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Kentucky Kingdom draws nearly 600,000 visitors in first season since reopening

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LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — Kentucky Kingdom's comeback has attracted nearly 600,000 visitors since its reopening in the spring, leaving its owners and city officials upbeat about the Louisville theme park's long-term prospects.

The strong results led the park's owners to expand the schedule and accelerate investment in new rides for next year, The Courier-Journal (http://cjky.it/1n08x4N) reported.

Kentucky Kingdom reopened in May after a five-year hiatus. The park sold 117,000 season passes in 2014.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said the park's return "has had a significant impact on quality of life and the attraction package we can offer visitors. It also provided a badly needed boost in summer experiences for young people."

The theme park will close out its 2014 season this weekend. The owners declined to disclose profits but point out that $8 million to $10 million spent on additional rides and improvements for next year is an indicator of results.

"We feel good about where we are. We have a very healthy cash flow," said Ed Hart, leader and majority shareholder of an investment group that has a 50-year lease deal with the fair board.

The park will add five attractions next year, including three rides mothballed by prior owners — the T3 roller coaster; the Raging River Raft Ride; and the Enterprise, a modernized Ferris wheel-shaped ride that flattens as it spins its passengers in gondolas.

Kentucky Kingdom began in 1987 under a Dallas-based company that went bankrupt after a year. Hart stepped in and reopened the park in 1990, expanding it and adding roller coasters and other rides.

Attendance grew to 1.3 million by 1998 when Hart sold the park to Premier Parks for $78 million. That company's acquisition of Six Flags theme parks a year later led it to rebrand the property as Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom.

The park closed in 2009 and remained shuttered until it reopened in May under a group led by Hart with investors Al J. Schneider Co., businessman Bruce Lunsford and Louisville lawyer Ed Glasscock.


Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com

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