(Editor’s note: The original version of this post misconstrued Ed Hart’s remarks about safety at Kentucky Kingdom.)
“I’ve been waiting a very long time to say this…,” began Ed Hart at today’s Kentucky Kingdom press event.
“It’s a go.”
Flanked by partners Bruce Lunsford, Ed Glasscock and Orson Oliver and Mary Mosely from the Al J. Schneider Company, Hart announced that the “bigger, better, wetter” amusement park would open on March 24, 2014.
The park will be bigger because it is adding four acres to its historic footprint. It will be better because there will be more rides. And it will be wetter because Hart and his partners listened to what Kentuckiana families wanted and have doubled the size of Hurricane Bay as a result.
Hart and his partners will invest $43.5 million to accomplish these improvements, $36 million of it in the first year to fund the expansion and $12 million to double the size of Hurricane Bay.
This announcement followed a meeting during which representatives from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Metro Louisville, the Louisville Convention and Vistors Bureau, the Kentucky State Fair Board and the Bank of Kentucky signed the agreements required to open the park.
A reporter asked Hart, “Is there any way this could fall through?”
Without a moment’s hesitation Hart responded, “No.”
Hart unveiled the new logo for the amusement park and said that the development team– carpenters, plumbers, electricians, horticulturists and more– had been onsite for more than three months to begin restoration of the 100 buildings and 40 rides.
Hart and his partners were that confident that they could work out this agreement.
When asked about safety, especially in light of the neglect of the park over the course of the past four years, Hart said, ““I’ve run two parks, we have a tremendous safety record, that’s not going to change. Safety is first and foremost. There’s no budget for safety. We run a safe park. I can’t speak for any other operators.”
He said that the park will have the nostalgic feel of the old Kentucky Kingdom but will also feel brand new.
Hart thanked the Mayor’s office; the Governor’s office; Council President Jim King; Councilman Kelly Downward; Bob Stewart, the new state secretary of tourism; Rip Ripatoe and Dr. Mark Flynn of the Fair Board; the LCVB and the alumni of Kentucky Kingdom who founded the Save My Park organization, among others.
While Hart would not offer any exact dollar amounts, he pledged to make Kentucky Kingdom “the most affordable park in the region.”
Hart and his partners expect to hire between 800 and 1,000 seasonal workers with an average pay of $8 to $12 an hour (“significantly above minimum wage,” he added).
The park will also have around 50-60 full-time employees with the average salary of $50,000 to 55,000 per year.
Hiring will begin in December.