Two years ago we had an excellent day at the recently reopened Kentucky Kingdom where we made the most of the magnificent new roller coaster that had premiered just weeks before. I knew at the time that I wanted to return before too long, and the required excuse was handed to me on a plate with the announcement of a another new credit, this time from Rocky Mountain Construction, that would be built on the foundations of the long-defunct Twisted Twins. Megan found an enthusiast discount online that gave us two consecutive days of admission and unlimited complimentary soft drinks for just twenty dollars per person, representing incredible value for money especially when compared against the rip-off a few days earlier at Dollywood.
It will come as no surprise to the reader that we began our day with a brisk walk across the park to Storm Chaser (#2264), located against the western boundary of the park and directly adjacent to the flight path for runway 17R at Louisville International Airport. As we approached we saw a UPS MD-11F passing overhead on short final, and a quick check of Flightradar24 on my phone showed it to be inbound from Dallas after a short sector representing less than fifteen percent of its nominal 12,670km range. Planes continued to pass overhead every few minutes, and while they didn't quite have the variety of what we'd seen in Bangladesh it was nevertheless quite a treat for two armchair planespotters.
The purple train was on the track today, with the blue one under obvious maintenance on the transfer track nearby. We immediately noticed that a large chunk of one of the headrest cushions was missing in row two, and we overheard two of the operators discussing its absence; apparently the failure had occurred during regular operations the evening before, and the pieces had yet to be found. The break wasn't a clean one, making me wonder whether it might have been induced by a guest wearing jewellery with a sharp edge; it seems doubtful that it could have been torn by forces alone.
The ride started out in the same fashion as the magnificent Medusa Steel Coaster, with a descending barrel roll inversion running from the apex of the lift hill to a few feet above the ground. This was followed by an immensely powerful airtime hill and an over-banked left turn. From that point onwards things blurred together as we were treated to a delicious mix of sharp turns and ejector airtime hills interrupted only briefly by a second barrel roll. The layout concluded with a low-to-ground helix and final airtime leap onto the brake run. We took a total of five laps in various points of the train, including front and back, and to be honest there was little difference between seats, as all of them delivered in spectacular fashion. The only thing I wasn't altogether fond of was the heaviness of the lap bars, which were not enormously friendly towards the male anatomy, but I quickly figured out that that relatively minor niggle could be largely ameliorated by a little care (and personal rearrangement!) while sitting down.
Last year the park reopened the coaster formerly known as T2, and I decided that I'd join Megan on the reconstituted T3 even though I'd had the questionable pleasure of it years earlier and lived to tell the tale. During its refurbishment the ride was fitted with Kumbak rolling stock, which worked remarkably well on a similar ride in Australia. Unfortunately the same was not true here; much of the course was marked by near continuous thumping in the back as the train clattered awkwardly around, and the lap bar restraint got progressively tighter and tighter throughout. When we hit the brake run we overheard a child behind us saying that she couldn't feel her legs, and she wasn't the only one; the general consensus among disembarking guests was that this wasn't a ride any of us would be subjecting ourselves to again.
Thunder Run, on the other hand, was running fairly well. The tracking wasn't quite as smooth as it had been on our last trip, but that wasn't a huge surprise given that it had just come out of a major refurbishment at that time. During our lap I found myself contemplating what the park's next weather related coaster should be. One option that occurred to me was to rename the kiddie coaster to Light Rain Meander or perhaps Drizzle Walk, though it seems likely that the marketing team will have better ideas.
Though it wasn't part of our plan for the day we decided to try out the Angry Birds ride, a simulator attraction featuring the stars of the franchise well outside of their accustomed environment. The show began with a driving scene, not something I recall from any of the games, but in due course our protagonists arrived at a fortress that it was apparently important to destroy. Remarkably there was both a conveniently located catapult and a stock of TNT in the basement, and our avian heroes managed to survive the resultant explosion that completely wiped out a reinforced building. The script writers were apparently oblivious to the fact that TNT doesn't explode without a detonator, though perhaps I'm overthinking things a little.
We did a back seat on Lightning Run, and found the ride to be just as smooth and intense as it was when new, a testament to the quality of both the design and the construction. The only perceptible difference today was the lack of the audible farting noises that the train originally made when cresting the various airtime hills. Given the standard of the design it seems absolutely amazing that no other park has bought their own version; smaller parks could do an awful lot worse.
I'd like to conclude this trip report with a brief commentary on the coasters at the park today, which lean towards pleasing thrill seekers at the expense of families. Lightning Run and Storm Chaser feel like very similar rides, and both deliver an aggressive experience well suited to enthusiasts but probably a bit much for the more hesitant guests. T3 is definitely not a ride for beginners (or, arguably, for anyone at all), meaning that the only bridge between the Roller Skater and the major rides is Thunder Run, a definite change from the Six Flags days when the park also featured a Shuttle Loop and a Wild Mouse. It'd be good to see the park choosing something a little more laid back for its next addition; perhaps a Mack spinning coaster would be a good fit?