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6 May 2005 - 12:06pm
About a year and a half ago, Will announced in staff meeting:
I want to see more Guests walking around the park with plush that they've won.
I guess this should not have surprised me. Will is, after all, the fellow who came up with the Free Unlimited Soft Drinks program for the year 2000. And the next year, he challenged us to come up with another such program. Lori suggested Free Sunscreen, and we added that.
April, our games director, recently sent me the following list of how many prizes were awarded at the various games in 2004:
Shrek ... 1,288
Donkey ... 1,315
Hoosier Hysteria Regulation College Basketballs ... 10,525
Duck Pond prizes ... 42,916
Wacky Cats ... 44,140
Skeeball – 44,539
Fried Frogs – 62,824
Approximately 4,200,000 tickets won from Skeeball and the redemption games in Merlin’s Arcade.
It suddenly occurs to me that the above numbers may offend those folks who came away from the skill games empty-handed. And that calling them "skill" games made you feel even worse.
So what's new this year? For one thing ... new Skeeball machines!
Say bye-bye to the vintage machines:
They were sold over the last few months on eBay and following news reports. (I promise the HoliBlog will feature future sales.)
Meanwhile, the new Skeeball machines are ready to go for opening day:
Skeeball always has an assortment of neat prizes. It's fun to watch children as they oh-so-seriously ponder their options as they get ready to trade in their tickets for something special.
Here's one of the featured prizes for 2005:
Here's wishing a lot of skill and a tiny smidgen of luck to all our Hosts & Hostesses this opening weekend.
5 May 2005 - 12:06pm
The day has finally arrived!
We all gathered around (along with a number of people in town) and watched as...
Teepee + Stack + Bowl = Water Tower!
I'd always thought of the pieces as the cone, the cylinder, and the sphere. (Gosh, maybe I never will use what I learned back in geometry class...)
John, our marketing director, is particularly excited by this new water tower. He bustled about, taking photos from all angles. He knows all the water-tower-workmen by name and probably has his own plaster-of-paris model at home on the mantel.
Must be a guy thing. I looked around and saw mostly male-types with their eyes glued to the teepee/stack/bowl assemblage. We've all been so busy, I guess it felt good to stand still for a few minutes and just concentrate on the immense Tinker Toy being fitted together.
Thanks to John, we know the weight of each piece. The red "teepee" is 50,000 pounds. Quite a bit heavier is the 90,000-pound blue "stack."
No wonder the big yellow "bowl" took a while to glide into place; it weighs 170,000 pounds.
A bit more painting to do.
And more welding.
When you drive into the town of Santa Claus, from any direction, it'll be fun for the kiddos to scan the horizon, watching for the giant yellow lightbulb in the sky.
Yes, it's a bit shocking (forgive me as I plug in one last pun) and from the squeals of the children as they finally know the answer to "are we there yet?" ... it may even be a bit electrifying.
5 May 2005 - 12:06pm
Have you been concerned about the progress of the new fountain in the Christmas Plaza?
It's progressing nicely, thank you:
I feel like such a dog, prancing out of my office to take a photo of people who are really earning their pay. The park is buzzing with activity!
Hope they know we appreciate all they do.
I also hope those guys suspended over the middle of the fountain didn't just have a big lunch!
5 May 2005 - 12:06pm
We've received a number of emails with general questions, so let's answer them here and now:
Q: Will the HoliBlog continue after opening day?
A: Certainly! If I can make it through this week and still write an entry or two each day (with the help of my friends), there shouldn't be any problem continuing. On a side note, we just received our monthly report with statistics regarding visitation to our website. Yikes! HoliBlog is the second-most visited page on our site. (More than 10,000 visitors in just three weeks.)
Q: Will the HoliBlog include stories about lesser-known features such as the Betsy Ross Doll House?
A: Sure! It way take a few months, but we'll try to get to all of your requests.
Q: When will you announce "what's new" for 2006?
A: The big announcement will take place on Thursday, June 16.
Stay tuned...we've got more interesting photos coming soon.
4 May 2005 - 12:06pm
When you look up "determined" in the dictionary, chances are Mrs. Koch's photo will be there.
Every season, there are two or three things that just bug her. Drive her crazy.
Up a tree, even.
But she doesn't gripe and complain. She figures out a way to change it.
It's usually something people whisper in her ear all season long. Our Guests see Mrs. Koch on TV all summer. She's an approachable person. And approach her they do!
Top of the list last year was the big fir tree in the Christmas Plaza.
"We need a beautifully decorated Christmas tree for the children to see when they first come in the park," she announced one week in staff meeting.
No one disagreed. She was right (she usually is).
Next week at staff meeting, "Don't you think we should fix up that tree for next season?"
And the following week...
What about my tree?
Just imagine our collective joy and exultation when Will passed out the 2005 Budget last fall and one of the line items was:
Trim and Decorate Tree in Christmas Plaza.
Joe carefully researched how the huge tree should be thinned and trimmed, so as not to cause any damage.
The great wooly tree underwent a makeover worthy of reality TV.
And then a week ago came the big announcement: The decorations have arrived!
It rained nearly every day that week. But finally, Monday, the work began.
First, the lights were strung.
All 2,700 of them.
And then the huge ornaments were brought out. Giant lollipops, gingerbread men, candy canes, colorful balls, ribbons, snowflakes, and much more.
Kinda pretty, huh?
By the way, Mrs. Koch's desire to have additional benches placed around the park has also become reality.
And she's already been granted a very special wish for 2006.
You'll be able to share next year's gift with her.
In fact, she'll insist.