Wood Coaster Rider
Posts: 384Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:53 pmLocation: Louisville, Ky
Custom Title: Park Management, Hey I'll get it one way or another.
As I sit down to write this trip report I must say I had no intentions of doing this but the excitement of today just can't be contained. I can remember when I was little and watching Peter Pan. In Peter Pan there is a scene in which Tinkerbell is dying and Peter looks to the audience and say something like " clap if you believe in fairies." Young me clapped and clapped believing Tinkerbell would be alright and she came back.
Flash forward several years to today when I walked into Kentucky Kingdom. I felt like did as kid watching Tinkerbell slowly rise up as I looked around at the work being done to the New Kentucky Kingdom. Excitement and wonder was building. I was running late and met Mrs. Gump and the kids at the security entrance behind the old Starchaser building . Once security called the person from the park that was coming to escort us over I waited and surveyed the old Enterprise ride. The Enterprise was now completely refurbished and painted very nicely. Online videos of the park had shown them testing the ride cycles without the gondolas so I knew the ride was running. At one point it seems like a switch had been flipped and there were workers coming and going. When the park person showed up to meet us we all decided to take a break stop before riding.
Walking over to the restrooms past Thrill Park Theater I got see the curtain pulled back on the new Kentucky Kingdom. I will admit what I saw was a little rough but to be expected when you are refurbishing a park that sat untouched for so long. Overall the improvement to the park was day and night. Everywhere I looked there were workers doing what they do... working.
After meeting with Mrs. Gump and the kids we went over with park staff to Thunder Run. On our way to the park we came across the freshly painted and restored Roller Skater just waiting for my 3 year old to take a ride in May. Across from the Roller Skater was a jewel of carousel cleaned up and running a cycle. Just past the carousel in the far distance I saw a sight I hadn't seen in a long time, Mile High Falls. The wall that was up was gone and there she was brightly colored and ready to greet visitors on hot summer day. Next we passed the Flying Dutchman, a favorite of my kids and I. When looking at the rides you could tell the park really made sure that the rides were the first thing to be completed and really given the star treatment.
Finally we reached Thunder Run. At this point I was thinking back to being a teen and all the memories I had of this coaster, so I'll share a few with you.
I can remember as a teen going under the big Thunder Run entrance sign thinking how much it reminded me of the old Beast logo. I'm not sure it reminded anybody else of that, but to me it did. Then you'd hit the queue and the steps going to the station. At the steps the anticipation of riding the coaster would really build. In a time where fly through stations didn't exist I think this was the next best thing. When waiting for the ride the steps started next to the bottom of the first drop and felt like you could reach out and touch the track. When riding the coaster my favorite thing was flying past the steps to the station yelling with excitement at the line and they would cheer back. Once you reached the top of the steps to the station you'd wait till you felt that familiar shake of the station telling you the train was back in the brake run. Then the journey would begin. I will save the journey part for later and end this part with a short summary of how the ride used to be. I have very vivid memories of getting slammed around and thrown really bad to the point it just hurt to ride. Thunder Run towards the end was time hog due to loading and unloading as well as just all out painful.
Back to today.
I was escorted up the exit with the family and once media introductions were done the gates were closed. I made my way to the farthest back seat I could get, which was the middle of the train, as the train was still waiting on some seating to be redone. Once seated and belted up the familiar buzz and click of the lap bars commenced. Next we were efficiently checked and double checked for safety and given the all clear. Was this real? Was I really one of the first riders on the redone former SBNO, Thunder Run? Yes and yes it was. As we rolled out of the station the coaster lived up to it's name by making an almost roaring sound like thunder. Quickly the train rolled through the right turn onto the lift hill. Nostalgia and joy set in as the clickty clack, clicky clack began to take us upward. There is no better sound on coaster than clicky clack. With what looked like new shiny track below us and an ever increasing height beside we reached the top of the lift and glided around the left towards the first drop. It at this next moment that pure bliss took hold. At this point the coaster sort hung for a split second and then down the first hill we went. Hands held high we were flying past the steps to the station and the trees into the over banked left turn. Once in the turn I was thrown with great force then immediately after exiting that we hit what I call the sweet spot. This piece of track is almost an optical illusion because you are thinking you're going straight but the track bends and throws you upward out of your seat into the lap bar. Immediately after we come back down into your seat you glide over the top of the first of two hills. Each time you get extreme airtime and the coaster just seems to gain in pace. Then we started on the back half of the coaster coming full steam we hit a straight away that hits a tight left bend back towards the station. At this point the ride we were cranking and moving up hill around the curve into the another straight away for a few speed hills with bonus air pops. With the ride coasting along we turned to the left again and headed back downhill in a swooping turn that flew us up into the break run. Once in the break run I realized you can go again because the jarring shuffling is gone from this coaster. Thunder Run is now smoother and dare I say faster feeling. All in all I think everyone in our group got in 10 plus rides with the media. It was amazing day!
I'll leave this trip with some closing thoughts.
Thunder Run is in top form and you can bank Ed Hart and team spent 1 million or close to in getting it back in order. This coaster is one the smoothest wooden coasters I've ridden yet intense enough for most to enjoy. The pacing is nonstop from start to finish. This ride is really going bring a lot of folks some fun memories and leave them wanting more. I had a friend in my group who did not ride coasters and she got on and rode the whole time with us. I asked when I was leaving if she would ride more and she was very enthusiastic about going again. Right now as I finish this report I am waiting in anticipation for 2014 and what next great coaster will be coming to compliment the reinvented beauty that is Thunder Run.
Last edited by Gump
on Fri Oct 11, 2013 7:14 am, edited 2 times in total.