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Kentucky Kingdom

Kentucky Kingdom
Kentucky Kingdom has an impressive collection of coasters. If Thunder Run, Chang, Greezed Lightnin or even Twisted Sisters (Now “Twins”) were at another park, they would receive billing on the front of the brochure and as one of the lead photos on the website. Here, they’re stuck in the back of the park and not given much attention.
They also have tough competition. It's easy for Louisvillians to shrug off Kentucky Kingdom and drive 90 minutes to ride Beast, Raven, Legend, Voyage or Thunderhead. Or they could make the same drive and ride Vortex, Top Gun, or Tennessee Tornado. However, any of those other parks would be happy to have one of the KK lineup in their own fold.
Thunder Run. KK should promote this as its signature ride. It makes a stop here worthwhile, and deserves its own chapter in a coaster design text. Various coasters have their own flavors, and this one features Flat Out Speed. It is unusual in that it has one lift hill and really only one drop. The entire rest of the course is bunny hops and helices, making it almost a horizontal ride. But that drop is a hairy one,, and there is plenty of air and some great reverse Gs. Traditional coaster speed ratings are taken at the fastest point of the first drop, usually just as the front edge of the train hits the bottom. But there would be another way to measure speed : average through the entire ride. There are a few coasters out there with longer and steeper first drops, but our radar gun suggests that Thunder Run maintains a higher average consistency than any of its rival woodies. For example, they had to move the trackside camera back to the final turn because everything until then was a blur. Yet, this is not a rough ride. The cars are well padded; the wheel tolerances, car couplers and track spans are very precise; and the bends are intensely banked. The result is no laterail Gs, whiplashing or kneebanging. You alternate grabbing air into intense turns, so you get a workout, but you don’t come off with a headache or sore muscles.To truly appreciate this ride you need to ride its clone, Hurler down at Carowinds. The track plans are identical except Hurler offers a slightly higher and steeper lift hill, the one turn is tucked back under the lift hill, and the first drop breaks to the right instead of left so the entire layout is a mirror image. However, Hurler is painful, especially to the lower back and neck. Its tolerances are not maintained nearly so precise, and its banking is not as extensive. Thunder Run is among our top 10 woodies and one of the main reasons for a trip to Kentucky Kingdom. It runs especially fast on hot, humid late summer afternoons and early evenings. Due to the bunny hops and helices and the 180 degree turn coming out of the first drop, the rear seat on this ride is more of an adventure than most. Also see photo at top left.
Chang. When KK introduced Chang, they hyped it heavily. But in recent years they haven’t given it much attention. They should. It’s still a very impressive ride. It’s a 4000 ft. long, 154 ft high multiple looping B & M standup steeler. It offers five inversions and a 63 mph pace. When it opened, Chang was the highest, longest, and fastest standup coaster out there, with the largest single loop and the most loops. Whether it’s more intense than Mantis is debatable; some years it seems like it is, and other years Mantis edges it out. The long lines and surly operating crews turn people off. But all factors considered, this is the number one standup coaster in America.
Twisted Twins. This is one of those oughta be rides. It oughta be one of the best twin coasters anywhere. Rather than “racing,” it was designed as a “dueling” coaster, with the trains actually coming toward each other at one point, and weaving below and above each other at other points. You’d think CCI (Raven, Legend, etc.) could pull this off. They have plenty of room back there. But, No. The design has variety but lacks intensity and pacing. Then, for the “dueling” to occur, a certain timing is required. KK’s surly teenage operators never mastered that. So KK pulled the second train totally off the tracks and now just operates one train. Of course, that means half the entire trackage is weathering away unused. They apparently aren’t spending too much effort on maintenance, either, because some rough spots are showing up on the trackage they are using, apparently due to tolerances being allowed to wander. What a shame. This is still a good ride with clever design, steep drops, quick turns, good speed, some air, and smoother than most wood. But it should be a great one. The spare train sitting there in plain view rusting in the sun is a shame. Also see photo top right.
  Greezed Lightnin. This classic Schwartzkopf looper takes you from 0 to 60 mph in six seconds coming out of the station. You circle the 76 foot tall loop, and head up a 142 foot spike at a 70 degree angle. After you pause for a moment up there, you roar backwards down the track, around the loop, through the station, and up the tail, which slows you for the drift back down into the unloading dock. Total time : 35 seconds. You have to wonder how long of a line is justified for a 35 second experience, but if the wait’s short, this is a spectacular ride.
T2. A Vekoma SLC. Rather generic suspended. Worth a ride, but not a challenger for anyone’s top 10 list.

Roadrunner. Not the highest, steepest, fastest, longest, scariest rodent coaster out there. But it is definitely the most extensively themed. We counted 100 Coyote and Roadrunner statues, buildings, scenes, items and backdrops, and took many photographs. It’s smoother than most of its brethren and has more comfortable cars.
  Roller Skate. KK’s version of Woodstock Express. Doesn’t beat Woodstock, but offers a smooth ride with quick drops and turns. Too short, especially on days with long lines.
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