Tubular, baby!

Child with inner tubes

Charlotte was kind (and, rightly so, proud) enough to send us these photos of Abbey …

Child with inner tubes

… and Eli. 

Eli with inner tubes

Of course, inner tubes are always free at Splashin’ Safari.

Simply tubular, baby!
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Rolling out the red carpet

Only two more days.

Mr. Lincoln looks like he can barely contain his excitement, don’t you think?

And the real estate agents are showing their support.

These awards have unlocked incredible community spirit.

And, oh yeah…

Inside the park, too…

Here we are at the theater…

Joan Rivers just called … she’s got some gig in Hollywood Sunday, so you can have her seat.

Snakes on the brain

Long green snake at Voyage

Been wrestling all season about whether to share this story.

Snakes, after all, cause many people to get the vapors. And here I am, fresh out of smelling salts.

But in light of the movie that’s getting so much attention these days, it’s time to unleash.

Back in late April, before The Voyage opened to the public, we held a photo shoot of the new coaster in action.

I hung out with the photographers, partially as an escort but also to pick up any tips about the best place to stand for photographing The Voyage.

The bottom of the second drop is a really good spot. You can get close enough to it that the train full of screaming riders is in the foreground and you can also show the enormity of the coaster with the first drop in the background.

Sounded good to me. When the photographers moved on to their next angle, it seemed silly not to snap off a few of my own.

The Voyage wooden roller coaster

Although The Voyage is basically out in the dense woods, there’s a nice little access road just to the west of the structure. An occasional butterfly will flutter by, but that’s about it as far as wildlife encounters.

Feeling safe, I assumed the standard photo-taking position. I could hear the train click-clicking up the lift hill. Standing perfectly still and holding my breath, I was ready for that train to soar down the first hill, sail up the second, and I would take that perfect photo just as it filled the frame.

But it was not meant to be

As the train was still heading up the lift hill, I felt the bottom of my left pant leg shift slightly.

Hmmm.

A little low-ground breeze, perhaps?

Stalwart and determined, I continued to squint through the viewfinder.

Seconds later, another sensation at the bottom of my slacks.

Must be standing near a rogue clump of grass growing up through the gravel road. Yes, that must be it.

The train was just about to crest the lift hill. No time to check out the weeds.

But then…

My ankle started going numb.

At that point, it was time to check out the woman-eating plant.

But it wasn’t a plant.

Looked like a long, bright-green shoelace, actually.

How in the world did a shoelace make it all the way out here? Doesn’t look like something one of the construction guys would have worn.

And even Lord Chadwick doesn’t get that carried away in his dress.

But it wasn’t a shoelace.

Shoelaces, after all, don’t have little hissing tongues. Not even the bright green ones.

Snake?

SNAKE!

A snake, wrapped snuggly around my left ankle. With enough snake left over to extend another 15 inches or so, doing a poor imitation of a discarded shoelace.

So, I did the snake dance.

Frantically shook my foot and leg so that Sir Snake would come loose and slither off, never to be seen again.

The snake would have none of it. Must have been enjoying the ride. And the slight hint of Bounce Ocean Breeze on my white anklet.

Time to step up the dance.

In one fluid moment, my left foot returned to the ground and my right foot stomped on the hissing end of the beast.

Get OFF!

With a mighty yank of my left foot, I managed to rip my leg free of the reptilian embrace.

Not to worry; my stomp did no harm. May have knocked a bit of sense into the serpent, actually, as he quickly slithered toward the edge of the path.

Ah, but I was quicker.

The fun was not yet over.

“Get back here you so-and-so! No one will ever believe this; I’m taking your picture!”

Like a madwoman, I chased after my tormenter and snapped the following:

Long green snake at Voyage

Ah, but he got the last laugh

Just before he disappeared into the woods, the fiend posed for one final shot.

It was not until I’d returned to my office and got a good look at the photos that it became apparent.

The little asp somehow knew the first letter of my last name:

Long green snake at Voyage

Or perhaps the long and lanky fellow has a coaster design all his own?
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In good hands

Ah, good … Craig’s on the scene.

You remember Craig, right?

Tom’s there, too. Griping that the sound of the drill reminds him of going to the dentist.

Ugh. He’s right.

The colonel and the coaster

It’s been nearly a week since we hosted the “Partnership for Peace” exchange group from Slovakia.

It was fun to see that speaking different languages doesn’t really get in the way of fun.

Or coaster riding.

Oh, how I wish I could remember his name.

He’s the Colonel.

It was obvious he was in charge as the group made their way across our parking lot.

Slovakians like to give gifts. Something else we have in common.

The Colonel presented Will with a Slovakian flag and a thank-you plaque.

(Will gets all the cool gifts. Have you noticed?)

We walked the group down to Thanksgiving for their first ride.

A quick announcement in the station, cheers all around as we Americans welcomed them, and they were off.

And they were back.

What’s this?

Shock and awe?

I did notice he didn’t join the group that later rode The Raven.

Their wonderful translator told us that Indiana and Slovakia are close to the same size, geographically and by population.

But Slovakia doesn’t have any roller coasters.

Not even a single theme park.

They know who Santa is, though.

First time, from Decatur

My husband and I visited your park this past weekend for the first time, and we were very impressed. We greatly appreciated the free parking and soft drinks, as well as reasonable food prices. Also, the doggie kennel was a lifesaver for us, as we could not have left our dog back at our camper for the day.

The park was very clean and very well laid out and we will definitely be recommending it to others.

Thanks for maintaining a great place for everyone to have a good time!

Lisa R.
Decatur, Illinois

P.S. The Voyage was awesome!

Three score

We're not quite to Four Score and Seven yet, but a 60th Anniversary is nothing to sneeze at these days.

It was on August 3, 1946, that Santa Claus Land opened in the tiny town of Santa Claus, Indiana.

Louis J. Koch (Will's grandpa) had purchased the land in the 1930s and waited until World War II was over before launching his retirement project. Will's other grandfather, Jim Yellig, was on hand as Santa.

Will's uncle John Long was there. "It was crowded," he remembers of that day. "It was a great day for the family."

And what about Santa's pretty little daughter?

Surely Patty Yellig was there to celebrate the grand opening.

"I honestly don't remember being here," she told a reporter this morning, with a sheepish grin. "After all, I was 15 and probably thought there was something far more exciting going on somewhere else that day."

Mrs. Koch paused from her interview to hug a boy named Jake. He's from Seymour, Indiana, and spent all day yesterday at the library writing a letter to her, complete with photos.

He also slipped her a computer disk. I think she offered him a "computer assistant" job, effective immediately. Mrs. Koch and my husband proudly proclaim each year at our company Christmas party that they plan to be the "last computer illiterates on earth."

It's quite charming that we occasionally receive, out of the blue, scans of wonderful old photos from folks who have been visiting for decades.

Here's one from St. Louis. Brothers Dave and Joe visited Santa Claus several times way-back-when; this photo is circa 1966.

Dave and Joe with Santa Jim

I saw Dave in the park earlier this season. He's still living in St. Louis and he's still got that cute little smile.

A birthday card

Punster Kevin made my day:

Happy 60th Birthday!

What a Voyage it has been. The park is a real Legend in the amusement park world. I just can't stop Raven about you. There are so many parks that Watubee just like you. If I could be at the park today, I would start The Wave in your honor.

You deserve a Pat on the back for all you have become, and I am sure the next 60 Will be even greater.

Good for the soul

…confession, that is.

Will just called me from Evansville.

He just got off the air following a live interview on WTVW's morning news show.

Went well, but he had to tell me something.

"I sort of hinted at what's new for next season."

Oh, Will!

"I couldn't resist; I've signed both contracts, so I went ahead and said we're getting something new for each park."

That's it?!

Gosh, we've even named both … things … and he managed to keep that information in the vault.

For spilling the beans, he certainly didn't make much of a mess.

But what do you expect from the oldest son of the Queen of Clean?

Adding to our lexicon

Crazy busy last week.

Spent one day with a crew from the Canadian Travel Channel.

"We'll be oot and aboot the park all day," I told everyone. One ride operator's eyes nearly popped out when I whispered, "They're from Canada. They don't speak English."

That little joke got old very quickly, especially when I fessed up that the crew was a freelance team from Louisville.

The show they're working on is called Uberguide: Extreme Thrill Rides.

Uber.

Not sure we've ever been affiliated with anything with the word "uber" in it.

The show will present 10 of the world's top thrill rides, including coasters from some huge corporate parks, some European parks…

Oh, and The Voyage at Holiday World.

Ubercool.

At one point while shooting general park footage, it hit us no one was doing the usual "Hi, Mom!" thing to the camera.

No jumping in front of the cameraman. No waving wildly or doing that rabbit-ear thingy behind the unsuspecting little brother.

Are we suddenly invisible?

The bubble was broken a moment later; the invisibility cloak lifted.

"Hey, cameraman! Get me!"

"Is this for the news? Awesome!"

"Talk to me! Hi, Mom!"

"Will this be on tonight?"

Rob, the cameraman, told me his stock solution in such circumstances is to loudly command through gritted teeth, "Git!" to the non-camera-shy youth.

I managed to convince him that wouldn't be a good idea here. (He'd done it the day before while shooting footage in a cemetery. Don't ask.)

Rule of thumb: If you want to end up "on camera," act as if you don't see it. The crazy antics are energetic certainly, but they almost always end up on the proverbial cutting-room floor.

Eventually, we headed out of the park proper, to the bottom of The Voyage's second hill for an interview with Will.

Will does a great job in interviews. Especially about his beloved coasters.

He has that engineer's-brain thing going for him, plus a talent for making complicated concepts understandable.

He's good.

Ubergood.

Then came the question about theming.

After explaining that we put our development money into the ride and not so much the theming, Will went on to talk about the decor at The Voyage's station.

"Since we're recreating the pilgrims' storm-tossed voyage across the Atlantic, the station is dockish and wharfish."

Dockish?

Wharfish?

The sky suddenly got prettier, so the crew asked to re-shoot that answer.

Whew! Surely he'll say nautical this time.

Again with the wharfish.

(Perchance I misunderstood. Maybe he was saying "war fish" … you know, first cousin to the Portuguese Man O' War?)

After the interview had concluded I couldn't contain myself.

"Will … wharfish?"

He looked surprised.

Wharfish? What are you talking about?

"Wharfish. You said the station was wharfish."

Wharfish? Did I say that? Really? What does that mean?

He laughed.

It's nice to have a good-natured boss.

Ubernice.