Bluegrass Boardwalk delay being questioned - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Bluegrass Boardwalk delay being questioned

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB-TV) -- One day after the announcement that the former Kentucky Kingdom will not open next year, a former developer of the park is making serious accusations against the new operators.

Louisville businessman Ed Hart says the delay is a business move by the owners of Holiday World.

"I must admit, it's like watching a circus," says Hart.

Hart does not bite his tongue about news that reopening the former Kentucky Kingdom amusement park will take longer than expected.  He says, "Holiday World clearly wants to control the competition."

The Koch family, who own Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana, will control the new amusement park known as Bluegrass Boardwalk.  Hart says delaying the park reopening until 2014 only benefits one place.

"Maybe one of the explanations is the fact that a vibrant, thriving Kentucky Kingdom only draws attendance away from Holiday World.  As business people who run a really good park in Indiana, I can understand how they want to protect that facility," says Hart.

But management at Holiday World sees it differently.  "We don't criticize other people; that's just not the way we do business. We're a family," says Bluegrass Boardwalk CEO Natalie Koch.

When it does open for business, Koch will be running the show at Bluegrass Boardwalk.  She says, "It has been a longer process than we expected."

Koch says the delays came after experts got a look inside the park. "They say that we are better off to wait for 2014 to make sure that we get everything exactly the way we want it to make sure that we get the park up to our standards."

Koch says the delay is more about safety and not about eliminating the competition. "The rides have been neglected, there's a lot of work to be done on the rides, and there's a lot of work to be done on the restaurants," says Koch.

Meanwhile, Hart spent months negotiating with the Kentucky State Fair Board to reopen the park and says it's not as bad as we're hearing.  Hart says, "Had they accepted our plan, Kentucky Kingdom would be open as we speak right now."

Managers at Holiday World still say there's a very small chance that the park could be up and running next year.

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