Ever since we went to Holiday World in Indiana last summer, I have been begging Henry to take us back. He finally agreed to make the return (or, what I kept calling “the homecoming” in my head) during Labor Day weekend. Well, this got me thinking…if we were already going to Indiana, and we had a three-day weekend, why not make the most of it AND ADD KENTUCKY KINGDOM TO THE AGENDA. I mean, we have to drive right past Louisville anyway, I reasoned.
My greatest skill is the lucrative ability to wear people down until I get my way. Sometimes, all it takes is my perfectly-pulled puppydog pout. (OOOOH THAT ALLITERATION CAME SO FUCKING NATURALLY, SECOND GREATEST SKILL, BITCHES) but other times, I have to use my words wisely and manipulatively. I am almost always able to get Henry to say but I have to say that lately I think this has less to do with my queenly talents and everything to do with him being THAT BEATEN DOWN.
For any virtual coupon cutters out there, you will be as stoked as Henry was to know that Kentucky Kingdom offers a special deal for out-of-state visitors! It’s a pretty substantial discount (we got in for $29) PLUS!!! you get a wristband which enables you to get free drinks all damn day.
No, I’m not talking about once you purchase some $20 ugly ass souvenir tumbler. The wristband is all you need, and you walk up to any of the beverage stations around the park, go up to the KK person who will scan your band and give you a (PAPER!!) cup, and then you can get whatever Pepsi product or water that’s in the fountain.
As someone who doesn’t like soft drinks and often winds up dehydrated at amusement parks because even water costs $$$, this is a wonderful service and so much better than refilling a water bottle (that already paid $5 for) at lukewarm water fountains all day. It was 90 degrees the day we were there, so thank you, Kentucky Kingdom.
(FREE SUNSCREEN STATIONS TOO, FYI!)
I know what you’re thinking though: why would you go out of your way to visit some mostly unknown park in freaking Kentucky? Well, it certainly wasn’t for the atmosphere! This park was small and (please don’t be offended if you’re reading this, KK) not very visually pleasing. I mean, it’s situated in a huge concrete slab shared with a convention center, and it’s just a really ugly area. It’s also right next to the Louisville airport, so…just lots of cement.
And if you know anything about me, you know that I hate water parks. I haven’t been to one since I was 13 and don’t plan on changing that anytime soon. But Kentucky Kingdom and their water park, Hurricane Bay, intermingle with each other, so you have to actually walk through the water park to get to certain rides. It made me uncomfortable.
So, you’re still wondering why I wanted to come here. THE COASTERS. I watch a lot of YouTube channels about theme parks and vlogs from coaster enthusiasts and every single one of them gives high praise for the coaster collection this unassuming park in Kentucky has.
Right away, we got in line for Lightning Run, a steel coaster that I have heard gets compared to Kennywood’s Phantom’s Revenge. This seemed nuts to me once I saw the coaster in person, because it’s…not big. It looks kind of lame, actually. So right off the bat, I was preparing myself for let down.
We only had to wait in line for about 20 minutes, and Chooch and I claimed the back row for our inaugural ride. Henry sat in the seat in front of us, and right away one of the ride attendants came over and told him he had to take his glasses off. Chooch and I were like, “Hahaha, he got yelled at” (he didn’t really, but we love to amplify anything that happens to him). I heard Henry say something back to the person, but then he didn’t take his glasses off.
WAS HENRY BEING DEFIANT?!
I tapped (OK, pounded) on his shoulder and asked him why he was disobeying the rules and he EVER-SO-CASUALLY said, “I have a sports strap on.”
A WHAT NOW?
A SPORTS STRAP!?
YOU MEAN A DORK STRAP?!?!
Chooch and I fucking LOST IT. Henry just shrugged and turned back around in his seat, probably reciting his mantra in his head (the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off). Why was this so funny to us?! Oh, I wished our friend Alyson was there because she probably would have thought it was funny too!
Since when does Henry have a “SPORTS STRAP”!
“I bought it before we went to King’s Island,” he muttered irritably when I pressed him about this later. “Why is it such a big deal.”
“What kind of sports do you even play?” Chooch chided, and then we started making up scenarios for which he would need to wear his sports strap, like when a military plane flies above and he has to whip his head back real fast to identify it, or when he’s visiting Cheetah Girl at Blush.
OK, enough about Henry’s dork strap. THIS COASTER SLAPPED!! Holy shit, I wasn’t expecting it be that intense, but once it went down that first drop (which was harrowing), that thing never slowed down. It was whippy and had insane air time hills. I didn’t think it was AS GOOD as Phantom’s Revenge, but it was really fantastic, unexpectedly ferocious, and completely memorable. I was actually shaking when it pulled back into the station and we couldn’t stop gushing over it as we walked through the gross water park to our next coaster, Kentucky Flyer, which was the new coaster for 2019.
I was excited about this one because it’s a Gravity Group woodie and ALL OF THE ENTHUSIASTS were so stoked about this and the reviews have been wonderful. Now, that being said, it IS billed as a “family coaster” so I did go into this with that knowledge….but I guess I was still expecting a little bit more than we got.
Even for this coaster, Henry had to go through the whole “I have a sports strap” rigmarole and I have no idea why a person couldn’t wear glasses on this particular tame coaster but I do respect and commend Kentucky Kingdom for having a policy and enforcing it every time. When I see people getting pissy because they’re told to put their phones in a bin, I get so frustrated. Why do you need your phone on a roller coaster. YOU DON’T. Leave the POV videos for the coaster experts who have permission to film these and also have safe equipment to do so. No one wants to watch your shitty, shaky videos that sound like you’re being murdered in a windtunnel.
I get so mad when there’s always that ONE PERSON who holds up the dispatch of a coaster because they didn’t put their shit in a fucking bin!!!!
YES, THIS HAPPENED SEVERAL TIMES THAT DAY. And every time the person would be shocked, like, “OMG I didn’t know.” Really. Because there are signs everywhere and recordings of the rules playing in every ride platform and also EVERY ONE KNOWS?! Kentucky, you got some dumdums residing in you.
Another coaster we rode, which Henry declined to ride (“NOT BECAUSE I’M SCARED!”), was T3, a Vekoma SLC. First, the boys standing in line front of me gifted me with odoriferous ass-spritzes so that was a delight. Love smelling the farts of strangers, especially while stuck in line inside an old, musty coaster station on a 90-degree day while the air is pregnant with humidity.
Also, the Gassers were wet from a water ride, so Chooch and I got to sit in their butt-puddles afterward BECAUSE THE COASTER WAS RUNNING ONE TRAIN OPS.
I am actually terrified of coasters like this one so I screamed my stupid face off from the crest of the first hill all the way back to the break run. It was so scary…but fun…but scary!
The next coaster was the one that I most intrigued about because it’s an RMC hybrid and if you know some things about the coaster scene, you know that they’re the manufacturers of the infamous LIGHTNING ROD in Dollywood. That coaster really made me want to ride every RMC in the world (the newest one is Zadra in Poland!). RMC is also really notable for taking shitty wooden coasters and refurbishing them into something wonderful and mind-bending. In 2016, this coaster came in second for best new ride, behind Lightning Rod. So that really speaks volumes about how cool this coaster is!
And even still—NOTHING COULD HAVE PREPARED ME FOR IT. First of all, before you go down the first hill, there is an inversion, and the hang-time had me freaking out man. The airtime was sick, the overbanks were relentless, it was fast as fuck….I loved it. I look like I’m lifting weights in every on-ride photo because I was screaming so hard!
We rode it in the back, front, middle—every seat was an excelsior experience. There was one block of time when there was NO LINE, it was a total walk-on, so Chooch and I got off and ran (and I mean RAN) down the exit and back to the entrance. The second time we did it, Henry was loafing out front and yelled at us not to run and we were like, “Yeah OK old man.” Turns out it was because he wanted to join us for that ride but we didn’t know until he came huffing and puffing his way up to the platform. He’s lucky that dispatch for this ride IS SO SLOW or else we probably would have already been on the train and leaving the station.
And when I say they’re slow, I don’t necessarily think that’s on Kentucky Kingdom as much as it the patrons who just refuse to follow instructions. Like, buckle your seat belt first and THEN pull down the lap bar like they tell you to do over and over and if you’re deaf, they got you covered with signs, man. It was absurd how many people just don’t listen.
God, we had some good times on this damn ride.
My favorite time in line was when we stood behind a middle aged man wearing an Ed Sheeran concert t-shirt and Dunkin’ Donut shoes and of course he kept popping up throughout the day. Actually, he really stuck out because most of the people there were, well, you know…very Kentucky. And also looked like they didn’t need anymore free Mountain Dew.
IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.
But really, we didn’t have any bad people experiences, although I did see this one mom be a total bitch to the nice kid working in Scoops.
Thunder Run was the last credit we needed to get (aside from the kid coaster, which Chooch and I rode later but Henry was like, “I don’t count credits, so…”) and hoo-boy was this one a doozy!
I love me a good woodie and this one had its moments — but shit, I heard my back crunch as soon as we went down that first hill.
Thunder Run station selfie.
Henry thought he was going to get to ride alone but a single kid scooched on into the seat next to him which made me and Chooch crack up because who would willingly want to ride with him!? Meanwhile Chooch and I were still obsessing over Henry’s sports strap. I made him show it to me and then cried, “EW!!!!” like he had just exposed himself from behind a trench coat; he was so angry and spat, “I DON’T KNOW WHY THIS IS SUCH A BIG DEAL.”
Literally my favorite part of the day was every time Henry got to explain to a ride attendant that he was wearing one.
HENRY WAS OVER US BY LUNCHTIME. (Kentucky Kingdom has some satisfying flatbread pizza and they put the calories on the menu which I appreciate because I’m a psycho.)
I have never seen a carousel like this! What even is that elephant?!
I liked that there were vintage advertisments going around the top.
We wished our friend Tommy was here to ride the cock, lol. Chooch sent him this picture but Tommy never responded, I GUESS IT BURNED TOO MUCH.
Sometimes you just really have to take a step back and appreciate a good carousel when you see one, you know? I thought this one was really pretty.
I can’t remember if I previously posted this, but here it is again.
One thing I was sad about was that they have a 5D theater and one of the movies they show is Happy Family, but something different was showing the day we were there! The only reason I cared was because the same 5D movie was showing when we were at Everland in Korea and I wanted to experience it in English this time, haha.
Their kiddyland was actually pretty cool and had interesting versions of classic baby rides. I loved this one!
There weren’t very many extreme flat rides but they did have one of these new takes on the classic Enterprise. We didn’t ride it, but we did ride a different flat ride called Breakdance and while we were in line, some girl in front of us was mindlessly putting something in her mouth, I didn’t see what it was, but her dad totally snapped and yelled, “GET THAT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH. I DON’T KNOW WHAT IT’S GOING TO TAKE TO GET YOU TO STOP PUTTING THINGS IN YOUR MOUTH!” so that’ll be a fun conversation to revisit when she’s older.
Then I made eye contact with her dad and it was chilling. I have a bad habit of putting my hair in my mouth when I’m concentrating and I was so afraid he was going to catch me in the act and yell at me too and look, my friend Kara has sent me articles about people having to get giant hairballs removed from their insides and that clearly hasn’t deterred me but sure, let’s try the raised voice technique.
I wish the ferris wheel was a different color scheme, but otherwise, it was still very majestic. We rode it (at the same time as Ed Sheeran Concert Guy and his family, and also a VERY CLOSE FAMILY OF FIVE who were all wearing polo shirts and touching every time we saw them; I call Mormons) and it was the first time Henry wasn’t interrogated about his glasses.
(Guys, no phones allowed on the ferris wheel either. It’s apparently state law that you can’t have phones on any amusement park ride and perhaps other states should consider this as well.)
When we first arrived at Kentucky Kingdom, country music was playing and I was bracing myself for a nauseating day. But the park actually played a good mix of tunes! Like when we were taking a break with some free drinks after giving Kentucky Flyer another shot (it was decent, and that’s my final opinion), Catch Me I’m Falling started playing in the water park and I was so excited!
HOW HAVE I NEVER SEEN THIS VIDEO!?!??!!??!!?!?!? The people jumping off the ladders make me nervous though. If Point of No Return had come on after this, I probably would have had to leave and find the nearest roller rink because parts of me were AWAKENING.
“We can’t move from this spot until this song is over,” I declared, not that Chooch and Henry had any objections — it was one of the only rests we had all day!
Can we all agree that 80s pop/new wave is the only music that should ever be played at amusement parks?
OK, I’m just going to put this out here—for as incredible of a coaster Storm Chaser is, I think Lightning Run was my favorite. It just made me crack up so hard and it gave me the epitome of rollercoaster stomach. Do NOT judge this coaster by its looks! Just like you shouldn’t judge the park in general by its looks, either! This is a real gem.
Chooch spotted a stand for frozen lemonade while we were on the kid coaster and then became obsessed with wanting one, but then he couldn’t find it later so while we were in (the hardly moving) line for the rapids ride, he sent Henry off on a mission to procure one for him, but then we saw an empty-handed (but still man purse-clad) Henry afterward who said it was SUPPOSEDLY closed, which was probably for the best because it would have been melted since it took us an hour to ride that damn rapids ride, I’m not even kidding, it was the only long line we stood in all day but it didn’t seem like it was long…UNTIL IT WAS TOO LATE. The operations for this ride were so hideous. I have never in my life wasted so much time on a water ride HOWEVER!!! We got seated with some decent people after dodging a bullet and just barely escaping getting matched up with the family of 6 in front of us. THEY WERE A HOT MESS. One of them was wearing a Breaking Bad t-shirt and I can’t explain why he made me feel uncomfortable but he did, and then the mom and her boyfriend (I assume this was his role, I didn’t get the impression he was the dad) were so PDA that I couldn’t stand it and one of the adult sons was missing half his face. I felt really horrible for him and kept internally freaking out every time he’d turn around and look at me with his one eye because my empathy is the kind where my whole body will start to physically hurt when I see or even just hear about some type of malady.
Anyway, our raft was pleasant and I will say this — this rapids ride was PRETTY EFFING GOOD. Unlike at Kennywood where there’s nothing to look at it, just fake rocks, this one actually had you going inside buildings and it was kind of penguin-themed, I think?
It was entertaining!
We did eventually find the stand later on too so Henry was able to prove that it really was closed.
Chooch whined about wanting to play Criss Cross Toss all day long so we finally gave him money for it on the way out and he lost and then blamed Henry for not being “encouraging” and really this is kind of true. Good job, dad.
Verdict: If you’re a coaster enthusiast, get your ass to this park. I’m not sure how it typically is, but we were there on a Saturday during Labor Day weekend and aside from T3 and that rapids ride, nearly everything was walk-on. Plus, that out-of-state ticket deal is pretty damn sweet. I definitely plan on returning to this place sometime in the future! (Probably not next summer though — Kentucky is weird and driving through Cincinnati gives me the dry-heaves.)
And you know what? I think this may have been the most Henry has ever ridden at a non-Disney park?! He seemed like he really had a nice time, too. Maybe he has a sports strap fetish.
As we drove out of the parking lot that night, I noticed that bruises had already formed around my elbows from Storm Chaser, haha. My bruise count would definitely go up the next day…