Kentucky Kingdom sold to company that operates Dollywood

Tourism-Amusement Park
Posted at 10:30 AM, Feb 24, 2021

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky amusement park that once operated as a Six Flags has been sold to a company that operates family-oriented venues around the country including Dollywood in Tennessee and Silver Dollar City in Missouri.

Georgia-based Herschend Enterprises is majority partner and operator of Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay amusement and water park in Louisville, officials announced Tuesday in a news conference. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Dollywood President Craig Ross will serve as the park’s interim general manager.

“We’re here to take a great park located in a great city and make it even better for everyone in this community,” Ross said.

He said the company would listen carefully to what the community wants as it develops a five-year plan to attract more visitors, but also will focus on being a good place to work.

Kentucky Kingdom originally opened in 1987 under the leadership of businessman Ed Hart and was later sold to Six Flags, which shut down operations in 2009. The park reopened in 2014 after a group led by Hart spent more than $44 million on restorations efforts.

“Herschend is an outstanding operator, who will undoubtedly take Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay to the next level,” Hart said.

Herschend also owns the Newport Aquarium and had actively sought another entertainment opportunity in the state, Herschend Chief Executive Officer Andrew Wexler said.

“Our purpose as an entity is to bring families closer together,” Wexler said. “We think Kentucky Kingdom is going to be a great location, a great opportunity for us to live our vision.”