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Kentucky Kingdom (SFKK, KK) Discussion Thread

P. 401: Herschend Enterprises named majority partner and park operator

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I'm not optimistic about this. I'd imagine that ticket and season pass prices are going to shoot up (which sucks because under the Hart ownership, they were pretty cheap compared to other parks). I thought that the Hart team would operate the park for at least a decade before passing it on to someone else, but oh well. I knew the pandemic was hurting them, but I didn't think it was to this extent. I will say that I'm impressed at what has been accomplished over the past seven years; in 2014, Kentucky Kingdom still felt like a Six Flags park, but now it feels more unique and the quality has improved. Hopefully Herschend doesn't run this park into the ground, but if history is any indication, dark days may be ahead.

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Am I missing something here?  I thought Dollywood and SDC were widely regarded as being great parks around these parts?  Why all the doom and gloom?

No joking, I've never been to any Herschend Parks nor Kentucky Kingdom in any iteration, so I really don't know.

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They *are* great parks! But have a very different history.

Remember when Herschend managed Darien Lake? Dollywood 2.0!!!!

But in all seriousness, I see people raving about the RMC they got but I don't think they are getting a return on it. The $50 season passes can only go so far for a small park like this. Honestly I don't know much about the park, I've only been to it once, but those are just my thoughts based on not many facts other than it seeming like they aren't getting a ton of attendance. I don't have the numbers to prove it.

I think it's going to be a challenge regardless of who is running the place.



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48 minutes ago, Mike240SX said:

Am I missing something here?  I thought Dollywood and SDC were widely regarded as being great parks around these parts?  Why all the doom and gloom?

No joking, I've never been to any Herschend Parks nor Kentucky Kingdom in any iteration, so I really don't know.

I don't hate Herschend, they have some excellent management, but I like that team that Ed Hart put together. Not saying that a national corporation couldn't successfully operate the park, but I personally like the local management that's operated the park in the 2010s.

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I don't dislike Herschend either. There is just a je ne sais quoi about Ed and his team that I like.  I guess I like that its a local team running the park after what happened when Six Flags left. The past few years I've been in KY I've frequented the park and I've only witnessed a few busy days where I'd actually have to wait in line so what we see unfolding shouldn't be so surprising I guess.

 

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I have to be honest, my first reaction when hearing the recent rumors was excitement because I envisioned KK being run similarly as SDC and Dollywood. However, after reading on here I do understand the concerns. Ed Hart and his team saved this park and completely overhauled it into something special, but I don’t think that KK would fall to the wayside in Herschend’s lineup. It’s far enough away from their main two parks and already has pretty good bones. I’d argue it is significantly ahead of the other properties owned by Herschend and if they were to take over, it’s possible that KK becomes their third park in the chain. We’ll have to wait and see, but this could be a really good thing if it comes to fruition. Although, I honestly always imagined that Herschend would purchase Holiday World before KK because it seems like it fits more with the styles of SDC and Dollywood.

One more thing: Both SDC and Dollywood have a special charm about them that represents their home’s heritage well. I feel like there is a lot they could do with KK to honor KY’s bourbon, Appalachian, and racehorse legacies. It would be interesting to see the theming opportunities in the park they choose to pursue or not to pursue.

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28 minutes ago, HWLover said:

I have to be honest, my first reaction when hearing the recent rumors was excitement because I envisioned KK being run similarly as SDC and Dollywood. However, after reading on here I do understand the concerns. Ed Hart and his team saved this park and completely overhauled it into something special, but I don’t think that KK would fall to the wayside in Herschend’s lineup. It’s far enough away from their main two parks and already has pretty good bones. I’d argue it is significantly ahead of the other properties owned by Herschend and if they were to take over, it’s possible that KK becomes their third park in the chain. We’ll have to wait and see, but this could be a really good thing if it comes to fruition. Although, I honestly always imagined that Herschend would purchase Holiday World before KK because it seems like it fits more with the styles of SDC and Dollywood.

One more thing: Both SDC and Dollywood have a special charm about them that represents their home’s heritage well. I feel like there is a lot they could do with KK to honor KY’s bourbon, Appalachian, and racehorse legacies. It would be interesting to see the theming opportunities in the park they choose to pursue or not to pursue.

I agree, I'm impressed by what the company has done at SDC and Dollywood, and it would be really cool to see Kentucky Kingdom go from just an amusement to a Kentucky-themed theme park. They already have an area near Storm Chaser that looks like a frontier town, and I'd say it's the nicest area of the park; hopefully they'll make it more like an SDC and less like Wild Adventures.

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If the price is right, the company will sell. Bottom line.

 

On 2/20/2021 at 11:45 PM, realKyle said:

I just saw him standing at the top of the staircase looking out at the park, and the hundreds of people who were swimming in the wave pool; and I thought "that has to be the most satisfying moment of his life."

 

I mean... If he has a family that might be the most depressing thing I've ever read.

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I mean... I love my son but all the Japanese people walking out of Tokyo Disney when a huge blizzard hit in the morning and leaving the park empty for the rest of the day is hard to compete with. The wedding/honeymoon were some alright days too now now I think about it.

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4 hours ago, prozach626 said:

I mean... If he has a family that might be the most depressing thing I've ever read.

Lol sorry, I thought it said "one of the most" not "the most." He has a family, so I'd say that there are numerous moments in his personal life that trump something like that at an amusement park.

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Enthusiasts: rave 24/7 about Dollywood, SDC, never spares a chance to gush how much better it is than the corporate Cedar Fair and Six Flags. 
Herschend is going to buy Kentucky Kingdom: This is bad bad news, shame its being sold to corporate. RIP KK 


Like....yall 😂

 

Yes yes I get it, shame it that its going from its individual ownership to a chain esp after he revived it from Six Flags etc Maybe Im a lame-o that just doesn't inherently see the issue with being "corporate" but outside of the sad thought Hart can't keep up the park right now, I dont see the issue.

will prices go up? Im sure. But what if that gets invested in the park? Dollywood has exploded over the last decade. SDC has added some big rides. I've not been to either park but people seem to love em, praise their "feel" and "atmosphere"  Like this is Herschend, not SF or even CF....I think the park will be fine and prob better off! 
Especially if the park is hurting, which Im reading it has been, I mean...what yall prefer? It just goes under? Seems like a great move to me, and if they can build it up to the quality of DW/SDC that would be superb as its just outside OH...I would surely go here much more frequently! 

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53 minutes ago, JJLehto said:

Enthusiasts: rave 24/7 about Dollywood, SDC, never spares a chance to gush how much better it is than the corporate Cedar Fair and Six Flags. 
Herschend is going to buy Kentucky Kingdom: This is bad bad news, shame its being sold to corporate. RIP KK 


Like....yall 😂

This is exactly what I’ve been thinking!! Everyone always raves about SDC, and DW.... yet now it’s doom and gloom for KK.... I just don’t get it. 

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One of the biggest things that SDC and Dollywood have going for them is their setting.  Both are located in very mountainous, picturesque, tourist friendly areas.  For whatever reason, trying to replicate that type of theming/experience literally right next to an international airport would almost seem out of place to me... but I guess we'll see what happens.  

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I doubt much will change at the park aesthetically outside of some beautification projects here and there, it's not like they're going to overhaul entire sections to fit a theme that the park doesn't have to begin with.

 

As long as Herschend keeps the park profitable and open then don't see any negative to this really. 

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Yeah, I think the only 'concern' is because people see this park going more the way of Celebration City or Wild Adventures than becoming the next SDC or Dollywood.  I think it will stay pretty much the same and that's just fine. 

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1 minute ago, SharkTums said:

I think the only 'concern' is because people see this park going more the way of Celebration City or Wild Adventures than becoming the next SDC or Dollywood.

Yeah, that's what I've thought too.

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27 minutes ago, SharkTums said:

Yeah, I think the only 'concern' is because people see this park going more the way of Celebration City or Wild Adventures than becoming the next SDC or Dollywood.  I think it will stay pretty much the same and that's just fine. 

That's understandable with Celebration City but I kind of see this being exactly like Wild Adventures, where the park stays open and does pretty well for a small regional park. Might not see major new attractions every other year but the park will be clean and well operated, and they'll probably add a lot of fun festivals and seasonal stuff.

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I should be fair, I forgot/was not aware of CC and WA. Which....is not a good sign eh?
That does add validity to the concern. 2 parks they've done superbly with, 2 they seem to have run into the ground. I certainly can get the concern now. Guess all we can do is keep the faith.
I mean an epic decade of expansion isn't necessary but I sure do hope KK is preserved. It was a wonderful little park, and I did have the feeling while I was there "Damn, this place could really be something!" There's already 2 top tier rides, throw in a few more over time and certainly could be quite a hidden gem. 

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Look at the lineups of the roller coasters and other rides at Wild Adventure vs KK, and at the population of Louisville vs the Valdosta area. That is meant as no offense to Wild Adventures, but KK is, imo, well above their level and it wouldn’t make sense for Herschend to cast away the park on the same level as Wild Adventures. In fact, I think KK is potentially a gold mine for the chain and could be a good test drive for any potential new parks they may choose to pursue in other major cities

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Yeah, I don't think some of the concerns in here are really fair. I don't really know the story with Celebration City, but Wild Adventures isn't a rollercoaster park. It is a water and animal park with some rollercoasters in kind of a no man's land between major population centers in Georgia and Florida. Cheetah closing is a bummer, but we don't know it isn't being RMC'd which would be pretty major for that park. And even if it isn't, I don't think the rollercoasters are all that important to a small park like that anyway. As for bringing up Darien Lake, that is ridiculous. Herschend managed the park, they didn't own it. They aren't responsible for its lack of growth.

Kentucky Kingdom is basically in Louisville, which is significant, and it is surrounded by other significant cities. Even if they largely have their own parks, people travel around to nearby parks for the novelty. Even the GP does that. The potential numbers KK can do dwarf that of Wild Adventures. While it isn't necessarily a tourist specialty spot like with Herschend's two main parks, it is certainly in position to do numbers more comparable to them than Wild Adventures. I don't think Herschend treats it quite as well as their big two, but this isn't a binary problem. KK to me represents a middle tier that will see consistent investments like Dollywood and Silver Dollar City, even if they might be a little more spaced out.  

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