LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – It’s a stroll down memory lane in Ed Hart’s office – around 1990, the first time he bought the troubled park.
Back then the park was only about 10 acres but would grow in size and rides under Hart. He shows a picture of him posing on then thrill ride Chang.
Chang is now gone and so is Six Flags but Hart is returning for round two and so is Thunder Run.
Hart recently test rode the rollercoaster for an inaugural run and “Mr. Amusement Park” gets motion sickness and says life is full of ironies.
Life takes many twists and turns and Hart is trying to return Kentucky Kingdom to solid ground again.
He may not enjoy the thrill rides but he loves the challenge of a turnaround and you have to walk quickly to keep up with him.
Hart and his core group of local investors putting in more than $40 million to rehab the entire park, no a sprawling 63 acres featuring 20 new rides.
He knows just about every worker by name including many of them who were with him 25 years ago.
Hart’s motto: “Take care of your team, the customer and the park” – he says that it isn’t about him. He says he has no desire to be famous but to stand behind a great park.
The real stars of the revamped park are the rides.
Lightning Run is brand new, which is one of three roller coasters at the park.
Hart says another park manager taught him long ago “that it’s the rides stupid, especially the roller coasters.”
Lighting Run is already being touted as a good one from coaster enthusiasts.
Thunder Run is also returning as well as an updated version of Hurricane Bay.
It’s doubled in size with 10 new water attractions and many of them family friendly which Hart says it’s all about mom.
Thrilling yes, but Hart will tell you safe with rides and security.
He says the previous owners didn’t invest like they will in those areas and because the investors are local, Hart says the people visiting the park are truly family and friends.
He may be the white knight on the horse saving the park now but he wasn’t always. It took a while for all sides to come together.
Hart has a quote in his office from Winston Churchill: “Do you have enemies? Good, it means you stood up for something.”
Hart says he doesn’t play well in the sandbox and sometimes he can push too hard.
He says in the end this new private/public partnership is a win for everyone.
If he had to pick one ride to define his journey to get this park back open, he says it's this beautiful, handcrafted carousel that was part of the original park in 1990.
Kentucky Kingdom is back with Hart and most of the original team.
Back to the future with some of the old stars and a whole lot of new ones you know the priority here, it’s the rides stupid.