The Courier-Journal from Louisville, Kentucky on May 17, 1987 · Page 161
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The Courier-Journal from Louisville, Kentucky · Page 161

Louisville, Kentucky
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 17, 1987
Page 161
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ffi7lfifi) , dIl7gilnfi)S ft FcsgiDott I oy ff UftEl-fli 1 December 13, 1985 (Above) - Newly elected Mayor Jerry Abramson reviews a model for the new theme park, Kentucky Kingdom, which was showcased at the Governor's Press Conference to announce the project. If there s one place promising "pure Kentucky" fun, it's Kentucky Kingdom, a new family-style theme park at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville, makina its debut Memorial Day Weekend. This facility has been designed to provide an exciting day of entertainment and recreation with an emphasis on the history . and culture of the state of Kentucky. Bringing to fruition a dream that's been in the works for the past decade Kentucky Kingdom kicks off a new era in entertainment for the Bluegrass State, offering theme park pizzazz laced with Kentucky heritage and charm In the mid-seventies, the Kentucky State Fair Board began looking at a lonq ranae Master Plan for the redevelopment and expansion of the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center grounds. There were many ideas and concepts discussed includinq the movement of the midway to its present location, some consideration regardinq the horse bams, the demolition of a stock car racing track, expansion of new hotel properties, the East and West wings, the addition of Broadbent arena, and the development of additional parking and Ring Road which now exists. Also discussed was a concept for a theme park. Research indicated that this type of attraction would be an excellent compliment to the other forms of entertainment available . . , in the Louisville market. A tew years later, the Fair Board put out a Request for a Proposal for developino the theme park. There was interest from several groups of investors across the country and negotiations began to bring the concept Into fruition. In the course of the next few years, at least three different groups reached the final stages of negotiations with the State. On December 13, 1985, Governor Martha Layne Collins hosted the press conference, to announce that the dream was now indeed a reality, and "KENTUCKY KINGDOM" would open to the public in 1987 ,eJ8t0.!,wh0 actuallPwn the final request for proposal, met all the requirements and obtained financing was a group entitled "Kentucky Entertainment, Ltd." "At last the people of Kentucky will have a theme park built for them by a company with a solid reputation for quality, family entertainment,'' said Clarence Duggins, president of the Fair Board.' March 28, 1986 (Below) - Governor Martha Layne Collins followed a 60-year-old plow pulled by a team of mules, characteristic of "Kentucky roots," as she broke ground for the multi-million dollar theme park. Joining her were Clarence Duggins (President, Fair Board), Mayor Jerry Abramson, Irv Maze and Michael A. Jenkins with Kentucky Kingdom. Now developers were faced with the task of taking the concept to a completed form. Architects began work on final plans for buildings, graphic artists began designing color schemes, staff was added, and many hours were spent in the next few months looking at all the options for the 1 3 acres which would be opened in 1987. "To simply buy several rides, bring in some concessions, and build a few portable stages for entertainment is a relatively easy task " according to Michael Jenkins, the managing general partner ,w,iH,nmwi,)WUl "However, when you want to really create something special, a clean familv TS&f'XPZ! " merchandise, foodanch m ilandscapl become enactions within themselves; then you have a much harder task. We wanted aTthat was different and quite special. In developing the architectural theming , fo examole we w!ehTer hennMn1!)S,ii,a"4asy 2r iddie" oriented, we wanted to develop buildings that would SiLh "5 lnd stX'e ve7 high-quality." The final decision was to have SSSifSS?' ne wh5h wo,uld fo,low a Unlucky frontier theme, and one which wouW follow architectural styles of old Louisville at the turn of the century ,a-ch 2 ' 1 Govemor Collins exclaimed "The sun is truly shining on Kentucky today as she addressed over 100 people which were gathered for the official V groundbreaking. Festivities included speeches from me Governor MvoVAbramson County Commissioner Irv Maze, and Clarence Duggins PnStnSfSSmi' There was also a balloon release containing coupSns for free admission on ooenlnn nau RtZ A!ely nlater' con,struction began on several buildings. "Our goal was to have ShtvbV' an.f aC,ivitieS open t0 serve 38 8 Prev,ew duringZ 1986 Stlte Fair " fhil0 " E' Carel1, General Mana9er. As part of the arrangement w th the Fair Board TXZXS!mtU Kin9dom would a,so aXSpfators for the tZmoS" many qUeStinS 88 40 h0W "Kingdom f 'ST fw theme parks in the country which can handle 600,000 people in fni?thf rtr,wil always 1)6 necessary to bring in additional rides and concessions for the State Fair. During those ten days. Kentuckyfcingdom will adjoinlhe Say and mrz, " " i t-' mi Jiik Lb Page 2 Kentucky Kingdom Section we will temporarily suspend our pay-one-price admission structure and go to a pay-per-attraction as the midway. We will continue to work with Cumberland Valley Shows as the major contractor of rides and concessions for the Midway." The things which were completed and open during the Fair were: a Games Pavilion which featured seven themed games, the "Smash, Crash, Bash 'Em Bumper Cars", a temporary structure which housed a walk-through Preview Center with actual elements of the park, and an exciting live production "Steppin' Out" which was showcased in Plantation Playhouse sponsored by Pepsi Cola. The highlight of the week was when a 2-story Venetian Carousel was delivered and assembled. Dubbed the "Crystal Carousel," the spectacular ride was a hit with fairgoers. Its 42 colorful handpainted panels are scenes of Kentucky, and the colorful steeds, turning teacups, chariot seats and swinging benches give the ride a breath-taking beauty. The "Crystal Carousel" was actually designed especially for Kentucky Kingdom and will serve as the permanent centerpiece for the front gate plaza. As construction was progressing, many other new priorities were arising. "What other types of rides should be included in the package? What color and styles of uniforms should the hosts and hostesses wear which will project the proper image? What should be the individual theming in each gift shop and what merchandise should be included? What types of menus should be featured at each of the food locations which will give a high quality, wide range of items from which to choose?" The questions were endless and the excitement was building. More staff members were added who could bring qualified answers to these questions. The excitement continued to build as foundations were poured, buildings were framed, rides began arriving, electrical lines were put in . . . According to Gary Noel, construction manager for the project, Kentucky Kingdom has worked with over 20 contractors directly. That number doesn't include the many sub-contractors who have February 15, 1987 (Below) Construction is moving right along at Kentucky Kingdom, the state s new theme ; park in Louisville. Most of the remaining work includes finishing touches on the buildings, extensive landscaping, and assembly of the rides. The two major themes in the architecture are the Kentucky Frontier and Old Louisville at the turn of the century - represented oy some or tne Dunatngs snown nere. ' August 13, 1986 (Above) - Sponsored by Pepsi-Cola, a featured group of singersdancers premiered the show "Steppin' Out" at the Preview Center of Kentucky Kingdom at a special event the night before the State Fair opened. The show was produced by Kentucky Kingdom to serve as a representation of the quality productions which will be featured at the park. worked on the project. He estimates that over 700 workers have been involved in the many phases of construction. It will take a full-time staff of over 30 and a seasonal staff of 350 hosts and hostesses to actually operate Kentucky Kingdom. . The addition of these jobs to the community, along with the increase in tourism revenue available, are only two of the reasons that make projects such as Kentucky Kingdom important from an economic development viewpoint. Studies show that theme parks are a tremendous asset in attracting more tourists into a state which in turn translates into additional revenue in related industries such as hotels, restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, etc. Part of this new team of staff members which was assembled included people to produce the park's live shows. Mary Shambarger and Tommy Addis are heading up this project. They bring to Kentucky over 20 combined years of producing live entertainment for theme parks, touring shows, convention entertainment and other productions. Work began on finding the people to fill the high quality productions which would showcase the best of Kentucky's young talent. Over 1 000 young people auditioned all over the state at major universities for the spots for these shows. According to Mrs. Shambarger, the talent was fabulous and it took quite a while to narrow the choice to the young people who will be featured this year. The final product will be a new world of entertainment awaiting visitors when Kentucky Kingdom opens. The multi-million dollar theme park will feature a mix of rides, exhibits, live shows, attractions, gift and craft shops, food concessions, and much more. The emphasis will be on quality, family entertainment. "We don't want to be classified strictly as a kiddie park, teenage hangout, or an old folks garden," said Michael Jenkins. "Rather we are striving to really create an atmosphere where there truly will be something for everyone." When asked what is the most Important thing in this type of development, Michael Jenkins immediately answered, People. Walt Disney once said: You can create and build the most wonderful facility in the world, but it takes special people to make that dream a reality." Admission to the theme park is one set price - $8.50 for adults and $7.50 for children under 42 inches as well as senior citizens - entitling visitors to all rides and attractions. Children 2 years old and under are admitted free. Those wanting more information are encouraged to call the theme park at (502) 363-6633. Sunday, May 17, 1987 Page 3

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