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Hotel firm offers financial backing for reopening of Kentucky Kingdom theme park

Kentucky Kingdom entrance

The owner of several major hotels in Kentucky has offered financial backing to the prospective operator of the shuttered Kentucky Kingdom theme park.

The move from the Al J. Schneider company could help pave the way for the park to reopen in 2012, although complex negotiations are ongoing with several parties involved in the attempts to rescue the park. Chief among these is the Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Company, led by former Kentucky Kingdom owner Ed Hart, which would operate the park if funding can be secured.

The Scheider company currently owns several hotel properties close to Kentucky Kingdom, including the Crowne Plaza Louisville Airport. The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that these would receive a boost if the park were to reopen, with the firm now offering to guarantee up to $20 million in loans made to the Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Company. This could mean that it would pay off the loans in the event of Kentucky Kingdom not generating sufficient revenue to cover its debt commitments.

Hart has been pursuing numerous avenues to try and restore Kentucky Kingdom to operations, including seeking a funding deal with the Louisville Metro Government. If a deal can be completed, an initial $23 million would be used to bring many of the park's current roster of attractions back into operations for the 2012 season. This would include the immediate reopening of T2, the first Vekoma Steel Suspended Looping Coaster to open in the US. The ride would receive a reprofiled track, new controls, new magnetic brakes and all-new trains.

In addition, a major expansion would be made to Kentucky Kingdom's water park. Two new "substantial" family thrill rides would also debut at the park, although full details of these are yet to be released. Two further (yet-to-be-named) attractions would require two years to refurbish due to equipment lead times, and would reopen in 2013. A new "marquee" rollercoaster would also open in that year, while the Twisted Twins dueling wooden rollercoaster would receive an overhaul and would reopen in 2014.

Former operator Six Flags announced the closure of Kentucky Kingdom in January 2010, following a failure to agree changes to the park's lease. The Fair Board claims that Six Flags proposed that it pay no rent for the nine remaining years on the lease - instead offering the state a cut of any potential future profits.

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