Kentucky Kingdom opens for potential operators, Ed Hart tours th - News, Weather & Sports

Kentucky Kingdom opens for potential operators, Ed Hart tours theme park

The current view of Kentucky Kingdom from Air 3. The current view of Kentucky Kingdom from Air 3.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The gates of Kentucky Kingdom opened for a few hours Tuesday, not for visitors, but for potential developers. The State Fair Board hosted tours for developers interested in operating the theme park. WAVE 3 found out that the tour did not include many developers.
Ed Hart, who once operated the park was back again. Despite the condition of the park, he said he still has faith Kentucky Kingdom can be bigger and better than ever.

Two former Kentucky Kingdom employees, one was dressed as a mascot, stood outside the park with a sign that read "Will work for Fun".

The Kentucky State Fair Board gave the tour of the park Tuesday Morning. Three hours later, Hart came out and told WAVE 3 what it looked like inside.

"Obviously the clock has gone backwards," said Hart.

Hart said in the past year, the parks condition has gotten worse.

"The equipment was previously stored in an off site warehouse that's all been moved back into the park and it's in pretty much general disarray," said Hart.

What has been gated off to the public was visible from Air 3. Rusted out rides, water damage, overgrown landscaping are just some of the issues.

"A number of pumps in the water park are under water, that is expensive to repair, buildings have a lot more leaks," said Hart.

It is damage, Hart believes money and time can fix. He is willing to invest $40 million to get the park up and running again since closing in 2009. Hart said his plan includes opening up every single ride, adding more attractions, and making a bigger and better water park.

Hart toured the park with his team of 10. He said another bidder also took part in the tour.

"I don't know if I'm surprised or not," said Hart. "It was a gentleman that used to work for me. I have a very good relationship with and he's here and told me on his own."

The fair board officially put out the request for bids earlier this month after a letter from Governor Steve Beshear asked them to look for new operators of the park. The ad called for new ideas, a plan, and specifically stated that the state will not pay to renovate the park.

Hart said time is money in this business. He adds the decision on who operates the park has been a long drawn out ride that needs to come to an end.

"The fair board said that they have several national companies interested in the property where are they," questioned Hart. "Whey didn't they show up? If someone is going to invest tens of millions of dollars in this property, I think they would do what Ed Hart did and at least come and look at it."

Hart said if things go through with his proposal, he could not have the park open any earlier until 2014. Potential developers are supposed to have their bids in by October 19.

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