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Wet Wild Water & Amusement Parks

Kidz Zone


Wet Wild Water & Amusement Parks

It’s the most rootin’ tootin’ Wild West adventure this side of Dodge. Guntown Mountain near Mammoth Cave is a frontier legend come to life: gunslingers re-creating the famous gunfights of the Old West; saloon girls kicking up their heels; illusionists performing magic shows; and country western music twanging from the music theater.

Farther down the mountain there are carnival rides—including the park’s newest addition, a 60-foot Ferris wheel—the Haunted House, the cool and colorful Onyx Cave, and a country store that is as folksy today as it was when it was established nearly 100 years ago.

The biggest amusement park, Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, has dozens of thrill and kid and family rides, including the new Greezed Lightnin’ roller coaster that blasts riders from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than six seconds and through a 76-foot-tall loop, up a 142-foot incline at a 70-degree angle, and then plunges backward down the incline and back through the loop in 35 seconds. It’s all over but the shouting faster than you can say “roller coaster.”

After the exhilarating shock of Greezed Lightnin,’ park visitors will be more than ready to find their inner water baby at Hurricane Water Park. There’s a five-story interactive water tree house with slides and splashing activities, a sunken submarine, and a water-slide complex with four slides called the Voodoo Express, Forbidden Passage, Conquistador Canyon, and Vanishing Falls.

Three years ago, the Hal Rogers Family Entertainment Center made a splash in Williamsburg with its Kentucky Splash Water Park: 18,000-square-foot wave pool, 900-foot-long drift river, and kiddy activity pool at the aptly named Tad Pole Island with Caribbean-themed, interactive playhouse, and other water attractions.

Among the small-fry set, the biggest hit has been the 6,000 square feet of water fun that includes floor bubblers, water cannons, a mini water slide, and a 300-gallon bucket that dumps water every 30 seconds.

Plus, “It’s the perfect oasis for Mom,” says the park’s chief operations officer, Dona Bledsoe.

According to Bledsoe, the teens and ’tweens favor the 40-foot-tall Triple Slide Complex: the totally enclosed Aqua Whiz body slide, which zips kids from top to bottom in 10 seconds or less; the single-tube Blue Twister slide; and the double-tube Crazy Cruz slide.

Venture River Family Water Park in Eddyville is a water world of slides and flumes with fearsome names like the Waloopas (its newest attraction comprised of enclosed dual-tube slides), the Cliffhanger, Dueling Demon Speed Slides, Triple Mania Speed Slides, and Twin Twisters Tube Slide. Younger kids have their own Pleasure Island with slide, splash, and squirt fun, and the whole family can take a float along the lazy waves of Old Man River.

“This is family-oriented entertainment,” says Andrea Jent York, whose family owns the park. “Even Mom and Dad will come and float on a raft when they won’t get on a roller coaster.”

Each of these water parks provides lounge chairs, tubes, and life jackets. There are picnic areas, cafes, and gift shops on-site, and first-aid services are available. Both Kentucky Splash Water Park and Venture River Family Water Park offer birthday packages.

When planning your amusement or water park outing, remember to check each venue’s online Web site; many offer discounted admissions that are available only online.

DESTINATIONS
For admission prices, times, and directions, call or go on the Web:

Guntown Mountain
I-65, Exit 53 • Cave City, KY 42127
(270) 773-3530
www.mammothcave.com/guntown/index.htm
Gun fights, can-can dancers, Haunted House, music, games, and carnival rides.

Kentucky Splash Water Park
Hal Rogers Family Entertainment Center

1050 Hwy 92W • Williamsburg, KY 40769
(866) 812-1860; (606) 549-6065
www.kentuckysplash.com
Wave pool, kids’ interactive play area, and three water slides.

Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom
Hurricane Bay

937 Phillips Lane • Louisville, KY 40209
(800) SCREAMS; (502) 366-2231
www.sixflags.com/parks/kentuckykingdom
Amusement park rides and Hurricane Bay water park.

Venture River Family Water Park
U.S. 62 • Eddyville, KY 42038
(270) 388-7999
www.ventureriver.com
Water slides, wave pool, Pleasure Island Kiddie area, and large sunning areas.

MORE FUN IN KENTUCKY
Beech Bend Park & Splash Lagoon
798 Beech Bend Road
Bowling Green, KY 42101 • (270) 781-7634
www.beechbend.com

Dogwood Lakes Camping Resort and Funpark
7777 State Route 973 • Dunmor, KY 42339
(270) 657-8380
www.dogwoodlakes.com
Lake with white sand beach, 280-foot full loop waterslide, paddle boats, kiddie play area.

Hillbilly Hound Fun Park
3905 Mammoth Cave Road
Cave City, KY 42127
(270) 773-4249
www.mammothcave.com/hound.htm
18-hole mini golf and game room.

Kathy Witt is a regular contributor to the Traveling Kentucky column.
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Kidz Zone

Whoever came up with the concept of making the study of science child’s play deserves all the unabashed oohs and aahs they inspire from kids and their parents everywhere.

Indoor play lands that feature such energized fun as Bicycle Generators, Chemistry Kitchens, and Construction Sites (hard hats not necessary), science centers are as hot these days as spark plugs on a conveyor belt. Think of them as imaginariums that allow kids to explore a whole galaxy of new ideas.

The Bluegrass’ newest kid magnet is the East Kentucky Science Center in Prestonsburg, which opened its portal to the last frontier in the fall on the campus of Prestonsburg Community College.

There are traveling exhibits and a science classroom, live musical performances including everything from five-piece jazz ensembles to classical and bluegrass bands, and small theatrical productions such as Theater in the Round, Shakespearian performances, poetry readings, and other entertainment.

The planetarium has a sound system so realistic that when the center shows a NASA launch on the dome screen, you feel the vibrations. The GOTO Chromos Star Projector, a time machine of sorts, is only the fourth one manufactured. It is the latest development in star projectors for planetariums, which are rated by the size of their domes, on the scale of the one at the East Kentucky Science Center.

“The Science Center’s 40-foot dome, 85-seat capacity, in no way reflects the capability of this planetarium,” says center director Raymond Shubinski, who has written planetarium programs that have been used by other facilities. “We’re right on the leading edge of all the technology available for planetariums.”

Chuck Phillips, a retired science teacher, runs the day-to-day activities and conducts the tours at another Kentucky science center, the Barren River Imaginative Museum of Science (BRIMS).

“The main thing about science centers is that they are a ‘you-touch-em’ museum,” says Phillips. “It’s great to look at an object, but if you can pick it up, touch it, and see how it relates to your world, that understanding stays with a child longer. People retain what they do; science creates interest. We have things kids can actually do.”

With close to 60 unique hands-on exhibits for all ages, each equipped with “What To Do” and “What’s Going On” features, there is plenty to keep explorers busy: Duck-in Kaleidoscope, an exhibit of three mirrors that produce multiple images, some reversing the “mirror image” of a typical “looking glass” so that you see yourself as others see you; Colored Shadows that shines red, blue, and green lights on a wall, producing a varied mixture of colors by moving from one side to the other; and BRIMS Blaster.

“In this exhibit, the striking of the rubberized sheet at the back of the exhibit compresses air within the chamber. It takes about two seconds for the air to become organized within the chamber. It is then expelled in a column of air, which holds its shape for considerable distance,” says Phillips.

Some of the museum’s newest exhibits include a laser with rotating mirror that projects designs on a wall surface and can be voice-activated, a smoke gun that “shoots” vortex rings, simulating what a tornado looks like if you were to look down the top of it, and a photo-driven car and photo-driven windmill.

The fun is simply electrifying.

DESTINATIONS
Barren River Imaginative Museum of Science
1229 Center Street • Bowling Green, KY 42102
(270) 843-9779

East Kentucky Science Center
207 W. Court Street • Prestonsburg, KY 41653
(606) 889-0303
www.wedoscience.org/index.htm

More Science Fun
Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium
University of Louisville Campus
108 West Brandeis • Louisville, KY 40208
(502) 852-6664
www.louisville.edu/planetarium

Hardin Planetarium
Western Kentucky University Campus
1 Big Red Way • Bowling Green, KY 42102
(270) 745-4044
http://physics.wku.edu/planetarium.html

Highlands Museum and Discovery Center
620 Winchester Avenue • Ashland, KY 41101
(606) 329-8888
www.highlandsmuseum.com

Hummel Planetarium
Eastern Kentucky University Campus
Kit Carson Drive • Richmond, KY 40475
(859) 622-1547
www.planetarium.eku.edu

Louisville Science Center
727 West Main Street • Louisville, KY 40202
(800) 591-2203 or (502) 561-6100
www.louisvillescience.org

Owensboro Area Museum of Science and History
220 Daviess Street • Owensboro, KY 42303
(270) 687-2732

Golden Pond Planetarium
Land Between the Lakes
Near the Visitor’s Center located just off US Highway 68
(800) 455-5897
www.kentuckylake.com/lbl/planetarium.htm

Kathy Witt is a regular contributor to the Traveling Kentucky column.

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