LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Ed Hart and his business partners say they've secured the private funding needed to reopen Kentucky Kingdom.

"I have waited a long time to say this: it's a go.  Kentucky Kingdom will be open next year," Hart said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Hart's group secured $43.5 million in financing with a goal of returning the park to its former position as Kentucky's number one paid tourist attraction. The partners in Kentucky Kingdom, LLLP will provide $28.5 million in capital. $18.5 million is equity and the remaining $10 million is a loan. In addition, $15 million came from the Bank of Kentucky.

In the next three years, Hart says he plans to bring back three coasters and double the size of the water park.

"The highlights of the new Kentucky Kingdom will be the addition of the first new roller coaster in 17 years, and a large expansion of the Hurricane Bay water park," Hart said Thursday. "We are doubling the size of the water park, adding three new waterslide complexes, a 12,000-square-foot wave lagoon, and an adventure river, which is six times faster than the existing lazy river.  All in all, we will have one of the largest water parks in the region."

The re-development also includes repairs to much of the property's infrastructure. Mark Lynn of the Kentucky State Fair Board said they are ecstatic to see the park re-opening, but there is no doubt that it needs work.

"Some of it is in terrible shape, some of it has to get ripped down, and some of it isn't bad," said Lynn.

Hart explained that plans also include revamping of all the existing rides. "We will also reopen such signature rides as the Thunder Run wooden coaster, the Mile High Falls giant spill ride, the 150-foot-tall Giant Wheel, the rapid river raft ride, and the Thrill Park Theatre, as well as all of the park's remaining rides and attractions," he said.

Of the $43.5 million, $36 million will be spent in the first year, and $7.5 million in the second and third years as the park "ramps up to its full potential."

"We are committed to spending up to $2.5 million a year for the term of the lease, in new rides, new attractions, to keep this place exciting," said Hart.

Kentucky Kingdom has set an official re-opening date of May 24, 2014.


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