Originally I was going to have a reasonably laid back day at Kentucky Kingdom and Beech Bend. I planned to spend most of the day at Kentucky Kingdom and leave in the mid-afternoon to get down to Beech Bend to try Kentucky Rumbler. However, one billboard threw all those plans out the window. It was a billboard for Holiday World.
I had forgotten Holiday World was just an hour from Kentucky Kingdom. It didn’t feel right to be that close to one of my favorite amusement parks and not visit. Since I already had pre-purchased Kentucky Kingdom tickets, I certainly wasn’t going to skip out on reriding Storm Chaser and Lightning Run. I also was hesitant to cutout Beech Bend as it would be a new park for me. So would I do the stupid thing and try and shoehorn all three parks in? You better believe I did.
I arrived at Kentucky Kingdom a few minutes before opening and was greeted with a sizable line. It was a sunny Sunday on a long weekend, so seeing a large crowd wasn’t totally unexpected. Fortunately the line moved quickly.
Once inside the park, my first stop was undoubtedly Lightning Run. With the ride’s close proximity to the entrance, I figured it would quickly build up a queue. One train operations assured that. I only had to wait 10 minutes for my ride, but the queue was stretched back to the entrance by the time I got off. Since I only rode Lightning Run in the back in 2016, I decided to try it in the front for my single ride.
This coaster is a little airtime machine. The first camelback has some strong air and it’s the only sustained air on the ride. The rest of the coaster consists of a series of airtime pops, each one more intense than the last. This culminates with an incredible finale consisting of 4 tiny hills. It’s reminiscent of Steel Vengeance’s finale, except I think Lightning Run’s air may be even stronger. It’s one of the best finishes to any coaster. Plus it’s glass smooth.
Lightning Run’s height and speed are relatively modest to other airtime-centric steel coasters and I definitely felt it. For comparison, Wicked Cyclone and Twisted Cyclone are almost identical in these categories but they feel a heck of a lot faster. I don’t know if it’s just the odd squeaky sound or the pacing, but it’s the one thing that holds Lightning Rod back from being in my upper echelon of steel coasters. Still it’s a great little coaster and I’m stunned more of these Chance coasters haven’t popped up. 9 out of 10
I was worried Storm Chaser would have a delayed opening, but I decided to head back there anyway to beat the crowds. As I crossed the roadway and passed through the water park, I was reminded that Kentucky Kingdom may have the oddest layout of any park. Once I reached the dry section in the back of the park, it was a complete ghost town. But then I heard the familiar RMC roar in the distance.
Storm Chaser is another example of a coaster with modest stats that absolutely hauls. After you float down that barrel roll drop, Storm Chaser is bonkers. The first half focuses on airtime. That first camelback is one of RMC’s best airtime moments even and the following overbank even manages to give some sideways airtime. The far turnaround offers strong pops of air entering and exiting. And then there’s another speedy bunny hill with some powerful ejector air.
Then the zero-G roll transitions into the ludicrous finale. While most zero-G rolls are floaty, the one on Storm Chaser is downright violent (in a good way). That’s followed by the trick track double up, double down thingy. This element is navigated so quickly that you don’t even have time to return to your seat in between airtime pops. I truly felt like a ragdoll here. There’s a quick turn and a surprise entering the brake run. There’s a strong pop of air and that’s followed by a perfectly flat turn that slams riders to the side of the car.
Storm Chaser simply does not let up. It has every type of airtime an enthusiast could want. It has hangtime, sustained ejector, ejector pops, and even sideways air. I was able to get several rides in a row without having to wait and it almost re-entered my top 10 steel coasters. 10 out of 10
Quick aside, but where exactly is Storm Chaser’s third inversion? I know there’s the barrel roll drop and the zero-G roll in the middle of the coaster. Is that first overbank considered the third inversion?
Having completed my two main objectives, I made my way back towards the main entrance with the intention of maximizing my Holiday World time. However, I noticed Thunder Run was a walk-on so I hopped aboard the park’s only wooden coaster (for now that is).
I made sure to ride towards the front in a non-wheel seat since it was pretty bumpy back in 2016. That was a wise decision judging by some of the expletives from the row behind me. The outward leg offers some nice airtime. However, the second half is a dud. The coaster is still going pretty fast, but the combination of straight track and gradual hills yield no airtime whatsoever. 5 out of 10
I also couldn’t say no to Fearfall considering it was also a walk-on and right next to the exit. It doesn’t matter how many times I ride these Larson towers, but that drop is always a thrill. 9 out of 10
I also grabbed a snack on the way out. You could say I’m a pretzel aficionado. Since I don’t like sweets, this is my dessert of choice. In terms of pretzels, I’d be hard pressed to find something that can top the gooey, buttery goodness of the Busch parks (especially when bacon is involved), but Kentucky Kingdom had a worthy contender. It’s always a treat to find a park offering something other than the standard Super Pretzel.
I easily could have spent more time at Kentucky Kingdom. You would never know that the park had once been abandoned by Six Flags since it’s incredibly clean, well-kept, and busy. Beyond the excellent top two coasters, they have one of the best water parks in America and with the temperature in the 90s, most of the guests seemed to appreciate it. With the announcement of Kentucky Flyer and my desire to make it out to Holiwood Nights someday, a return visit will likely be in store soon.