Beech Bend Park

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Beech Bend Park
Beech-Bend-Park.jpg
Overlooking the lake at Beech Bend Park in 2016
Slogan It's always a good time!
Location Warren County, in 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
Operating season May–September
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 both rides and recreational activities 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, Kentucky 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 and early 1980s[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.

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.

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" involved music from the 1960s, 70s and 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.

The Sea Dragon ride from Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch was installed at Beech Bend Park in 2009.

In 2009, Beech Bend debuted the Chance Rides 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 Zamperla 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. As well as the park purchased new ThunderVolt Speedway Go-Karts.

In 2013, the Park added the Vortex manufactured by Chance Rides. The Vortex is a one-of-a-kind thrill ride at Beech Bend. In fact, it is one of the most unusual rides in the region! This radical swinging pendulum ride soars riders 60 feet into the air reaching a maximum swing angle of 240 degrees! Riders will sit facing each other to maximize the interactive experience, and at the maximum height of the swing, riders will be suspended upside down!

The Flying Bobs ride, seen here in 2016, was refurbished in 2014.

In 2014, no new rides were added, but several of the older rides were Repainted and Rebuilt.

In 2015, the park added 5 new rides. The Tornado and Sizzler rides were replaced with new versions. Power Surge was replaced by Air Race, as well as the park added a children's monster truck ride, and Bluegrass Breeze a Flying Carousel make their way to Beech Bend for the 2015 season.

For the 2016 year, Beech Bend invested in a multimillion-dollar expansion to the water park, involving four new slides manufactured by ProSlide. One slide, the Cyclone Saucers, is the first of its kind in North America. Because of the expansion, several rides had to be relocated. Also, the Dragon coaster was removed to make way for Spinning Out, a new family coaster that was a hit at the IAAPA Attractions Expo.

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 (New York) 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.
Spinning Out 2016 SBF VISA A spinning family steel roller coaster. Replaced the Dragon Coaster.

Family and thrill rides[edit]

Name Opened Notes
Air Race 2015 New for 2015. Replaced the Power Surge ride. Air Race was made by Zamperla the same company that manufactured the Power Surge. It is an aeroplane style ride that takes riders upside-down multiple times.
Adult Bumper Cars  ???
Bluegrass Breeze 2015 New for 2015, Bluegrass Breeze is a Flying Carousel made by Bertazzon.
Dizzy Dragon 2000 Made by Larson International
Flying Bobs 2003 SBNO for the 2009 season. Allan Herschell Company Flying Bobs. Repainted and replaced decking for the 2014 season.
Speedway Go Carts 2012 Go kart track that has existed since the 1950s; up-charge attraction. New ThunderVolt Speedway cars added in 2012. Cost to ride is $5 for adult drivers and $3 for passengers. Drivers must be 60 inches tall to drive.
Granny Jones Petting Farm 2006
Grand Carousel 2008 Manufactured by Chance Rides. Has 2 chariots, as well as unique animals such as a seahorse, lion, rabbit, camel along with the traditional horses.
Haunted House 2011 Radically refurbished in 2011 with new props, effects, and overall performance. Formerly a Pretzel dark ride.
Hip Hop Drop 2010 Mosier Rides Spring Ride. 10 person capacity. Was relocated in 2014 to be in front of Zero G, the adult drop tower. Switched locations with Bumble Bee Bop.
Hubcab Alley Antique Cars 2002 Arrow Development Antique Cars ride.
Gold Rush Golf 2003 18 Hole Miniature golf. It is free and included with park admission. $2 club deposit required.
Moby Dick 2007 Made by Wisdom Rides. It is a 24-seat version of the Wisdom Genesis.
Rockin' Tug 2004 Made by Zamperla
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. Manufactured by Chance Rides. The park plays Michael Jackson music at the ride.
Sizzler 2000 Replaced in 2015 by a new version of the same ride. Manufactured by Wisdom Rides.
Starship 4000 2010 Manufactured by Wisdom Rides.
Tea Party 2010 Manufactured by Zamperla
Tilt-A-Whirl 1999 Classic Larson International Tilt-a-whirl.
Tornado 1999 Made by Wisdom Rides. Replaced in 2015 by a new version of the same ride.
Vortex 2013 Manufactured by Chance Rides. A Pendulum Ride
Whitewater Express 2002 Permanently installed traveling Log Flume. It has two drops, a medium-sized hill with a double-down, and a Large Drop. Made by Revercheron rides.
Zero-G 2012 Manufactured by ARM.

Kiddie rides[edit]

Name Opened Notes
Bumble Bee Bop 2003 Manufactured by Larson International. In 2014 it switched locations with Hip Hop Drop.
Crazy Bus 2001 Zamperla Crazy Bus.
Happy Pond 2000 Manufactured by Larson International.
Jalopy Junction  ??? Manufactured by Larson International
Jumping Jumbos 2001 Manufactured by Larson International
Kiddie Bumper Cars  ???
Kiddie Whip 2007
Monster Truck 2015 Wisdom Rides Monster Truck Ride.
Quad Runner 2010
Rainbow Rock 2006 Larson International Portable Children's Play Structure featuring a tropical jungle theme.
Super Slide 1999
Western Train 1999

Removed Rides[edit]

Name Closed Notes
Avalanche 2007 Made by Wisdom Rides. It was a 24-seat version of the Wisdom Genesis. Replaced by the Moby Dick, an exact copy of the ride but with a different theme.
Power Surge 2014 Zamperla Power Surge. Removed after the 2014 season. Replaced by Air Race.
Scat 2 2008 Replaced by another ride exactly like it but a different color. The current Scat 2 is predominately orange while the old one was blue.
Sizzler 2015 Replaced in 2015 by a new version of the same ride. Manufactured by Wisdom Rides. The notable difference is a different color pattern and the addition of color changing LED lights.
Starship 3000 2010 Manufactured by Wisdom Rides. Replaced by a newer version of the same ride the Starship 4000
Tornado 2015 Made by Wisdom Rides. Replaced in 2015 by a new version of the same ride. The notable difference is that the new ride has a different color pattern and it has color changing LED lights. It also was placed in a different location. The Bluegrass Breeze Swing Ride is located where the old tornado originally was.
Shock Drop 2012 Manufactured by ARM. Replaced by a larger permanent version of the same ride.
Dragon Coaster 2016 Manufactured by Wisdom Rides. Replaced in 2016 by the spinning family coaster "Spinning Out".

References[edit]

External links[edit]