Jun 25, 2021, 11:13:45 PM6/25/21
Trip Report: Kentucky Kingdom
May 8, 2021
“We had very low expectations for this visit, and the park somehow managed to fail to meet those”
So around here May 8 seems to be the start of park season. We had a couple choices with Kings Island or Kentucky Kingdom. Turns out either park would be packed and short staffed. So we violated a couple rules in the Coaster Crazy playbook. “Thou shalt not go to park on a Saturday” and “Thou shalt not go to a park on bring a friend free (or bring a friend at extreme discount) day” Then again our other option was to wait until Sunday which promised heavy storms at either park, and in fact both parks closed early Sunday for weather. \
We didn’t do ourselves any favors with the leisurely start, but then it’s only Kentucky Kingdom, and the water park is closed, so quite frankly there isn’t that much there. We have made several half day visits in the past. By the time we got to the park, we were rolling into the parking area around 3pm. Last year, Dave and I had bought a deal where if we bought our 2021 passes they were good for 2020 as well, In fact, we already have 2 uses on our 2021 pass in 2020, so it’s already paid for itself. We also were awarded free parking with that. So we pull into the smaller lot behind the games midway and hunted a spot for awhile.
Upon reaching the security checkpoint, it was noted anything COVID related was removed (temperature and health questions), and the mostly useless bag check was still there. Proceeding further, we walk past a long row of closed ticket booths, to find two open on the far side, and a long line coming from each,. Why did we care about tickets, well we needed to get April one of those snazzy $5 friend tickets. Half an hour later we had a ticket for her, and they realized they wanted to leave some stuff in the car. After another delay, it was time for the mask show. As in everybody walks up to the front gate unmasked, quickly slaps on a mask, walks in the gate, and rips the mask off, presumably never to be seen again.
There was big news about this park recently as Herschend, In a move that really puzzles me, has recently taken a majority stake in this park. I guess they felt they needed a challenge or something, maybe a big version of “Park Rescue” Promised were new shows, and new food, particularly their cinnamon bread for starters. So far, the only sign of them even being involved is the use of their COVID “Play Safe With Us” markings.
A quick stop for a group photo, then it’s out on the midway. Well, unlike just about every other park in the nation, they have NOT given up on social distancing on the rides, meaning rides are running at 50% or worse capacity. To make things worse, while they were still social distancing the rides, they stopped social distancing the queues. Last year they went out of their way to avoid switchback style queueing, this year they are fine packing in tight queue mazes. In my mind, this is even worse from a COVID mitigation standpoint. As the other parks have said “The biggest risk is how long people are next to each other, therefore it’s better to run the rides at full capacity and keep the lines moving, than to run at half or worse capacity and make people stand next to each other in slow moving lines” Kentucky Kingdom read this backwards and thought they were encouraging making people stand a long time in slow moving lines. Extra trains or ride units, we don’t need those, nor do we need to operate with any sense of urgency, not that Kentucky Kingdom has ever operated with any concern for ride throughout.
So let’s see what all we don’t ride, first up is the drop tower, only 4 of 12 seats open, full queue, pass. Breakdance, half capacity, full queue , pass. Flying Skooters – hey at least they are fully loading this one, full queue. Pass. Lightning Run , one train, half capacity, full queue, pass. We did check the test seat, its an electric model, and you know what that means, yes it’s an Electric Chair! The test bar does not lock, instead a green light comes on when it is lowered far enough. Or it should, you can lower the way to the seat and not get a light. Last year, we noticed the switch set to OFF, and turning it ON solved the problem. This year the switch was on ON and the cord plugged in. So, what we have here is a totally useless test seat.
Worse than not riding rides, we make it around to the new Bakery, where the much talked about Dollywood Cinnamon Bread should be. Except they aren’t done building the bakery yet. There, literally, went the whole reason I jumped in Dave’s car to come down here!!
Oh well, we go along and discover the new shows aren’t ready yet either, nor is the new movie in the motion movie theater. Also the Dodgems are still social distancing, as if the Giant Wheel.
So we come to Scream Extreme, a Zamperla Endeavor, full queue spilling out onto midway almost circling the ride, ride running at half capacity and the switchbacks stuffed. This is a ride where you ride in cars seating ONE, already some distance apart, and you are all facing the same way. It was at this point I think Dave coined the term COVIDiocy.
Well, that just about wraps up all there is of adults in the front park, let’s thankfully use the crosswalk and go to the back park. Maybe with the water park closed, people didn’t venture back here. Yeah, Right, As If.
RollerSkater – Queue out to midway, half capacity or worse, pass.
Hey, here is something we can ride, the Carousel. It’s actually a pretty neat machine, with a spinning umbrella car, rocking chariots, jumping horses, and even a wheelchair mount. Better yet it had no line. While waiting in line, I notice this sign “You must be under 250 pounds to ride a horse”. We board, Dave and I board horses. During boarding I notice a few things, one is that the markings for which horses are “COVID SAFE” to ride, are marked by using decals at the base of the pedestal in BACK of the horse. In other words, where you can’t see them unless you know to look for them. I also noticed riders sitting on horses that were not marked “SEAT OPEN” that were not asked to move. So enforcement here is gone, then I noted a delay in getting the ride started with a last move by April from a rocking chariot to a jumping horse. I would later find out that this was because the chariot had a short seat belt. So the ride rules request larger riders ride in the chariots, then the chariots are equipped with seat belts that can’t accommodate same. The ride operators accommodation , “Ride a horse” All in all a fun ride, and so yes, we finally got on a ride.
Let’s go for two rides in a row, the Flying Dutchman, an Intamin wooden shoe swing ride that came originally from Kings Island. I think the person Herchend appointed to run this park (Good luck SIR, you’re gonna need it”) worked at Kings Island when the shoes were there. I can just imagine him thinking “I could have sworn I sold that ride” So, no line, full capacity, almost model operations, had it not been for a prolonged opening speil of information not needed for rider safety delaying ride start for a good 2 to 3 minutes. I told you they have no concern for getting riders through ride here. But the rie did what it’s supposed to do. That’s two rides so far.
Let’s go for the Trifecta, we approach Thunder Run and see something we haven’t seen in quite some time. A full queue house and the line wrapped all the way around the entry to the ride photo stand. This is with half capacity mind you. Ugh. We just can’t bring ourselves to wait in that.
We take a long, long, long, long walk to T3, the rapids ride is closed, but T3 almost looks reasonable, the line was down the stairs and about ¾ of the way to the entrance using the shortest possible route. Dave and I decide to take a ride, April decided to do who knows. WE soon figure out the ride is running 1 train, 8 riders per train, maximum. It gets worse, while we were waiting, a sick rider couldn’t contain themselves causing at least a 15 minute down time for ride clean up. We figure we are only 4 groups from riding when mother nature decided to cool things off with a 30-45 second burst of rain. That, my friends was all it took for the park to close all their rides down due to weather. Oh, we could have waited in the station but 15 minutes to park close and no guarantee of a ride. We exit the park walking the rest of the way, the path that cuts through the waterpark. Kentucky Rumbler and the swing tower are out also. What wasn’t closed due to the light sprinkling was closed due to the park closing lines early. Even the snack bars and drink stations were closed. While making our way out of the park, we both tried to think of a worse park visit we have had, and neither of us could come up with one. Actually, I think Dave did think of a worse park visit he has had, and it was also at Kentucky Kingdom.
We make our way back around to the park exit, collect April and the car in the parking lot, and proceed to have a nice relaxing Cracker Barrel dinner at the Cracker Barrel located about 20-30 miles from the park Ah, that’s the real reason we come, not the park, it’s the people. WE are social beings after all.