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Kentucky Kingdom entrance

Former owner Ed Hart, who is expected to take over as the new operator of the shuttered Kentucky Kingdom theme park, says he expects it to reopen on May 24, 2014.

Hart recently agreed a lease deal with the Kentucky State Fair Board, which owns the Kentucky Kingdom site. His firm, the Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Company, was given 90 days to confirm that it has sufficient funds lined up to carry through its proposal.

For the past week, a team of experts has been reviewing the state of the attractions in the park, which has been closed since the end of the 2009 season. The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that Hart remains confident of reopening the park in time for the Memorial Day 2014 weekend, although many of the rides will require significant refurbishment.

Hart estimates that it is likely to cost around $1 million to reopen the Thunder Run wooden roller coaster. His group also plans to add two major new rides and to expand Kentucky Kingdom's water park.

The Kentucky Kingdom Redevelopment Company's original plans for the park involved spending an initial $23 million to bring many of the park's current roster of attractions back into operations. This would have included the immediate reopening of T2, the first Vekoma Steel Suspended Looping Coaster to open in the US. Changes are expected to be made to these plans as a result of the new deal.

Kentucky Kingdom has been closed since the end of the 2009 season, following a failure by former operator Six Flags to agree changes to the park's lease. The Fair Board claimed at the time that the company proposed that it pay no rent for the remaining nine years on the lease - instead offering a cut of any potential future profits.

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