Tourist Attractions and Arts & Entertainment, etc. and Attractions and Amusement parks and Tourism & Hospitality

Former Kentucky amusement park in bad shape

May 30, 2012

The new partners who are working toward reopening the former Kentucky Kingdom amusement park say the facility is in bad condition and may not reopen until 2014.

The Courier-Journal cited a development plan submitted to Louisville officials in reporting that the Koch family, which operates Holiday World theme park 80 miles away in the Indiana town of Santa Claus, said all or most of the park's attractions "need to be completely refurbished to ensure safety."

"Facilities were abandoned without concern for future viability," according to an application to the Louisville Metro Council for financial incentives.

The Koch family signed a 50-year lease earlier this year to run the Louisville park with hopes of reopening it next year. They have said it will be renamed Bluegrass Boardwalk and will feature free soft drinks, sunscreen and inner-tube use at its water park.

The park closed two years ago amid bankruptcy proceedings. It was formerly operated by Six Flags.

A development plan attached to the application says the site would reopen primarily as a water park. The plan says "at least 75 percent of the current attractions are inoperable" and that "all facilities were stripped of anything of value, including roller coaster trains, lockers, inner tubes, parts for rides and attractions."

The Kochs have estimated it would take $16.5 million to reopen the facility. They requested and got an extension to line up financing to upgrade the park.

Chris Poynter, spokesman for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, said the city is limited in how it can help.

"We want the park reopened," he said. "But the only help we can offer is the occupational tax rebate."

A statement released on behalf of Harold Workman, president of the Kentucky State Fair Board, says the park "certainly is in need of renovations and refurbishing. Our staff carries out basic and normal grounds maintenance, and we look forward to working with Bluegrass Boardwalk officials."

Koch family spokeswoman Paula Werne didn't respond to a request for comment on the park's condition, but a posting on the Bluegrass Boardwalk site says people shouldn't "get hung up about the first year's plan. Because after the first year, there will be a next year. And the next. It's a 50-year lease, after all."

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