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COASTER: Kentucky Flyer

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Kirmes & Park Revue English Edition - epaper ⋅ Ausgabe 11/2019 vom 21.10.2019

The rapidly growing, a hugely popular Kentucky Kingdom, right next door to Louisville airport, were looking for another family coaster to add to there line up and an attraction from The Gravity Group fit the bill perfectly: “Kentucky Flyer” is a wooden coaster or alternatively a so called hybrid coaster (wood en track with steel structure).

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Fun for all ages: In fact, minimum height restriction is just one metre!

Park President Ed Hart was in no doubt he wanted The Gravity Group to build his next rollercoaster: “I made a visit to Quassy Amuse ment Park in Connecticut and ‘Wooden Warrior ’ really grabbed my ...

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Park President Ed Hart was in no doubt he wanted The Gravity Group to build his next rollercoaster: “I made a visit to Quassy Amuse ment Park in Connecticut and ‘Wooden Warrior ’ really grabbed my attention. Our Director of Revenue was traveling with me and I asked him to hop on and take a ride. (Confession: I have motion sickness so I don’t ride rides if I can help it!) He raved about the ride, especially thrilled by its speed and airtime. With Kentucky Kingdom’s 30th anniversary approaching in 2019, we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than to introduce our sixth coaster. I asked the Gravity Group to design a coaster for us like the ‘Wooden Warrior’, but of course with its own special character – and they certainly succeeded!”
The site of Kentucky Kingdom is owned by the Kentucky State Fair, with them selling the lease to park operators. From 1989 to 1997, the rights to run the park were owned by Ed Hart and a group of investors. In 1998 Premier Parks bought the rights, for $ 64 million, and quickly became Six Flags. With a massive decline in attendance, Six Flags called time on Kentucky Kingdom and the park closed in 2010. Then in 2014 Ed Hart returned and the park reopened, he vowed not to repeat the mistakes of Six Flags, which was not to invest in rides. Hart famously said in 2014 “It’s all about the rides, stupid.” As such the park has now seen three major rollercoasters added in just 5 years, not to mention numerous other attractions. This of course has seen attendance soar back towards the numbers of the previous Ed Hart era.

The new out-and-back coaster runs along the backside of the park behind the waterpark’s lazy river. Being an out and back design means the ride takes up a thin strip of land and creates a fabulous backdrop for the Hurricane Bay waterpark. The striking aeroplane design of the lead car fits perfectly given the parks proximity to an airport, with real planes buzzing over head. “Kentucky Flyer” has a 1.01 m height restriction, making it accessible for many families, but don’t let the kiddie coaster height requirement put you off as adults will love this ride. The coaster begins rolling straight out the station and on to the 14.3 m lift hill. It’s worth reiterating, don’t let the small lift hill deceive you in to thinking this is a ride just for kids. A slight twist to the right and it’s time to dive down the first drop reaching 56 km/h.
A rising airtime bunny hill, a banked left hand turn and over a big hill offering a large pop of negative G. Diving under the structure, another little bunny hill brings you rising up and over another zero G moment and into the undulating turn around. The return run is pretty much in a straight line with only a couple of gentle turns, but it guarantees smiles all round as you’ll enjoy six back to back hair raising airtime hills before you fly in to the brake run.
Kids are beaming with smiles, teenagers are beaming with smiles, parents are beaming with smiles and grandparents are beaming with smiles, which tells you one thing, everyone loves this ride. The Gravity Group have proved yet again that statistics don’t matter, great rides don’t have to be the tallest, the steepest, the fastest, small coasters can be just as great as the bigger ones. With their track record of impressive family wooden coasters, all under 20 m, The Gravity Group are on to a winner. However this latest ride almost didn’t happen. Kentucky Kingdom doesn’t own the land it sits on, the site is leased from the Kentucky State Fair Board. In order to build “Kentucky Flyer” the park needed to expand its footprint on to land allocated for such use. But a battle over parking access escalated and it’s suggested this saw Kentucky Kingdom barred from building on the extra land. An eleventh hour intervention from the local government ensured the project could go ahead, and the purchase of the ride was made. And so for its 30th anniversary Kentucky Kingdom visitors were able to board the aeroplane themed “Kentucky Flyer”. Hart couldn’t be more pleased with their latest ride “We knew what we wanted–a coaster that the whole family can ride together and yet that’s also got the requisite thrills to satisfy the most die-hard coaster enthusiast. Its specially engineered restraints, which accommodate a wide range of sizes, the height requirement for accompanied riders is only 40 inches, meaning many younger children are able to join their parents and siblings as they ex-perience their very first roller coaster ride. Creating those kinds of lifelong memories for families is what we love to do at Kentucky Kingdom!”


■Opening day: 25th April 2019
■Track length: 392 m
■Track height: 14.3 m
■Max. speed: 56 km/h
■Vertical angle: 52°
■Bank angle: 54°
■Ride time: 1 min 20 sec
■Pure ride time: 35 sec (drop to brake run)
■2 trains each with 6 cars per car 2 passengers
■Manufacturer: The Gravity Group, Cincinnati, USA
■ Operator: Kentucky Kingdom, Louisville, USA

Ed Hard was and is the soul of the park / New expansion site for future attractions

“Kentucky Flyer” helped the park set a new daily attendance record with 18,484 guests turning up for a day of thrills and fun. With Ed Hart’s transformation of Kentucky Kingdom, reversing the decline of the Six Flags era, he’s proved the old saying, “If you build them, they will come”.