Dollywood, Newport Aquarium operators taking over Kentucky Kingdom
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear joined Herschend Enterprises Chief Executive Officer Andrew Wexler, state officials and community leaders to announce that Herschend Enterprises has become a majority partner and operator of Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay amusement and water park located in Louisville, Kentucky.
Georgia-based Herschend is the nation’s largest family-owned theme attractions and entertainment company. Herschend operates popular tourism attractions such as the Dollywood Parks & Resorts in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and the Newport Aquarium in Northern Kentucky.
“Kentucky’s ability to attract nationally recognized companies to the commonwealth is part of our commitment to build a stronger Kentucky by fostering partnerships that create opportunities for future economic growth and revenue,” said Gov. Beshear. “Herschend is a proven innovator and leader in the tourism industry, and we are delighted that they recognize the potential Kentucky has to offer and have committed to expanding their operations in the commonwealth.”
“After opening Newport Aquarium in 2008, we’ve been actively seeking an opportunity to bring even more entertainment to the great state of Kentucky and that dream begins today,” said Herschend Chief Executive Officer Andrew Wexler. “We’re honored to be welcomed into the beautiful and historic city of Louisville, and thrilled to build upon the exceptional 25-year legacy of Kentucky Kingdom.”
“We are pleased to turn the park over to a new generation of leadership. Herschend is an outstanding operator, who will undoubtedly take Kentucky Kingdom & Hurricane Bay to the next level. We expect their involvement will add greatly to the Commonwealth’s thriving tourism industry,” said Kentucky Kingdom’s founder, President and CEO Ed Hart.
As part of its commitment to the park, Herschend Enterprises is bringing Craig Ross, Dollywood’s President for the past 10 years, to serve as Kentucky Kingdom’s interim General Manager. Ross plans to further develop Kentucky Kingdom’s exceptional 25-year legacy by tapping into his decades of family entertainment experience at one of the nation’s top theme parks. Under Ross’ leadership, Dollywood surpassed Disneyland and was named among TripAdvisor and USA Today’s best theme parks in the world.
“This is an exciting moment, and I am so honored to work alongside the community, our season pass holders, and our valued guests in building a bright future for this beloved park,” said Ross. “We strongly believe in using guest and community input to create amazing experiences and will be reaching out to the Louisville community for input on enhancements they’d like to see at the park, including attractions, shows and events. This feedback will be critical in creating a long-term plan for success and growth.”
Known as the home of the Muhammad Ali, the Kentucky Derby, Louisville Slugger baseball, Marker’s Mark and more, Louisville is largest city in America to be designated an international compassionate city. The city prides itself on southern hospitality, and strives to be a city that is welcoming and inclusive to all guests. Louisville is known internationally for world-class tourism attractions and events. The expansion of Herschend will continue to elevate the city’s reputation as being a top travel destination for all families to enjoy.
About Kentucky Kingdom: Opened in 1987, Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay is the number one paid family attraction in the state of Kentucky, with hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay has more than 70 thrilling rides – including six world-class coasters, two wave pools, one of the tallest body slides in the world (Skybox Launch) and one of the largest selections of children’s rides in the region (King Louie’s Playland).