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30 September 2005 - 11:15am
No one looks forward to capital budget time.
Some departments get what they want; others need to try again next year.
Just like Christmas, it's rare to get everything you wanted.
We announced our 2006 capital budget early this year: $13.5 million. ...but that doesn't mean everything was set in stone. When push comes to shove, we still need to work out the specifics and make it all balance out.
On Monday, Will looked...well, in pain.
He gently told his assembled staff of directors that some hard decisions needed to be made in order to finalize the budget for 2006. Even though the $13.5 million budget is more than twice the amount of our previous record capital budget, we were still--on paper--way over.
So something had to go. (No, not The Voyage. Calm down!)
Will presented three options that would get us back on budget. Several directors groaned. A few others blanched. We talked through the options carefully, cautiously.
Will looked sick to his stomach.
Then Joe, who has worked here all but one of the years since we opened in 1946, suggested Option #4: Will, I could wait another year for my department to move to new offices.
It was very quiet in the room.
Then Wayne spoke up. He could do without some of the food-service extras that were on the list. April offered she could wait another year for new warehouse shelving. And Vanessa suggested dropping her new storage building from the list.
One by one, each director came forward until the budget was where it needed to be.
It was amazing.
Sort of like a Jimmy Stewart movie.
29 September 2005 - 5:16pm
Just a quick post, with a photo from last Friday.
This is Chad on the left and Jeff on the right.
Jeff has worked on the construction of about 60 coasters over the years (including The Raven, The Legend and The Voyage). He's quite a character.
The National Geographic Channel crew had Jeff and Chad sitting on the tracks, looking at the coaster plans. This was to create some all important "cut-away" shots so that you don't just see their mugs when they're being interviewed.
Each had a bit of trouble keeping a straight face while studying the plans.
So did the crew.
27 September 2005 - 5:16pm
Spending all of Friday with the crew from National Geographic Channel was great fun.
Incredibly hot, though ... it was around 90 degrees and quite humid.
Poor Quinn, the associate producer. She'd packed clothes based on normal late-September Midwestern temperatures. (Most of the crew hailed from California.)
I took a bunch of photos and will put those up on another post within a few days.
First, I want to tell you about Saturday.
We had a second TV crew scheduled for an all-day shoot. This was a location-scouting expedition, so we won't mention the name of the satellite/cable network until we know for sure that it's a "go."
But it's a big 'un.
We started out walking through the park with Will and Chad, down to the Voyage construction site.
The producer ... I'll call her, um, Liz ... asked me to tell her more about coaster enthusiasts.
I regaled her with a few stories and she asked if there was any way she could meet one of these interesting creatures.
As a matter of fact, there's a fellow here in town who moved his family to Santa Claus so he could live close to the park.
Liz started laughing. Really hard.
In her delightful British-accented voice she asked, "Could we possibly pop by his house? We've got to meet him!"
I quickly offered to call Paul and invite him to join us on the construction-site tour.
As much as I knew Paul would be thrilled to be included in the construction tour, my primary purpose was to stay on his wife's good side.
Carrie would have my head on a platter if she knew I'd facilitated an unscheduled "pop in" to her flat. (It's hard not to pick up that English way of talking.)
And I wouldn't blame Carrie a bit either. We both have Kindergarteners who tend to take over our houses with their many projects. Wouldn't have it any other way, but it's not exactly the showcase-environment you'd like to show a TV camera.
Will et al cracked up at how quickly Paul scurried over here.
He was stoked.
Camera in hand.
Heart pounding (or so he told me).
My heart was pounding, too, by the time we got to the place on the Snowy White Gravel Road from which you can see where the turnaround portion of our new coaster will be.
Contrary to most out-and-back layouts, we're actually going uphill in the first half of this 1.2-mile layout.
So instead of giving Mr. Physics the opportunity to gain speed using the topography along the way, we're requiring a 100-foot climb in the "out" part of the ride.
And it gets really steep there near the end.
After the tour, I coyly suggested that Paul probably needed to head home.
Why don't we just pop in to see your family this evening?
The terror in Paul's eyes was worth the price of admission.
"Um...well...I'd have to check with my wife. I have a feeling she wouldn't be quite ready for company."
I noticed he walked out of earshot to call poor Carrie.
In a moment, he was back: "Hey! Great news! I can stay here longer ... so you can just interview me here!"
Ah, the power we wives wield.
We climbed another hill so that Liz could interview Paul. This time, it was right next to the lifthill at The Legend.
Somehow, without my reading glasses, I was able to figure out Paul's camera and snap off a few.
While the interview went on and on (Paul has many opinions, ideas and recollections), I retreated back down the hill.
Families floating by on Frightful Falls started waving at me, so we amused each other with that for a while.
And then it was really time for Paul to head home.
By the next day, he'd already posted page upon page of photos on his website, Negative-G.com. Here's the direct link to his report.
I first got to know Paul early in 2000 when we were getting ready to premiere The Legend.
And Carrie was getting ready to give birth to their son.
The "due dates" were alarmingly close.
Paul's determination to be present for both births (he lived three hours away from the park at that time) gave me a new understanding for "coaster crazy."
Somehow, he worked it all out.
Celebrated the birth of his son.
Rode on one of the first trains out of The Legend.
Found a new job.
Moved his family to Santa Claus.
If Liz ends up doing an hour-long documentary about Paul, I guess I'll understand.
27 September 2005 - 5:16pm
There's a new "podcast" out there; this one is hosted by the folks at CoasterBuzz.
They asked me to be part of their premier 'cast (oh, yeah, right ... so all of a sudden I'm, like, Miss Popular now that we're building some huge coaster ...).
It was fun. A little weird, though, since we were hooked together by computers and telephones. Not having eye-contact with the others felt strange. (Meant I didn't have to dress up, though, which was a plus since it was my day off.)
Head over here if you'd like to hear it.
And yes, I did enjoy yelling at the PodBoys.
22 September 2005 - 5:16pm
Those pretty flowers throughout Holiday World & Splashin' Safari?
We have Frieda to thank.
And today's her birthday.
Frieda has worked in just about every department over the years. Front gate, food services, the Betsy Ross Doll Museum.
Since she "retired," she's been in charge of our greenhouse.
Our "plant manager," if you happen to like puns.
She was interviewed for a newspaper article a number of years ago. I just loved her proud statement: There's not a rocking chair that's been built that would hold me!
My favorite Frieda story is from 1993, the year she turned 83.
That was the year Splashin' Safari opened.
A local senior citizens group called in the early spring and asked for a "sneak peek" for their members. The water park wouldn't be open for another few months, but they were curious. Plus it was lovely weather for a heart-healthy walk-about.
We started out from the front gate and strolled down to the entrance to Splashin' Safari. From there, we could see the nearly-completed water park. (The first year, the water attractions included the AmaZOOM, Bamboo Chute, Congo River and Crocodile Isle.)
Then we circled back up through the 4th of July section.
As we walked by the Avenue of Flags, past what is now The Alamo (I think it was Tank Tag back then), the grumbles started.
"How much farther?"
"Can't we sit down somewhere?"
"Young lady, you really need to provide transportation for these tours!"
These tours? Silly me, I thought I was doing them a favor...
Suddenly, everything changed in the blink of an eye.
Or, rather, the slam of a hoe.
We couldn't see her yet, but we sure could hear Frieda.
She was up the hill, by the bumper boats.
There was a clump of stubborn weeds underneath the weeping willow.
And Frieda was determined to win the battle of wills ... or rather, roots.
I kid you not! As we crested the hill there was Frieda, hard at work. Swinging that old hoe over her head and slamming it down into the roots.
Not little refined nudges to move the weeds. Big, huge, vigorous, full-body chops.
The senior group came alive.
They called out to each other and hurried up the hill en masse.
They eagerly surrounded Frieda and talked about flowers and trees with great animation.
The tour was a success. (No thanks to me.)
Many happy returns, Frieda!