Kentucky Kingdom: Viral video doesn't tell whole story, Lightning Run roller coaster safe

Published: May. 27, 2014 at 1:39 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 10, 2014 at 5:32 PM EDT
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Lightning Run
Lightning Run
WAVE 3 News Troubleshooter Eric Flack and John Mulcahy, director of marketing and communication...
WAVE 3 News Troubleshooter Eric Flack and John Mulcahy, director of marketing and communication for Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Amateur video showing a section of a Kentucky Kingdom roller coaster swaying after coaster cars pass is making the rounds on social media, alarming many people who have seen it, but a spokesman for the newly reopened theme park says there is nothing to fear.

This video, posted Sunday on Facebook, shows a section of track on Lightning Run wobbling as the cars fly by.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Kentucky Kingdom opens the gates]

WAVE 3 News has received hundreds of emails and Facebook messages from alarmed viewers who have seen the amateur video, which shows an arched section of the coaster's steel track swaying from side to side as screaming riders rush past.

Talk that the ride might be dangerous spread quickly through social media, but John Mulcahy, director of marketing and communication for Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay, said Lightning Run has passed all safety inspections. Lightning Run is a brand new, ten-story steel coaster.

Mulchay said the track movement is all part of the natural give and take of a high-intensity roller coaster.

"There are so many twist, turns in this track that there are some points where it does release, and you see that movement," Mulcahy said. "We are aware that there is movement in the coaster track, and it is there by design."

"While some may find it surprising to see it up-close, the reality is that without engineering some release for the high torque, you would have a problem," Mulcahy said. "Lightning Run has been certified by all of the appropriate authorities including the project team, structural engineers and state ride inspectors."

WAVE 3 News Troubleshooter Eric Flack rode Lightning Run twice with Mulcahy and found the ride to be secure. The wobble, while visible from the ground, is not noticeable during the ride.

For roller coaster enthusiasts, ride operators say the best seat on Lightning Run is all the way in the back, something Flack also found to be true.

To get to Lightning Run you've got to get inside the park. That's been a challenge for some people who pre-purchased season passes. Some are reporting wait times of more than an hour to get their season passes processed and photos taken.

Beth Brown showed up hours before the park opened on Monday after being unable to handle the crowds a day earlier.

"It was about 4:00, and the line stretched all the way out to the parking lot like a snake," Brown said.

Mulchay said people had the option to upload their own photos for season pass IDs online. It's a new system Kentucky Kingdom officials hope more will take advantage of next year. In the meantime, they hope to process about 1,500 people an hour and try and limit maximum wait times to 40 minutes.

Mulchay said he expects attendance to hit 30,000 in the first three days of operation. While business on holiday weekends can be unpredictable, Kentucky Kingdom officials said they have been very pleased by the turnout over Memorial Day weekend.

Mulchay said operators see this as a marathon, not a sprint, and when you are talking about overall attendance you've got to wait to the end of the season to make any judgments

Former Kentucky Kingdom operator Ed Hart and a team of investors reopened the park on May 24, more than four years after its former owner Six Flags went bankrupt.

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