Sunday’s Voyage

It’s so nice to see the lovely fall colors coming out this week.

Oh, and The Voyage looks pretty good, too.

This was taken on Sunday by one of the people interviewed for the Discovery Channel program. (Thanks, Matt.)

He sent me a bunch; I’ll add a few more as I go through them.

I’ll be out of the office for a few days starting tomorrow, but I’ll explain what the crew was up to on Sunday when I get back.

Meanwhile, did you catch the ever-growing second hill on our webcam? We have a second crew on hand pushing vertical with that structure.

(Liz really liked talking to the steelworkers. “Oh, such rugged men!” she said, with a sudden blush on her cheeks.)


Second crew.

Second hill.

Second thoughts?

Not a chance!

Voyage construction during the fall of 2005

They never did say “blimey”

Liz and David

What a disappointment.

“Oh no … ” chirped Liz. “They only say ‘blimey’ in Mary Poppins!”

They did, however, greatly add to my laudatory lexicon.

Here are just a few words of British praise:





Ace! Fab!

Our Discovery Channel’s “Building the Biggest Coaster” crew is international.

MLiz and Davideet Liz and David, both British

Liz is this episode’s associate producer. Born and raised in London. Doesn’t drive a car. Eats porridge for breakfast. Cute as a button.

They all signed my hard hat (excuse me … construction hat) while we said good-bye in the parking lot (pardon me … car park).

Here’s what Liz wrote: Darling Paula You have made our filming trip simply sublime. You are indeed brilliant. Liz xx

Then there’s David, the director. David was serious, focused, and fun all at the same time. Polite, too. Didn’t start rearranging a room or office without asking first. And always tidied up afterwards.

When nearly a dozen members of the Koch family gathered for a group interview, David started off with a question for Logan, one of Will’s nephews.

Logan (I believe he’s 11) is never at a loss for words.

Until David’s question.

After a long pause, Logan piped up, “I could not understand a single word you just said!”

David laughed, “Would it help if I spoke more slowly?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

Here’s what David wrote on my construction hat: Dear Paula Thanks for being simply splendid. Lots of love, David x

One of my favorite moments from our week with the crew was when we were chatting about Chad from The Gravity Group.

“Would you happen to know,” queried Liz, “is that short for Chaddington or Chadwick?”

It stuck.

Poor Chad will never live that down. He is forever Lord Chadwick.

The crew wanted a shot of Chad walking on the track of the under-construction Voyage. Since Chad’s walk was to be a long one, David communicated by two-way.

Chad’s two-way was hidden inside his jacket. He said it was surreal hearing a British voice coming out of his chest.

Listen to your heart, Chadwick …

Television crew at Voyage

Then there’s Alastair, the Scottish “sound recordist.” He’s the fellow wearing headphones and carrying a big stick (with a big, furry cocoon-shaped gizmo at the far end).

Scotty was my favorite character on the original (and only, as far as I’m concerned) Star Trek series, so Alastair’s brogue was music to my ears.

He was forever looking for whatever might be humming or buzzing in the background.

Meanwhile, the program will air* next April or May in the States.

It’ll debut in Britain in late January. At our directors’ meeting on Monday, I suggested a staff trip to London to attend the premiere.

Will has yet to declare that a splendid idea.

But I’m sure, deep inside, he thinks it’s just brilliant.

*Note added in 2012: Unfortunately, this episode never aired in the States. It was shown all over the world (Britain, New Zealand, Canada, Russia, Australia …), but inexplicably, not here. It’s taken six years, but we finally discovered “Building the Biggest Coaster” online. Enjoy!

Everyone’s a comedian early in the morning

Blame it on lack of sleep.

Our Discovery Channel crew got to their hotel close to midnight last night. We had plans to meet up at 5:30 this morning.

(Note to self: When you know it might rain and that you’ll be wearing a hard hat most of the day, don’t bother getting up a half-hour early to fuss with your hair.)

They’ve shot a bunch of footage already.

Right now, they’re with Chad and Larry from The Gravity Group, catching their first words and expressions when they see the topped lift hill for the first time.

I tried to sneak a snap of David, the director, and Liz, the associate producer; I have a definite suspicion they saw the camera:

This experience is quite educational.

I’ve learned a lot already.

For example, in England, they have a different phrase for “fanny pack.”

(Apparently, across the pond there’s a quite different meaning for that first word. And it’s not ladylike to even tell me what it is, according to Liz. I figured it out, though.)

So if you make it to the U.K. and use one of those…things, be sure to call it a “bum bag.”

Good-bye, old friend …

… you nauseated me no end.

Even walking by the Virginia Reel was a challenge to some.

Turning and spinning wildly.

The air full of the sweet scent of funnel cakes.

(Whose wicked idea was that? Putting a tilt-a-whirl right next to a funnel cake stand?)

Interested in the ride’s history?

It was manufactured by Sellner Manufacturing Co., Inc., in Faribault, Minnesota.

The ride was originally sold to G.E. Dickson of Paducah, Kentucky, on June 7, 1957.

In 1960, was sold to F.C. Shafer of Evansville, Indiana, who operated it at Mesker Park (which closed in 1975).

In 1976, it was sold to Holiday World and named, incredibly, Tilt-A-Whirl,

When Santa Claus Land became Holiday World, the ride’s name was changed to the Virginia Reel, as it was in the 4th of July section.

And now, it’s moving on (I don’t know where, though…) in order to make room for the walkway for the new Thanksgiving section.

By the way, the original plan was to add a new tilt-a-whirl for next season. But when we had our Frank Capra moment a few weeks ago, that was one of the items (probably the only one that a park Guest would notice) that slid over to the “Maybe Next Year” column.

Speaking of Mr. Capra, isn’t it interesting that one of his most popular films, It’s A Wonderful Life, was released in 1946?

That was the same year Louis J. Koch opened Santa Claus Land.


Liz called from Cincinnati (they’re visiting The Gravity Group offices today).

Blimey! They read yesterday’s post already.

Alastair is pleased.

Good lad!

Turns out he’s a Scotsman.

What a coincidence. Just last night, my 14-year-old announced he wants to wear a kilt in marching band. (He just watched Braveheart for the first time.) We’re looking into bagpipe lessons…

The weather forecast for tomorrow is not good. Liz doesn’t mind at all — if it rains they’ll just show a-day-in-the-life-of-a-roller-coaster-construction-crew-in-inclement weather.

Bloody decent of them, don’t you think?

The Brits are coming!

Remember last month, when we spoke mysteriously about a TV crew visiting the park as research for an upcoming show?

It’s a “go.”

Beginning Friday, we will host a four-member TV crew from the Discovery Channel.

From London.


The United Kingdom!

I must admit, I’m an anglophile.

Not to worry, I don’t go so far as to let it affect my spelling (colour, flavour, etc.), nor do I call my car hood a “bonnet.”

But I can name the six wives of Henry VIII. (And how each met her untimely demise.)

And I do enjoy an occasional spot of tea.

And I did say “shed-jule” on the phone to Liz the other day, when discussing the ever-changing itinerary.

Imagine my delight to see the name of their “Sound Recordist” is Alastair.


I must somehow research his name’s pronunciation, so as not to seem gauche.

Is it al-i-STARE?

Or al-uh-STER?

Oh, the stress of this job!

And what about that title? Sound Recordist. Not “audio guy” like here in the States.

Sound Recordist.


I’ve promised myself not to pick up the accent, as much as I love it. Don’t want to come off as an Ugly American.

Or Madonna.

Wouldn’t it be splendid if we popped on over for a look?

Cheerio, blokes!

Holidog celebrates Columbus Day

In honor of Columbus Day last week, Holidog decided to sniff out Christopher Columbus’s ships.

Here’s the pup’s report:

Just like The Voyage, Mr. Columbus had a three-train (er…boat) operation.

The Nina was the first ship that I found.

I couldn’t resist looking around.

Do you think this is the original life saver?

Certainly there’s not much of a chance of that; thought I’d float the idea by you anyway.

This would make a great souvenir to bring back for Lori and Jennifer and the crew at Splashin’ Safari.

The next ship I found was the Santa Maria.

It was named after Christopher Columbus’s two favorite people: Santa and Maria.

If he would have asked me, I’d have suggested my two absolute favorites: Santa and Purina.

Despite my dogged search, I could only find two of the three boats.

(Apparently the Pinto didn’t do any better as a ship than it did as a car. Woof!)

Here’s a joke for you: Why did Chris sail boats to the New World?

Because he didn’t have change for the Colum-bus!

Come on … throw me a bone!

…no, really throw me a bone!


Top o’ the morning!

Got ‘er done.

Couldn’t have asked for a prettier day.

Just about everyone started out wearing jackets, but they didn’t stay on long. May even hit 80 degrees today.

Before the topping got started, the three TV crews took some time to interview Will.

Will talked about what a milestone a “topping” is in the construction of a roller coaster.

And he couldn’t resist saying, “I can’t wait till spring!”

The first step was for the steelworkers to get into place, ready to secure that top piece to the existing structure.

Then we heard Steve’s voice on the two-way radio: “We’re flying!”

It was pretty wild to watch.

The crane operator swung wide, to get the top piece facing the right direction.

For a few minutes, it was hard to tell exactly where it would go. But slowly, slowly, it was moved into place.

The American flag, of course, is the highest. Then the Holiday World flag and a Splashin’ Safari flag.

Can you see the steelworkers on the main structure?

Perched way up there.

I don’t think a single one of us on the ground didn’t say, “I couldn’t do that. No way. No how.”

We were transfixed.

There wasn’t a loud “click” or anything to alert us that the top piece was in place.

We all clapped and cheered nonetheless.

Here’s an interesting view of the first drop…the train will be coming down the hill at a steep 66-degree angle.

A few steps to the side, and here it is again:

And what about that second 90-degree banked curve?

Look through the steel to see it. It’s still there.

We have another exciting media event coming up soon. (It’s our “slow time,” remember?) We’ll get more information out about that by tomorrow.