HoliHint of the week

Alrighty, class, let’s review a bit before presenting the HoliHint of the Week:

1. The capital expansion budget for 2006 is $13.5 million;

2. The expansion will include both Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari;

… and last week’s HoliHint promised to answer the following question:

Which themed-section will host Holiday World’s portion of the ’06 expansion?

Let’s see…


Ho, ho … no.


Scary concept.


What about 4th of July?


Don’t think Will is going to put his “John Hancock” on that one.

So, what’s left?

A new themed section?

A new holiday?

The first in 22 years?


Which holiday?

Yeah, right. Did you really think I would give out that many details in this HoliHint of the Week?

I think we’ll save that for the big announcement.

And when will that be?

There’s a good chance we can let you know the date when we gather again for next week’s HoliHint.

Kelli’s wish

Kelli and friends

If you could invite your closest friends to spend the day at Holiday World, would you be able to come up with a list of 20 friends for your wish list?



Well, a sweet teen named Kelli was granted a “Make A Wish” today, and her list of friends tops 150!

And Kelli has already made a few new friends:

Kelli and friends

We wish you a wonderful day with us, Kelli. 

It may be a bit cloudy today, but your beautiful smile will make the sun shine through!

When emails go bad

About once a week, an email reply comes back to me, marked:

The e-mail account does not exist at the organization this message was sent to. Check the e-mail address, or contact the recipient directly to find out the correct address.

How frustrating!

Now the person who emailed us thinks we gave him or her the brush off!

That we didn’t care enough to take the time to send a reply.


(I really do hear that voice in my head in such situations. I know, I know. I’m teetering on the edge.)

One time (yes, I remember the particulars; it bothers me that much) it was someone asking about our accessibility. Another time, a question about food allergies. A third about our kennels. All valid questions. I had the answers and sent them out.

Anyone else hear Elvis crooning?

Return to sender … address unknown

Anyway, it just happened again. A sincere email from a teen from Michigan. His name is Jeremy and he’s visiting early next week. An obviously intelligent fellow — rather intense, actually. (I went into Mommy-mode and reminded him to have *fun* during his visit.)

Jeremy … if you’re out there … your email address isn’t working. Sorry! I saved the reply and will send it again if you email me back with a working address.

Okay, now I have to get Elvis out of my head …

Bad hair day

Tori and Will

This Bad Hair Day photo of Tori, our hard-working rides director, is brought to you courtesy of Will:

Tori, Rides Director
Now, how nice is that?

Tori was trying to lighten the mood in the office and grabbed a (brand-new-and-unused, I hope!) mop-head and tossed it on her noggin.

Kind of a Raggedy Ann/punk look.

Will’s immediate reaction was, “Is that hair legal?” (Uniform standards, after all, must be met.)

He snapped off a few photos of Tori (red from embarrassment, not sunburn) and gleefully emailed them to me with the note:

HoliBlog her, I say!

Like … real mature, Will.

The thing is, though … Tori gives as good as she gets.

She and Will have this big-brother/little-sister teasing relationship that makes me want to run and hide. Those two are relentless and, at times, ruthless!

So it didn’t surprise me when Tori emailed me this photo:

Tori and Will

This is from last week’s Rides Night, an after-hours party for our employees. Tori decided Will shouldn’t get away with not riding our new Revolution just once at night.

Apparently, Will gave in and gave it a spin.

I’m glad no one realizes I have yet to give Revolution a whirl.


Excuse me while I go lock my office door.


Ready for more hints about our “new for 2006” expansion? 

First, let’s begin with a few housekeeping items.

1. It’s pronounced Hol-i-blog (not holly-blog). Just like hol-i-day and Hol-i-dog

2. Sorry, but the new ’06 Announcement Date hasn’t been set yet. We’ve invited a VIP to attend and are waiting to hear which date (if any) that State Official would be able to attend. When we have the date set, it will appear immediately here on the HoliBlog

3. And finally … we love to get your emails, but we don’t plan to release unannounced ’06 information through email replies. Good try, though.

Okay, down to business…

In this HoliBlog post from last week, we promised to address where next year’s $13.5 million capital expenditure budget would be spent.

Holiday World?


Splashin’ Safari?



(Gosh…my heart is pounding just writing this. I need to calm down. Deep, cleansing breaths …)

Last-minute hint: We do not plan to put all our eggs in one basket. So to speak.

The answer is …


Feel better? Is this relief … or more stress? Do you need some air? Maybe you should go lie down.

Okay … so what’s for next week?

We will answer the following question:

Which themed-section will host Holiday World’s portion of the ’06 expansion?

Park of Doom

Liberty Launch | Holiday World & Splashin' Safari

Just about the most important part of my job is giving tours of the parks to reporters and travel writers.

The PR department focuses on getting writers to visit; presumably, they will have a great time and will eventually write an article or two about their experience. So when they’re here, we like to tour the hundred acres and tell stories. (That was where the idea for the HoliBlog came from, in case you came late to class.)

I just returned from one of the most enjoyable tours ever. Laura and her four boys were a blast.

Laura’s from northern Indiana. She writes for newspapers and magazines. She was interested in learning more about our southern Indiana theme and water parks.

Her sons, though, they already know this business.

They’re Roller Coaster Tycoons.

I grew up with three brothers. I have three sons. So I feel right at home among the ruckus. All the talking at once, untied shoelaces, interrupting with far more important questions – plus the singing of silly songs – are nothing but fun in my book.

We could hardly take a step without a question or comment.

Liberty Launch | Holiday World & Splashin' SafariHey! Is that one of those free-fall tower rides?

Yes, it sure is. It’s called Liberty Launch

We’ve got one of those in our park. We call it “Tower of Doom.” When the line gets long, we jack up the price to make more money.

Oh? Do you charge at the front gate and charge again for individual rides?

Sure! We make $27,000 a day! That helps us pay off our big bank loan.

Next, I pointed out one of our Pepsi Oasis buildings.

What are you giving drinks away for? When it’s hot and humid at our park, we jack up the cost of soda an extra buck. We jack it up to $4.

Don’t your guests complain?

Sure, but we don’t care. When it’s hot, we also jack up the price of sitting under an umbrella.

You guys know Donald Trump?

Hey! Have you got a log ride?

Sure do … it’s called Frightful Falls.

We’ve got one in our park —

(It was my turn to interrupt) Let me guess — Flume of Doom?

Not quite. It’s the “This Log Should Be Burning Flume of Doom.”

When I pointed out the Free Sunscreen kiosks, they sensibly helped themselves and slathered it on.

At our park, we charge for sunscreen. It’s 50 cents per glob. But when it’s extra sunny, we jack up the price.

I shamed them when they admitted they only pay their maintenance crew members $55 a month.

We’ve got to pay off our loan!

And they shamed me for not charging for inner tubes.

Hey! When it gets really hot, you could …

I know, I know … jack up the prices.

This went on and on and I could barely contain my laughter. I resisted the urge to group-hug those tycoons.

Before we parted so that they could ride The Legend, they made a solemn promise to pay their employees better (We couldn’t afford to pay the staff, so we drowned a bunch of them!) and to rethink their pricing structure.

We talked short-term versus long-term strategy and I think they were coming around.

Time to finish this and post it — I have a meeting with Will. I’m proposing this idea I just came up with: Since we’re giving away so many soft drinks, I think we should start charging for toilet paper. And for the restrooms closest to the Pepsi Oasis buildings, we could jack up the price …
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Hospitality Training

It doesn’t just happen, folks.

It’s not something in the water.

… or in the free, unlimited soft drinks.

We have to work on being friendly.

It means reporting for work at 7:30 am for Hospitality Training.

7:30 am.

In the morning.

How friendly is that?

We pack the Holiday Theater for three mornings this week as we bulk up on what it’s all about.

We tell stories and read emails aloud. One in particular brought tears to my eyes. (A father wrote to thank us for helping his family to forget about his cancer for a day. He hadn’t heard his wife and son laugh in a long, long time.)

We remind everyone that we don’t know what the families visiting us might be going through.

Maybe they’re celebrating a birthday.

Maybe they’ve been counting down the days for months.

Perhaps there’s just been a divorce in the family.

Maybe Junior barfed in the car on the way down.

You just don’t know, do you?

We talk about the little things … and the big things.

And someone (it was Will this year) always asks for a show of hands:

Anyone out there shy?

Well … if they’re truly shy, they might not be too eager to raise their hands, right?

We always get a chuckle out of that. Corny, I know.

After the theater portion, we break into small groups and scatter all over the park to practice, practice, practice.

Chris and I were assigned his Security Crew. As we headed over to Santa’s Storytime Theater, I joked, “Why don’t you sit up on stage, just like we do with Santa?”

Good grief — they did just that!

Hospitality Training

This photo was taken during a serious discussion. (That’s Chris in Santa’s chair.) A bit later, we practiced smiling, eye contact, and chatting with our Guests.

They did very well. And so did the three or four entertainers who were part of our group.

Earlier, in the theater, Mrs. Koch told us about how she enjoys greeting families as they arrive at the front gate. Even though not everyone responds, she keeps trying.

Will couldn’t resist: We have to do a good job. Otherwise, the business will fail and we’ll have to close. And Mom will have to get a job as a Wal-Mart greeter.

“No way!” she countered, somehow louder than the laughter.

“I’d be an exotic dancer!”

Then Will: I’ll give you all a moment to wipe that image from your mind.

Well, 7:30 am or no 7:30 am, everyone was wide awake then. The theater rocked with good-natured laughter.

Those two are quite a pair.

Mother and son.


Setting an example every day for the rest of us.

And starting our day with a smile.
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More calculations

Around here we kid around about each person’s “inner geek” coming out in our work.

John knows every dimension of the new water tower.

Will can explain the mechanical workings of every ride.

Lori knows every specific water-quality number and how to balance it perfectly.

I eagerly volunteered recently to rewrite text into blocks containing no more than 240 characters and spaces.

And even our HoliBlog readers are getting in on the act.

Marc from Murphysboro emailed me this question about the new water tower:

So it should weigh 155 tons empty then; do you know the capacity of it? Then we could figure the loaded weight of it, which I bet could double perhaps.

I emailed back the answer: 500,000 gallons.

And here is Marc’s response:

From my figuring, water weighs 8.345 lbs per gallon * 500,000 gallons=4,172,500lbs of water + 310,000lbs for the structure = 4,482,500lbs total when full.

That would make it almost EXACTLY the weight of the fully-loaded and fueled space shuttle Endeavor on blastoff, and equivalent to the weight of 700 fully-fueled Hummer H2 SUVs.


Just. Wow.

Gosh, I don’t even think that way! To calculate it all out and then have another example for comparison. Never in a million years would I come up with that.

But then, it’s all geek to me!
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Remembering Reagan

It was back in March of 1955. A movie star by the name of Ronnie Reagan was crossing the country, promoting his new TV show.

He made an appearance at the General Electric plant in nearby Tell City. Someone there suggested that he check out Santa Claus Land, located in a neighboring county.

Back then, it wasn’t a big deal to change a star’s schedule on the spur of the moment.

Ronald Reagan. Louis J. Koch, Santa Jim Yellig

That’s Ronald Reagan with Will’s two grandfathers, Louis J. Koch and “Santa Jim” Yellig.

Today, one year following President Reagan’s passing seems to be the appropriate day to share this photo.
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A humbling evening

If you’re a faithful reader, you already know what a close relationship we have with the children, staff, and other supporters of the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center.

Their smiles and laughter are more than enough thanks. The letters and coloring pages they send are a sweet bonus.

And last night, they humbled us at the annual Easter Seals Tribute Dinner by presenting Mrs. Koch with the “Creating Solutions, Changing Lives” Award.

This photo says it all, doesn’t it:

Plaques can be a dime a dozen, but this framed photo will leave a lasting impression on the hearts of all who see it. Just look at those happy little hams!

The folks at Fifth Third Bank were also honored for their tremendous support of children and adults with disabilities in the tri-state area.

And so were the Thompson twins. Emilie and Kaitlin Thompson are the incredible young women who, a decade ago, decided to give back to the Rehab Center by holding their own fundraiser. Their LemonAid Stand has raised money and awareness over the years.

It was an evening filled with laughter, tears, and black olives (Mrs. Koch picked mine out of my Greek salad before Rachel or Lori could get them).

We’ll always treasure the lessons of love, determination and strength the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center families and staff have taught us.