelts which are attached to the ride using knots, then the bars come down. I can report that the forwards/backwards shaking behavior is gone, and the ride is once again running the way it should.

Next door is the Enterprise, we have to wait for the cycle in progress to finish up, and then we board. I climb into a car, close the door and am awarded with a hand full of grease. Huh?? This in not a unique incident on this ride as I know it has happened to others. I note the tub cage has fewer bars on it than say the one at Valleyfair, and I'm not too wild about the way the safety strap from the cage door is fastened to the door release lever. The ride does run pretty fast, and it gests up pretty high, about the closest to vertical as I have seen on an Enterprise in awhile. Shame that it has developed a bit of roughness and a shake to it, but all in all a fun ride. The ride starts to lower and slows down, then once it hits the ground it revs up to full speed again and spins for a bit before slowing back down for the final stop. Weird.

We exit the ride and I head to a wonderfully air conditioned restroom building to both cool off and wash the grease off my hands. About half a dispenser full of soap later, my hands look to be mostly clean. We then decide to skip Stargate as we don't have much interest in motion simulator attractions, but it looked like they had at least one shows full of people waiting in the outdoor queue area. We instead head to the parks Himalyah. The Himalyah's ride fencing is badly covered in rust, and the itelf looks pretty beat up what with the ripped seat cushions and all. We board the ride, and look into our seats (we sat separately) and there are no less than 6 straps coming out of the back of the seat, to form three seatbelts per seat, one for each rider. The Himlayah has its problems though that haven't been addressed, such as the major pinch point that is waiting to bite at somebodys toes, and the lap bar mechanism which juts out into the seat compartment. The Himalayah runs a long enough cycle, it just spins a bit slow.

After the Himalayah, we decide to make our first crossing of The Damned Bridge. I never did like that bridge. The bridge takes you from the nice compact original Kentucky Kingdom area, where the adult rides are laid out along the outer band of a big loop, with the kids area in the center, to the more freeform expansion area. The expansion area is also basically in a loop, just not compact, and it has the waterpark in the center of its loop. Some visitors might even remember when the ride park and the water park were separate gates, located on opposite sides of the parking lot entry road.

At the other end of the Damned Bridge we continue to go straight and to the left so we are heading towards the Giant Wheel. On the Giant Wheel we noticed that rides have a red/green pole at the entrance. If you fall into the red zone you are not of the correct height, in the green, you are cleared to ride. On rides without height requirements, the sign is a yellow smiley face that says "Family fun for everyone" In this case the Giant Wheel is a Vekoma wheel. We decide to ride the Wheel, which required us to undergo the rider eligibility test. See it’s a portable model wheel, and the queue area is made out of metal grating. I guess you could say that it standing on the very open metal grate of the floor of the queue area causes you concern you may not want to get onto the ride. We board and take a relaxing ride on the Giant Wheel, and confirm that the park is as dead as we think it is. I mean I know its Fright Fest, but they are taking this whole ghost town thing a bit seriously. We exit the Giant Wheel and notice the attractive retro style ride fence that surrounds it. Too bad that fence needs a serious repainting. We continue around the park past a children's activity area for Fright Fest, then past the pay extra zone with its go-karts, climbing wall, and trampoline thing. I must say the food court they have added near the entrance to the waterpark looks quite attractive, and far better than the older food court which was made up of carnival style grab joint trailers. Hey wait that row of carnival style grab joint trailers is still there up the midway a bit. They all sit disused today.

We veer off to the left and enter the queue area for Chang. The queue area for Chang needs some work as the weeds and plant life are starting to overtake the queue path, however to the parks credit they have finally put some canvas shades over the queue area. Not that we would be needing the shades as we walked right up into the station and onto the ride. Well, both of us walk onto the ride, Rideman claims his seatbelt would not fasten, so he does not partake of the ride. Chan is a B&M stand up coaster, and runs pretty quiet for a B&M, and also runs pretty smooth for a ride in this park. About the only problems with this ride is the overgrown weeds in the queue area and the paint job that they have tried so many times but just can't get the paint job to hold up. I rather like Chang, and soon we pass a ride photo booth who opertor is making zero effort to sell photos to the small crowd, then we go through the gift shop as we are forced to do. The gift shop is laid out such that you have to zig zag through the displays to get to the exit. You know the kind of layout that you want to just stretch your arms out and take out a few displays just to annoy the park as much as the forced visit to the gift shop annoys you. Actually judging from the security guard stationed inside the store, I wonder if this forced exit through retail is causing them more problems than its worth.

Continuing on our way, we both have to stop and just laugh so hard when we see Chaos. The Chaos at SFKK, like most Chaos rides in this nation is closed this season. The park has decorated it up in fake cobwebs, or were those real cobwebs), and a big giant plastic inflatable spider sitting on top of it. It looks wonderful in its own way. Also in this area is an overgrown children's car ride, of the sort were they sit in cars and go around in slow circles. There are no buzzers to play with on this ride, but only one steering wheel per car, and it does function to a point in that you can steer your car so that it pivots to face left, right or straight.

We continued our tour of the park by going into what was clearly meant to be Gotham City. You see the parks inverted coaster, T^2 is sandwiched between the Gotham City Arena and Penguin's Blizzard River. T^2 was even painted black, and the pop machine for the T^2 queue has a batman front on it. Either way we walked through another queue area that is getting overgrown with weeds, past some nice misters that don't get the ground wet, up the stairs and into the front seat with no waiting. After that ride we got back in line and took a back seat ride. It’s the standard Vekoma SLC layout, and I belive this ride was the United States debut of this ride. Five inversions in a very tight layout, which leads the ride to exhibit qualities that have earned it the nickname "Hang N' Bang" I must say the back seat is slightly better than the front seat in terms of ride smoothness. The most interesting thing about this particular SLC is that the park has let the weeds and brush underneath the lift hill run rampant, so much so that if you don't pick your legs up the bottom half of your leg will drag through the brush and weeds, even more so if you sit on the left. I sure hope that wasn't poison ivy. The ride exit path also has a totally unneeded fence that was serving the purpose of sending everyone through a bottleneck past a closed ride photo booth.

We continued on along the main path past the airbrush booth and came to Penguin's Blizzard River. I have been wanting to take a ride on Blizzard River, it seems the ride is always either closed or the line is long whenever I am there. It was the longest line I waited in all day and that was with the line just to the door for the indoor queue area. Rideman sensing that riders were looking a bit on the drenched side decided not to ride. I persisted and was soon shown to a raft. Before boarding the raft I noted a sign stating that "Personal Floatation Devices available" as well as a huge bin stuffed full of life vests. Given the fact that some park's rapids rides have capsized, I can't fault the idea. I declined the life vest offer, as did everybody else who was riding at the time. That means I didn't get to see if they use a life vest the way he majority of people using them, or if they use them LongWorld style. ( Blizzard River is designed to make sure you get totally drenched within the first 20 seconds of the ride thanks to a nice cascading waterfall that goes on for the entire first turnaround. In fact on Blizzard River, while I can't deny the rapids will drench your bottom side, the bigger threat is all the various water spraying devices that are all over the course, including in the two themed tunnels. I must admit the ride is nicely themed, if just a bit too wet. At the end of the ride you wait in a little covered part for your rafts turn to go up the lift hill. It would be really neat if they would blow hot air on you at this point to kinda help you dry off. Naw, they have fans in that area blowing nice cold air at you. Well, it is the Blizzard River after all. Our raft easily had 4" of water in the bottom oat the end of the ride. Rideman wondered why we just sat there in the unload area, uhm, because the ride operator told us to remain seated, that's all. Speaking of operators, the main console operator on Blizzard River wins the award for being the most enthusiastic with his microphone spiels.

Well, now I need to dry off, and this park does not have a Wave Singer. We made our way towards Thunder Run, where we noted the racecar simulator video game has been removed. We also noted that perhaps the park is showing mercy. SFKK is infamous for blocking off perfectly good walkways just to make you walk the LONG way, presumably past games, gifts, and food. For example there is a real short path from Top Eliminator to Thunder Run, and there are NO employee facilities along the path, but SFKK has installed two waist high gates on either end of the path, I mean you can see the whole length of the path, but you aren't allowed to take it, and they usually post a sentry nearby to make sure you don’t cheat, just because its so tempting. I mean you can see the Thunder Run station, but you have to walk clear around the back of the ride to get there. However, the park currently has the Thunder Run walkway open, much to my happiness.

We entered the Thunder Run queue and two trains later we were riding in the front seat. The male end of these seatbelts are ridiculously short, so short in fact that I find it easier to stand in front of my seat, buckle the seatbelt around my knees, the slide into the seat under the seatbelt, then lower the lapbar. Thunder Run must be some park executives 'baby' I mean this ride is well taken care of, runs nice and smooth, and even has some nice airtime. The ride starts with a turnaround to the left out of the station, up the lift hill, then another turnaround to the left,. The top of the lift is lined with flags that seem to mimic the lift hills in that park about an hour to the west. Thunder Run even got some sternly worded signs telling you that lapbars and seatbelts must be worn for the entire ride. Anyway around the turnaround then the first drop which runs right alongside the station, into the high banked turnaround to the left. I used to think this high bank turnaround was extreme, that is until I saw what they are doing with Voyage at that park one hour to the west. After the turnaround, you go over three airtime hills, then another turnaround to the left then you head back towards the station, go up a short hill, then you do another turnaround to the left, go out again a short ways, then one final turnaround to the left to point you back to the station. It’s a wonderful ride with nice airtime, and it seems to be lovingly cared for.

We exited Thunder Run and walked a short distance to ride the Flying Dutchman. Yep, this is the same Flying Dutchman ride that used to be at PKI where your ride in giant swings that look like Dutch style wooden shoes. Hey it’s the closest thing to a swing ride here. SFKK has taken the lapbars out of the shoes and replaced them with seatbelts with the plastic camera bag strap type buckles. So its not a high thrill ride, but it’s a fun ride, and its nice to see its still around to entertain us. We took a look around Belgian Village to confirm that yes, the Quake is finally GONE. The ride that hardly ever ran, was really noisy making nasty noises when it ran, and wasn't even a great ride. The waterpark took over that parcel of real estate for their newest waterslide. The fire engine ride is still there, and we looked over the International Carousel, which looks really nice. I mean we have to deduct a few points for the band organ not playing, but overall it’s a decent ride. I also note the games area that was in this area is boarded up and is labeled such that it appears to be the parks security office. No Crazy Ball for me this year. (Crazy Ball where you actually bet on what color hole a ball thrown onto a game board filled with a bunch of holes will fall into)

We next proceeded to ride the Roller Skater, which is the parks kiddie coaster. Yet another Vekoma ride. It looks like they have added seatbelts to this coaster, which is probably a good idea since the lapbars are loose fitting. It’s a kiddie coaster with an above average layout.

After the Roller Skater we headed back towards Twisted Twins, when we noted the midway that houses Mile High Falls and the Zeppelin is closed for a haunted trail. Ah, that’s why the Thunder Run shortcut was open today, it’s the only way to complete the loop. So we backtrack under Thunder Run, then past a very large and very closed Top Eliminator Dragster. I mean this ride must have its share of problems, its an extra charge attraction, and it seems to be closed on a routine basis This makes for a very long midway with absolutely nothing open along it until you get back to Twisted Twins. Which means that Twisted Twins is so far off the midway that unless you purposely went looking for it today, you would not find it. Due to the haunted trail all the games and stuff along the midway back to Twisted Twins was closed, including the restroom building. It’s a long hike back here just for Twisted Twins. At least the park has finally installed a shortcut gate in the queue so that you don't have to walk around it the long way every time. That should help as guests were trampling over whatever barriers they tried to put in peoples way to discourage the obvious line jump places. Today only the front (pink) coaster was running, and it made its presence known from a distance away. I mean whereas Thunder Run seems to be lovingly cared for, this coaster is literally SCREAMING out for TLC. I mean the trains scrapes and squeals its way around every curve, and owing to the twisty layout of this ride, that means it spends a good portion of the ride squealing for help. As expected we find a half full train in the station and are able to board right away. We take a seat in the back of the pink train, and soon we are off. The train starts squealing for mercy during the curves leading to the lift hill, not a good sign. We go up the lift and I look over and am dismayed to learn that the infamous Holiday World billboard that used to taunt Twisted Twins riders is now a Pepsi billboard. We crest the lift, turnaround, and take a nastily violent lunge down the first drop that first catapults you up into the lapbar, then as the train reaches bottom slams you back down into the seat just as hard. This would be great ridden in a proper train, but instead we have the Gerstaluers, with their totally unpadded benches, and their unpadded lapbars. YEOWCH. The ride doesn't get any better between the hard curves and the train squealing. Shame it could be so good, but this ride needs some TLC and some trackwork in the worst way. We take two more rides in the backseat before we must move. After about 5 rides we move on. The ride does seems a fair bit smoother up front.

Time to hike all the way back to Belgian Village. We award ourselves by taking a victory lap on Thunder Run. Aww, that's how a coaster should run, and I even got picked on by the Thunder Run crew for wearing a Holiday World shirt.

We continued through Belgian Village and were dismayed to learn that Swampwater Jacks is no longer a buffet, but is not just an overpriced burger outlet. I ask you, $9 for a hamburger and fries basket! That doesn't even include the soft drink! It should be noted that I did not purchase any food or beverage while at SFKK. We next headed to the car to get the camera to take pictures, yes this involved another trip over That Damned Bridge, where we walked around the backside of the older section to note that overall the amount of games in this park has decreased, and the ones that are left are almost all $3 and up a try. I also noted the theater right inside the park gate is currently being used as a walk through haunted house, at $4 extra per trip. Before heading to the car we look in both the Looney Tunes Shop and Exclusively Flags shops and in general were dismayed by this years merchandise collection. Almost nothing park specific, its almost all stuff that could be shipped off to any Six Flags park. You've been in one Six Flags park gift shop, you've seen em all. As a flag collector, I was also dismayed that a shop calling itself Exclusively Flags does not sell flags of any description. Anyway we go out, Rideman gets a camera and we take a second lap around the park.

For the most part we did a lot of talking and walking and picture taking but not much, if any, riding got accomplished the second lap around the park. As we made our third pass across That Damned Bridge it must be noted that the pathway is designed to offer a commanding view into the parks included waterpark, Hurricane Bay. I looked at the now closed for the season waterpark. I took a while to take in the view and noted that in the center of the sundeck by the wave pool is a stand that looks like a lifeguard shack. On top of the lifeguard shack is a flagpole, flying from the flagpole is one Hurricane flag. After closer reference to my guides, it seems that ONE hurricane flag is actually a tropical storm warning, and TWO hurricane flags is a hurricane warning, so maybe this is really Tropical Storm Bay. But wait a minute, AHA, Six Flags may be on to something here. Hurricane season ended at SFKK just after labor day, and as naturally follows hurricanes, the storm has been downgraded to a tropical storm, hence only one hurricane flag. Also hurricanes were found to nurture Tornado's and look thee in the corner of the waterpark, this year a Tornado has landed in Hurricane Bay. Tornado, the funnel shaped waterslide, of course, that has been popping up at waterparks across the nation this year. Who says Six Flags can't theme an area.

When I commented on this to Rideman, he commented "You seem to know a lot about flags" and then proceeded to ask: " "

Okay, so Rideman really asked the question in normal conversational English. It just so happens that I am familiar with how to make the semaphore alphabet. We continued around the park where upon taking a closer look at stuff, I noted that the waterpark has gone to Smart Care electronic lockers. Recall this is a waterpark, I wonder how you are supposed to protect the paper ticket with your locker combination.

We more or less took a walk around the park, then decided to start the drive for home. We still needed to fetch dinner, and get home, and Rideman still had a 2 hour drive after he dropped me off.

We stopped off at Cracker Barrel, where they were out of meatloaf, of course that meant that each of us 'ordered the meatloaf' A nice relaxing meal to end the weekend of fun and merriment, now all that’s left is the ride back home.

To conclude this report, both of us did return to our respective homes in safe condition, and thus ends the Fall Affair at Holiday World weekend.


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