I was at a preview event for the renovated Kentucky Kingdom amusement park in
But all of that changed as I hopped on something called Lightning Run, the new, premiere roller coaster at the park.
I got in a seat beside a jumpy woman who appeared to be more afraid than I was.
How wrong I was.
The cars left the platform.
My insides quickly turned to Jell-O. It was like the feeling you get in the pit of your belly when danger is near or you're about to have a duel with the fifth-grade bully over a carton of chocolate milk.
Here is when I knew that I wasn't ready.
Click. Click. Click.
The coaster car climbed the first hill.
Then that last click. Oh, that last click.
And a pause.
The car was released from the chain that tugged it up the hill.
A slight acceleration.
Then a plummet.
A 100-foot, 80-degree drop accompanied by the roar of screams and laughs -- people were enjoying this?
For about two minutes, and after every drop, twist and turn, I hollered.
But I also clenched.
My hands were clenched to the safety bar. My teeth were clenched together.
The speed of the roller coaster made my eyes water. I opened them at times for a quick view of the other riders and a glance at the rest of the park.
My immediate thought: "Never again."
Lightning Run, the big kahuna at Kentucky Kingdom, finally stopped.
But my eyes stayed closed until the harnesses were lifted.
The woman beside me was jumpy no more. Instead, she was in tears from laughing at my screams.
"You should have a career as a soprano," she said.
Her laugh got louder.
But beyond my screams and watery eyes, there was an amusement park in its renaissance filled with people who had a glow about them.
"It's good seeing the smiles again," said
Mulcahy and owner
Hart bought Kentucky Kingdom in 1988, a year after it opened -- and closed in the middle of the bankruptcy of then-owner Leisure and Recreational Concepts of
"I have a lot of perseverance; my team has a lot of perseverance," said Hart, who, as a member of a partnership, regained ownership of Kentucky Kingdom and its water park,
Already, owners have doubled the size of the water park and have added 20 attractions.
Last weekend, the park allowed more than 9,000 people to attend a sort of pre-grand opening before Saturday's official launch.
About 500 of those people were members of the American Coaster Enthusiasts group. Their "job" was to ride the roller coasters. From their responses, it's apparent that they loved Lightning Run and the park's wooden roller coaster, Thunder Run, which underwent a
"It's a fun ride start to finish without being so over-the-top that your family can't ride it," she said.
Kentucky Kingdom is an oasis of family fun. It's accessible for people in wheelchairs and allows patrons to go in and out of the park if they get a stamp on the hand. There's a "5-D" movie ride, traditional carnival games like ring toss, and a wave pool at
While people went on the rides Saturday, others hung around the food court, and some enjoyed the water park, even though the weather wasn't optimal.
Did I mention food?
After all of that screaming, I was hungry. (Remember, my mom says I'm barbaric at dinnertime.) I picked up a funnel cake for about
The grand reopening of the remade Kentucky Kingdom and
Will I see you there? If so, be sure to grab one of those mega-size pizza slices. It looked tasty.
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