Beech Bend Park

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Beech Bend Park
Location Warren County, near Bowling Green, Kentucky, U.S.
Coordinates 37°01′27″N 86°23′43″W / 37.02417°N 86.39528°W / 37.02417; -86.39528Coordinates: 37°01′27″N 86°23′43″W / 37.02417°N 86.39528°W / 37.02417; -86.39528
Owner Dallas and Alfreda Jones
Opened 1898
Rides
Total Approx 40
Roller coasters 3
Water rides 1
Website www.beechbend.com

Beech Bend Park is an amusement park, campground and automobile race track located in Warren County, in the U.S. state of Kentucky, just outside the limits of the city of Bowling Green.

History[edit]

The park takes its name from a bend in Barren River where stands of beech trees are scattered throughout the area. The area was used for picnics as early as the 1880s. Charles Garvin purchased the park property in the early 1940s, adding amusements over the years. The first ride was a pony ride, followed by a roller skating rink, dance hall, bowling center and swimming pool.

Mechanics arrive[edit]

Shortly after World War II, Garvin added mechanical rides to Beech Bend Park, beginning with a Ferris wheel purchased from the Chicago World's Fair. Racing began about that same time with motorcycles. Auto racing began on a 3/8-mile (600 m) oval dirt track; that same track, now paved, is still in use today. A dragstrip was added in the 1950s.

The 1960s[edit]

The 1960s marked the park's heyday. Gate admission was ten cents, with promotions known as "County Days," spotlighting a county within the Bowling Green area each week. Carnival-type rides were abundant, with the famous Wild Mouse the most popular; midway games such as Skee ball and Fascination were a hit with guests. The campground grew over the years, with more than 1,000 spaces advertised at its peak, billed at one time as the world's largest. (The campground was home to the original store of what is now Camping World, a large camping supply retailer founded by David Garvin, Charles Garvin's son.) A small zoo was also added.

The 1970s[edit]

In the 1970s, the park went into a state of decline, largely due to competition from theme parks such as Opryland USA in nearby Nashville, Tennessee. Garvin's health was also in steady decline. When he died in 1979, the park closed, though the racing facilities stayed open under a lease agreement to a third-party operator. The park was purchased by an ownership group that included country music singer Ronnie Milsap, which operated it unsuccessfully in 1981 and 1982. The park closed again, with ownership reverting to Garvin's heirs.

Changes[edit]

In 1984, Dallas and Alfreda Jones purchased the racetracks and began hosting national drag racing events sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association. The racetracks did well, and three years later, the couple purchased the rest of the park, which had by then fallen back into nature. No work was done on the old park until the 1990s, when the Jones' began to clear out the park and renovate the campground. The pool was then reopened, and the owners gradually added amusement rides back to the park — much as Charles Garvin had done in the park's early years.

Recent history[edit]

As of 2005, Beech Bend Park has more than 40 rides, 500 campground spaces with modern amenities, renovated racing facilities, a water park and large picnic pavilions. The race tracks host numerous Corvette racing events (the park is only a few miles away from the General Motors factory that produces the sports car), plus the annual NHRA Hot Rod Reunion.

In 2005 the park opened a Zamperla Twisting Wild Mouse coaster, Zamperla Steamboat ride and a drop tower called the Shock Drop.

In 2006, the park added the Kentucky Rumbler wooden roller coaster. The owners of Beech Bend used their savings to build the Kentucky Rumbler instead of building a beach house.

The year 2007 brought permanent replacements for some of the older mobile rides. In October the park announced the Holiday Lights Spectacular that ran through January. The Kentucky Rumbler was operating along with other smaller flat rides open.

In 2008 the park added a brand new Carousel, The Grand Carousel. A new show called "The Magic of Music" that involved music from the '60s, '70s and the '80s. They also had Cirque Africa Show that ran June 16 through June 23. For the kids the park introduced a new park character show, "Singing with Sammy the Squirrel, and from July 14 through July 23 the park had a kids' festival. Thrill seekers received a brand new Scat 2.

In 2009, Beech Bend debuted the Chance Sea Dragon ride [1] which was purchased from Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch and was alleged to be his favorite ride. The Looping Star Roller Coaster was removed at the end of the season.

In 2010, Beech Bend was to debut a large waterpark expansion (wave pool, lazy river and a water play structure), a family tea cups ride, a kids' quad runner and a new amphitheater, billed as the largest in Beech Bend's history and was to open in early May. The expansion was delayed by two months due to the 2010 Tennessee floods, and the water play structure and amphitheater did not open until the 2011 season. The first ride at the park, the Ferris wheel, was standing but not operating the whole season, and was removed for the 2011 season.

In 2011, the old Haunted House ride was completely overhauled, with new effects and cars added to it. The Shock Drop drop tower was removed at the end of the season.

In 2012, the replacement for Shock Drop arrived in the form of the 140-foot-tall drop tower named Zero-G, named by people who participated in a naming contest on Facebook. Ironically, Zero-G was made by the same manufacturer as Shock Drop was; ARM.

Jim Varney's first television commercial as character Ernest P. Worrell was for Beech Bend. Varney's character was advertising an appearance by the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders in 1980.

Current attractions[edit]

Roller coasters[edit]

Name Opened Manufacturer Description
Kentucky Rumbler 2006 Great Coasters International A wooden roller coaster that was partially based upon the Rye Playland Aeroplane Coaster's first drop. Holds the world record for most coaster station fly-bys, at three.
Wild Mouse 2005 Zamperla A steel spinning wild mouse coaster.
Dragon 1999 Wisdom Rides A simple portable steel roller coaster.

Family and thrill rides[edit]

Name Opened Notes
Adult Bumper Cars  ???
Dizzy Dragon 2000
Flying Bobs 2003 SBNO for the 2009 season.
Speedway Go Carts  ??? Go kart track that has existed since the 1950s; up-charge attraction.
Granny Jones Petting Farm 2006
Grand Carousel 2008
Haunted House  ??? Radically refurbished in 2011 with new props, effects, and overall performance. Formerly a Pretzel dark ride.
Hip Hop Drop 2010
Hubcab Alley Antique Cars 2002 Arrow Development Antique Cars ride.
Jitter Bug Swings 1999
Gold Rush Golf 2003
Moby Dick 2007
Power Surge 2002
Rockin' Tug 2004
Scat 2 2008
Sea Dragon 2009 Notable for being the same ride at Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch; was stated to be his favorite ride and was bought by Beech Bend shortly after his death.
Sizzler 2000
Starship 4000 2010
Tea Party 2010
Tilt-A-Whirl 1999
Tornado[disambiguation needed] 1999 [citation needed]
Whitewater Express 2002 Permanently installed traveling log flume.
Zero-G 2012

Kiddie rides[edit]

Name Opened Notes
Bumble Bee Bop 2003
Crazy Bus 2001
Happy Pond 2000
Jalopy Junction  ???
Jumping Jumbos 2001
Kiddie Bumper Cars  ???
Kiddie Whip 2007
Quad Runner  ???
Rainbow Rock 2006
Super Slide 1999
Western Train 1999

References[edit]

External links[edit]